Some of my postings are “throwaways”—short comments not expected to occupy more than a moment of your time—or about shaving, which is often what I have done immediately before writing a new post (see posting of 11/15/2013, the most recent of many on shaving). This is both.
For about 50 years I have been using an expensive badger brush my wife gave me when we were first married, but I recently became aware of how worn it had become. Shaving brushes have a high, curved crown. The crown on mine was actually concave with the center bristles less than half an inch long. I could push it to last the rest of my life, but it is such a small luxury, I could afford a new one. My wife agreed.
I was surprised, and pleased, to find a badger brush on Amazon for only $12 that is perfect, as good as my old one ever was. You could spend far more for a brush of exotic bristles taken from special areas of the badger (you don’t want to know), but I cannot imagine how it could be any better than the one I got for $12. It produces a foam finer and more quickly than my old one.
How can they sell them so cheaply? Is there a glut of badgers just waiting to be shorn? Is mine really made of dyed nylon? I suspect the difference is in the marketing. Back in the 1960s, shaving brushes were a luxury item sold only in a few upscale city stores with equally upscale markups. And they still are. Wet shaving is presented as a manly activity with no limit of luxury for those with superior taste, kind of like fly fishing or sailing. But Internet retail has made such small-market items available to everyone without the mystique and at much lower margins.