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Most industry experts agree on two things. First, badger hair knots perform significantly better than boars hair, synthetic and other materials because of their natural ability to absorb water. It's this unique quality that makes shave brush knots of badger hair superior to others.
Experts also acknowledge that the industry itself is without formal standards so the quality of badger knot will vary from one manufacturer to another and between brands.
We've compiled basic characteristics of each grade below. The Comparison Charts below are somewhat subjective and were created based on input from several industry experts.
Hair colors range from a light brown to black. While hairs will eventually soften with use, they will never equal the level of softness found in a higher grade badger brush. Many select this grade with their first wet shave brush.
Definitely an upgrade from a pure badger brush. Hair colors tend to range from light brown to gray with more color separation in the hairs giving it a more "banded" appearance. Typically less scratchiness is noted with a more consistent and comfortable feel when compared to pure badger hair.
Colors are more pronounced with a muddled white base leading to a black band. The tips are whiter than lower grades with a much softer feel and considerably less scratchiness. The finer gauge of this hair also absorbs more water resulting in improved lathering and performance than lower grade badger hair. Because of the finer gauge, a greater level of care must be given to prevent damage to the hairs.
Regarded as the rarest and highest grade badger hair available. While silvertip and super badger hair are similar in appearance, silvertip hairs are sorted and graded according to color and softness. Additionally, the color contrast is more pronounced in silvertip hair and their softness is superior to that of super badger hair. Water absorption and lathering characteristics of silvertip hairs are similar to super badger. As with super badger hair, the finer gauge hair requires a greater level of care to prevent damage to the hairs.
Two-band badger hair is a special grade and may not always be available. Qualities and performance are similar to silvertip hair and are chosen because of the distinctive 2 bands of color.