To a lot of guys, when they think of hair brushes the first thing that comes to mind is something with bristles, a handle, and a lot of their wife’s hair. But for men’s shorter hair, sometimes a more traditional design can have better results, and that’s where the military hair brush comes in.
So what is a military hair brush? And can you only get one if you enlist? Luckily, a rank in the army isn’t required for these outstanding grooming accessories. Military hair brushes are basically round or oval hairbrushes without a handle (similar to a currycomb used for brushing animal hair). It’s a style of brush that has been in use as far back as the 1700s. Traditionally made of hardwood handles with wild boar brushes, their handle-free design was created for easy storage in rucksacks on the march. Portable and functional, they were ideal for military men on the move.
During the slicked-back period of Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra, military hair brushes experienced something of a revival. The tightly packed bristles helped stimulate the scalp, spread healthy oils, and lend the hair a shiny, classic appearance that men had been missing. And of course, the compact design meant that they were ideal for traveling. They also retain popularity with servicemen to this day, whose short hair and peripatetic lifestyle aren’t that different from their Napoleonic forbearers.
Because the design is fairly unusual, and so quintessentially masculine, military hair brushes retain a distinct appeal for men. Even if you share your bathroom with a partner, there’s no question which brush belongs to you. The dark hardwood handles, thick boar bristles, and compact design are all part of the reason why these brushes continue to attract men around the world.
Choosing and Using Your Military Hair Brush
Like any hairbrush, there are different styles and sizes available. You can choose one that’s made of plastic or a higher end brush that’s crafted from rare species of wood like Beech, Pear or Kotibe and contain natural boar bristles. Today’s varieties also come with nylon bristles. Hipsters with undercuts can use them for their slicked back tops (these brushes don’t leave nasty comb marks). Whether your style is traditional or modern, if getting your hair to look perfect is part of your morning MO, a military hair brush can help. In a hurry? Save time and use two brushes at the same time – one for each hand.
You might not think you need to bother brushing your hair if it’s super short but you should still be kind to your scalp. The bristles massage and condition the scalp, remove dandruff and distribute the scalp’s natural oil to promote healthier looking hair. Some models are mounted on a rubber cushion, which you might find more comfortable as you massage your scalp while you’re brushing your hair. Like most hairbrushes, military brushes come in a basic range of sizes and materials.
What about my beard?
Military hairbrushes are also very commonly used to brush beards, because the short, coarse bristles are an ideal way to detangle curly hair. Although it’s tempting to look for a specifically-made, smaller size, it isn’t a necessity – we often go straight from brushing our heads to brushing our faces before heading out for the day. Aligning the hair, massaging the face, and spreading healthy oils will keep your beard healthy, shiny, and neat.
Should I use a military hair brush if I have thinning hair?
Although one of the benefits of a coarse bristle is the massage your scalp receives, men who have thin or thinning hair often look for softer alternatives. It’s not unusual for military hair brushes to offer different bristle styles. Most boar is stiff, but there are gentler boar bristle brushes available, as well as bleached bristle, or artificial bristle, each of which are softer and more gentle.
What should I look for in choosing a brush?
Once you have decided on the bristle you prefer, there are several other factors to consider.
- Size: is the brush for your face, head, or both? Most brushes come in a standard size, but there are small brushes made as well.
- Country of origin: Germany makes excellent brushes, as does England.
- Handle material: Pearwood is popular because of the dark color, but beechwood is a nice alternative.
- Price: Handmade brushes can cost 2-3x the price of a machine-made brush, but will last longer and lose fewer bristles.
Care and cleaning
If you’re going to spend good money for a good hairbrush, it should be properly maintained.Store it on its back after each use so that the bristles don’t bend. Periodically give it a clean to remove hair from the brush by using a brush cleaner tool.
To give your brush a deeper cleaning, you can soak a plastic made military hairbrush in a solution of alcohol and water once a week but don’t use the same treatment for wood-backed brushes. Never fully submerge a wood-backed brush; the wood will eventually rot. To clean your wooden brush, swish the bristles in soapy water, then rinse in clean water and leave to dry.
Once chosen, your military hair brush will become a trusted companion. Over time, the wood will develop a unique feel, ensuring that this brush will look as stylish as your hair does.