09-17-2012, 09:42 AM
#1
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So I am in the rotation to try the H I S synthetic, and from the reviews I have read here and elsewhere it is considered the "best" synthetic but still not up there with a real animal hair brush.

I have two basic questions here regarding the use of synthetics.

Why did you choose a synthetic? My general assumption is that no animals are harmed in the process of making one.

A follow up question for those who did choose a synthetic from a concern for animals perspective; have you considered a horse hair brush? Horses are not harmed in the process of gathering mane / tail hair for a brush. While I do not have a large number of horse hair, my Vie-Long Zurito is amogst my favourites in my collection. Soft tips with just a bit of scritch and good backbone even after a year.

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 09-17-2012, 10:33 AM
#2
  • Arcadies
  • Senior Member
  • Greeneville, TN
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(09-17-2012, 09:42 AM)wingdo Wrote: So I am in the rotation to try the H I S synthetic, and from the reviews I have read here and elsewhere it is considered the "best" synthetic but still not up there with a real animal hair brush.

I have two basic questions here regarding the use of synthetics.

Why did you choose a synthetic? My general assumption is that no animals are harmed in the process of making one. I have seen videos of the treatment of badgers in China and while I will continue to use the badgers I have, I do not expect to purchase any more of them. I am less concerned about boar bristle as I am a bacon lover and I figure as long as they have to make bacon for me, they may as well make me a brush too. Biggrin

A follow up question for those who did choose a synthetic from a concern for animals perspective; have you considered a horse hair brush? Horses are not harmed in the process of gathering mane / tail hair for a brush. While I do not have a large number of horse hair, my Vie-Long Zurito is amogst my favourites in my collection. Soft tips with just a bit of scritch and good backbone even after a year.

While I don't use synthetics exclusively I do have a HIS and a Muhle Silvertip Fibre that I rotate in and out of the mix. I don't use them for the humane aspects, I like them because they can whip up insanely gorgeous, thick creamy lather in half the time my badgers do and with half the product. Also they're cheap and resilient...I can be rougher with them than a natural brush and not worry about shedding and other issues and they dry fast, a nice feature if you travel.

Usually when I do choose to use a synthetic, it's when I am using a soap/cream that is expensive or requires a lot of product..for example Santa Maria Novella or Martin de Candre..both are very expensive soaps and a synthetic will require half the product of a badger/boar. I also use the synthetics when I lather up Mitchell's Wool Fat, Mikes Natural, Mystic Water or QCS soaps/croaps as they tend to require 2-3x the product/loading time of normal soaps and a synthetic will cut that in half..I know this is a luxury hobby and there should be no rush, but I just don't like having to load a soap forever..30-45 seconds is my max. The tradeoff however is the feel on the face, while synthetics have improved, I still prefer the feel of badger on my face and the heat retention with badger is still way ahead of synthetics, in my opinion anyway..not a big deal in the summer but we're heading into winter soon.

In the end I still love and prefer my badgers and I'd say I still use them 80% of the time and have no plans on ever being a 100% synthetic convert.

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 09-17-2012, 10:56 AM
#3
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(09-17-2012, 09:42 AM)wingdo Wrote: I have seen videos of the treatment of badgers in China and while I will continue to use the badgers I have, I do not expect to purchase any more of them. I am less concerned about boar bristle as I am a bacon lover and I figure as long as they have to make bacon for me, they may as well make me a brush too. Biggrin

If you are speaking of the video I think you are speaking about, that is not a badger. IIRC it's a dog racoon or something like that. From what I've read about those critters, a badger would still be biting at the guy, skin or not.

They do not farm badgers. They gas the nasty little critters in their settes.

I'm fairly certain the rural Chinese hunters make darn sure the badger is dead before handling it. They are mean, nasty creatures with a very bad attitude.

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 09-17-2012, 11:39 AM
#4
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(09-17-2012, 10:56 AM)asharperrazor Wrote: They do not farm badgers. They gas the nasty little critters in their settes.

I will have to search for the video. It is NOT the PETA video you are thinking about.

The badgers were trapped, and then beaten on the head until dead (one or two whacks). Spending every stinking summer of my youth in rural Wisconsin, I have managed to see a number of badgers and I agree they are vile rodents. It's not like clubbing a baby seal which hopefully *most* civilized people are against. None the less it did bother me. That said, if I feel the need to add another badger brush, I will gladly purchase one.

The main question I had was for those who *do* choose synthetic over badger / boar for humane reasons, have they considered a horse hair.

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 09-17-2012, 11:42 AM
#5
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I think my affinity toward synthetics is more a performance and feel thing than a moral decision. I just like the way they feel and perform, especially for the price point that many of them fall under.

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 09-17-2012, 12:12 PM
#6
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Trapping is the other way to get them.

I am unclear how one would kill them humanely. I do understand that kocher requires a special skillset and a sharp knife. However, I'm not entirely sure that is practical with badgers. You'd probably lose some fingers if you tried that.

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 09-17-2012, 12:34 PM
#7
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I understand why vegetarians etc prefer a synthetic over a badger... I have a Mühle Silvertip Fiber and it does not match my Silvertip badgers in performance ... I am not talking about making lather here but the face feel etc when making lather on your face...
So for me as face latherer there is no desire to use a synthetic brush...

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 09-17-2012, 01:38 PM
#8
  • Exapno
  • Member
  • Northampton, England
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Interesting question, I've never really considered a horse hair brush even though I chose a synthetic for humane reasons. Horse hair brushes aren't very prominent on a lot of vendors websites and don't seem to get much coverage on the forums but like you say, the horse isn't harmed (to the best of my knowledge). Can you post some links to the better horse hair brushes?

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 09-17-2012, 02:17 PM
#9
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(09-17-2012, 01:38 PM)Exapno Wrote: Interesting question, I've never really considered a horse hair brush even though I chose a synthetic for humane reasons. Horse hair brushes aren't very prominent on a lot of vendors websites and don't seem to get much coverage on the forums but like you say, the horse isn't harmed (to the best of my knowledge). Can you post some links to the better horse hair brushes?

These are basically the same brush, one in natural color and one dyed like a badger. Both on sale through Phil. I own one and it is amongst my favorite brushes. Good for soaps and creams IMO.

http://www.bullgooseshaving.net/vi13hohabr.html
http://www.bullgooseshaving.net/vielong13061m.html

The handle is quite nice looking in person. You should be able to find one on a European site. There are some very inexpensive (i.e. under $10) brushes from Turkey, but I have no experience with them. This is a brush I use frequently and love. Yes, I do own badger and boar as well and this is still a favorite of mine.

This is also a highly regarded brush:
http://www.bullgooseshaving.net/vibubeinnaho.html
or
http://www.bullgooseshaving.net/vibeindyhoha.html

As you can see Vie-Long makes a number of nicely priced high quality horse hair brushes. Personally I'd stay away from any of the low cost ones, or ones with a small knot. Either tend to be too floppy IMO.

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 09-17-2012, 02:19 PM
#10
  • Teiste
  • Moderator Emeritus
  • Salt Lake City,UT
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This must be funny,but Im basically a vegan and I do like badger/boar shaving brushes as well as lather shoes.I think that if an animal is going to die,lets get all that we could out of it : pelt,skin,fat and ,of course,meat.Since many animals are killed every day for its meat,I consider another big crime not to use as much as we can out of them.
With badgers its the same : it seems that theyre use for their meat in rural China , so lets not waste their pelt.
However,if you are a vegan or vegetarian , or simply dont want a dead animal hair on your brush , the sinthetic brushes are there to satisfy you in the case you wanna shave traditionally.
I find them very efficient ,specially the Muhle silvertip badgers.

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 09-17-2012, 04:09 PM
#11
  • matloffm
  • Senior Member
  • Culver City, CA
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I am Vegan. I chose this for moral reasons, but for almost 30 years I have also enjoyed the health benefits. As for brushes, I appreciate that the horses are not harmed in obtaining the hair, but I believe we should not use animals as sources of raw materials if possible.

As for the synthetics, I have several now and probably will try new ones as they come out. I believe at this point in their development a quality synthetic will create as good a lather as any animal hair brush. I think the main difference is to be found with those shavers who face lather. Most the synthetics I have are a bit stiff for comfortable face lathering. But my most recent acquisition might change all that. I need to work with it a bit more, but this is the most comfortable one I have ever used. Seriously soft, but still with enough backbone to make a great lather.

I feel that at the current rate of improvement, synthetics may become the brush of choice for most shavers. Just my opinion. Biggrin

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 09-17-2012, 06:18 PM
#12
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Matloffm- what's the current synthetic brush you are using?

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 09-17-2012, 08:34 PM
#13
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(09-17-2012, 10:33 AM)Arcadies Wrote:
(09-17-2012, 09:42 AM)wingdo Wrote: So I am in the rotation to try the H I S synthetic, and from the reviews I have read here and elsewhere it is considered the "best" synthetic but still not up there with a real animal hair brush.

I have two basic questions here regarding the use of synthetics.

Why did you choose a synthetic? My general assumption is that no animals are harmed in the process of making one. I have seen videos of the treatment of badgers in China and while I will continue to use the badgers I have, I do not expect to purchase any more of them. I am less concerned about boar bristle as I am a bacon lover and I figure as long as they have to make bacon for me, they may as well make me a brush too. Biggrin

A follow up question for those who did choose a synthetic from a concern for animals perspective; have you considered a horse hair brush? Horses are not harmed in the process of gathering mane / tail hair for a brush. While I do not have a large number of horse hair, my Vie-Long Zurito is amogst my favourites in my collection. Soft tips with just a bit of scritch and good backbone even after a year.

While I don't use synthetics exclusively I do have a HIS and a Muhle Silvertip Fibre that I rotate in and out of the mix. I don't use them for the humane aspects, I like them because they can whip up insanely gorgeous, thick creamy lather in half the time my badgers do and with half the product. Also they're cheap and resilient...I can be rougher with them than a natural brush and not worry about shedding and other issues and they dry fast, a nice feature if you travel.

Usually when I do choose to use a synthetic, it's when I am using a soap/cream that is expensive or requires a lot of product..for example Santa Maria Novella or Martin de Candre..both are very expensive soaps and a synthetic will require half the product of a badger/boar. I also use the synthetics when I lather up Mitchell's Wool Fat, Mikes Natural, Mystic Water or QCS soaps/croaps as they tend to require 2-3x the product/loading time of normal soaps and a synthetic will cut that in half..I know this is a luxury hobby and there should be no rush, but I just don't like having to load a soap forever..30-45 seconds is my max. The tradeoff however is the feel on the face, while synthetics have improved, I still prefer the feel of badger on my face and the heat retention with badger is still way ahead of synthetics, in my opinion anyway..not a big deal in the summer but we're heading into winter soon.

In the end I still love and prefer my badgers and I'd say I still use them 80% of the time and have no plans on ever being a 100% synthetic convert.

* Well said, here. i was a vegan for 19 years, now, mainly vegetarian, but would prefer getting used brushes to new ones regardless of what they are. For purely practical reasons, making lather and applying it to the face, the synthetics are amazing and some of them are great face-lathers, in my opinion. Horse-hair brushes are also fantastic. If you have not tried a good synthetic, i think you are missing out.

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 09-17-2012, 11:55 PM
#14
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I use synthetics (and any other brush that I've kept) for the feel and lather-making performance.

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 09-18-2012, 02:46 PM
#15
  • matloffm
  • Senior Member
  • Culver City, CA
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(09-17-2012, 06:18 PM)BladeDE40 Wrote: Matloffm- what's the current synthetic brush you are using?

I rotate through all my brushes, but the one that keeps getting the most use is my Muhle Black Fiber. While less expensive (depending on the handle) than the Muhle Silver Tip, it is much softer on the face when working in the lather. I don't face lather, but if I did this would be my brush. Actually thinking about getting a second one. Biggrin

P.S. All my brushes make great lather. Tongue

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 09-18-2012, 03:06 PM
#16
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(09-18-2012, 02:46 PM)matloffm Wrote:
(09-17-2012, 06:18 PM)BladeDE40 Wrote: Matloffm- what's the current synthetic brush you are using?

I rotate through all my brushes, but the one that keeps getting the most use is my Muhle Black Fiber. While less expensive (depending on the handle) than the Muhle Silver Tip, it is much softer on the face when working in the lather. I don't face lather, but if I did this would be my brush. Actually thinking about getting a second one. Biggrin

P.S. All my brushes make great lather. Tongue

+1, I find the Black Fibre to be much better than the STF. Feels great and works great too.

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 07-19-2013, 11:23 AM
#17
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I have three synth brushes all from Muhle. I've tried a couple cheaper ones (the Body Shop and Edwin Jagger) and they just didn't do it for me.

Why synthetic? I think they perform well, they never shed (a pet peeve), and they dry quickly. Now my favorite brushes are still Shavemac badgers, but the synths are as good or better than most other brushes I've used.

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 07-21-2013, 07:01 AM
#18
  • OldDog23
  • Senior Member
  • BeanTown MetroWest
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performance. good lathering. totally non-shedding. dead-soft tips, if you happen to prefer `em that way... good flow, quick-drying.

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 07-21-2013, 12:29 PM
#19
  • Arcadies
  • Senior Member
  • Greeneville, TN
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(09-17-2012, 10:33 AM)Arcadies Wrote: While I don't use synthetics exclusively I do have a HIS and a Muhle Silvertip Fibre that I rotate in and out of the mix. I don't use them for the humane aspects, I like them because they can whip up insanely gorgeous, thick creamy lather in half the time my badgers do and with half the product. Also they're cheap and resilient...I can be rougher with them than a natural brush and not worry about shedding and other issues and they dry fast, a nice feature if you travel.

Usually when I do choose to use a synthetic, it's when I am using a soap/cream that is expensive or requires a lot of product..for example Santa Maria Novella or Martin de Candre..both are very expensive soaps and a synthetic will require half the product of a badger/boar. I also use the synthetics when I lather up Mitchell's Wool Fat, Mikes Natural, Mystic Water or QCS soaps/croaps as they tend to require 2-3x the product/loading time of normal soaps and a synthetic will cut that in half..I know this is a luxury hobby and there should be no rush, but I just don't like having to load a soap forever..30-45 seconds is my max. The tradeoff however is the feel on the face, while synthetics have improved, I still prefer the feel of badger on my face and the heat retention with badger is still way ahead of synthetics, in my opinion anyway..not a big deal in the summer but we're heading into winter soon.

In the end I still love and prefer my badgers and I'd say I still use them 80% of the time and have no plans on ever being a 100% synthetic convert.

It has been almost a year, since I posted this, and I now use synthetics about 75% of the time and boar the other 25% and do not own any badger brushes whatsoever. I have just really come to appreciate the efficiency and resilience of synthetics over naturals.
I now own 4 synths..a HIS that doesn't get much use, a black Muhle 23mm fibre (V1) a Edwin Jagger faux horn 23mm fibre (V1) and another EJ ivory 23mm (V2).

Call me the odd man out but I prefer the V1 over V2, the lather and performance are almost identical to my eyes, but V1 are a slightly more "scrubby" and I enjoy that.

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 07-21-2013, 01:30 PM
#20
  • TRBeck
  • Unregistered
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I have always disliked the methods of badger harvest in China, not to mention the fact that China is not known for particularly forward-thinking policy on protection of the environment and animals. I suspect that there will be no badgers left in a decade or so if the current rate of consumption continues without any check. Note that I have owned many badger brushes and am not issuing a judgment against anyone who can afford to and wants to buy them. However, in the end, I found that I couldn't personally justify owning badger brushes.

Boar brushes and horse hair brushes are produced differently, of course, and in fact I have been a fan of boar bristles for years. I still own some Omega Pros, despite having sold all of my badgers. However, synthetic provides the resiliency I love in boar bristles while being quick-drying and better suited to travel. So, I am using a synthetic day to day now. I couldn't be happier with the efficiency of its performance. I need less product than with badger and boar, and I suspect this brush will outlive me (and I'm only 35). I also look forward to improvements in the quality of synthetics. In contrast, the badger hair available now seems more variable in quality than a few years ago, and there is no bristle on the market as good as what I had in the badgers I owned some years back. I think the price will become even more dear and the quality even more variable before the supply of badger bristle finally dries up.

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