Parker Safety Razor is a family-owned company that has been making it easy for men to wet-shave since 1973. This silvertip badger bristle shaving brush is at or near the top of the line, and it represents Parker’s best effort at crafting an affordable shaving brush that’s indistinguishable from premium-brand brushes at three times the price.
Overall, the brush has a good balance and a dignified, almost stentorian appearance. Hanging from the stand Parker ships with your purchase, it definitely makes a handsome addition to your shaving station and a good upgrade for the inevitable day when your first 100% pure badger bristle brush wears out and needs to be replaced.
The product engineers at Parker have clearly put a lot of thought into designing this shaving brush’s handle. Made from synthetic horn – which feels exactly like the real thing and harkens back to the shaving brushes of the 19th century – the surface has just the right texture to let water run right off while allowing a firm, unshifting grip. The handle measures just under 2 inches, or 47 mm, and hits the sweet spot between longer handles with the power to whip your lather in the bowl and shorter handles you can palm like the top of a gentleman’s cane. Overall, the handle offers a good grip, good leverage, and good control while you’re lathering up.
Unfortunately, this brush comes up a little short in the loft, or the length of the bristles above the handle. Ironically, this is because Parker made the bristles just a shade too long for their purpose. The bristles’ 105mm length sounds pretty good, especially since a long loft makes for a soft brush, and what could be softer than authentic silvertip bristles? This extra length, however, adds little to the softness that wasn’t already there because of the high quality of the badger hair, but it does sacrifice a bit of backbone by setting the knot too far forward. If the bristles were set just another 10 or 15mm deeper into the handle, this brush would feel just as soft as it does now, but the knot would be a little tighter and the stiffer backbone would whip up the lather a little more efficiently.
A lot of shaving brushes hop from a 24mm knot diameter to a 26mm knot, without anything in between. Thanks are due to Parker for cutting this brush to a bushy 25mm knot that somewhat overcomes the shallow bristle placement by really grabbing the shaving cream and holding it while you’re lathering up. The knot is a little loose for aerosol creams, which means an awful lot of it stays stuck in the bristles and nowhere near your face, so it’s a good idea to only use this brush with a hand-whipped soap or quality shaving cream, which slides off of the bristles a little more easily and results in less overall waste.
Stop looking for better bristles than this brush offers; you won’t find them. As every wet-shaving man should already know, badger hair is the top of the line for bristles and comes in four grades. Silvertip is the top of this top-of-the-line hierarchy, and Parker has invested in a good pile of them for every brush in this line. Featuring a distinct black band and much lighter top, which gives the silvertip its name, this brush hardly needs breaking in before it starts feeling like a big, fluffy loofah for your beard. The authentic badger bristles are pretty tough, too. Expect to keep this brush in service until your fifth grader is in college, since a good silvertip usually has a 10-year life expectancy, versus the entry-level pure models’ 3-or-so years.
One of the things that keeps this brush healthy is a low shed rate. Of course any brush is going to drop a few fibers into your bowl on the first or second use, but this Parker Safety Razor silvertip shaving brush cuts that out right away and holds onto its bristles really well for as long as you’re using it. Look for the tips to fray a bit with daily use, of course, but even that just makes the already-soft tip feel even softer with age and wisdom.
If you’re investing in a high-end shaving brush that will hold you for the better part of a decade, why would you use a cheap aerosol shaving cream? Not only does a cut corner like that feel like sacrilege, it’s a waste for this brush. Remember that the bristles on this brush are extra soft and the knot tends to suck up the cream, so you’re definitely better off whipping up your own stuff from scratch. Try a soothing quality shave cream like Taylor of Old Bond Street, which we rated to be among the best shaving cream you can pick up.
Regardless of how nice they feel, most shaving brushes spend only a few minutes each day getting used and the other 23.9 hours hanging from a stand. Parker has thought of this, which is why they make two chrome stands that fit this brush like a glove. Both stands are almost identical, but one is designed to hold a straight razor on the back prongs, while the other is better for a double-edged safety razor. If a shiny new stand isn’t for you, or if you aren’t sure you want to go in for more equipment just now, you can stick to the plastic stand that ships along with this brush, though you’re definitely giving up a bit of old-fashioned class with the lighter, less shiny option.
If you’re not sure about this shaving brush, or if you’re brand new to wet-shaving, it’s probably a good idea to start a little smaller with a lower (and cheaper!) grade of pure badger-hair, which Parker also offers. Your best bet with this type of brush is to think of it as a trainer, or as a temporary solution, until you’re ready to go all in for the best Parker has to offer.