Perfecto Shaving keeps a relatively low profile for a niche seller of men’s grooming supplies, but that hasn’t stopped the California-based retailer from commanding high sales figures on resale sites such as Amazon.com, where its 100% pure badger shaving brush occupies a top-seller spot among shaving brushes and other shaving accessories. This success is clearly driven by Perfecto’s effective blending of quality, aesthetic appeal, and price.
This Perfecto 100% pure badger shaving brush has a swart-black handle that’s easy on the eyes and obviously intended to match with whatever else is on your bathroom counter. It has gracefully curved sides that appeal to the same part of the brain that appreciates hand-carved chess pieces and the headlights of a vintage Rolls-Royce. Its perfectly flat bottom is a little awkward in the hand, but it’s totally stable resting on a counter or the edge of a sink. The bristles seem to have been left at their natural dark color, without any attempt to dye them to look like a higher grade of hair. Not only is this an honest thing to do, it means there’s no dye to run off or bleed with continuous use, as sometimes happens with low-end synthetics.
Perfecto clearly expects its customers to try grinding their own suds with this brush. The 2-inch handle is a bit much for inexperienced wet-shavers, though it has the heft and the leverage to really whip up a batch of foam from flakes. The handle is made entirely from real wood that has been carved, sealed, and painted to keep up its looks and shape with repeated dousings. The surface is smooth enough to wipe it clean with a damp cloth, or just give it a quick shake and let it air-dry.
This brush makes up for a slightly long handle with a beautifully cut loft that reaches almost exactly 2 inches forward of a shiny chrome ring that online pictures really can’t do justice for. The bristle length puts a lot of flex into the loft, which makes up for the relatively low grade of badger hair Perfecto chose for this brush. Badger hair – of whatever grade – is always really soft, but for a pure-grade brush, that extra bit of length is really nice to have.
Just as the lengthy loft strikes a balance with the long handle, so this brush’s 23mm knot is an exercise in opposing forces. The tight base gives the knot a good, strong backbone as a contrast to the general softness of the bristles, while the open, flared top of the loft seems custom-engineered to sweep up great daubs of cream and keep it near the tip for an efficient and smooth transfer to your face. The dome of the bristles’ tip is cut a little rough, so expect a few pokeys here and there until repeated use has frayed and softened the tips. Be sure to hang this brush upside-down to drip dry; its rounded design encourages water to run right out with gravity, but it will stay trapped near the handle if the brush is left sitting upright overnight.
Expect a subtle change in performance with this brush over the first few weeks you’re using it as the tips begin to soften with use. After the initial breaking-in period is over, you will definitely feel the advantage a 100% badger-hair brush has over boar bristles and synthetic fibers. Badger hair is as varied as the people who use it, but the fibers’ quality generally falls into four major grades. “Pure” badger bristles are at the bottom level, but you’d never know it from the soft, spongelike feeling this brush develops after a few months of daily use. The long loft helps with this feeling, since it reduces resistance to your stroke and doesn’t seem to be fighting with you over who owns the shaving cream.
Badger hair is usually pretty dark, and Perfecto has left well-enough alone for this brush. A broad, indistinct dark band bleeds up and down into the lighter tip and base, but the exact look of the loft varies with the individual brush, as you’d expect for natural fibers. Another unsurprising feature of using natural badger hair is the faint odor some users report for this brush. It isn’t strong enough to put anyone off, and it fades during the breaking in.
That breaking-in process is hard to describe in detail, if only because of the variation among brushes in this line. Some of them shed with the first few uses and then stop forever, while others drop a bristle or two every few shaves for the life of the brush. This may be caused by natural variations, or Perfecto could have quality-control issues at its Chinese facility. Either way, none of the literally thousands of Amazon reviews report that shedding is a major problem for them, and a little irregularity certainly hasn’t hurt the best-selling brush.
This Perfecto shaving brush is more forgiving than most brands if you’re still using aerosol cream or some kind of gel because of its broad, loose construction. These products are never ideal for wet-shaving, of course, but they work in a pinch if you’re trapped in the wilderness or something. Ideally, you’ll keep some Henry Cavendish Himalaya cream with your shaving kit to enjoy the feel of real shea butter on your skin. The hefty handle is also pretty good for whipping flakes, so you have a lot of options regardless of the commitment you’re willing to make to wet-shaving.
There’s no law stating that you must only dry your shaving brush from a stand, but it’s almost always a good idea. This brush, in particular, needs a stand that can hold it upside-down. The same loose knot that gave you so many options for shaving cream takes away your options for drying. Get a stand or get used to soaking the bristles in vinegar to kill the mold left by trapped water.
If you’ve found your ideal range with Perfecto, but you don’t want to follow the crowd and buy a best-seller, you can try out a very similar brush from House of Saxon. This brush is made with the same grade of pure badger hair, but the wood-and-chrome aesthetics of the brush are way beyond the stark simplicity of Perfecto’s model.