12-21-2012, 10:25 AM
#1
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On another forum I was recently asked to describe some of the differences in available synthetic brush types and what to look for in each and what were some of the differences between synthetics and naturals. Here is that quick synopsis.

Synthetic brushes capture /retain water differently than naturals and those qualities allow them to dry much faster. They do not behave like naturals and should be classed in their own group based on feel and performance, just as Badgers, Boars, and Horse hairs all display and have different characteristics in feel and performance.

The first generation knots were made of base Nylon which was developed in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

These were / are white and are like lathering with a bundle of fishing line or a super boar that never gets soft. They are still available in cheap disposable travel brushes and in the Omega White Syntex Line. I do not recommend these unless your face needs a very good scrubbing.

The second generation knots came out in the early 2000s.

Taken from the cosmetic industry, these nylon brushes were flagged more at the tips to allow a softer feeling and some were dyed to approximate a more natural look. The early MenU, Body Shop, Parker synthetics used this fiber type. The were prone to doughnut holes when getting moist and were not strong performers but some people enjoyed them more as an alternative to naturals than on performance. These behaved more like a cross between horse and boar hair brushes.

The third generation knots came out in the mid 2000s. Taken from the cosmetic industry, these nylon brushes were flagged more at the tips to allow a softer feeling and some were dyed to approximate a more natural look and feel. Closer to badger but not exactly like badger. The fibers tended to be thinner so that more hairs could be packed in a bundle for a denser brush. The performance of brushes using this version improved dramatically. The Jack Black, TGN, Omega Syntex, and a variety of other makers use this fiber to create high performing brushes.

Here is a comparison between first and third generation synthetics.

[Image: Comp_zpsc6c47634.jpg]

A half step up from the third generation (Generation 3.5) came out when Muhle took the Generation 3 fibers and began to crimp and adjust the lengths of the fibers to create a brush that looks and behaves more like natural hairs. This is what is known as the version 1 of the Silvertip Fibre. This is a much higher performing brush than brushes using Generation 3 fibers. This came out in the early 2010-2012 time frame.

Here is an image of the Muhle Silvertip Fibre version 1.

[Image: Muhle35K252_zpsfa4e3348.jpg]

The fourth generation knots came out in the early 2010 - 2012 time frame as well. These fibers so far have been released in the H.I.S. brush and is in the Version 2 of the Muhle Silvertip Fibre which is beginning to be seen around the forums. These fibers flagged even more at the ends to increase softness and to improve lather application. The fibers are also more flexible than what is found the third generation knots that can allow the fibers to be shorter yet retain excellent backbone and flexibility.

For more information on this fiber refer to these articles.

http://shavenook.com/thread-h-i-s-synthetic-brush

http://shavenook.com/thread-i-shrunk-the...dification

I will carry you to the tenth article in my series on Sharpologist (History of Synthetics) in which other experienced testers share their thoughts on synthetics.

http://sharpologist.com/2012/11/syntheti...rt-10.html

This is the last article in the series. To learn more about synthetics read the entire series on the (History of Synthetics) for detailed discussions on fibers and timelines. Where I had to use broad brush statements in this write up, there is more detailed information in those articles, including hyperlinks to historical items and patent records that provides in depth information that cannot be covered here.

Cheers.

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 12-21-2012, 10:52 AM
#2
  • mikeperry
  • Senior Member
  • St Louis via the UK
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Hi Gary

Thank you for an interesting and informative write up Thumbsup

Take care, Mike

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 12-21-2012, 12:03 PM
#3
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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So Gary, which one of these synthetics do you use?

Nice write-up, good information. Thanks.

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 12-21-2012, 12:17 PM
#4
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Can anyone provide links to the new Muhle gen 2 fibers?

So, I guess we're on gen 4 now?

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 12-21-2012, 01:26 PM
#5
  • Attila
  • The Hungarian Blade
  • Vancouver, Canada
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Excellent summation of your original thread Garry. Much appreciated as always!

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 12-21-2012, 02:23 PM
#6
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(12-21-2012, 12:03 PM)Johnny Wrote: So Gary, which one of these synthetics do you use?

Nice write-up, good information. Thanks.

Johnny, I use Generation 3 TGNs, Generation 3.5 for my 2 Muhles and Generation 4 with the H.I.S.

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 12-21-2012, 04:56 PM
#7
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(12-21-2012, 12:17 PM)asharperrazor Wrote: Can anyone provide links to the new Muhle gen 2 fibers?

So, I guess we're on gen 4 now?

Lee, the web pages still show the version 1 fibers.

Jim (Codfish) in his interview with Christian has displayed the version 2 fibers. Here is the interview and the image from that interview.

http://shavenook.com/thread-interview-wi...m%C3%BChle

[Image: SilvertipFibreline-up2.jpg]

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 12-21-2012, 05:00 PM
#8
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Great information, Gary! Well done. i was just curious to see if you have tried the Frank Shaving synthetic brushes and what your opinion of them is.

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 12-21-2012, 05:17 PM
#9
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(12-21-2012, 05:00 PM)celestino Wrote: Great information, Gary! Well done. i was just curious to see if you have tried the Frank Shaving synthetic brushes and what your opinion of them is.

I did an original FS Synthetic when they first started getting popular. Its review is here and I purchased them through a U.S. distributor (starshavingsupplies through e-Bay) and not directly from Frank Shaving.

http://shavenook.com/thread-a-place-all-...etic-brush

Since there are so many great alternatives, Vintage Blades, H.I.S., Muhle, or even customs using TGN knots that are available, that I do not recommend FS due to customer service issues that I and others on various forums have experienced.

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 12-21-2012, 06:09 PM
#10
  • Codfish
  • Product Tester
  • Connecticut Shoreline
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(12-21-2012, 12:17 PM)asharperrazor Wrote: Can anyone provide links to the new Muhle gen 2 fibers?

So, I guess we're on gen 4 now?

Yes, I think that H.I.S. and Mühle now have brushes that clearly represent the next generation of synthetic brushes. It is my understanding that Mühle's will be available in their catalog shortly, and that they can be purchased now by special order by writing directly to them.

Mühle refers to its new Silvertip Fibre simply as "refined fibre". I have had an opportunity to test the new refined fibers in a matching set of new brushes. Visually, the differences between their STF (SilverTip Fibre) and refined STF knots are hard to detect. There is a subtle shortening of loft heights, and I personally feel that there has been a slight flattening to the traditional Mühle bulb shape.

While the changes with the refined fibers are difficult to detect visually, they are instantly apparent to the touch. This is Mühle's finest STF to date, offering luxurious density, softness and backbone--with less of the springiness often associated with synthetic fibers. This makes splaying the fibers easier, and more badger-like. This line of brushes feels different, to be sure. Even when dry, there is a velvet-like quality of the brushes against the skin.

I am informed that the refined fiber is thinner. One source has reported that it is approximately 10% thinner than the previous fiber. The thinner fibers allow more to be packed into a given knot size, with direct improvement in brush density. Other improvements in crimping, packing and flagging contribute to brush backbone, water- and heat-retention.

In terms of performance, I think that Mühle's refined fibre knots have reached what I would argue is landmark status. I feel that they are as good or better than natural-hair brushes on every dimension of performance. I was testing a new silvertip badger brush from another manufacturer recenly, when I interrupted the test to reach for my 23mm Mühle refined fibre brush to complete the shave. The STF brush, in my opinion, does have softer tips, better backbone and superior lather flow characteristics when compared to good quality natural silvertip badger brushes. In addition, they have lost none of the advantages offered by synthetic brushes in ease of cleaning, rich and explosive lather making and economical use of soaps/creams. Check them out at your earliest opportunity.

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 12-21-2012, 07:14 PM
#11
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Jim, thanks for the additional information on the Muhle refined STF brushes. I have a feeling that many people are going to enjoy this series of brushes.

Thanks to all who have read this thread. One of the reasons why I posted it is because there are many people who think that "all synthetics are exactly the same."

There are 4 clearly discernible types of fibers (and some sub modifications) that exist. All of them are currently being manufactured and sold new. In addition, many are resold like all other types of brushes. So that can cause some confusion in the market place as to what synthetic type you have. Now there is another problem where comparing against a static product, such as natural animal hairs where for the last 150 years we have used the same animals as a source for fibers, is not applicable in the world of synthetics. Badgers, Horses and Pigs have provide the same types of hair, where synthetics have room to be changed and updated as new discoveries come along.

The Generation 3, 3.5 Muhle Ver. 1 STF, and the Generation 4 H.I.S. and Muhle refined STF (Ver. 2) are really far better than the older brushes. There may come a point in time where a fifth and sixth generation of synthetics that improve upon the current technology. Time will tell on that front, but I would not sit on the corner and miss out on these brushes.

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 01-06-2013, 10:53 AM
#12
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Does anyone know if the latest generation of Muhle synthetics are available yet?

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 01-06-2013, 10:59 AM
#13
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(01-06-2013, 10:53 AM)insomniac Wrote: Does anyone know if the latest generation of Muhle synthetics are available yet?

I think that if you order from Muhle directly & specifically request the new version, then yes. Otherwise, from other sources I'm not sure if they've differentiated product #s or descriptions.

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 01-07-2013, 08:41 AM
#14
  • oscar11
  • Senior Member
  • North Dakota
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These synthetic knots have sure turned my head. Recently, I rehandled a H.I.S. 28mm knot and set the loft at 55mm and took a Muhle 23mm knot and rehandled it and set the loft around 51/52mm. Both of these brushes are lather monsters and honestly don't know what more a person could expect from a brush. They're comfortable to use and produce copious amounts of lather. I love my badgers but these newer synthetics are a very viable option. IMO, their biggest shortcomings are with tradition and aesthetics. I'm also not sure if they can reach their maximum potential at the factory loft settings (again just my opinion).

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