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Simpson Brushes | Tell Me True | Is Mashing Bad?

Chan Eil Whiskers

Fumbling about.
I've mashed a lot of brushes - boars, badgers, a very few synthetics, and one horse - and lost very few hairs. That's not saying I'm not damaging 'em by mashing.

Most hairs and bristles I've lost, and, yes, I know how many people this will surprise, have been lost by brushes which lost boars or bristles from the get go. I couldn't have damaged them before I bought them.

The worst by miles? A Vulfix.

Happy shaves,

Jim
 
This seemingly endless discussion boils down to what each individual considers constitutes mashing, acceptable use, abuse, and other assorted phrases. There is no right and wrong, just do what works for you in a common sense way. In my case I swirl my brushes when I face lather but I do not mash them in such a way that I think damage may be caused. Some may observe my technique and call it reckless abuse but I could not care less as any reasonable brush wear is a price well worth paying for the enjoyment I receive. I have spent what, for me, is a lot of money on brushes and for my investment they sure better provide me with enjoyment. My brushes are simply tools to use and give me pleasure until they are worn out, they are not to be wrapped in cotton wool and used with kid gloves to preserve them for future generations. I sincerely hope they are worn right down to the nub by the time I shuffle off. If they require reknotting before that time then that is fine with me. 👍
 

SliceOfLife

Contributor
Not to keep dragging this discussion up, because we're pretty much at an understanding already... but here's another example.


This was once an absolutely gorgeous 2 band Chubby 2. Thick, Dense, Probably about the most luxurious and quality-made brush of its era (I'd guess 60's-70's?). This is what it's been reduced to. Now, did the guy using it get 10,20 or more years use out of it, mashing and swirling to his hearts content? Maybe. Maybe he got two years. We can't say for sure.

Here also is an example of an identical brush from the same era that was treated more gingerly. The tips are still worn a bit and flattened... but all that did was evolve the brush from a bulb into more of a fan over decades of use.


Keep in mind, this is the same brush.

Same era, same manufacturer, same model, same size, even the same store sold it. What is different is how it was treated in use.

Yes, it's fair to choose to use a brush more aggressively than some might suggest. But you should know that two assertions that have been made are wrong.

  1. This damage is not, in any way, shape, or form, due to manufacturing defect.
  2. This damage is not, in any way, shape, or form, an unavoidable consequence of proper use of the brush.


It's everyone's decision to make. But they should make an educated decision.
 

Attachments

Well, I suppose if you use force all brushes will damage sooner or later.

That said, I own a selection of Simpsons and use them to facelather.
I swirl on the puck in the tin, and use whatever stroke I feel needed to cover my beard area.
Never had a problem.

And I might add that I use a light touch.
I believe a few swirls extra with low pressure do a better job than really pressing the brush down on either puck or face.
So maybe ‘light touch’ can be more important than the type of movement (paint strokes or circular motion).
 

SliceOfLife

Contributor
It's hard to know for sure, particularly when you have a 10, 20, 30 or larger collection of brushes just when use becomes excessively damaging to a brush. I'm a bit sensitized to it because I buy a ton of vintage brushes, and the number showing damage like above, donutting, massively thinned or broken hairs, etc is startling. The Percent like that is high enough that I have no doubt the majority of people causing this damage didn't think they were (The majority of shavers can't possibly have said "I'm gonna smash this brush up as much as humanly possible and to heck with the consequences").

But I've also owned DOZENS of vintage brushes where the knot shape was rounded off, shallowed out, or where the hairs had clearly seen thousands of lathers... yet the knot was still in relatively great shape, beautiful, and usable... and often these are with some of the finest grades of hair too. So I KNOW that badger hair can survive thousands, even tens of thousands of lathers if treated properly.

Based on that, my choice is to treat my brushes as gently as I can while still getting the best lather possible out of them. Now that may be different for every shaver, but it's the goal I set to ensure my brushes last as long as possible without my sacrificing shave quality. Did that require I adjust my lathering technique slightly from the technique I had defaulted to when starting out and struggling to make decent lather out of subpar soaps? Yes, it did. Was that much of a challenge considering that I'm now using insanely good soaps relative to what I started out using? Not at all.


Now is it possible there's other things at play here? Some people have suggested that certain water sources may make it more difficult to wash lather out after the shave, and it's certainly possible that some soaps are more damaging than others. Maybe every one of the brushes I've got with 50 yr old knots that are in great shape were in the hands of a MWF user... or a Williams user... or a Cella user. There's no way within my means to check for that, and as such I have to trust that it's not a significant variable. But I do control how I treat my brushes, and so I choose to treat them as well as I can while getting the lathering and shave experience from them I want.
 
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Chan Eil Whiskers

Fumbling about.
I know I am a tad obsessive about completely rinsing my brushes after each use compared to some gentlemen.

Having said that I can occasionally catch a whiff of scent (which has got be come from something other than the badger hair or boar bristles) on my dry brushes. It's very faint but if I can smell it the bioassay is telling.

My guess is many guys don't rinse as well as I do. I know some don't. As I said I'm a bit obsessive about it.
 

SliceOfLife

Contributor
Oh yeah. I cut the knot off an old Plisson out last week. I could run my thumb across the cutoff part of the hairs (a few mm above the handle) and cast a fog of dry soap particles from decades of buildup into the air. And Plissons aren't dense, they're relatively easy to rinse out.
Rinse your brushes.
 
...
My guess is many guys don't rinse as well as I do. I know some don't. As I said I'm a bit obsessive about it.
Thorough rinsing is important but only half way - crucial is also good ventilation in the bathroom. The brush can not give off any water below the humidity in the room. If the humidity around the brush is like saturated (close to tropical) then the knot will never get dry. The humidity inside the knot needs to come down reasonably quickly.
Once the knot is dry anything living in there will die off.

I guess I'm also a bit obessive about caring for my brushes, I just call it resonably taking care. Also a YMMV thing. :thumbup1:
 
Thorough rinsing is important but only half way - crucial is also good ventilation in the bathroom. The brush can not give off any water below the humidity in the room. If the humidity around the brush is like saturated (close to tropical) then the knot will never get dry. The humidity inside the knot needs to come down reasonably quickly.
Once the knot is dry anything living in there will die off.

I guess I'm also a bit obessive about caring for my brushes, I just call it resonably taking care. Also a YMMV thing. 1:
That's why I run the ventilator fan all the time except when I'm actually shaving.

Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
 

SliceOfLife

Contributor
I would not store my brushes in the bathroom, same as I wouldn't store a strop in a bathroom where the shower was used. Yeah, humidity it too high in an active bathroom for that stuff.

My active strop hangs in the bathroom I shave in because it's a guest bathroom where the shower is never used, but my brushes get carried out and hung in my office after each use.

Same goes for razors... I'm not leaving my straights in a room where the mirrors fog up on a regular basis... that's just silly.
 

Chan Eil Whiskers

Fumbling about.
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The only time any of my shaving equipment other than a towel is in the bathroom is when I'm shaving and right before when I'm showering. It's all stored in another room. That room is very close to the bathroom but close only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes, right.

I like dry brushes except when I made them wet on purpose.

Happy shaves,

Jim
 
I understand the rationale presented by the makers of Simpsons brushes. To preserve the bristles/hair then don't mash down and swirl on the brush. Rather, gently paint with the brush to load and apply lather. But I believe the same could be said of the $15 Omega or Dollar Store boar brush as well. Gentle use will prolong the lifespan of any brush, regardless of price. To me it is a bit like saying to preserve the life of your Jaguar don't drive it over 60km per hour...ever. In my view a brush is made to be swirled, mashed and used vigorously...otherwise there is no joy in shaving. If longevity is your goal then paint to your heart's delight. Me, I will use the brush as the brush gods meant to be used -- until it falls apart and then buy another.
 
When I got a simpson, I saw that in their guidance not to smash/swirl but go left/right motion. What really helped was getting a cheap hammered steel bowl. I have seen several bowls made of porcelain/clay but was just afraid it would break. Got lucky to find several in different sizes at a local grocery store in steel. Makes the lathering so much easier.
 
with my 10 Simpson’s brushes, I splay but do not mash. A gentle splay feels great. And honestly, I wouldn’t own a brush I couldn’t splay. 9 Simpson’s brushes ago I was also worried by the warning from Simpson’s. I continued to work my lather as always and figured if it doesn’t hold up then I’ll never buy another. Obviously it worked out because I’ve purchased nine since then. Here are some tips to keep your Simpson’s brushes going. Always hang dry and don’t use a chubby everyday. The chubby is so dense it takes two days to completely dry. its not so bad with the best badger but the super and Manchuria s are far more dense. Anyway... hope that help.
 
I don’t mash and I paint instead of swirling. I don’t seem to have the hair loss that others experience.
My Colonel X2L is a favorite.
 
I swirl away, and it splays down a bit? But I don't mash it down to the handle, not that I make it a point to avoid, but it just never gets to that point during my usual shaves, Simpson brush or any other brush. I just load and have plenty of soap for shaving, without needing to mash.
 

MtView

Contributor
I do lots of painting and maybe a slight splay. It's interesting that Simpsons is considered a master brush maker except when they say how to use the brushes they make. I would like to see some videos of the Simpsons brush makers demonstrating proper technique for using their brushes.
 

SharpieB

Contributor
I mash/splay my brushes in a bowl to help get the brush wet, mash on the soap to build a lather, mash on my face and then mash again in a bowl to clean. Not super aggressively, but I onot use paintbrush strokes to even out the lather on my face.

Never had an issue but I take good care of my brushes. I clean them thoroughly, never use a brush on consecutive days, etc.

If one of my Simpsons needs a reknot in a decade or two, so be it.
 
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