09-16-2012, 11:41 AM
  • Andrew
  • Senior Member
  • Austin, TX
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My friend Teiste and I have exchanged a few brushes, giving us the opportunity to try a few without having to buy them. As you know, Teiste takes some very nice photos and writes very nice reviews of many things that pass through his shave den. Recently, I sent him a couple Plisson HMW size 12s to try. The 2-band HMW prompted a comparison to his 2-band Vie-Longs, so I asked him if I could give them a try. Teiste's write ups are here:

Plisson HMW 12

Plisson HMW

Teiste loaned me two of his Vie-Long 2-band brushes when he returned my HMWs, and I have been comparing three brushes all week: the 2-band HMW and Teiste's Vie Longs. Here they are, from left to right: Vie-Long olivewood handle, Vie-Long Foroafeitado LE, Plisson size 12 HMW

[Image: 7989122747_7c7ebf405e_c.jpg]

[Image: 7989122933_513a775ce7_c.jpg]

[Image: 7989123113_b37ddf9d72_c.jpg]

I measure the knots as follows:

Plisson HMW 12: 21mm x 57mm
Vie-Long Foroafeitado LE: 20mm x 52mm
Vie-Long olivewood handle: 22mm x 49mm

I'll refer to them as HMW, FA (Foroafeitado brush), and OW (olivewood handle Vie-Long).

My comparison consistent of using two brushes with each morning's shave - the HMW and one of the Vie-Longs. This comparison went on for 6 days. I also did a number of test lathers on my hand (none in a bowl) and made comparisons of the knots when dry, lathered, soaking wet, and damp right after the shave.

Comparison to follow.

43 1,707
 09-16-2012, 11:44 AM
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Cruel. Just cruel my friend. Sad

I feel so teased.

Glue rim. New term!

9 3,046
 09-16-2012, 11:52 AM
  • Andrew
  • Senior Member
  • Austin, TX
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First, just looking at the brushes, you can see some similarity in the hair. Obviously, it is 2-band badger. But the length of the dark band and the length of the white on the tips is very similar. If my pictures don't show it well, Teiste's photos better demonstrate the whiter color of the tips on the FA when compared to both the HMW and OW.

[Image: 7993136125_91b3426396_c.jpg]
The coloring of the OW and HMW brushes is pretty much the same.

The shape of the knots also accounts for the similar appearance of these brushes. They all three have a fairly standard bulb shape, and they are all packed with a similar density. If I had to rank them in order of density (most dense to least dense) it would be: FA > OW > HMW. Yes, I think the HMW is a little less densely packed. HOWEVER, it has the tallest loft, so looks can be deceiving.

A recent hot topic has been the glue bump. And I now think this is important to mention in any brush description or review. There is another thread on this forum about the glue bump, which I think makes for some very good reading. As for these brushes, I detect no glue bump on the FA or HMW. I do detect a glue bump, or actually a glue rim on the OW - meaning I feel a firm ridge along the margins of the knot at the base, maybe about 4mm high.

Comparing them dry, I can tell the tips of the Vie-Longs are softer than the HMW. The FA tips feel just an iota softer than the others. When you run your hand over the dry knots, you get the impression that these might be very slightly floppy brushes. Dry, they don't feel quite as stiff as other 2-bands that have passed through my den.

Soaked, the hair of the brushes clumps together, leaving some wide open spaces in the knot. This really doesn't say anything about the brushes, other than that they look similar when they come out of the water I soaked them in before lathering. In this wet state, I can still tell the tips of the Vie-Longs are a little softer. Backbone feels very similar between the brushes at this point.

On to the lathering...

All three of these brushes made an excellent lather quite easily, from whatever product I threw at them. Between my shaves and test lathers, they ran the gamut of hard and soft creams, soft soaps, and hard triple milled soaps. I was most impressed with their ability to load and lather up hard soaps. Any concerns of floppiness I had based on their dry feel vanished as I took the wet brushes to the soap. The brushes certainly have backbone - the hair has a springy quality to it that allows the knot to maintain its shape (and not splay) when loading product. In this regard, the three brushes are quite similar.

Quality of lather generated by the brushes is excellent, regardless of the product I used. I found all three managed water consistently, and I did not have any problems with lather that was too wet or too dry. I am quite used to using the HMW, so my experience with this brush may have something to do with the ease of making lather with them.

Next installment - on the face.

43 1,707
 09-16-2012, 12:29 PM
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Great comparison so far. Looking forward to hearing the next installment Smile

7 1,181
 09-16-2012, 01:12 PM
  • Andrew
  • Senior Member
  • Austin, TX
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I pretty much 100% face lather, so that's what I did with these brushes in my comparison. And this is where I note the main difference between the Plisson and the Vie-Longs. When I face lather, I build the lather with circular motions, adding a little water to get the consistency right. When the lather is good, I use paint brush strokes to cover everything I'm going to shave. When making circular motions on the face, the Plisson 2-band HMW feels a little scritchy. This is a different kind of scritchy than I have experienced with a few other brushes, and perhaps I should make a distinction by calling the HMW a little prickly. I do not like scritchy brushes, but I do like the Plisson HMW. What I mean by scritchy brushes - they give you a very significant exfoliating scrub, with a slight scratchy sensation that is not uncomfortable like a scratch, hence calling it a scritch. With other scritchy brushes, I feel them as if almost every hair in the knot is contributing to the scritchiness. The more pressure I exert on my face with the brush, the more uncomfortable the sensation becomes. Most notably with brushes I call scritchy, my face feels hot and sensitive after the shave, which I chalk up to the exfoliating action of the brush.

The Plisson HMW does not do this. Rather, when I use circular motions with the brush, I notice a few scritches here and there - a gentle prickle of a few tips is all. My face does not feel uncomfortable in the slightest after using this brush, even when I've spent extra time building lather. I haven't noted this type of sensation with any of the other brushes I have used, and this sensation is where I find the greatest difference between the HMW and the Vie-Longs. That being said, I did notice a hint of this prickly sensation with the FA. If I wasn't comparing the HMW and the FA, I might not have noticed it in the FA. But it's there, and it furthers the similarity I note between these brushes. The OW tips are soft, with no hint of prickle whatsoever. I was surprised by this, since I thought the OW would feel the most similar to the HMW based on looks.

Another difference I noticed from face lathering these brushes is backbone - the Plisson HMW has slightly more backbone on the face. I found this a little surprising because of the taller loft of the Plisson.

All three brushes manage the lather over the course of the shave quite well. The brushes have excellent flow-through, which I think is related to a combination of their shape and their level of density. After three passes, I could squeeze enough lather out of each brush for a fourth pass (which I don't make). Squeezing the lather out of the brushes feels like squeezing cream out of a tube, in a way. It's a very satisfying feel that I think is related to the rich lather lingering between the hairs of the knot.

After rinsing and shaking the brushes dry, their still damp tips feel equally soft. The hair has very similar backbone in this state, and they all bloom to about the same extent.

Okay, I'll try to wrap this up.

From my comparison, I think there are some definite similarities between the Vie-Long 2-band hair and the Plisson HMW 2-band hair. At least these similarities exist between the three brushes I used. The most notable similarities are the appearance of the hair, the style of the knots (shape, density), the ease of creating lather with the brushes, the multipurpose nature of them (equally good with creams and soaps), the degree of backbone on the face (more or less), and the springiness of the hair.

Similar, but not the same. The tips of the Vie-Long 2-band are noticeably softer than the HMW, and this is apparent when the brushes are dry, wet, or being rubbed on the face. With everything else being so similar, I have tried to come up with a reason why this difference in tip softness. My best guess is a difference in the shaft size. The Plisson hair is longer than the Vie-Long hair. This makes me think the shafts of the Plisson hairs are a little thicker, explaining why the taller lofted Plisson has a similar backbone, and perhaps why the tips feel slightly prickly.

I have heard rumors about Plisson and Vie-Long sourcing their badger hair from the same place. I don't know anything about this, though. But these rumors are perhaps another reason Teiste and I were interested in comparing these brushes. Maybe the longer hairs used in the Plisson brushes command a premium from the supplier? Maybe the only difference is between the length of the hairs Vie-Long and Plisson use in their brushes? Maybe there just isn't a whole lot of difference between the badger hairs Plisson and Vie-Long buy, whether it's from the same supplier or not.

Plisson threads on the shaving forums always include a few posts or a heated discussion about the "value" of Plisson brushes - i.e., they cost way more than they are "worth;" a person who buys a Plisson is spending money on the name, not the quality; you can find better brushes out there for far less money. And so on. A comparison of the relatively inexpensive Vie-Longs to the top dollar Plisson invokes this sort of discussion, and I won't try to steer clear of it. What I can say, though, is that if you are interested in using a brush that feels and performs like a 2-band Plisson HMW (not the same, mind you, just similar) without paying the premium, then the Vie-Long 2-band badger is a good way to go. I should further qualify this statement - if the 2-band badger in all of Vie-Long's brushes is the same quality as the two brushes Teiste sent me. The Vie-Longs he sent me are very good brushes. I would not take one over my Plisson, but I'm quite biased toward the brush I spent my own money on.

The only Vie-Long I have previously owned was a 13061 horse hair brush. After this comparison, I am seriously thinking of picking up their current offering which is basically the same as the Foroafeitado LE.

A big thanks to Teiste for making this comparison possible.

43 1,707
 09-16-2012, 01:58 PM
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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Very nice review and comparison Andrew. Thank you.

180 24,749
 09-16-2012, 02:35 PM
  • oscar11
  • Senior Member
  • North Dakota
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Interesting, thanks Andrew.

12 774
 09-16-2012, 04:07 PM
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Thank you Andrew for an informative, thoughtful, entertaining, and useful review and comparison of the three brushes.

0 3,341
 09-16-2012, 04:36 PM
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Andrew, thanks for the info.

89 21,190
 09-16-2012, 05:08 PM
  • mikeperry
  • Senior Member
  • St Louis via the UK
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Hi Andrew

Excellent stuff, I thoroughly enjoyed reading what you had to say... Thumbsup

Take care, Mike

23 1,872
 09-16-2012, 07:42 PM
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Thank you, Andrew. I felt you were very thorough and even-handed.

48 1,269
 09-16-2012, 08:18 PM
  • Teiste
  • Moderator Emeritus
  • Salt Lake City,UT
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One of the best threads written so far in this forum.Period.

Thanks for making this comparison , my good friend . As I told you , the hair is very , very similar but different is some aspects.However Vie Long two band hair is one of the best out there and , for me , for its price , beats many others easily.

I was told in the past that Vie Long and Plisson got some badger hair from the same suplier.Well,I only can say that Vie Long two band and the Plisson HWM 2 band and European grey have a lot of similar things.However,Vie Long silvertip 3 band , super badger 3 band are very different than Plisson HMW 3 band or European White 3 band badger hair.

Vie Long is a brand not very well known for its badger hair brushes , even in my country,where we seek for UK brands (I myself must admit that I do ) before thinking in getting a Vie Long brush.The VL silvertip hair is the most luxurious that I have tried so far (and other could confirm that too) with velvety feeling tips and priced right.Also the Vie Long European 2 band is a great badger hair ,which tips softens a lot with use but keeping a ight amount of backbone and flow.

Thanks a lot again , Andrew : as I said,one of the best threads of this forum so far.

89 7,215
 09-16-2012, 10:16 PM
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Great write up, thank you. I think I will put the FA on my wish list.

129 6,685
 09-17-2012, 12:35 AM
  • GreekGuy
  • Not saving money yet....
  • La Jolla, CA
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Fantastic review and comparison Andrew. Very well done indeed.

9 541
 09-17-2012, 01:29 AM
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Hmm, a 2 band Vie-Long might have to sit on the shelf next to my Plisson...

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