Hi all. Looking for a decent cream and brush to get me started without breaking the bank. Any advice or recommendations are appreciated.
For me I prefer a silvertip brush over a synthetic or boar. Though the better synthetics are closing the gap and feel very similar to a high end silvertip brush. The advantage of a synthetic is the soap time isn't needed. The disadvantage is in the lack of heat retention.
The boar brushes are an excellent value but they won't be a soft an luxurious as a silvertip even when fully broken in. You'll get a lot of recommendations for boar in this price range and any Semogue or Omega boar brush will be of a very good quality. With boar they will soften up quite a bit over the first month of shaves as the bristles split.
So for me I'd choose a silvertip brush, then a very good synthetic, then boar in that order.
I'd recommend either a Stirling Soap Co. Silvertip fan in 24mm (about $40) or a Stirling synthetic brush (for under $20). Some of the synthetic brushes are definitely better than others. The really good ones feel a lot like an expensive silvertip badger brush while others feel springy and unpredictable. If you pick the wrong synthetic brush you likely won't like it. Price doesn't give you any indication of a good or bad one so unfortunately you just have to know which ones to pick. I participated in a synthetic brush passaround recently. My favorite was the Stirling Kong, followed by the Crown King brush, then the RazoRock Plisson brush. Of the ten or so brushes in the passaround these are the only ones I'd buy personally in that order. The other seven or so brushes in the passaround weren't for me.
The brush you're going to choose will likely last you several years or maybe even a decade of everyday use, so pick one that you're really going to enjoy using.
As far as shaving soap goes you could pick up a couple Stirling Shaving soap samples while you're ordering a brush. Their samples are quite large. You can also hit up your local Bath & Body Works shop for a tube of C.O. Bigelow shaving cream which is basically Proraso Green. It's decent and the menthol in it gives a nice cooling sensation. Picking up the cream locally saves you the shipping so it's a nice way to try something else without having to put in a large enough order to justify the shipping.
It's going to depend on your location, but you can probably find an inexpensive Wilkinson Sword or Omega boar brush in a lot of pharmacies or big box stores. I really like the Maca Root shave cream from The Body Shop, which you should be able to find in most major centres in Canada, USA, UK, etc. Another good (and frugal) cream is the Nivea one, which seems to be available almost everywhere in the world.
Are you in the UK? There's nothing wrong with the three and a half quid boar's brush from Wilkinson Sword and a tube of Palmolive. Fiver for the lot from any supermarket. Otherwise go over to Connaught Shaving and browse till your heart is content and you'll get it within 48 hours.
I used the Wilkinson sword brushes and palmolive for 15 years before i realised there was this whole other world out there on the internet. I could easily go back too, but i've become posh!!!!