April 5, 2015 by Ville Raivio
I blame that Roetzel guy. Ever since reading his Gentleman book in my impressionable youth, I haven’t shaken off the image of Kent’s very proper, very oval hairbrush, even though my hair cannot be combed by any means known to man. G.B. Kent & Sons Ltd., one of the oldest companies in England, has been making brushes since 1777 so they must know a thing or two about the craft. Enough to be granted Royal Warrants from nine reigns, at least, if those mean anything these days. The company sources bristles from India and China, woods from sustainable forests, and has a factory in Apsley. Kent makes brushes for clothes, shoes, hair, teeth, beards, cars, gardens, autos, nails, hats, floors, walls, makeups, and bodies. The handmade range is likely a small part of their trade, but the Kent heritage obliges.
The example brush is Kent’s model MHS18, the handmade men’s bristle brush with that nice oval shape. It arrives in a hard, dark red mock-leather case with polyester satin lining. The base is beechy, the back is satinwoody, the bristles very coarse. In fact the bristles are so coarse that the model is hardly pleasant or kind to the scalp, and best suits the man with very long hair. Metalheads and rockers are not likely to invest in a brush of this price range, so I’m left to wonder who the regular customer is. The coarse britles kind of beat the point of using a brush at all, as the scalp has those oils that are good for the hair and should be brushed from the skin upwards. This is no option with the model.
The brush is palm-sized, light, the sides are hollowed for better grip, and the woods are nicely polished, likely treated with several layers of varnish. In sum, the brush is very well made and the option of having the bristles changed one day is a bonus. The current price for the MHS18 is 165 pounds, but the cheaper model with softer bristles is the one to choose. The handmade oval hairbrush looks the part and will last for several decades. With the right set of bristles, it can do no harm.