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Semogue Pharos C3 Horsehair Brush

Generally we hear their name when it comes to boar brush. I mean, I know that there are many people that love their boar brushes. I would even risk to say that if someone would ask those people "What is a boar brush, and how can we find the best one?" they would probably reply like "Boar brush? What is that? Oh, did you mean Semogue?" and they have every right to say so :) Is it not almost the same as The French would use the word blaireau (which means badger) to define a shaving brush, as if they would not agree with other kinds of brushes such as boars or horses? :)

But today I want to focus on Semogue's horse brushes that have been released in their 2020 Series. I really don't know why but there is no topic that would review, analyze, rate those brushes. From the first time of using this brush, the thing that it does not have its own topic in Badger&Blade was eating away at me. So I am the one to take the chance to try and explain, why this brush should be taken into consideration when it comes to buying a brand-new shaving brush.

Before I start I want to say that I have never used any other horsehair shaving brush from different companies such as Vie-Long etc. "If you have not used another horsehair shaving brush, then how are you going to decide if it is a good brush or not?!" you may ask, and you have every right to do so, but my main goal is to break down the prejudices. I know, I know that those people who did not like horsehair had a very serious and legitimate reasons. The fact that many people have died during WWI because of horsehair shaving brush should be the main one IMO.

If you don't know the story about it and you are interested, you can simply check using keywords such as horsehair brush and anthrax etc. But if I have to describe the situation that I am talking about, here is what I can say: At that time badger brushes were at the top (as they are still ) and everyone would desire to get one, but it is war, yeah, there is only cold and blood, so they were very hard to obtain. So people have decided to produce a brush that would look like the badger one. Imitation brushes were made, but... It turned out that those brushes put men at risk of anthrax. But how? Those people (especially soldiers) of course did not come into contact with the horses themselves, but the bristles that manufacturers have imported were not disinfected and the bacteria in them made its way into cuts and nicks. But at the present time you really don't have to be worried about this as there is not such a threat.

Although I think it is never enough with historical side of shaving equipments, I have to move on and complete the review of this beautiful brush. I have to admit that I am having a really hard time to decide where I should start, but cliches can be good sometimes and may even save you, yeah? So, here are the measurements of brush:
Knot diameter: 21mm​
Loft: 50mm​
Height of handle: 53mm​
Total height: 103mm​
From left to right: Simpson Trafalgar T1, Semogue Pharos, Yaqi Sagrada Familia, Yaqi Mysterious Space, Omega 10098 Pro

First things first, as I said my aim is to break down the prejudices about horsehair brushes, on the other hand I have not used any other horsehair brushes, so how will I do it? From time to time I will be comparing it to a boar, badger or even a synthetic. “But can you compare an apple to an orange?” Of course, not. But, on the other hand, I believe that many people wonder about how a horsehair brush would perform in comparison to a boar, badger or synthetic.

Pharos.jpg

I was really amazed by simpleness and minimalist approach of Semogue. A full black brush that makes you say “Wow, is this a Mérens?” at the first glance. It is made from beech wood. Under the handle we see an engraved ‘signature’ of Semogue.
Engraved Signature.jpg
But on the other hand the ‘Semogue’ that you see right on the handle is a sticker, and it makes you think like “What if it falls down after some time?” but for now I don’t have any problem with this.

Hairs.jpg
Hairs are thick. I mean thick-thick. That reminded me of the ‘one-annoying-black’ bristle in boar brushes. From my conversation with Semogue, I can add those extra informations: Semogue carefully selects each batch of horsehair in order to provide 2 qualities: Pure (Pharos) and Premium (Galahad). Many people think that hairs are taken only from mane of horse, but it is not true. Of course, both hair types may (or may not) contain hair from mane, but in general it is taken from several parts of the horse, not only from mane. So we can say that there is a difference between Galahad and Pharos one. Let’s find out the differences:

Pharos has pure horsehair = More backbone, but less soft tips.​
Galahad has premium horsehair = Less backbone, but soft tips​

We can not say that Pharos will perform worse than Galahad, no. They are just built different. It depends on your preference. There will be shaving-lovers that prefer less backbone, and others — more. But it does not mean that Pharos will be more scratchy, as I said they are just different.

Before I buy this brush I have watched tons of videos about horsehair brushes and read a lot about them, I have even talked to people who have tried horsehair brushes. Based on all of these informations I’ve come to conclusion that horsehair brushes have 3 main problems such as:

  1. Floppiness
  2. Tangling
  3. Water retention

The brushes about which people were complaining were not made by Semogue, by the way. A friend of mine says that the reason why those brushes had Floppiness and Tangling, was that the hairs were not bleached, and in order to reduce scratchiness of the brush they wanted to keep the loft long. And that caused such problems. And that sounds logical actually. If I have to talk specifically about Pharos, there is absolutely no tangling, it allows you to face lather as you want to, and it is not scratchier than a boar. I really can’t define this brush as “floppy”, because it has a backbone that is somewhat similar to the one in Yaqi Sagrada Familia 22mm 2band badger brush.

Let's answer some questions in order to understand the performance of Pharos.

“How does it feel on the face?”
— I have seen guys who were saying “Oh my god this brush has a feeling that is similar to a silvertip badger brush”, well, they are delusional. If there is anything like that, It should be somewhere between pure and best (maybe even ‘the best’ could be too much!) badger grade maximum.​

“Hodowater?” (Just like ‘Hodor’ it is a nonsense word that derivers from ‘Hold the water’. This is somewhat neologism that is made by me specifically for this thread, haha)

— It does a good job when it comes to water retention. It, of course, will not make a lather mound as an Omega boar would, but from the creaminess of the lather you understand that it makes its job as a brush should. And as I generally prefer 2-pass shaves, I didn’t realize any problem with holding the lather.​

“Does it smell?”

— Unfortunately, yes. But I have good news for you, it passes after 2-3 shaves. I know, when you get your boar brush first, it smells like hell, well, then this is double hell. I strongly recommend you to lather 3-5 times using a strong-scented soap like Arko before the first use.​

Thank you so much for your concern. I hope this thread will answer the potential questions about Semogue's horsehair brush. Before ending my comments, I invite you all to gaze off into the view:


Pharos without any filter.jpg
147624309_250064139899472_3294326441665871625_n.jpg
 
The brushes about which people were complaining were not made by Semogue, by the way. A friend of mine says that the reason why those brushes had Floppiness and Tangling, was that the hairs were not bleached, and in order to reduce scratchiness of the brush they wanted to keep the loft long. And that caused such problems


First, congratulations on your new brush. About this comment. Floppiness might also be a problem of brush density, as well as loft hight. And hair thickness.

About the tangling. I have an Epsilon horse, used once. 26x50mm. No flopiness at all, comparable to medium backbone badgers in feel to me. Well, i don't remember exactly now, but at the time, i enjoyed it very much. However, the CENTER of the knot, after just one shave, started to tangle, despite the extremely dense and short loft. At first i thought everything was ok. But then i saw that the center of the loft had an area where it was less "dense". So i bent the hair with my finger, moved my finger a bit around and sure enough, there was a small tangle initiating. The fact that your brush also seems less dense right in the middle, would worry me a bit.

So, i had to comb mine, although it lost some hair. After the comb, it looks again as it was intended. Uniformity of loft, including the center. The hair of your Semogue looks to me more thick, which is might be why it is also more resistant to tangling. With mine, i ever too care of not splay it much while facelathering, however it tangled a bit all the same. From pre-purchase googling i had made, Vie-Long claims to do a "secret family recipe" treatment to the hair, to make it less scratchy and softer. This might also have as negative side effect the tendency to tangling. I do not know... Mine was full of water, it took days to dry, but ate lather like there was no tomorrow.

11.png

^ Photo after combing.

P.S.: My horse also smells. For the time being, i call it "Stinky". :lol1:
 
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First, congratulations on your new brush. About this comment. Floppiness might also be a problem of brush density, as well as loft hight. And hair thickness.

About the tangling. I have an Epsilon horse, used once. 26x50mm. No flopiness at all, comparable to medium backbone badgers in feel to me. Well, i don't remember exactly now, but at the time, i enjoyed it very much. However, the CENTER of the knot, after just one shave, started to tangle, despite the extremely dense and short loft. At first i thought everything was ok. But then i saw that the center of the loft had an area where it was less "dense". So i bent the hair with my finger, moved my finger a bit around and sure enough, there was a small tangle initiating. The fact that your brush also seems less dense right in the middle, would worry me a bit.

So, i had to comb mine, although it lost some hair. After the comb, it looks again as it was intended. Uniformity of loft, including the center. The hair of your Semogue looks to me more thick, which is might be why it is also more resistant to tangling. With mine, i ever too care of not splay it much while facelathering, however it tangled a bit all the same. From pre-purchase googling i had made, Vie-Long claims to do a "secret family recipe" treatment to the hair, to make it less scratchy and softer. This might also have as negative side effect the tendency to tangling. I do not know... Mine was full of water, it took days to dry, but ate lather like there was no tomorrow.

^ Photo after combing.

P.S.: My horse also smells. For the time being, i call it "Stinky". :lol1:

Thank you so much for your comment and your good wishes. It's amazing to see comments about horse brushes from other brands, as I haven't used any besides of Semogue.

Oh, that also can be the reason! I absolutely will be updating my thread as I continue to use it. If you want the truth, I have been using it for a while, like 2 months or so, I really didn't feel or realize any tangling problem. Let's see if it is going to give me some trouble in the long run.

Mine does not take that long to dry, it is almost the same as badger ones, I'd say. I have had an experience with Semogue SoC Boar, so I really know, how frustrating a brush that eats lather can be, but this horse one seems really fine in this context.

And... Wish I didn't know how stinky they could be... Haha.
 
Wow. That‘s some review. My review? “It’s a pretty good brush”.

I have had this brush since last September and it is about as good as a horse hair brush can get IME. I also have a couple of VieLong horse brushes and the Semogue is stiffer, has nicer tips and most importantly didn’t need a dozen shaves to get rid of the horse stank. My VieLongs were unbelieveably stinky when new and took ages to de-stink. The Semogue stinks for a couple of shaves but not nearly as bad as the VieLongs.

Semogue Boar is better then Semogue horse IMO as is just about any top badger. YMMV, but I have never tried a horse brush that was world class as top boar, badger and synthetic can be. BUT, the Pharos horse brush is an excellent value at about $20USD and would be my only recommendation to anyone wanting to try their first horse brush.
 
Based on my one horse brush, short and dense loft helps with the tangling issue. Using a greater proportion of mane hair vs. tail hair makes the brush feel less scritchy.

Lather is developed mainly at the tips of the bristles. You can build nice lather using a combo of circular and painting motions, but try to avoid mashing the brush. Mashing can lead to the tangling and doughnut hole problem. Some people are so used to mashing the brush that they have trouble adapting to horsehair and blame the brush when problems occur.
 
Based on my one horse brush, short and dense loft helps with the tangling issue. Using a greater proportion of mane hair vs. tail hair makes the brush feel less scritchy.

Lather is developed mainly at the tips of the bristles. You can build nice lather using a combo of circular and painting motions, but try to avoid mashing the brush. Mashing can lead to the tangling and doughnut hole problem. Some people are so used to mashing the brush that they have trouble adapting to horsehair and blame the brush when problems occur.

My suspicion on the matter, since i do not mash my brushes is this: The issue has to do with soaking, the fine hair and the bulb shape. The hair they use is very fine, when soaked becomes very flexible (this is why they use dense knots, to prevent mushy feeling) and the bulb shape, makes it so that the center hair of the knot, when moving around, tangle one on the other, because they are the hair that make contact first with the skin and is thus subject to torsion. So the central hair, being flexible from soaking and first to be subject to torsion, forms a sort of helix. Simple mashing would just crush the hair, not necessarily tangle. In retrospective, it might have been a better idea to buy a fan shape knot, because all hair comes into contact at the same time.

Googling, i found another gentleman that advised for the same reason, not to soak the entire loft in water before use, but only the upper part. I have yet to try this.
 
The Semogue wooden handle looks extremely ergonomical and pretty too, as per Semogue tradition. Before buying mine, i was eyeing the Semogue green Pharos myself...
 
The Semogue wooden handle looks extremely ergonomical and pretty too, as per Semogue tradition. Before buying mine, i was eyeing the Semogue green Pharos myself...

The green one definitely has unique look. And I also find this handle to be very ergonomic, it's very easy to hold, my arm doesnt really get tired at all no matter how long the lathering process takes.

GREAT REVIEW!! :clap: :clap:

Thank you very much for this GREAT comment, Sir! :)

Wow. That‘s some review. My review? “It’s a pretty good brush”.

I have had this brush since last September and it is about as good as a horse hair brush can get IME. I also have a couple of VieLong horse brushes and the Semogue is stiffer, has nicer tips and most importantly didn’t need a dozen shaves to get rid of the horse stank. My VieLongs were unbelieveably stinky when new and took ages to de-stink. The Semogue stinks for a couple of shaves but not nearly as bad as the VieLongs.

Semogue Boar is better then Semogue horse IMO as is just about any top badger. YMMV, but I have never tried a horse brush that was world class as top boar, badger and synthetic can be. BUT, the Pharos horse brush is an excellent value at about $20USD and would be my only recommendation to anyone wanting to try their first horse brush.

Thank you so much for your comments. Yeah, this is exactly what I was trying to say in my review. I mean, when I was searching for horsehair brushes, everyone was complaining about the problems that I have mentioned in review, but with Pharos I didn't experience such problems.

Boars or badgers are being better than horses is another topic on which we can talk about actually, although it is a YMMV thing, as everything is when it comes to shaving. But If I am to explain where I stand, I share the exact same view as you. I mean, If I want a brush that would make me feel like an emperor when I shave, I would aim for a badger. If I want my brush to give really good performance, to make a lather mound, and to make me feel as if I am in a barbershop and experience the massage feeling, then I can go for boars. If I want my brush to be always ready for a good shave, or if I am always busy and I rush from one task to the next I can definitely buy a synthetic. So, all of these make us ask "Then why in the world would I buy a horsehair brush?". Well, if the person is interested in horsehair option and want to give a shot, or the person wants a "cruelty-free" equipment, but still wants something natural, then the horsehair brush is the one to pick, I believe. Especially Semogue ones.

Based on my one horse brush, short and dense loft helps with the tangling issue. Using a greater proportion of mane hair vs. tail hair makes the brush feel less scritchy.

Lather is developed mainly at the tips of the bristles. You can build nice lather using a combo of circular and painting motions, but try to avoid mashing the brush. Mashing can lead to the tangling and doughnut hole problem. Some people are so used to mashing the brush that they have trouble adapting to horsehair and blame the brush when problems occur.

And gentlemen, @Atlantic59 <- this very person was one of shaving-lovers that I have asked their opinions on horsehair brushes. He sincerely shared his thoughts with me, and that was very helpful. Thank you very much again for your comment and your help! :)
 
Very interesting. I have had a bit of internal bias against horse hair brushes.

Me too, because i already had a small horse/boar mix brush which also tangled...But is a tiny cheap brush...And then i found the only review in youtube and this gentleman was so enthusiastic about it, that i had no choice but to be convinced! The handle was also so beautiful...

 
Me too, because i already had a small horse/boar mix brush which also tangled...But is a tiny cheap brush...And then i found the only review in youtube and this gentleman was so enthusiastic about it, that i had no choice but to be convinced! The handle was also so beautiful...

For me the Zenith 506 UN is even better than the Epsilon. The Epsilon was great impovement over all my horses. That one I could use just like a boar (I face lather, so I always pick the ones with short loft, both Epsilon and Zenith have that option).
 
I think the Burundian Hawk is correct, knot density has a whole lot to do with "floppiness" ....The floppiest horse hair brush I have is the Vie-Long Pro Barber.... Very long, sparse hairs , but once you master using only the tip of the brush you'll get fantastic and enjoyable shaves. I've found on my othe Vie-Long brushes , with denser hairs , that the SHIP-SHAPE powder , used as directed , not only cleans , but loosens tangles, softens the horse hair and helps prevent more tangles ..
 
Generally we hear their name when it comes to boar brush. I mean, I know that there are many people that love their boar brushes. I would even risk to say that if someone would ask those people "What is a boar brush, and how can we find the best one?" they would probably reply like "Boar brush? What is that? Oh, did you mean Semogue?" and they have every right to say so :) Is it not almost the same as The French would use the word blaireau (which means badger) to define a shaving brush, as if they would not agree with other kinds of brushes such as boars or horses? :)

But today I want to focus on Semogue's horse brushes that have been released in their 2020 Series. I really don't know why but there is no topic that would review, analyze, rate those brushes. From the first time of using this brush, the thing that it does not have its own topic in Badger&Blade was eating away at me. So I am the one to take the chance to try and explain, why this brush should be taken into consideration when it comes to buying a brand-new shaving brush.

Before I start I want to say that I have never used any other horsehair shaving brush from different companies such as Vie-Long etc. "If you have not used another horsehair shaving brush, then how are you going to decide if it is a good brush or not?!" you may ask, and you have every right to do so, but my main goal is to break down the prejudices. I know, I know that those people who did not like horsehair had a very serious and legitimate reasons. The fact that many people have died during WWI because of horsehair shaving brush should be the main one IMO.

If you don't know the story about it and you are interested, you can simply check using keywords such as horsehair brush and anthrax etc. But if I have to describe the situation that I am talking about, here is what I can say: At that time badger brushes were at the top (as they are still ) and everyone would desire to get one, but it is war, yeah, there is only cold and blood, so they were very hard to obtain. So people have decided to produce a brush that would look like the badger one. Imitation brushes were made, but... It turned out that those brushes put men at risk of anthrax. But how? Those people (especially soldiers) of course did not come into contact with the horses themselves, but the bristles that manufacturers have imported were not disinfected and the bacteria in them made its way into cuts and nicks. But at the present time you really don't have to be worried about this as there is not such a threat.

Although I think it is never enough with historical side of shaving equipments, I have to move on and complete the review of this beautiful brush. I have to admit that I am having a really hard time to decide where I should start, but cliches can be good sometimes and may even save you, yeah? So, here are the measurements of brush:
Knot diameter: 21mm​
Loft: 50mm​
Height of handle: 53mm​
Total height: 103mm​
View attachment 1260065

First things first, as I said my aim is to break down the prejudices about horsehair brushes, on the other hand I have not used any other horsehair brushes, so how will I do it? From time to time I will be comparing it to a boar, badger or even a synthetic. “But can you compare an apple to an orange?” Of course, not. But, on the other hand, I believe that many people wonder about how a horsehair brush would perform in comparison to a boar, badger or synthetic.

View attachment 1260055

I was really amazed by simpleness and minimalist approach of Semogue. A full black brush that makes you say “Wow, is this a Mérens?” at the first glance. It is made from beech wood. Under the handle we see an engraved ‘signature’ of Semogue.
View attachment 1260053
But on the other hand the ‘Semogue’ that you see right on the handle is a sticker, and it makes you think like “What if it falls down after some time?” but for now I don’t have any problem with this.

View attachment 1260056
Hairs are thick. I mean thick-thick. That reminded me of the ‘one-annoying-black’ bristle in boar brushes. From my conversation with Semogue, I can add those extra informations: Semogue carefully selects each batch of horsehair in order to provide 2 qualities: Pure (Pharos) and Premium (Galahad). Many people think that hairs are taken only from mane of horse, but it is not true. Of course, both hair types may (or may not) contain hair from mane, but in general it is taken from several parts of the horse, not only from mane. So we can say that there is a difference between Galahad and Pharos one. Let’s find out the differences:

Pharos has pure horsehair = More backbone, but less soft tips.​
Galahad has premium horsehair = Less backbone, but soft tips​

We can not say that Pharos will perform worse than Galahad, no. They are just built different. It depends on your preference. There will be shaving-lovers that prefer less backbone, and others — more. But it does not mean that Pharos will be more scratchy, as I said they are just different.

Before I buy this brush I have watched tons of videos about horsehair brushes and read a lot about them, I have even talked to people who have tried horsehair brushes. Based on all of these informations I’ve come to conclusion that horsehair brushes have 3 main problems such as:

  1. Floppiness
  2. Tangling
  3. Water retention

The brushes about which people were complaining were not made by Semogue, by the way. A friend of mine says that the reason why those brushes had Floppiness and Tangling, was that the hairs were not bleached, and in order to reduce scratchiness of the brush they wanted to keep the loft long. And that caused such problems. And that sounds logical actually. If I have to talk specifically about Pharos, there is absolutely no tangling, it allows you to face lather as you want to, and it is not scratchier than a boar. I really can’t define this brush as “floppy”, because it has a backbone that is somewhat similar to the one in Yaqi Sagrada Familia 22mm 2band badger brush.

Let's answer some questions in order to understand the performance of Pharos.

“How does it feel on the face?”
— I have seen guys who were saying “Oh my god this brush has a feeling that is similar to a silvertip badger brush”, well, they are delusional. If there is anything like that, It should be somewhere between pure and best (maybe even ‘the best’ could be too much!) badger grade maximum.​

“Hodowater?” (Just like ‘Hodor’ it is a nonsense word that derivers from ‘Hold the water’. This is somewhat neologism that is made by me specifically for this thread, haha)

— It does a good job when it comes to water retention. It, of course, will not make a lather mound as an Omega boar would, but from the creaminess of the lather you understand that it makes its job as a brush should. And as I generally prefer 2-pass shaves, I didn’t realize any problem with holding the lather.​

“Does it smell?”

— Unfortunately, yes. But I have good news for you, it passes after 2-3 shaves. I know, when you get your boar brush first, it smells like hell, well, then this is double hell. I strongly recommend you to lather 3-5 times using a strong-scented soap like Arko before the first use.​

Thank you so much for your concern. I hope this thread will answer the potential questions about Semogue's horsehair brush. Before ending my comments, I invite you all to gaze off into the view:


View attachment 1260066
View attachment 1260076
Zenith also makes a great Horse Hair brush
 
Great review. I have a Pharos in black in regular circulation (along with a Zenith 506, a Vie Long brown, and a Vie Long white horse + boar mix). And a bunch of brushes that aren't horse-related.

Never [yet] had a tangling problem with any of them, but I'm a "painter" rather than a "swirler" or a "splayer", so I'm telling myself that might be it - though there's probably a bit of confirmation bias at work there.
 
I think the Burundian Hawk is correct, knot density has a whole lot to do with "floppiness" ....The floppiest horse hair brush I have is the Vie-Long Pro Barber.... Very long, sparse hairs , but once you master using only the tip of the brush you'll get fantastic and enjoyable shaves. I've found on my othe Vie-Long brushes , with denser hairs , that the SHIP-SHAPE powder , used as directed , not only cleans , but loosens tangles, softens the horse hair and helps prevent more tangles ..

Very interesting information about the powder, sir. In my next shave, i intend to half-soak the brush. Also i will try to avoid swirling and just...paint... And see what happens. Unfortunately no such brand powder here, but googling i found tangling is a very common problem to live horses and they have various methods to de-tangle. Combs, shampoos and apparently, like you say, powders. If everything else fails, i may seek a "detangling horse shampoo", but maybe i will be able to avoid it by changing the soaking and use. I will have to search my Amazon for a "detangler", because i am not much of a cowboy. I am more familiar with big cats than with horses! :lol1:
 
Great review. I have a Pharos in black in regular circulation (along with a Zenith 506, a Vie Long brown, and a Vie Long white horse + boar mix). And a bunch of brushes that aren't horse-related.

Never [yet] had a tangling problem with any of them, but I'm a "painter" rather than a "swirler" or a "splayer", so I'm telling myself that might be it - though there's probably a bit of confirmation bias at work there.

The swirlers with bulb knot, must probably buy this first:

1a.png


And swirl away! :lol: And it is sold on European Amazons too! My problems are over! €15 isn't bad!
 
Very interesting information about the powder, sir. In my next shave, i intend to half-soak the brush. Also i will try to avoid swirling and just...paint... And see what happens. Unfortunately no such brand powder here, but googling i found tangling is a very common problem to live horses and they have various methods to de-tangle. Combs, shampoos and apparently, like you say, powders. If everything else fails, i may seek a "detangling horse shampoo", but maybe i will be able to avoid it by changing the soaking and use. I will have to search my Amazon for a "detangler", because i am not much of a cowboy. I am more familiar with big cats than with horses! :lol1:
That should work.........
 
Just an update for the record, that might help future horse users. Mane n Tail isn't actually needed. I wash my brushes with shampoo after every shave. If you use a wide tooth comb while the brush is wet and covered with shampoo and give it a bit of gentle combing, it detangles perfectly immediately. Of course, if you wash your brush less regularly, this might not work.
 
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