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Gelling brushes! What is it? What's the difference?is it worth it?

Howdy gents and ladies,
During my short time wetshaving (about 3 years) i have come to the new concept for me at least of gelling brushes. I dont understand exactly what that is or if its worth doing. So I would be very interested in peoples thoughts and explanation. For more details of my small collection of brushes i have an omega pro boar brush, a semogue soc boar brush , a yaqi 26 mm synthetic tuxedo brush, and my newer one is a ds cosmetic black badger 24 mm brush.

Sent from my SM-G781U1 using Tapatalk
 
I’m not an expert by any means but had done some research on gel tip knots so if anything I say is incorrect, please let me know.

When a knot is “gelled” or has “gel tips”, it means the tips of the hairs are treated in a chemical that damages the hair, causing the tips to hook, so the flat surface is facing up towards your face, not the pointy end of the hair. This causes the hair to hook and clump together, creating the “wall of badger” or “cloud like softness” as some refer to it, you won’t feel the individual hairs like in a natural / untreated knot. It’s done to natural hair brushes, not synthetic. You probably noticed as your boar’s broke in, they became softer as the tips of the hair would break in, the gel treatment is like having a broken in brush with the first shave rather then breaking them in over dozens of shaves. Gel tips are used most frequently in 2 band badgers where they are known for having stronger backbone, as the gel treatment doesn’t affect the backbone, but not as soft tips as a 3 band, which is usually very soft tips but not much backbone or sometimes floppy. By gelling the tips of a 2 band, you get backbone with “soft” tips.

The gel process seems to be done to different degrees and some knot sellers allow you to pick if you want no gel, some gel or lots of gel on their badger knots. Some others gel them more conservatively where others go to the extreme.

Below is a picture (not my photo) of the difference between a wet knot that has gel tips and one that is natural / untreated.

2E4A0762-13CC-4596-AFB1-D687429266AC.jpeg


You can see the clumps the gel tip knot forms. Many people state knots that are gelled are lather hogs (need much more soap then normal) and have trouble washing the soap out when cleaning them. As it’s damaging the tips of the hair, it’s weakening them and will likely lead to the tips breaking off sooner rather then later but as this process is only a few years old, there isn’t any info I know of the lifespan of a gelled knot compared to an untreated knot but maybe with a large rotation, it’ll last many years. An your only brush, I would doubt it would last as long as an untreated brush, but that’s just me speculating.

A few ways to tell if your new knot has gel tips if you are unsure. Before it is first washed, if it has no smell, it is likely it was treated as the chemicals will kill the “animal funk” but if it’s stanky, likely it wasn’t treated. When you get it wet, you will see the clumps like the knot in the middle of the above photos. When dry, if you look closely in the top of the knot, you will see the hooks. After the knot dries, the tips of gel treated knots will be crispy.

My thoughts and experiences with gel knots. YMMV, but personally I hate them. To me, it’s like rubbing a slimy wet sponge on your face 🤢 Now, I’ve only used a gel knot on my face on two occasions. I have severe allergies, anaphylactic, and after I used an SHD gel tip knot from a vendor I will not name, I had a severe reaction. Not sure if it was an allergy or severe sensitivity as my allergist can’t replicate the reaction for sure as the chemicals used in the process are not known but she is very confident my reaction was to the chemical treatment. You are probably wondering why I used it a second time, I actually thought it may have been the soap the first time so the second time I used a soap I know I have no reactions to and changed nothing else so confirmed it was the brush. I then tried it in the crook of my elbow to confirm and had the same reaction. I haven’t heard of many or maybe anybody else having this reaction so I would say it’s not common or probably more appropriately, rare. When I tested it in my elbow, I used 3 brushes for the test, the gel knot, a synthetic and an untreated 2-band. My wife came in and asked what I was doing so I asked if I could do an experiment to see which felt nicest and see if she had a reaction (she didn’t), she agreed to do a lather in her palm, not telling her what any of them were. She said the synthetic was crazy soft but didn’t have much character, the 2-band was a great scrub and felt great but the gel knot she looked at me and said that feels disgusting, why would you want that on your face. I told her that’s the one I reacted to and she said throw it out.

I now only buy knots from vendors that can guarantee me their knots have not been treated with chemicals and will take the knot back no questions asked if I find it is. I recently bought a knot from a vendor that assured me wasn’t gelled. I was sceptical when it had zero smell right out of the package, then when I got it wet, it was gelled to the extreme. I never used it on my face and I got a full refund. I’ve found several vendors that skirt the question or don’t answer it at all, including some very high end brush makers, so I avoid them.

I think the only way you will know if you like them are to try one for yourself. There are many cheap gel knots available so it won’t break the bank to try one. I know some on here love them (there is a recent thread where the person loved his new gel knot), some don’t care either way and some, like me, that dislike them. Hope this cleared up the confusion for you and let us know what you think if you try one
 
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I’m not an expert by any means but had done some research on gel tip knots so if anything I say is incorrect, please let me know.

When a knot is “gelled” or has “gel tips”, it means the tips of the hairs are treated in a chemical that damages the hair, causing the tips to hook, so the flat surface is facing up towards your face, not the pointy end of the hair. This causes the hair to hook and clump together, creating the “wall of badger” or “cloud like softness” as some refer to it, you won’t feel the individual hairs like in a natural / untreated knot. It’s done to natural hair brushes, not synthetic. You probably noticed as your boar’s broke in, they became softer as the tips of the hair would break in, the gel treatment is like having a broken in brush with the first shave rather then breaking them in over dozens of shaves. Gel tips are used most frequently in 2 band badgers where they are known for having stronger backbone, as the gel treatment doesn’t affect the backbone, but not as soft tips as a 3 band, which is usually very soft tips but not much backbone or sometimes floppy. By gelling the tips of a 2 band, you get backbone with “soft” tips.

The gel process seems to be done to different degrees and some knot sellers allow you to pick if you want no gel, some gel or lots of gel on their badger knots. Some others gel them more conservatively where others go to the extreme.

Below is a picture (not my photo) of the difference between a wet knot that has gel tips and one that is natural / untreated.

View attachment 1332603

You can see the clumps the gel tip knot forms. Many people state knots that are gelled are lather hogs (need much more soap then normal) and have trouble washing the soap out when cleaning them. As it’s damaging the tips of the hair, it’s weakening them and will likely lead to the tips breaking off sooner rather then later but as this process is only a few years old, there isn’t any info I know of the lifespan of a gelled knot compared to an untreated knot but maybe with a large rotation, it’ll last many years. An your only brush, I would doubt it would last as long as an untreated brush, but that’s just me speculating.

A few ways to tell if your new knot has gel tips if you are unsure. Before it is first washed, if it has no smell, it is likely it was treated as the chemicals will kill the “animal funk” but if it’s stanky, likely it wasn’t treated. When you get it wet, you will see the clumps like the knot in the middle of the above photos. When dry, if you look closely in the top of the knot, you will see the hooks. After the knot dries, the tips of gel treated knots will be crispy.

My thoughts and experiences with gel knots. YMMV, but personally I hate them. To me, it’s like rubbing a slimy wet sponge on your face 🤢 Now, I’ve only used a gel knot on my face on two occasions. I have severe allergies, anaphylactic, and after I used an SHD gel tip knot from a vendor I will not name, I had a severe reaction. Not sure if it was an allergy or severe sensitivity as my allergist can’t replicate the reaction for sure as the chemicals used in the process are not known but she is very confident my reaction was to the chemical treatment. You are probably wondering why I used it a second time, I actually thought it may have been the soap the first time so the second time I used a soap I know I have no reactions to and changed nothing else so confirmed it was the brush. I then tried it in the crook of my elbow to confirm and had the same reaction. I haven’t heard of many or maybe anybody else having this reaction so I would say it’s not common or probably more appropriately, rare. When I tested it in my elbow, I used 3 brushes for the test, the gel knot, a synthetic and an untreated 2-band. My wife came in and asked what I was doing so I asked if I could do an experiment to see which felt nicest and see if she had a reaction (she didn’t), she agreed to do a lather in her palm, not telling her what any of them were. She said the synthetic was crazy soft but didn’t have much character, the 2-band was a great scrub and felt great but the gel knot she looked at me and said that feels disgusting, why would you want that on your face. I told her that’s the one I reacted to and she said throw it out.

I now only buy knots from vendors that can guarantee me their knots have not been treated with chemicals and will take the knot back no questions asked if I find it is. I recently bought a knot from a vendor that assured me wasn’t gelled. I was sceptical when it had zero smell right out of the package, then when I got it wet, it was gelled to the extreme. I never used it on my face and I got a full refund. I’ve found several vendors that skirt the question or don’t answer it at all, including some very high end brush makers, so I avoid them.

I think the only way you will know if you like them are to try one for yourself. There are many cheap gel knots available so it won’t break the bank to try one. I know some on here love them (there is a recent thread where the person loved his new gel knot), some don’t care either way and some, like me, that dislike them. Hope this cleared up the confusion for you and let us know what you think if you try one
Brilliantly explained. I only have one gelled knot, an Oumo. It's good, but I prefer regular badgers whether two band or three. I can see it as a method to improve poorer quality badger hair, and I know it's been done to boar too. There are videos on YouTube that show the actual procedure so that one can gel their own brush if they cared to.
 
I’m not an expert by any means but had done some research on gel tip knots so if anything I say is incorrect, please let me know.

When a knot is “gelled” or has “gel tips”, it means the tips of the hairs are treated in a chemical that damages the hair, causing the tips to hook, so the flat surface is facing up towards your face, not the pointy end of the hair. This causes the hair to hook and clump together, creating the “wall of badger” or “cloud like softness” as some refer to it, you won’t feel the individual hairs like in a natural / untreated knot. It’s done to natural hair brushes, not synthetic. You probably noticed as your boar’s broke in, they became softer as the tips of the hair would break in, the gel treatment is like having a broken in brush with the first shave rather then breaking them in over dozens of shaves. Gel tips are used most frequently in 2 band badgers where they are known for having stronger backbone, as the gel treatment doesn’t affect the backbone, but not as soft tips as a 3 band, which is usually very soft tips but not much backbone or sometimes floppy. By gelling the tips of a 2 band, you get backbone with “soft” tips.

The gel process seems to be done to different degrees and some knot sellers allow you to pick if you want no gel, some gel or lots of gel on their badger knots. Some others gel them more conservatively where others go to the extreme.

Below is a picture (not my photo) of the difference between a wet knot that has gel tips and one that is natural / untreated.

View attachment 1332603

You can see the clumps the gel tip knot forms. Many people state knots that are gelled are lather hogs (need much more soap then normal) and have trouble washing the soap out when cleaning them. As it’s damaging the tips of the hair, it’s weakening them and will likely lead to the tips breaking off sooner rather then later but as this process is only a few years old, there isn’t any info I know of the lifespan of a gelled knot compared to an untreated knot but maybe with a large rotation, it’ll last many years. An your only brush, I would doubt it would last as long as an untreated brush, but that’s just me speculating.

A few ways to tell if your new knot has gel tips if you are unsure. Before it is first washed, if it has no smell, it is likely it was treated as the chemicals will kill the “animal funk” but if it’s stanky, likely it wasn’t treated. When you get it wet, you will see the clumps like the knot in the middle of the above photos. When dry, if you look closely in the top of the knot, you will see the hooks. After the knot dries, the tips of gel treated knots will be crispy.

My thoughts and experiences with gel knots. YMMV, but personally I hate them. To me, it’s like rubbing a slimy wet sponge on your face 🤢 Now, I’ve only used a gel knot on my face on two occasions. I have severe allergies, anaphylactic, and after I used an SHD gel tip knot from a vendor I will not name, I had a severe reaction. Not sure if it was an allergy or severe sensitivity as my allergist can’t replicate the reaction for sure as the chemicals used in the process are not known but she is very confident my reaction was to the chemical treatment. You are probably wondering why I used it a second time, I actually thought it may have been the soap the first time so the second time I used a soap I know I have no reactions to and changed nothing else so confirmed it was the brush. I then tried it in the crook of my elbow to confirm and had the same reaction. I haven’t heard of many or maybe anybody else having this reaction so I would say it’s not common or probably more appropriately, rare. When I tested it in my elbow, I used 3 brushes for the test, the gel knot, a synthetic and an untreated 2-band. My wife came in and asked what I was doing so I asked if I could do an experiment to see which felt nicest and see if she had a reaction (she didn’t), she agreed to do a lather in her palm, not telling her what any of them were. She said the synthetic was crazy soft but didn’t have much character, the 2-band was a great scrub and felt great but the gel knot she looked at me and said that feels disgusting, why would you want that on your face. I told her that’s the one I reacted to and she said throw it out.

I now only buy knots from vendors that can guarantee me their knots have not been treated with chemicals and will take the knot back no questions asked if I find it is. I recently bought a knot from a vendor that assured me wasn’t gelled. I was sceptical when it had zero smell right out of the package, then when I got it wet, it was gelled to the extreme. I never used it on my face and I got a full refund. I’ve found several vendors that skirt the question or don’t answer it at all, including some very high end brush makers, so I avoid them.

I think the only way you will know if you like them are to try one for yourself. There are many cheap gel knots available so it won’t break the bank to try one. I know some on here love them (there is a recent thread where the person loved his new gel knot), some don’t care either way and some, like me, that dislike them. Hope this cleared up the confusion for you and let us know what you think if you try one
Great post.

I think part of the issue with vendors avoiding the gelled vs natural question is that many of them buy their knots from companies like Oumo and other Chinese companies. As they don’t tie the knots themselves, they don’t really know what they are getting. As they generally offer free shipping (and returns in some cases), that $100-150 returned brush ends up costing them $$$.

Gelled is all the rage now too. Not my thing in any case.
 
I agree with the comments above. I hate gel tips and I too see it as a method of improving or even disguising poor quality hair. Yet it is found in many high end brushes presumably because that is what the market currently wants. In my limited experience gel tips feel slimy and unnatural and nothing like even the most broken in untreated brush. Hopefully, along with absurdly oversized brushes, gel tips soon go out of fashion, as options are very limited for someone wanting a sub 24mm brush with non gelled tips, particularly at the more expensive end of the market.
 
Neil over at Heritage Collection Shaving has couple tutorials on YT on how to gel your own knots. This would be for only natural hairs.

Personally, I enjoy the Gel tip knots. They're really soft and I don't notice the slimy feel on the face. They retain a slight scrub that I enjoy without any scritch. I have couple normal badger brushes and they work fine. They have more scrub to them so I do have to be careful in face lathering.

Basically, if you like less scrub, try Gelled knots. If you more scrub, try natural non-gelled knots. There's pros and cons to both of them but my preference leans slightly towards Gelled knots.
 
I’m not an expert by any means but had done some research on gel tip knots so if anything I say is incorrect, please let me know.

When a knot is “gelled” or has “gel tips”, it means the tips of the hairs are treated in a chemical that damages the hair, causing the tips to hook, so the flat surface is facing up towards your face, not the pointy end of the hair. This causes the hair to hook and clump together, creating the “wall of badger” or “cloud like softness” as some refer to it, you won’t feel the individual hairs like in a natural / untreated knot. It’s done to natural hair brushes, not synthetic. You probably noticed as your boar’s broke in, they became softer as the tips of the hair would break in, the gel treatment is like having a broken in brush with the first shave rather then breaking them in over dozens of shaves. Gel tips are used most frequently in 2 band badgers where they are known for having stronger backbone, as the gel treatment doesn’t affect the backbone, but not as soft tips as a 3 band, which is usually very soft tips but not much backbone or sometimes floppy. By gelling the tips of a 2 band, you get backbone with “soft” tips.

The gel process seems to be done to different degrees and some knot sellers allow you to pick if you want no gel, some gel or lots of gel on their badger knots. Some others gel them more conservatively where others go to the extreme.

Below is a picture (not my photo) of the difference between a wet knot that has gel tips and one that is natural / untreated.

View attachment 1332603

You can see the clumps the gel tip knot forms. Many people state knots that are gelled are lather hogs (need much more soap then normal) and have trouble washing the soap out when cleaning them. As it’s damaging the tips of the hair, it’s weakening them and will likely lead to the tips breaking off sooner rather then later but as this process is only a few years old, there isn’t any info I know of the lifespan of a gelled knot compared to an untreated knot but maybe with a large rotation, it’ll last many years. An your only brush, I would doubt it would last as long as an untreated brush, but that’s just me speculating.

A few ways to tell if your new knot has gel tips if you are unsure. Before it is first washed, if it has no smell, it is likely it was treated as the chemicals will kill the “animal funk” but if it’s stanky, likely it wasn’t treated. When you get it wet, you will see the clumps like the knot in the middle of the above photos. When dry, if you look closely in the top of the knot, you will see the hooks. After the knot dries, the tips of gel treated knots will be crispy.

My thoughts and experiences with gel knots. YMMV, but personally I hate them. To me, it’s like rubbing a slimy wet sponge on your face [emoji1785] Now, I’ve only used a gel knot on my face on two occasions. I have severe allergies, anaphylactic, and after I used an SHD gel tip knot from a vendor I will not name, I had a severe reaction. Not sure if it was an allergy or severe sensitivity as my allergist can’t replicate the reaction for sure as the chemicals used in the process are not known but she is very confident my reaction was to the chemical treatment. You are probably wondering why I used it a second time, I actually thought it may have been the soap the first time so the second time I used a soap I know I have no reactions to and changed nothing else so confirmed it was the brush. I then tried it in the crook of my elbow to confirm and had the same reaction. I haven’t heard of many or maybe anybody else having this reaction so I would say it’s not common or probably more appropriately, rare. When I tested it in my elbow, I used 3 brushes for the test, the gel knot, a synthetic and an untreated 2-band. My wife came in and asked what I was doing so I asked if I could do an experiment to see which felt nicest and see if she had a reaction (she didn’t), she agreed to do a lather in her palm, not telling her what any of them were. She said the synthetic was crazy soft but didn’t have much character, the 2-band was a great scrub and felt great but the gel knot she looked at me and said that feels disgusting, why would you want that on your face. I told her that’s the one I reacted to and she said throw it out.

I now only buy knots from vendors that can guarantee me their knots have not been treated with chemicals and will take the knot back no questions asked if I find it is. I recently bought a knot from a vendor that assured me wasn’t gelled. I was sceptical when it had zero smell right out of the package, then when I got it wet, it was gelled to the extreme. I never used it on my face and I got a full refund. I’ve found several vendors that skirt the question or don’t answer it at all, including some very high end brush makers, so I avoid them.

I think the only way you will know if you like them are to try one for yourself. There are many cheap gel knots available so it won’t break the bank to try one. I know some on here love them (there is a recent thread where the person loved his new gel knot), some don’t care either way and some, like me, that dislike them. Hope this cleared up the confusion for you and let us know what you think if you try one
Wow thank you for your thorough explanation, i was led to believe it was the best type of knot by some youtubers over hyping gel knots but after your extremely helpful explanation i concur that its not worth it and my boar brushes are perfect soft but with a strong back bone and i would rather break my black badger the normal way or the fridge method as i did with my boars. You have been a great help and put my inquiry to rest. Im super greatful!

Sent from my SM-G781U1 using Tapatalk
 
I dislike gel tips. It’s amazing how popular they are. I could understand paying maybe $30-50 for one but brushes costing north of $500 have gel tips. I’d take a synthetic over that any day. In my view they are the brush equivalent if fish fingers or chicken nuggets. A way to sell lower grade material at a premium price.
 
Good explanations above. There are some people who want softness above everything else, and absolutely despise any feeling of "scritch" or scratchiness. Gelling makes a less expensive knot softer for those that want it. My favorite brushes are firmer boars and two-band badgers, so the gel tips treatment doesn't seem very appealing.
 
I suspect (but do not know) that there is quite a bit of variation in the degree to which the bristles are modified to create the gel tips. Until yesterday I had one gel tipped brush, an AP Shave Gelousy knot. I just did not enjoy using the brush, and removed the knot and ordered a Maggard 2 Band SHD knot to replace it. To me it felt like a wet mop, but it did generate plenty of lather and allow it to be easily applied to my face.
 
Until yesterday I had one gel tipped brush, an AP Shave Gelousy knot. I just did not enjoy using the brush, and removed the knot and ordered a Maggard 2 Band SHD knot to replace it.
How did you end up liking the Maggard SHD 2-band?
I was looking at the 26mm fan the other day.
 
How did you end up liking the Maggard SHD 2-band?
I was looking at the 26mm fan the other day.
I like it, but not as much as a 20mm regular Maggard 2 band that I put in an old Made-Rite handle. Partly I may just prefer smaller knots, and partly the loft is higher than I'd prefer since I wasn't able to set the SHD as low as I would have liked. Also, for the extra cost over the regular 2 band, I was expecting a huge difference, and to me the SHD is fuller but also more of a lather hog.
 
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I like it, but not as much as a 20mm regular Maggard 2 band that I put in an old Made-Rite handle. Partly I may just prefer smaller knots, and partly the loft is higher than I'd prefer since I wasn't able to set the SHD as low as I would have liked. Also, for the extra cost over the regular 2 band, I was expecting a huge difference, and to me the SHD is fuller but also more of a lather hog.

I may add that I like the Maggard regular two band knot so well that it is not likely that I will every try the SDH knot.
 
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