Tuesday, October 6, 2015

On Badger and Synthetic Brushes

An anonymous commenter asked this:

"Speaking of sacred cows, what is your view on badger brushes i.e that they are best for lathering up your face. What about synthetic brushes?"

Opinions vary, and I've never used one of those wildly-expensive brushes; I own Van Der Hagen (VDH) boar, Tweezerman badger, and Omega Syntex synthetic-bristled brushes. All available for less that $15.

My opinion has changed over time, as well. My VDH brush was my first and favorite once the boar bristles were broken in, which yielded soft tips but still nice backbone to the knot. Then I liked the Tweezerman when I was still in my bowl-lathering phase because it wasn't a bit oversized as is the VDH, and it was soft. Then I went back and forth between the two.

My Omega Syntex is currently my favorite. Initially the bristles were coarse on my skin, but with use have become more face friendly. I now exclusively face lather, and the Syntex is very good for that. It holds water nicely (due to water tension; the bristles don't actually absorb water) but dries easily. It has lost next to no bristles over time, which I can't say about either the VDH or the Tweezerman.

Still, all three are fine. Yes, I prefer the Syntex. The Tweezerman badger doesn't have the backbone, the VDH is a bit large (bigger isn't necessarily better), and both lose the occasional bristle. The Syntex with its rather narrow-diameter knot, quick-drying, bristle-holding design is the one I like a little better. Though the past week or so, I've returned to the Tweezerman badger just for fun, and it's performing completely adequately.

Bottom line, I have several personal brush-buying rules:

  • No reason to pay even $20 for shaving brush.
  • Don't buy large brushes; they just make it more difficult to control the lather on my face.
  • Badger bristles can be soft, but are certainly not necessary and I don't consider them a luxury or a self indulgence. The really expensive ones I just chalk up to the temptation for a fool and his money.
  • I go for no-fuss, easy-care, get-the-job-done brushes at lower price-point regions. (I don't regret the purchase of any of my low-end brushes.)
Just one man's opinion.

Happy shaving!

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