Educate me on natural brushes

#1
As I wrote on a recent SOTD I struggle to understand natural brushes and yet I would love to add one to the fold. I just cannot get my head around making the same quality lather as a synthetic which I have no problem at all with in use. The other problem I have is the actual application to ones face.

I have a Traditional Shaving Co best badger (probably not the best by a long shot) and it don't seem to hold the cream to the same level as the synthetic. Then when applying to my face the whole brush just flattens out with a very defined hole in the middle.

In general a long way of what I can achieve with my Muhle synth.

Am I missing some big point or is it simply synthetics are actually all That?

If it comes down to brush quality then any hints as to any recommendations and what do I need to look for when buying a natural fibre brush.
 
#2
Check this out :

Especially from 2'30"

For technique.

IMO a Super Badger is well up there with a Silvertip because it's a little more hard wearing. Standards vary between makers. I like Simpson, but they are quite fragile.

For Boar brushes, avoid brushes that are Clipped to shape, instead brushes that are shaped and retain their hair tips. Omega or Semogue. They both have premium brushes, 11829/42 and the Semogue owners club.

Boar hair needs breaking in. It behaves like human hair in that it absorbs water and when it does so rapidly, the ends split, creating a softer brush with more surface area. A fully broken in boar can make a faster layer than a synthetic.
 
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#4
Cheap badger brushes are often floppy and will tend to form a hole as you describe - in order to achieve useable results, you really need to be very gentle with the brush, using the tips of the hairs and not opening the knot too much. Good quality badger brushes have enough backbone to work with triple-milled soaps and will retain vast amounts of lather.
 
#5
Thanks for you replies so far and always appreciated here.

I never thought of holding the knot close to the handle so I am going to give it a try this evening and see how I get on. Plus take on board your other hints. Do I need to soak the brush thoroughly prior to use?

The other thing I never thought of is I have an Omega someone gave me a long time ago and I recall all it says is bristle. Do I take it to be a boar? I also remember it has a very tall loft. Time to dig it out when I get home.
 
#6
Thanks for you replies so far and always appreciated here.

I never thought of holding the knot close to the handle so I am going to give it a try this evening and see how I get on. Plus take on board your other hints. Do I need to soak the brush thoroughly prior to use?

The other thing I never thought of is I have an Omega someone gave me a long time ago and I recall all it says is bristle. Do I take it to be a boar? I also remember it has a very tall loft. Time to dig it out when I get home.
You need to soak a boar, not so much with a badger. Always in warm not hot water. (hot water can soften the glue in the knot apparently)
 
#9
Needing a brush with plenty of backbone for triple-milled soaps is a bit of a myth I think, I have equal results with a floppy synthetic brush or a finest badger brush with plenty of backbone.
Spot on. The soap as well as being harder, is also more concentrated. As a result you need to release less of it from the puck

I can get a great lather from the 'notorious' MWF using a very soft cashmere synthetic

Sent from my CLT-L29 using Tapatalk
 
#10
I have a brush called Grosvenor which may be made by Simpson,described as bristle and badger. It was about £15 and makes a fantastic lather. No clumping or other problems. Nice on my face. I have never soaked it, but let it take up the water blooming my soap. No loss of hair.
 
#11
Interesting how one man’s meat is another man’s poison. I have yet to use a synthetic knot that satisfies me as much as my quality badgers and boars do. Currently, I own 27 badgers, 3 boars and 3 synthetics. As for badger, the knot I recommend is shavemac Finest, which I believe is a mix of pure and silvertip badger. As for boar, the knots I recommend are the Semogue Owners Club and the Thater. To try the best of both worlds at the same time I recommend the Semogue Taj mixed badger and boar (bodger) knot. All these knots are excellent value in terms of price, quality and performance. I haven’t mentioned horse hair knots because I don’t like them. The one big advantage that a synthetic knot has over natural hair knots is how quickly it dries, which makes it ideal for travel. I agree that synthetics make good lather on a par with quality badger, but the face-feel falls well short; i’m particularly cognizant of this because I only lather on my face.
 
#12
As I wrote on a recent SOTD I struggle to understand natural brushes and yet I would love to add one to the fold. I just cannot get my head around making the same quality lather as a synthetic which I have no problem at all with in use. The other problem I have is the actual application to ones face.

I have a Traditional Shaving Co best badger (probably not the best by a long shot) and it don't seem to hold the cream to the same level as the synthetic. Then when applying to my face the whole brush just flattens out with a very defined hole in the middle.

In general a long way of what I can achieve with my Muhle synth.

Am I missing some big point or is it simply synthetics are actually all That?


If it comes down to brush quality then any hints as to any recommendations and what do I need to look for when buying a natural fibre brush.
Good topic, I had been thinking of posting similar myself. I too see so many natural brushes on SOTD and wonder whats so special about them. I haven't used a badger since a travel one I used in the early days that was gifted to me on here, which just felt a bit too scratchy on the face. I've since used only synthetics until today when I had a go with an EJ Best Badger I won in a PIF here.

I soaked it in warm water for 10 mins before shaving, it made a nice lather, but not necessarily better than my synths do, it felt nowhere near as nice as say a Razorock Plissoft on the face, and as you experienced, it flattened out with a hole in the middle.

I rotate a Muhle STF, Razorock Bruce and a Yaqi Tuxedo, and after using a best badger, I don't really feel I'm missing out on anything. From what I gather, the cheaper natural brushes are trumped by the current generation of excellent synthetics. I can't comment on older synths as haven't used any, but I understand that synths have come on greatly in recent years. I do wonder what sort of price range would be an entry point for say a badger brush that was significantly better than a synthetic one.

I'd like to understand what a £100+ Silvertip badger brush does that a good quality £20-£30 synthetic doesn't. At its most basic level, what does a shaving brush actually do? It whips cream / soap into a lather, then places it onto your face. Is there really much more to it than that? Quite honestly, all this talk of splay, backbone, glue bumps, etc goes over my head. I wouldn't rule out trying a top of the range badger one day, but given how well my 3 synths perform for me, I'm not in a hurry to spend a 3 figure sum on one.
 
#14
From a utilitarian perspective a £100+ badger will not do anything that a synthetic won't, however it will feel nicer on the face.

If you want to try a really good badger for reasonable money have a look at Maseto Shaving on eBay (Classicshop2012). I think my 30mm two-band was about £40 delivered and it's excellent. If you don't like it you should be able to move it on the BST easily enough.
 
#15
And I guess that is where my quandary lies. Is it worth the pay out or do I stay with what I know and like?

I am not sure what this face feel is but the Muhles I have feel comfortable to me. Whereas oddly enough my natural brush feels quite rough and how do I say it, dry. I have two weeks off as from tomorrow and I aim to spend time going natural. And naked.

I think it all rather sways me to stick with the two synthetics and save my cash to flitter elsewhere. Or save towards my next Gibson Les Paul?

And it saves time wandering around with no clothes on.
 
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#16
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that cheap badgers are crap and will not give you even an approximation of something like a Shavemac, Maseto brushes being an exception. Unfortunately the only way to experience a really good badger will involve a fair outlay and only you can decide if it’s worth it.

I have a few high-end badgers and still regularly use my synths.
 
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