A couple of months ago I was putting together a traditional shaving starter kit for a friend who has high moral scruples concerning the impact that his existence has on other animals. So perhaps I can share with you the issues involved.
With the razor and blade there are no big issues, obviously. These are made of metal. The only possibility for concern would be waxes and glues used in the packaging of blades, but the same applies to the packaging of just about everything in our lives.
The real problem is in making a lather, many of the best shaving soaps are made from tallow, which is animal fat and the best brushes are made from the hair of badgers that have been killed as vermin, mainly in China.
The tallow can be avoided by using creams, which are mainly made of plant oils such as palm oil. Maca Root cream from The Body Shop is a prime example.
Another way of retaining the high moral ground is to use tallow soaps where the tallow was produced without harming animals, such as the wool fat extracted from sheep wool shearing. On Mitchell’s Wool Fat soap’s packet it says “No animal suffers in the preparation of this bio-degradable product”.
And finally you can buy your soaps and creams from artisan makers who have their own high ethical standards. Nanny’s Silly Soap Company say: “I provide a range of soaps all of which are vegetarian, and most of which are vegan. The non vegan ingredients used in some of my products are honey, goat’s milk and tussah silk (wild harvested after the moth has emerged).”
With brushes badger hair is recognised as being by far the best. The first way to avoid harming animals is to use a brush with a synthetic knot, where the hairs are made of plastics derived from petrochemicals, but they are nowhere near as good as badger hair brushes. There are a number of different models of these available. Luckily “Siv” on one of the forums has done a full analysis of ten different offerings. The best value for money is the Body Shop brush and this is what I bought my friend. The best overall is the Taylor’s of Old Bond Street brush. If you have a close look at one of these you will see that the individual hairs have been mechanically flattened to vastly increase their surface area.
A better way to have a good shaving brush without harming animals is to use a horse hair brush, these are made from hairs that come from grooming live animals. The resultant brushes are really excellent and have been described as being 85% badger and 85% boar in their properties. They are common in some countries such as Turkey and Spain. I have one of these which I cannot fault. And they offer a big range of brushes made from horse hair.
So there we have it you can enjoy the luxury and pampering of real, traditional shaving whilst retaining the self satisfaction of retaining your moral superiority. But you will never get to enjoy the supreme excellence of a Simpson’s Chubby 2 in Best Badger.