Thursday, October 30, 2014

Synthetic Bristle Brush: First Impressions

A seller's photo of the brush that just arrived,
the Omego Syntex.
My Omega Syntex brush arrived the other day. It is the smallest of the three brushes that I now own. It's size is reminiscent of the few vintage brushes that I've seen in antique stores and re-sale shops.

Since I'm trying to keep my additional shaving-gear acquisitions to a minimum, I rationalized this brush purchase as a contribution to my travel-shaving kit because of its smaller size and the synthetic bristles, which should be faster drying than a natural bristle.

The cost of this brush was under $12 including shipping. This is consistent with my general policy of resisting paying big bucks for any shave gear, but especially brushes. I have found my other low-cost brushes to work just fine. The Van Der Hagen boar was about $6 at a local department store, and the Tweezerman was in the $15 ballpark at the time of my purchase.

My initial impression of the firmness of the Syntex synthetic bristles is that they have good backbone similar to boar hair, but the tips lack the wispy softness of a broken-in boar brush.

As an initial lathering test, I whipped up some of my proprietary SS#10C in a lathering bowl, and found the Syntex to be not significantly different in bowl lathering than my other brushes. I didn't shave with that initial lather; that would have to wait to the following morning. I cleaned up, shook the water out of the rinsed brush, and set it, bristles up, on the counter to dry, which it did -- quickly, as expected.

Size comparison: Omega Syntex (left), Tweezerman badger
(center), and Van Der Hagen boar (right). The Syntex is likely
to retain the shape shown. The VDH brush has been stored in
a protective storage tube, so it is less fan shaped than normal
after regular use.
I think it's a handsome little brush. The handle is attractive, comfortable, and though the brush is inexpensive, doesn't to my eye or hand have the a look or feel of low quality.

I read some on-line-review comments that suggested the stark white bristles of the Syntex make it difficult to judge how much soap has been loaded onto the brush prior to making lather. However, I have not found this to be the case.

Though not as soft as my badger brush, this is not a bad thing. The bristles of the Syntex, with their backbone, make both swirling- and painting-motion application of lather to face easy and comfortable. Especially when swirling, the bristles don't tend to lay down as the badger does. Also, unlike my other brushes, especially when new, I have not yet noticed this brush shedding a single bristle.

In terms of the texture against skin, when loaded with lather, I didn't (initially) notice any significant difference in feel against skin; when face lathering, though, the bristles did feel more coarse, but not enough to keep me from using and liking this brush. The knot did hold a surprisingly large amount of lather, which is more than enough for a three-pass shave.

So in sum, these synthetic bristles are unique in some respects as compared to boar or badger. In terms of utility, however, I see no salient disadvantages. I think this brush is a terrific one in terms of both value and function. The bristles dry quickly as compared to natural, they and the handle may be less susceptible to water damage, and the brush as a whole is nice looking. I'm going to continue to use this brush for the time being; my others are, for now, stored in my shaving box in the closet.

Happy shaving!

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