04-21-2015, 05:52 PM
#1
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I know there are much better descriptions of synthetic brushes out there, by guys who are much more conversant with the various types of synthetic fibre that has been used in brushes over the recent past, but I thought I'd record my thoughts here, as I now have four very different brushes on-hand.

For reference: I love my badger hair brushes. The best I've ever used are the two vintage Plisson (one HMW, one EW) brushes that I have. And yes, I've used pretty much every variety of hair out there - Rooney Finest, Simpson Manchurian (modern and Somerset), other grades of Simpson hair, Thater, Savile Row, etc. I'm not denigrating any of these hair variants, but this is a personal pursuit, and the Plisson suits my tastes best. I even quite like some boar brushes.

I'm not 'historically' a synthetic hair guy. I've had a few, from the FS, HIS, Muhle, HJM variants, and I like them, but not a whole lot. That changed when I got my hands on the Plisson synthetic. 

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The four brushes I'm discussing today are the four in my den at the moment. I've used them all recently, and so I thought I'd write down my thoughts about them. 

[Image: IMG_20150421_210632.jpg]

From left to right they are: 1) TGN Synthetic in an iKon petrified wood handle, 2) Plisson Synthetic, 3) Muhle STF V2 Synthetic, 4) Simpson Chubby 2 Synthetic

The TGN is the one that resembles the HIS, FS etc. synthetic brushes that I had about three years ago. This was a big step forward from the old synthetic knots (which would flop over when wet), but they had their problems. The tips were super-soft, but the backbone on these guys gave rise to what I call the 'synthetic spring' - the hairs would spring back into place when you were lathering with them, conveniently flinging lather all over the bathroom. This is one of the biggest issues I had with that generation of hair. The original Muhle STF brushes were better, but suffered from the same issue, as did the black fibre brushes (to a lesser extent). 

 I kept the TGN around because it was nice as a change, but I rarely used it. 

The Plisson Synthetic is probably my favourite of the lot. It has super-soft tips, and it splays enough for a really nice feel when face-lathering. It does have less backbone than the others, but it doesn't have as much of a synthetic spring to it, so that balances out. It also works really well for bowl-lathering.

I basically really like this brush. The handle is comfortable, but lightweight. Still, I've never felt the need to change it. I think I could be happy with this brush, if it was my only brush.  

The Muhle STF V2 synthetic seems to be better than the old STF (going off memory). It still has some of the synthetic spring, but it does a nice job lathering, and it doesn't fling the lather around as much as the TGN. The handle on this one is heavy, and it isn't quite safe for bowl-lathering, especially is you clank the sides of the bowl much. Also, if you leave it leaning against the bowl, it will slide in, because the handle is so heavy. 

However, the knot on it is quite a pleasure to use. It is a nice face-lathering brush. It built a lovely lather very quickly (as did all these synthetic brushes). It felt nice on the face, and unlike the Plisson, you can feel the backbone on this one. 

The Simpson CH2 Synthetic is a slightly different beast. The CH2 handle needs no introduction, but this knot is different from the rest. It is really, really dense (a characteristic of Simpson brushes in general). This makes it very hard to splay the knot at all. You're not going to access any lather in the heart of this brush - all your interaction with it will be at the tips. 

And what tips they are! Soooooo soft. So full, and so luxurious! 

This builds a lather that seems to be very creamy. The hairs break up the lather so much that the individual bubbles are tiny! The lather is different from anything any natural hair or synthetic hair brush has ever produced for me. It took me a while to recalibrate my lathering technique to account for this. 

However, it seems to me that this brush is a purely face-lathering brush. I just cannot get it to work well for bowl-lathering. Maybe I just need more time with it, but this underscores the point that this brush is different from any of the other brushes that have passed through my hands. 

EDIT: See post 11 below for an update on my thoughts about the Simpson. 

Here's a top-down pic of the four brushes. As you can see, the Simpson is much denser than the rest. (Top L: TGN/iKon, R: Plisson, Bottom L: Muhle STF, R: Simpson)

[Image: IMG_20150421_210701.jpg]

Finally, we have a profile view of the knots. The Simpson and Muhle have a genuine 3-band look, while the Plisson and the TGN look more like 2-band, with a dark band on the top. (Top L: Simpson, R: Plisson; Bottom L: TGN, R: Muhle STF)

[Image: IMG_20150421_210755.jpg]

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Verdict: These brushes are all a nice alternative to animal hair. In fact, they have convinced me that I have no need of any more animal hair brushes. I still love my two vintage Plisson Badger brushes, and they remain my favourite brushes, but these are pretty amazing too. 

TGN/iKon: this is my least favourite brush, and I will probably replace this knot (since I like the handle) with something I like more (have yet to decide what that is - maybe a STF knot). 


Plisson: This will probably stay as my go-to synthetic. It just is a great all-round brush. Nothing flashy about it, but it does the job. When I travel, this is the one that goes with me. It just works. 

Muhle STF: I like this, but I cannot see it staying in my den. This is partly because of the handle on this one (I don't want to break my lather bowl). Also, this hair is not exceptional. It doesn't do anything for me. 

Simpson CH2 Synthetic: This is a tough one. There is so much that is different about this brush, that I cannot see myself getting rid of it at the moment. It also feels so good! Still, there's a little something that I cannot put my finger on that makes me hesitant to commit to this brush. Maybe it will continue to grow on me. 

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None of these brushes feel like badger hair or boar bristles. They're comparable in performance, but the feel is different. This is not a bad thing. I like variety, and these work phenomenally well (in some ways they're better than natural hairs). I will continue to have synthetic fibres in my den, and maybe now I will have more than just the Plisson to tempt me away from my badger and boar brushes. 

I don't want to make a categorical statement about never buying another natural hair brush again, but I cannot see why I would (apart from uncontrollable AD's). 

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 04-21-2015, 06:13 PM
#2
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Thanks for the comparisons on the four brushes, Yohann. I have yet to try the Chubby 2, but I just don't see myself doing so as I don't really enjoy using synthetics very much. I just find them too 'springy' and 'pokey'. 
Good luck with the Chubby!  Smile

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 04-21-2015, 06:58 PM
#3
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Thanks for this great review - I have tried only 2 Synthetics so far - a FS which resembles pretty much your description of the TGN and the Plisson.

I have the same feeling towards the Plisson - it has not enough backbone for me, but it is it wonderfully soft and has none of the synthetic springiness.

Celestino you should really try it out - you will be surprised.

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 04-21-2015, 09:08 PM
#4
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I have a Simpsons synthetic Classic 1. I found the knot actually held water like a real badger knot would. Most other synthetic knots would get wet and then you could lather but with the Simpsons knots; it held water which I had to shake out like I would in a real animal hair knot. I thought that was neat. Did you find that as well?

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 04-21-2015, 10:03 PM
#5
  • Teiste
  • Moderator Emeritus
  • Salt Lake City,UT
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The Chubby will need 3 or 4 mm more of loft and would be the best synthetic brush out there.I remember when I tested the Chubby prototype and I was quiet impressed by it.I dont know why Simpson have lowered the lofts in the Chubby synthetic series.

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 04-22-2015, 12:09 AM
#6
  • Snuff
  • Senior Member
  • Belgium
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(04-21-2015, 10:03 PM)Teiste Wrote: I dont know why Simpson have lowered the lofts in the Chubby synthetic series.

And even more so why they don't change it after so many customers telling them that they would love a higher loft on this brush :-(

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 04-22-2015, 12:16 AM
#7
  • Aleksey
  • Enabler
  • Istanbul, Turkiye
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(04-22-2015, 12:09 AM)Snuff Wrote:
(04-21-2015, 10:03 PM)Teiste Wrote: I dont know why Simpson have lowered the lofts in the Chubby synthetic series.

And even more so why they don't change it after so many customers telling them that they would love a higher loft on this brush :-(

I would seriously consider synthetic chubbby if the lofts were higher. Bummer. Sad

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 04-22-2015, 01:28 AM
#8
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Just ordered my Plisson last week. Can't wait to try it. Now you have me considering a CH2 as well.

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 04-22-2015, 01:28 AM
#9
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Great post!

I agree with your observation on the Chubby; it is dense and it certainly challenges one's routinised techniques. 
When mastered, it is a great face lathering brush. Due to its density and short loft I also cannot see it fit as a bowl lathering brush.
As for the loft; I like it and it gives me that typical ' massive' Chubby feel, but I can imagine that a synthetic 57 (Mark W, are you listening Rolleyes ) or Duke could be easier to handle. 

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 04-22-2015, 02:15 AM
#10
  • BobH
  • Senior Member
  • Thunder Bay Canada
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I have absolutely no problem with the loft on the Simpsons Chubby 2 synthetic original release LE. No clue if an extra 3-4mm of loft would be better or not, not having tried the tester version. All I know is in the current form it splays nicely for me and face lathers up a storm, one of my favourite synthetics if not the favourite. I don't see it as a bowl lather's delight however. 

I have a Simpsons Classic 1 synthetic which I enjoy also. I believe it too has a shorter loft than other production synthetics of similar knot size. For me it is a great little face lathering brush for travel. For me Simpsons got it right in both cases.

OTH the Plisson synthetic I have is a totally different brush in the feel it gives while face lathering. It gives no feeling at all except softness and I find that way less satisfying while face lathering. It is not that it does not do a very good job of producing a lather, it does, I just don't care for the way it feels as much. Probably would bowl lather very nicely being more whisk like, for lack of a better descriptor. 

Somewhere in the middle is the Muhle XL STF V2 brush in factory form for feel while face lathering for me. I think it would work well for face or bowl lathering but being a face latherer I had the knot reset lower which improved it for me.

It is great that there is such a variety of synthetic brushes out there now. The trick is to pick one that suits what you want out of a brush best. In that respect nothing has changed from finding a natural fiber brush that suits your needs best.

Bob

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 04-22-2015, 05:40 AM
#11
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UPDATE on the Simpson

As I mentioned in the OP, some of my problems with the Simpson will be taken care of as I gain more experience with it. 

One thing I tried today was to load it a little less than I normally would. As most users know, synthetics need less loading than the natural hair brushes. Since I usually bowl-lather, this is not as much of a problem, since all I do if I overload the brush is get more lather. Since the Simpson really doesn't work well for bowl-lathering, I decided to load it for about half the time I would normally do, and to just face-lather with it. 

The results were impressive. The brush 'opened up' a lot more with some pressure on the face, and I had a wonderful lather in no time at all. It still didn't hold as much lather as a normal CH2 would, and while it didn't fling the lather around like some synthetics, it did build too much to hold. So there was some spillage of lather. 

Also, I don't think this brush holds enough lather for a full 3-pass shave for me. It was getting a bit thin at the end. 

Like Tieste and the others here have mentioned, a few more mm of loft would make this a truly wonderful brush. It's already very, very good, but a little higher loft would make it superb. 

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 04-22-2015, 05:55 AM
#12
  • BobH
  • Senior Member
  • Thunder Bay Canada
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(04-22-2015, 05:40 AM)yohannrjm Wrote: UPDATE on the Simpson

As I mentioned in the OP, some of my problems with the Simpson will be taken care of as I gain more experience with it. 

One thing I tried today was to load it a little less than I normally would. As most users know, synthetics need less loading than the natural hair brushes. Since I usually bowl-lather, this is not as much of a problem, since all I do if I overload the brush is get more lather. Since the Simpson really doesn't work well for bowl-lathering, I decided to load it for about half the time I would normally do, and to just face-lather with it. 

The results were impressive. The brush 'opened up' a lot more with some pressure on the face, and I had a wonderful lather in no time at all. It still didn't hold as much lather as a normal CH2 would, and while it didn't fling the lather around like some synthetics, it did build too much to hold. So there was some spillage of lather. 

Also, I don't think this brush holds enough lather for a full 3-pass shave for me. It was getting a bit thin at the end. 

Like Tieste and the others here have mentioned, a few more mm of loft would make this a truly wonderful brush. It's already very, very good, but a little higher loft would make it superb. 

Interesting, exactly how are you loading the brush on the puck?

Bob

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 04-22-2015, 06:01 AM
#13
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Bob - 

I used a tub of Coates Tea Tree cream. It has hardened now to the point where it is really a soft soap. My usual protocol is to shake the brush dry and load for 30 - 45 s. I did about 20 s for this brush. 

As I said, it developed more than enough lather. It just didn't hold on to all of it. Some of the lather piled up on the brush until it dropped off. It was never allowed to get to the point of being watery, so it didn't really drip off. The unfortunate thing was that the remaining lather wasn't really enough for a thick coating on each pass of my 3+ pass shave. The last pass had decent lather, but it was a thin layer. 

It was still good lather though. 

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 04-22-2015, 06:20 AM
#14
  • BobH
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  • Thunder Bay Canada
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(04-22-2015, 06:01 AM)yohannrjm Wrote: Bob - 

I used a tub of Coates Tea Tree cream. It has hardened now to the point where it is really a soft soap. My usual protocol is to shake the brush dry and load for 30 - 45 s. I did about 20 s for this brush. 

As I said, it developed more than enough lather. It just didn't hold on to all of it. Some of the lather piled up on the brush until it dropped off. It was never allowed to get to the point of being watery, so it didn't really drip off. The unfortunate thing was that the remaining lather wasn't really enough for a thick coating on each pass of my 3+ pass shave. The last pass had decent lather, but it was a thin layer. 

It was still good lather though. 

I generally use hard soaps or croaps and cold water for shaving. I run the brush tips across the water, shake the water onto the puck and load till I get a paste. Swish the tips on the water and load some more till it is like a proto lather rather than a paste. Then build a lather on my wet face adding a little water at a time by just dipping the very tips when water is needed till I get the lather I want. Repeat for 2nd. 3rd and 4th pass.

Generally I don't run out of soap if I have loaded enough in the first place. Just goes to show everyone's experience with a product can different.

Bob

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 04-22-2015, 06:20 AM
#15
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(04-21-2015, 06:58 PM)alfredus Wrote: Thanks for this great review - I have tried only 2 Synthetics so far - a FS which resembles pretty much your description of the TGN and the Plisson.

I have the same feeling towards the Plisson - it has not enough backbone for me, but it is it wonderfully soft and has none of the synthetic springiness.

Celestino you should really try it out - you will be surprised.

Oh, I have tried the Plisson and I had 3 of them. I sold 2 and kept one for my son.  Biggrin


(04-22-2015, 12:09 AM)Snuff Wrote:
(04-21-2015, 10:03 PM)Teiste Wrote: I dont know why Simpson have lowered the lofts in the Chubby synthetic series.

And even more so why they don't change it after so many customers telling them that they would love a higher loft on this brush :-(

+1

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 04-22-2015, 07:57 AM
#16
  • Balj86
  • Senior Member
  • Maryland USA
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Awesome write up. Thanks for taking the time to write this and post it. I agree with you on the silvertip Fibre. Its a nice knot but for me Im not going back to use it. I recently acquire a muhle v2 black fibre sb and I think that's my favorite. I believe it feels more like a badger to be honest and wish it was offered in a bigger knot. The black fibre v2 sb is not much talked about but Imho i think its one of the best synthetics. If you haven't tried it I would highly recommend you try it out. Well thanks again for the write up!

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 04-25-2015, 05:15 PM
#17
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Oh, my poor Plisson Synth!!

I used it today, after several days of alternating between the Simpson and the Muhle. 

It felt so coarse and floppy in comparison with the Simpson. I was expecting the flop, and I was happy with the overall performance (lots of lather generated very easily), but the tips felt so coarse in comparison with the soft, cloudy feel of the Simpson.

My poor Plisson may not survive this latest invasion of the brush rotation. It's still a little too early to condemn the brush, but it's not looking good for it. Sad

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 04-25-2015, 09:28 PM
#18
  • ben74
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  • Perth, Australia
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Really Yohann? 

The Plisson is the ONLY synthetic I've retained (in favour of synthetics by the likes of Omega and Muhle). 

That said, I'm yet to try a Simpson synthetic...

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 04-26-2015, 01:13 AM
#19
  • BobH
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  • Thunder Bay Canada
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I think I know what you mean about the Simpsons vs the Plisson as I tend to favour the Simpsons for face lathering for the same reasons. They really are two very different brushes but both work.

Bob

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 04-26-2015, 01:49 AM
#20
  • Thug
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  • South Africa
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Thanks Yohann for an interesting and thorough write up.

It certainly makes my life as a DE novice easier when choosing a new brush. 

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