If you want to buy a Rooney shaving brush, be prepared for a bit of a scavenger hunt. They have no website (or, at least, the website we think is theirs doesn’t have their name/brand anywhere on it), they are not available on Amazon, and at least one of their lines has been discontinued. There are, however, a few places you can still buy them online – shops who probably have connects to the elusive manufacturer themselves.
The difficulty of even finding one combined with the quality and tradition of the brushes themselves creates an incredible (albeit frustrating) mystique. Having a Rooney is almost like having a rare baseball card. So before you go hunting for one, make yourself aware of some of the other top-tier brushes out there. For example, Simpsons shaving brushes are about the same quality and can be bought for a fraction of the hassle.
Shaving Brush FAQ’s
We come across a lot of the same stuff while we are researching shaving products and many questions are asked on forums about shaving brushes. We want to go over some of the frequently asked questions that we have come across during our research and we will do our best to come up with an answer as well. Let’s get right to it!
Question: My brush sucks up all of my lather and I can’t seem to make enough. Why?
Shaving brushes that are soap hogs tend to have a dense brush knot that is a little on the large side. A dense shaving brush will require more soap to be loaded into into it in order to produce the correct amount of lather.
You may experience this issue more often if you own a badger brush due to the naturally dense nature of their hair. The best way to learn how to avoid this during future shaves is going to be by testing the threshold level of the shaving brush. Once the threshold is reached, the rich lather that you have been waiting for will be whipped up in no time.
Question: Why is my brush scraping lather away rather than building one up?
This is a case of using too much force when whipping up a lather, which happens when a shaving brush has more backbone than you are used to encountering. The lather is probably getting a nice start, but too much pressure being applied at the wrong time is causing the bristles to scrape the lather away rather than create more. The fix for this is easy and only requires you to ease up on the brush to start while using back and forth strokes to build the lather with just the bristle tips.
Question: Do I need a brush stand?
No, not really. Shaving stands hold your brush upside down and should help the water drain out and away from the inner knot. A brush stand won’t make much of a difference if you don’t properly care for the brush after use. Giving it a good rinse that is followed by an even better shake to get all the excess water out, is just fine and will lead to a long life as a razor.
Question: How long will my shaving brush last me?
If you have a shaving brush that is made of high quality materials and you take excellent care of it, you should be able to expect a long life out of it. If this is something that you encounter that doesn’t seem right, take a look at the return policy and cover your assets. Regular care that is performed properly is the other element that ensures a long life of lather making is in store. When cleaning the brush, do be careful to follow the directions that were drafted by the producer because one wrong move can leave you brush-less. There are times when the quality and life of the shaving brushes may have manufacturer defects that are responsible for the working life of the brush to be shortened.
A Bit About Rooney
Rooney has a reputation as an old-school shaving supplies manufacturer. And they are indeed one of the oldest shaving companies around. They have been in business for at least 200 years, although no one knows the exact date of their inception, since the majority of their records were destroyed in a fire in 1886. Some even believe the company started as early as the 1600s. That’s old!
In 1796, Rooney opened a store in Bishopsgate, which would become their main manufacturing headquarters until 1927, when it was sold and moved to Walthamstow, where they operate today. They have distributors in the UK and elsewhere, but they have been reluctant to embrace the bigger online marketplaces, unlike many of their contemporaries – while this makes it a bit frustrating for the buyer, it does add a bit of prestige to their brand.
How Are Rooney Shaving Brushes Made?
Rooney makes both badger-hair brushes and synthetic brushes. However, like most traditional shaving companies, they are most well-known for their badger-hair brushes. All of their badger hair is sourced from China (as is true for most manufacturers). However, the finest badger hair has become increasingly scarce over the last several years, and no one really knows why. Some suspect it is due to climate change altering the biology of the badger, but that’s mostly hearsay. All badger hair is cured at over 100 degrees Celsius before it’s knotted and inserted into the handle.
Types of Brushes
Rooney shaving brushes have one of five types of bristles:
- Finest. Finest Badger hair is extremely difficult to find nowadays. Most shaving brush manufacturers don’t use it due to its scarcity. This hair is thick and stuff at the base with smoother, softer tips. These are the brushes Rooney is most famous for; however, they are very hard to find.
- Super Badger. Super Badger hair is silver tip hair (hair with lighter tips taken from the badger neck) that is sorted in England. When sorted, short hairs are removed, making the brush appear more uniform and the end lighter. This hair is generally very soft and retains lots of water.
- Best Badger. Best Badger hair is harvested from the belly of the badger (the outside, not the inside, of course). This hair is not too stiff nor too soft – it’s about medium. Brushes made with Best Badger hair tend to be in the middle price range.
- Pure Badger. Pure Badger hair is the darker hair that covers most of the animal. There’s a lot more of it, and it’s not quite as soft, which makes for stiffer, coarser brushes. However, many gentlemen prefer this kind of shave, and they brushes are usually a bit more economical.
- Synthetic. Synthetic hair brushes are typically best for those who have animal allergies. They can be made of many different materials, but Rooney uses nylon.
Rooney’s shaving brushes come in a several different models, but the most popular brushes are the Style 1, Style 2, Style 3 and Heritage brushes. Again, these brushes are hard to come by, so we were only able to review one.
Rooney Heritage Line
Rooney’s Heritage brushes are exceptional. The handles are made of imitation bone turned on a lathe, giving it that old-fashioned look characteristic of most Rooney brushes. The bristles are made of a special grade of badger hair – a silver tip hair comparable to Super Badger. It’s very soft (although not quite as soft as Finest Badger), and the tips are extremely light.
It’s clear the hair’s been sorted and the shorter hairs removed, as the bristles lose none of their lightness as they bloom. This isn’t the most densely packed brush we’ve ever seen, but it’s certainly very dense. Really, though, the denseness is ideal; super-dense brushes sometimes bloom too much, making them more cumbersome as they age – this is not the case with Rooney’s Heritage line.
Unlike many other brushes, this brush has a two-band, fan-shaped loft, which we haven’t seen in new brushes for a long time. It’s so traditional, it’s novel, which definitely adds to the experience.
The performance is simply amazing. It retains nearly as much water as a Finest Badger brush, so one or two good shakes after soaking may be in order. It easily produces lots of lather whether you’re using a shaving soap or shaving cream. The first lather was excellent, so if you’re lucky enough to come by a Rooney shaving brush, you can expect excellent shaves even before you break it in.
Characteristic of most higher-grade badger brushes, the Rooney Heritage brushes don’t retain much lather – it easily releases the lather it carries to your face.
All in all, this is a fantastic brush. Anyone lucky enough to own one will likely use it for many years. In addition to the excellent shave it yields, you’ll also enjoy a bit of prestige and exclusivity.
If you can’t find a Rooney shaving brush, try these:
Thee following brushes are some of our favorite middle- to high-end brushes. They are all excellent choices if you can’t get your hands on a Rooney: