06-24-2012, 08:20 AM
  • Codfish
  • Product Tester
  • Connecticut Shoreline
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[Image: GaryphotoFIN.jpg]

The New Generation of Synthetic Brushes – Part II

Summary of Responses to Questions 4-6

4. Are there brushes that stood out for you in your tests? Why?

Wim: The Mühle Silvertip Fibers.

Gary: The H.I.S. shaving brush, and the Mühle 25mm Silvertip Fiber.

Mark: The newest Mühle and Edwin Jagger brushes felt the most “badger-like” with soft but resilient fibers.

Teiste: I found the Mühle Silvertip Fiber 19mm and 25mm brushes to be excellent, as was the Mühle 21mm Black Fiber brush. The Loccinate Cade synthetic shaving brush was, honestly, the worst shaving brush I have tried so far on my wet shaving journey.

Jim: The Mühle HJM 21mm and Mühle Classic 23mm stood out as excellent The New York Shaving Company 21mm Traditional Synthetic Brush disappointed me very much.

5. In what areas did you find new synthetic brushes most improved? Where do they need further improvement?

Gary: [The new synthetics] have improved in terms of looks in which they are more like natural brushes visually. Some almost visually would pass as natural if sitting next to another natural brush. They are softer at the tip and provide excellent backbone. They are more efficient and apply lather much better than ever before. For bowl lathering, I like them more than my Simpson Colonel X2L, Vie Long Zurito, and Omega Boars. All the naturals are excellent brushes, but the new synthetics in my opinion beat the naturals for bowl lathering.

The very areas that synthetics excel over naturals are the areas that also need improvement. The fact that synthetics dry so fast is because the fiber is solid and uniform whereas the natural hair has small pockets that can hold water and product as well. This in my opinion makes face lathering a little different than using a natural brush. When I face lather with my Simpson or my Vie Long, I can dunk the brush in the water, shake off the excess, apply the brush to my face, and generate the lather with just the water on the brush and the soap. I generally do not need any more water for a three-pass shave plus a head shave.

When I use the synthetic brushes, the breech opens out a little too easily allowing water to flow out the brush too quickly. Shaking, even gently, reduces the usable water in the brush rapidly. So when I begin to face lather it is better to have less water on the brush and while generating lather for the first pass, gently dip the brush into just enough water to allow the y:lather to fully develop. Then there is plenty of lather for three-pass shave plus a head shave. The synthetics that were better at holding water after shaking were the H.I.S. and the Mühle Classic 23mm and 25mm because the softer flayed tips. This H.I.S. and the Mühle 25mm held water even better because of the brush size and density of the fibers. I can coax the H.I.S. and the Mühle 25mm into performing a full three passes and a head shave without having to add more water after shaking.

Some say that the fibers need to be further developed to mimic natural hairs to hold water a little more efficiently. If the fibers are changed too much, however, then the synthetics will lose their fast drying advantage. Overall, I prefer the fast drying advantage to remain with the synthetics. Brushes of all types have a series of strengths and weaknesses and so a trade-off is made by the user based on user preference and usage patterns.

Mark: Fibers have gotten “softer” and more resilient but work is still needed to make them more “face lather friendly” by modifying the softness of the fiber in the center of the brush. The action of the “breech” needs to be modified so that it doesn’t open so easily, giving the water and soap/cream a better chance of mixing properly. Lathering with a “massaging” action (vs. “paint-brush” motions) is still more difficult compared to natural hair brushes but is better than the older generation. The newest Edwin Jagger and Mühle brushes [I have tried] are a little small for my personal preference.

Teiste: The next step would be cloning the badger hair, since the new synthetic fibre are really close to real badger hair on many features and resembles it on the softness of the tips and holding water on the knot. I would like to see brushes over 25mm of knot size.

Wim: The new generation synthetics: the Omega Artificial badger and the Mühle Silvertip Fibers and Black Fibers alike, have improved in performance and feel. I really did not achieve good lather with the earlier fibers, and these new synthetics are amongst the most effective brushes in my den. Also, the new fibers look better; they do not have that plastic look.

Jim: I feel they’re most improved in the areas of attractive design, soft tips, excellent performance, very good density, good backbone, quick drying time and economical use of soaps and creams.

Areas where further improvements can be made include work toward the maximum levels of density preferred by shaving brush aficionados (new, thinner fibers), and if finer fibers become available, brush lofts will need to be re-engineered and tested.

6. In your opinion, are there areas where further testing is indicated? Please describe.

Wim: The new synthetics will hopefully be available in bigger knots, more knot shapes might be available and they will be denser.

In the case of synthetics, bigger could be better. Due to the light nature of the fibers, it is my theory that they would really shine in larger diameters. Recently Mühle has come out with the 25 mm Silvertip Fibers. No doubt, also a great brush and a real nice alternative for the big brush appraisers. Yet, in order for that brush to really show its excellent capabilities, I think the loft needs to be a bit lower. The loft as far as I can see is around 60 mm. That is quite big, if not too big with this bulbous shape. I had a prototype designed together with Ken Buzbee, and that one was 25 mm x 52 mm. Immediately, one notices a better backbone and a better shaving experience.

Another of our hopes is that the silvertip fibers become available in shapes other than the typical Mühle bulb shape. As beautiful as they are from our experiment with the lower lofted brushes we also learned that Mühle is able to produce not only a perfect up scaled handle (which I think will attract many wet shavers) but also a fantastic flathead knot shape.

And in the near future, a dream of many wet shavers might come true: denser synthetic shaving brushes. We learned that Mühle is working hard a on an innovative technique to overcome the current maximum density. I learned from conversations with Mühle that the current brushes are at their maximum density. There simply will not fit more fibers in the ring of the brush. So it is a matter of slimming the hairs while keeping their excellent qualities. I have seen and tried one of the first prototypes of these finer and more dense brushes. While they may not be to anyone else's taste, I think they are phenomenal, and hope to see them available one day.

Gary: Yes, I think that more testing can be performed. I think a challenge of total water and product usage is in order for synthetics versus natural brushes in terms of allowing the user to have only a limited amount of both water and product to use to generate lather and to measure the lather produced by volume.

Teiste: I would like to see brushes over 25 mm of knot.

Jim: Since I started testing, I’ve had a chance to use a truly dense shaving brush. This was a new experience for me and a revelation. I was concerned that I might not have the depth of experience that other team members had, but my latest acquisition gave me an education.

The brush I used is a prototype with a shape, loft and fiber that demonstrates continued forward-thinking and aggressive product development activity. I am encouraged that pioneering manufacturers like Mühle continues to follow shaving websites, listen to member comments and work aggressively on new synthetic brush designs.

The New Generation of Synthetic Brushes – Part I
The New Generation of Synthetic Brushes – Part II
The New Generation of Synthetic Brushes – Part III

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 06-24-2012, 05:08 PM
  • Johnny
  • Moderator Emeritus
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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Excellent article part 2.

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