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are today's brushes larger than in the past?

I've been buying up old, vintage brushes... thinking about getting into restoring them with synthetic or horse hair knots.

I notice alot of older brushes are smaller. My dad also shaves with a small badger brush. But the norm now days on shave forums seems to be at least 24mm... is there any particular reason for this?

I shaved with a vintage drugstore badger yesterday that was only a 22mm knot but there was enough lather for over two passes. But I tried a 24mm SynBad recently and it was just frustrating in comparison- too much cream and water to make a decent lather, and it had a little too much backbone.


I've seen 9mm knots in vintage travel/gentlemans kits.
11mm is common
16-18mm is the std
20-28mm were luxury. I've got a 28mm brush that's like 6" tall carved ivory with almost 4" long silvertip hairs in the knot. Even in EverReady brushes, once you get into the low 20mm sizes, the handles start getting much nicer.

For me personally, 18-22mm can be good if the brush is just right. Smaller is a fun little change of pace. 24mm is the standard. 26mm has to be pretty low lofted or it gets too big. Above that we start to get crazy.


My preference is (generally) 24mm or less! :a14::a14:

That said, I also believe that the current trend is to larger sizes.


Cheaper than ink
Moderator Emeritus
To answer your question, yes. Common brushes sold to ordinary gents were smaller in years past.
Did faces also get larger? Maybe. :001_unsur
Check out the tiny brush thread for fun ... Tiny Brush Owners Club: TBOC
A Simpson M7 is 22mm, and a Duke 3 is 23mm. Both are pretty nice. Bigger you get into luxury territory and smaller feels a bit sparse.

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I have to agree. When I visit the local antique shop and see old brushes available they all appear to be the size of my first brush bought for me by my wife, an AOS Pure Badger travel brush. Since that brush, all of my later brushes are larger, 24mm or larger. I think my largest is the RazoRock Beehive which is 28mm. I like it when I have a hankering for something big but admittedly it doesn't get a lot of use. I also have an Omega Pro 49 which is 27mm. It too sees infrequent use. The brushes I find I use the most (not in order) are a 24mm Envy Shave Luxury Silvertip, Connaught Omega boar, RazoRock 400, RazoRock Bruce (regular size) and a RazoRock Plissoft (original). I believe the last ones are all 24mm but didn't double check. That size seems to suit my face the best.


I thought that the older brushes may have been smaller to keep production costs down. Just my thoughts.
Rubberset 400 boars appear to be in the 24-26mm diameter range, but the loft is LONG. Does anyone have actual measurements from one?


My biggest brush has 24mm diameter knot. It’s luxurious but unwieldy around nose, mouth and ears. Overall, 19-21mm badger knots work best for me. I don’t know about the best size for boar knots.


Yes, but only in this niche market of ours, and because they are luxury items. The average shaver doesn't use a brush, or has something like a Wilkinson Sword boar brush.


I prefer smaller brushes, around 20 mm. Seems the ones I see in junk shops are around 20-22 mm. If using a mug, or brush scuttle, larger brushes could be problematic.
Older brushes were not just smaller, it seems to me they were less dense, unless they've lost hair through the ages. A 22mm brush is just fine if it's dense enough.
My FIL gave me two vintage Ever Ready brushes he had purchased new but didn’t use much (he switched to electric soon after that and never went back). Those brushes would probably be viewed as travel size nowadays.


If you see really big vintage brushes, they'll likely be for barbers, salesman demonstration or window-shop exhibition.
I agree, modern brushes are very excessive.

But everything is a matter of preference. The trend around here is for moderately thick 24+ and low loft <52. I have a few of those. Honestly, the classic 22/57 brushes splay easier, make much better lather and release them more uniformly.

Backbone is overrated.
Older brushes were not just smaller, it seems to me they were less dense, unless they've lost hair through the ages. A 22mm brush is just fine if it's dense enough.
New "pure badgers" tend to be much less dense than the high end synthetics or silvertips I see now days.

Badger brushes seem to last a very long time based on my experience with vintage handles, as compared to boars, which often have substantial numbers of broken hairs.