03-17-2012, 01:52 PM
#1
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We all seem to have favorites when it comes to brushes. Some enjoy the stiffness of a boar brush, some the softness of a badger brush, some like the horse hair brush as a compromise between the badger and the boar. Some even like combinations of badger, boar and horse that allow for a averaging of all the types, or the best of all worlds as some say. Some individuals like inexpensive brushes such as the Omega boars, Tweezerman badger, etc. Some individuals like more expensive brushes such as some of the Rooney, Simpson, and products from other higher end brush manufacturers.

All of these types of brushes have one thing in common. The hairs are supplied by animals. Here is where our world of shaving brushes will collide with the world of animal rights activists. A large number of animal rights activists have an extremely strong belief set that animals should never be used for any purpose by humans. These very vocal segments are campaigning to eliminate any animal product use to legislative bodies world wide. As their very vocal efforts continue, we may begin to see shortages sometime in the future in the amount of products that are made from animals due to legislation. We may very well begin to see a major impact upon the brush industry (both for shaving and cosmetics). This is not presented as a political argument. The validity of the viewpoints of animal rights activists is clearly not the focus of this discussion. This fact, which supplies of badger, boar and horse hairs to serve as a supply for brushes will be endangered, is a clear, simple and direct reality. This reality will have to be addressed by the industry now and in the future.

With that backdrop in mind, we have an additional alternative that may help to alleviate the supply issue for brushes in the future, depending upon how well the technology will be advanced. This alternative is the synthetic brush.

Most wet shavers view the synthetic brush with disdain because the fibers have not been made to match the characteristics of animal hair. Some, but not all the issues, that have been raised include the following:

The synthetic brushes do not hold water very well.
The synthetic brush is always stiff and never “breaks in” like a boar or a badger brush.
The synthetic brush does not capture the soap or cream in concert with the water to allow for a favorable lather to be developed.
The synthetic brush does not allow for a “soft / smooth” application of lather to the skin.
The synthetic brush simply does not have the “quality” feel against the skin of an animal brush.

I have tried some of the synthetic brushes and have found these claims to be true. The real question is when will the synthetic brushes have fibers that resemble the natural animal hairs? Maybe now…

I present to you a new synthetic brush from Frank Shaving Company sold on eBay through starshavingsupplies.

The specifications from starshavingsupplies are as follows:
“This New Synthetic Hair Shaving Brush comes in a plastic resin handle, 4 7/16" overall height with 2 7/16" synthetic hair height and will create the richest lather. The synthetic hair will work for those with allergies against animal hair. The hair knot size is 24mm or .945" and this synthetic hair shaving brush will hold enough lather to do 3 passes on your face. This synthetic hair is soft yet the bristles are stiff enough to make a tough beard stand up, thick and tall compared to most shaving brushes. The densely filled brush head is ideal for holding and distributing water and lather and will help soften and raise your beard while exfoliating your skin for a close comfortable shave.”

At the time of purchase, the price was $12.49 U.S.D. with $3.50 U.S.D. shipping charge (now the price is $12.99 U.S.D. with $3.50 U.S.D. shipping charge). With that in mind, I decided to take the plunge to see whether or not the claims were true. The cost was low enough to give this brush a try. I chose the black resin handled model. It arrived a few days after it was ordered and I was ready to put my trusty Tweezerman down for a while to try another brush.

Attached are pictures of the brush and comparison photos with a Tweezerman badger and an Omega Syntex brush. The first thing that struck me was that the fit and finish are excellent for such a low priced brush. You can tell that it is a synthetic from the handle end of the brushes in thickness and coloration, but there is a striking difference from other synthetic brushes when you look at the tips of the brush. They flair and are soft, like a badger brush. The fibers have plenty of backbone, more like a boar than most badgers brushes. When I first applied this brush to water, the fibers sagged like a badger, unlike the fibers of the Omega Syntex which were rigid and harsh when wet as when dry. So here was one major difference that could be seen was that the brush behaved more like an animal than other synthetics.

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[Image: 6844832372_6a7a2affd2_b.jpg]

[Image: 6844832396_e43d36b370_b.jpg]

Next was lathering test. Both lather testing with soap and creams proved to be excellent. The brush in an average puck of tallow soap could generate enough lather for 4 passes of the face and a complete head shave. I was impressed with the way it generated and held lather. It was almost as good as my Tweezerman at generating lots of lather in the mug with soap. The photos that show the brush and lather were generated with soap after approximately a 45 second whisking. The next test was the most critical of all. How does it feel? It was softer to the skin than my Tweezerman, but had slightly less backbone. The lather spread on smooth and easy, unlike the Syntex which was rigid and felt more like a boar that had never been broken in. The Syntex, although having a beautiful handle and a solid reputation due to being manufactured by Omega, was outclassed by the Frank synthetic in each and every way. The Frank held water better, generated richer lather, applied the lather more smoothly and evenly than the Syntex. In fact it was in operation so close to the Tweezerman, but softer which is an improvement.

In the area of brush quality, this brush has not lost a hair in the first two weeks of use. That is better than any other brush that I have used, except the Syntex which did not lose a hair in its testing.

Another area where synthetics trump animal hairs is in the drying process. They are quicker drying and are less likely to develop mold and fungus issues over time if less than adequate care is provided. The Frank brush when I use it in the morning is totally dry in the stand by my return at the end of the work day. My Tweezerman would still be slightly wet and would require the remainder of the evening before completely drying out on the same stand. Another facet that I appreciate is that I do not have to “baby” this brush like many high end brush owners seem to be compelled to do because of cost. This brush does not cost a lot, so I do not have to worry about using it to its maximum potential.

Now the question is, could I live with this brush as my only brush? The answer is that if I had to, this brush would provide me excellent shaves and my experience would not be diminished if this were my only brush. Are there better brushes? Without question there are better brushes. However, there may come a day when fewer of these better brushes are available at much higher prices. Synthetics do have an issue with needing more petroleum products to manufacture, but if it holds up longer than animal hair then that may not be a issue large enough to cause concern.

After 45 days of usage this brush still looked and feels like it was brand new. Obviously being synthetic would give it a greater opportunity for this than a natural hair brush. However, the fit and finish have not been affected even by my rough use. That is why I don't buy expensive brushes because I am rough with a brush.

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Is this an endorsement of the Frank Shaving Company Synthetic Brush? Yes it is. It provides a high level of value given its cost and its composition. You may or may not have a similar experience if you buy this. You may want a higher end natural brush, or this may become your “go to” brush. You will never know until you try.

In my shave den, the Frank Shaving Company Synthetic Brush now has a place all its own.





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 03-17-2012, 02:41 PM
#2
  • Teiste
  • Moderator Emeritus
  • Salt Lake City,UT
User Info
WOW!This is a 5 stars thread!

You know what happened to me today?Well,I was supposed to go to a cabin lodge here in Utah,but at the end I didn't go.However I did choose my shaving gear and the brush was The Boby Shop brush,yes the synthetic one,which looks like the FS one.The Body Shop one cost 12 dollars too,by the way.So,even when in the past I had problems with this brush and I didn't like it at all (I mostly face lather) I used it today with the tallow based Mystic Water Bayrum soap...oh boy,the brush made tons of lather just by swirling over the soap!!Thick and slick lather,even quicker than my beloved boar brushes.So I started face lathering with painting movements and at some point I thought, "ok,lets go for circular ones"...at the beginning I suffered some scratchy feeling and not flow at all, but I pushed the brush harder to my face,and by doing this (something I would never do with boar or badger brushes) I did open more the center of the brush,and the lather BOOM! exploted, without scratchiness at all!!! I was amazed,to be honest,and no irritation on my face caused by the bristles...I have been a sweet surprise today and now your post,so I see that I was wrong in the past and I didnt give this brush the change it needs to shine.
Bowl lathering also with this brush its really good,because you can created a thick lather in no time,like in the past I did with the Musgo Real cream.
I believe also that this kind of brushes (synthetic) are the future and Muhle have released the silvertip fibers,which it seems to be an nicer upgrade than the fibers being used in the FS and TBS brushes.I really wanna try the Muhle one and Ill report back.

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 03-17-2012, 03:11 PM
#3
  • Tonality
  • Attempted Soap Sabbatical
  • Boston
User Info
With these impressive reviews I may have to complete my arsenal and add a synthetic. I was always under the impression that they would be stiff and rough, I kept imagining using a bundle of fiber optics. These are two glowing reviews of (essentially?) the same brush, and at that price it might be worthwhile to pick one up to try for myself.

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 03-17-2012, 03:13 PM
#4
  • Dave
  • Moderator Emeritus
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I've been vegetarian for 3 years but haven't found a synthetic brush that performs anywhere close to a boar, badger, or horse. I'll order one and give it a shot.

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 03-17-2012, 04:49 PM
#5
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Thanks for posting this. I've been looking for a synthetic brush for a while - but I haven't wanted to shell out the $$ for a Muhle or another of the synthetics that get good reviews. I did get a Vulfix knot and stuck it in a handle I had, and it turned out to be the floppiest brush I have ever had the misfortune to use.

This looks like a good brush for a try-out. If it works, it will become my travel brush. Smile At the moment, that spot is occupied by a Simpson Case (excellent brush).

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 03-17-2012, 05:21 PM
#6
  • slantman
  • Expert Shaver
  • Leesburg, Florida
User Info
An excellent and thorough review. Synthetics are becoming more and more popular. Frank Shaving makes excellent brushes. I will have to consider one.


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 03-17-2012, 07:05 PM
#7
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
User Info
Excellent review Gary. Clap

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 03-17-2012, 08:15 PM
#8
  • Songwind
  • Soap Slinger & Scuttle Pusher
  • Burnsville, MN
User Info
Nice review! Maybe I'll get one for the teen daughter for her birthday.

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 03-18-2012, 08:29 AM
#9
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Omega's synthetic is much better than it used to be. The newer brushes visibly resemble badger, not the pure white nylon of the Syntex. I have the "Rossini" that Phil carries and am continuously impressed by how easy it is to lather with. I don't use it all the time, because it lacks the charms of two band badger (holds heat really well) or Semogue boar (wonderfully soft). I think it would be great if Omega came out with a mighty mouse synthetic close to the size of a Wee Scott or 11047.

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 03-18-2012, 12:13 PM
#10
  • Teiste
  • Moderator Emeritus
  • Salt Lake City,UT
User Info
(03-18-2012, 08:29 AM)Dirty Texan Wrote: Omega's synthetic is much better than it used to be. The newer brushes visibly resemble badger, not the pure white nylon of the Syntex. I have the "Rossini" that Phil carries and am continuously impressed by how easy it is to lather with. I don't use it all the time, because it lacks the charms of two band badger (holds heat really well) or Semogue boar (wonderfully soft). I think it would be great if Omega came out with a mighty mouse synthetic close to the size of a Wee Scott or 11047.

How does it works making lather on the face with circular movements?

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 03-18-2012, 12:15 PM
#11
  • Teiste
  • Moderator Emeritus
  • Salt Lake City,UT
User Info
I have used the Body Shop brush today with the Geo F Trumper sandalwood shaving soap with great results,using it with circular movements on the face.Really nice brush,I must say.

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 03-18-2012, 03:14 PM
#12
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(03-18-2012, 08:29 AM)Dirty Texan Wrote: Omega's synthetic is much better than it used to be. The newer brushes visibly resemble badger, not the pure white nylon of the Syntex. I have the "Rossini" that Phil carries and am continuously impressed by how easy it is to lather with. I don't use it all the time, because it lacks the charms of two band badger (holds heat really well) or Semogue boar (wonderfully soft). I think it would be great if Omega came out with a mighty mouse synthetic close to the size of a Wee Scott or 11047.

I have not used the New Omega Synthetic, but every time I see it and some of the other ones, I wonder are the knots the same and rebranded. Some of them look exactly alike even to the measurements. Some may be the same fibers but larger or smaller knots. I will be posting another project thread and you will see what I thinking about on this.


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 03-18-2012, 06:46 PM
#13
  • freddy
  • Senior Member
  • San Diego, California, U.S.A.
User Info
I have The Body Shop synthetic and it gets the job done. Do I think it's better than badger, boar, or horsehair? For the most part, no; however I have a few badger and boar brushes that the synthetic could replace. Overall, I still prefer animal brushes. And from an animal rights point of view, horses are not injured for their hair, unlike badgers or boars.

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 03-18-2012, 06:53 PM
#14
  • Teiste
  • Moderator Emeritus
  • Salt Lake City,UT
User Info
For what I understand,boar hair its a sub product as well as tallow or lard.Regarding the badgers,I dont know how much the Chinese like the badger meat (they eat all that moves or fly...),but in some parts of northern Spain (Catalonia) badger meat is a delicatessen,so maybe we can consider badger hair as a sub product too.
Im mostly vegetarian (I maybe eat fish once every 3 or 4 months and not any kind or red/white meats or eggs) but if an animal has to die,lets get the most of it and use it.That doesn't justify the infamous pink slime,but this is another subject.

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 03-19-2012, 06:47 AM
#15
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(03-18-2012, 12:13 PM)Teiste Wrote:
(03-18-2012, 08:29 AM)Dirty Texan Wrote: Omega's synthetic is much better than it used to be. The newer brushes visibly resemble badger, not the pure white nylon of the Syntex. I have the "Rossini" that Phil carries and am continuously impressed by how easy it is to lather with. I don't use it all the time, because it lacks the charms of two band badger (holds heat really well) or Semogue boar (wonderfully soft). I think it would be great if Omega came out with a mighty mouse synthetic close to the size of a Wee Scott or 11047.

How does it works making lather on the face with circular movements?

It works fine. Great, even. The observation that many have made about pressing harder with the synthetic brushes so that you get "past the tips" and more into the breach of the knot is a good one. You get a more pleasant feeling from the sides of the bristles, and it seems to really accelerate the lathering process. I tried bowl lathering with this yesterday, but it really seems to excel at face or palm lathering.

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 03-19-2012, 04:06 PM
#16
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(03-19-2012, 06:47 AM)Dirty Texan Wrote:
(03-18-2012, 12:13 PM)Teiste Wrote:
(03-18-2012, 08:29 AM)Dirty Texan Wrote: Omega's synthetic is much better than it used to be. The newer brushes visibly resemble badger, not the pure white nylon of the Syntex. I have the "Rossini" that Phil carries and am continuously impressed by how easy it is to lather with. I don't use it all the time, because it lacks the charms of two band badger (holds heat really well) or Semogue boar (wonderfully soft). I think it would be great if Omega came out with a mighty mouse synthetic close to the size of a Wee Scott or 11047.

How does it works making lather on the face with circular movements?

It works fine. Great, even. The observation that many have made about pressing harder with the synthetic brushes so that you get "past the tips" and more into the breach of the knot is a good one. You get a more pleasant feeling from the sides of the bristles, and it seems to really accelerate the lathering process. I tried bowl lathering with this yesterday, but it really seems to excel at face or palm lathering.

I tend to start up in the bowl but finish off with a face lather with these.
The bristles toward the knot provide a solid backbone and the tips are nice and soft. Not silvertip badger soft, but softer than most.


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 03-20-2012, 10:50 PM
#17
  • Teiste
  • Moderator Emeritus
  • Salt Lake City,UT
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I just ordered this brush.Ill report back when I try it.

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 03-21-2012, 04:37 PM
#18
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I just received mine. Through the test-lathers, I'm very impressed with it. It's nothing like my other synthetic (which is a wet noodle). This thing has softness and backbone.

I'll post a real review when I have used it a few times, but this may be one of the better brushes I've used.

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 03-21-2012, 08:33 PM
#19
  • Teiste
  • Moderator Emeritus
  • Salt Lake City,UT
User Info
(03-21-2012, 04:37 PM)yohannrjm Wrote: I just received mine. Through the test-lathers, I'm very impressed with it. It's nothing like my other synthetic (which is a wet noodle). This thing has softness and backbone.

I'll post a real review when I have used it a few times, but this may be one of the better brushes I've used.

Nice! Now Im even more exited to get mine.

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 03-22-2012, 03:17 AM
#20
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I used the FS Synthetic this morning. The plan was to use it to face lather some Irisch Moos.

First, when you shake this brush is loses all the water at the tips, so you need to dip it again to get the lather going.

Second, it doesn't splay at all (no bloom), so it's actually not that easy to build a lather on the face. It is easier to build a lather in a bowl (that's what I did for the test-lathers yesterday). However, it somehow held enough lather for my usual 3+ pass shave, and more.

The feel on the face is not like any natural brush I've owned. The tips are soft, but once you get past the tips it gets very firm (in a comfortable way). This certainly has backbone. It is actually a very nice feel on the face, and I certainly liked it a lot.

So, the good news is that this is a very nice brush, with a good feel on the face, but it may be better suited to bowl-lathering than to face-lathering.

-----

On the downside, it lost about a dozen bristles during the shave. I don't think these synthetic brushes have to go through quite the same break-in period as natural hair brushes, so I think I may have a shedder.


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