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Fan vs Bulb?

I've done searches for this topic and haven't come up with anything, so if it's been discussed before, please just point me to the thread.

My question is: Is there a clear difference between the two forms, fan and bulb? Does one do one thing better, and the other do something else better? Or is it simply a matter of (where have I seen this before?) YMMV?

I don't have experience with a bulb shaped brush, but from what I've read it's one of those personal preference things. I also believe that a fan shape is better for face lathering. My guess is a bulb shape is better with soaps versus creams.

I'm sure someone will come along and correct me:tongue_sm
I prefer fans in general; a bulb will splay less.

I don't like it when a brush feels "pointy," and it is harder to load up a brush from a puck of soap if the brush has a pronounced bulb shape IMO (have to smash it a bit against the soap).

But basically there is hardly a difference, and unless you're building a custom, fan vs. bulb is less important than density, type of hair, knot size... etc.

But yeah I like fans better. More face contact. And I think they're prettier so sue me. :laugh:

I'm a facelatherer but YMMV hardcore.
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My experience

Fan: face lathering
Bulb: Bowl lathering/painting

Of course you will use them which ever way works for you but it seems that the bulb shape just didn't feel right when I tried to face lather. It really excelled when bowl lathering and applying the lather with a painting motion. The fan shape is more of you're all purpose brush IMHO. Again, this is my experience and YMMV. I recently had my brand new Savile Row 3824 on the BST and it never sold. I am actually grateful it didn't sell because I started using it and now love the damn thing. It took a bit for me to get it broken in and learn how to actually use the bulb shape. I can now say I have been using it daily and will continue to until my Rooney 1XL arrives.

My recommendation:
Get both!!
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I too am a fan of the fans. I'd rather have most of the bristles making contact with my face.
You will find more fans of fan shaped lofts here... BUT, I think you will find that bulb-shaped lofts are some of the best made brushes around (Thater, Shavemac, Saville Row, 1/2 of Simpsons, etc).


You will find more fans of fan shaped lofts here... BUT, I think you will find that bulb-shaped lofts are some of the best made brushes around (Thater, Shavemac, Saville Row, 1/2 of Simpsons, etc).
I know that to be true, but I don't understand why. It seems that the bulbs are much more common.

Rudy Vey

Shaving baby skin and turkey necks
Since I mostly face lather, I prefer fan shaped brushed or the extreme Flattop brush I made with a custom Shavemac knot. I also use some bulb shaped brushes when I use creams and a bowl. But mostly, fan.
I know that to be true, but I don't understand why. It seems that the bulbs are much more common.
The bulbs seem to be more common because the industry seems to have really been cranking them out. And lots of folks do like their bulbs. But....

I have yet to read any posts on any forum under any name where the majority of folks didn't prefer the fan shape most of the time. Bulbs have their fans, certain grades of hair may be more practical in a bulb shape, and some brushes historically have been a fan/bulb hybrid.

I don't know how to make it a link, but a recent thread here on B&B goes into some depth on the fan vs. bulb preferences and there are multiple photos of both, often within the same model and "classification" of hair. Worth a good look. The thread is

While I would generally agree with the previous posts on preferences and applications my personal experience (I exclusively face lather hard soaps) is both work quite well. They feel different but I've found more variation in feel between long and short loft fans than between long loft fans and bulbs.

The bottom line, for me, is I like them both and they both work very well, for me. I like the variety and I wouldn't want to give up either for the other. I would not let the shape determine my purchase. Each brush is unique and has merits specific to that brush, shape being only one of the factors.

I only have two brushes and if I understand the concept, I guess I have one of each. In this picture, the Rooney 3/1 Super has been in use for a year and the Simpson Colonel Best is shown before it's first use. Differences after a couple shaves with the Colonel?

The Rooney: I primarily bowl lather creams as I have not had much success with soaps or face lathering. I don't know if it's the brush, me or my well water. The Rooney is soft and enjoyable to use, like applying cream with a child's stuffed animal. But at times I wish it had a little more backbone. You'll notice an O-ring around the middle that I sometimes move up to the base of the knot.

The Simpson: Not quite as soft as the Rooney, but much softer than I expected. I don't find it scratchy at all. Way more backbone than the Rooney. It works as well at bowl lathering creams as the Rooney. On my last shave I used it to face lather Tabac soap. This is where I definitely notice the difference between the two brushes. I think this was my first successful attempt at face lathering and I liked it. It has me thinking I may need a Wee Scott or Berkeley for my next brush.

So my opinion early on is that the Simpson bulb may turn out to be the better all around brush because, for me (YMMV), it's better at soaps and face lathering. Either way I'm glad I have both and that there is such a noticeable difference between them. I would hate to have two brushes that were identical.
This can be a matter of great debate and many strong feelings from proponents of both shapes.

I have both, including a Shavemac D01 extreme flattop. I almost exclusively face lather with both soaps and creams. Like some of the others have said, I enjoy the different feel of both shapes. For me, and this speaks to my collection of brushes, they both perform very well with either soaps or creams. To my way of thinking, part of the enjoyment of having several brushes is to experience the different feel and uniqueness of each brush. I enjoy my rotation of different brushes. If all of the brushes were the same, we would have no need for several brushes...NO SBAD! :001_rolle

Best regards,

Actually, I'm about to try restoring an old brush and was debating whether to order a fan or a bulb. Most of my existing brushes are bulbs, so I think I'll opt for a fan this time.
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