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Siv's Top 10 Synthetic Brushes (Summer 2009)

I have been wet shaving all my life but only recently discovered the pleasures of the DE razor. Part of my quest was to get the best synthetic shaving brush I could find (I try my best not to use animal products). So here are a selection of the brushes I have got and my ranking of them.

Please not that this really is a YMMV situation. The following is my estimation of these brushes and as I have seen, not all are made consistently. I may have gotten a dud in some cases or a lucky good one. The only brushes I have multiples of are the Edwin Jagger so you can be fairly sure that I have a good sample set but this thread shows that even with those there was some variation.

Anyway, here we go!

Number 10
R. A. Rooney Shaving Brush, Synthetic Bristles

I was very excited when I found out that Rooney made a synthetic shaving brush. I could not wait to try it so on the very day it arrived, I grabbed some cream and set about making lather. It does make lather but it's not an instant lather machine like other brushes.

Now here is why it's at number 10 - as soon as I put it on my face it felt like sandpaper. It's really rough - almost like the bristles were cut at the top with a blunt pair of scissors. It's only redeeming features are that the bristles are stiff so you can use it more easily with soaps and the handle is high quality. I tried to like it but I just couldn't. My face would rather have other brushes on it.
R. A. Rooney Shaving Brush, Synthetic Bristles
100% Hand Made Quality
Finally, An alternative to animal products provided by London's very best shaving brush manufacturer - Old World Tradition for New World Sensitivities- From the Lathe-Turned and Hand Polished Resin Handle to the Hand Knotted, and Convincingly Colored Nylon Fillings, this Shave Brush is both Handsome and Functional.
Available both in Black and White.

Number 9
Omega Syntex

This was the first shaving brush I bought after many many years. I used to use a cheap $2 Gillette brush that looked much the same and of course, I didn't know any better. Once the Gillette brush was looking a little worse for wear I bought this one thinking the performance would be the same. It wasn't - now I'm sure this is because 10 years of using the Gillette brush made it a lot softer than it was out of the box. Anyway, this Syntex is a simple nylon brush and very cheap. It's not terrible to use and it does the job. The only reason it's at number 9 is that there is so much better out there. This is the cheapest bush I have bought and would only recommend it if money is really really tight (i.e. you can't afford $3 more).
Omega Syntex 100% synthetic shaving brush
Plastic handle
Height 9,8 cm - 3,86"
Assorted colours

Number 8
Edwin Jagger Rubber Handled Synthetic

This brush has the "old" Edwing Jagger synthetic fill and it's not a great brush. The bristles are pokey (but not as bad as the Rooney) but it does make an decent lather. The main reason it's here is because it has the best handle of any brush I have owned. It's three sided and made of some kind of rubber. The grip is exceptional when the hands are wet and it allows you to handle the brush efficiently. If it had the new synthetic fill is would be around the top of my list but unfortunately this brush cannot have the new fill. I believe the Edwin Jagger have now discontinued it.

Number 7
l'Occitane Travel Shaving Brush

This brush works miracles when travelling. It's not the softest brush in the list but it's reasonable. The key attractions are that the head separates for storage in the handle and the handle is nice and long. What a long handle does is give you the ability to whip up lather quickly in a small mug which is ideal when you are in a hotel and don't have you scuttles etc to hand.

In the end, it's a high quality handle with an average quality knot but a design that makes it very functional. It would be my go-to travel brush if not for the fact that some of the higher ranked brushes travel very well.
Whips shaving cream or shaving soap into a copious lather. Synthetic bristles lift beard off of skin, to allow for the closest shave. Aluminum handle.

Number 6
The Body Shop Men's Synthetic Shaving Brush

This is the brush I would recommend if money is an issue. It represents fantastic value for money. It performs close to the best and for a bargain price.

My only major peeve is that the bristles are short and don't flex enough on the face so you have to work harder to lather.
The Body Shop Men's Synthetic Shaving Brush
A wooden shaving brush that enhances the foamy lather of your shaving cream. Made with Community Trade Russian birch wood and animal-free super-soft synthetic hairs. Its short, rounded handle makes it easy to hold in the palm of your hand.

Number 5
Jack Black Pure Performance Shave Brush

This was the first expensive synthetic brush I bought... and it remains the most expensive brush I have. The head is nice, it does the job well, the bristles are soft, the handle very sturdy and I have no real complaints. It's not the absolute best out there though and the price knocks it down the list.
Jack Black Pure Performance Shave Brush
Our state-of-the-art brush has technologically advanced PureTech bristles with a solid hair shaft and an antimicrobial coating. So the brush dries properly to help prevent bacterial growth. You get an impeccable shave, and the badger lives to see another day.

Number 4
men-u Premier Shaving Brush

For a long time, this was my favourite brush. It is a lather monster! It is an incredibly functional brush with soft active bristles that make lather very quickly. What lets it down is the cheap cheap handle.

Now I hardly ever use the brush only because there are better ones out there.
men-u Premier Shaving Brush
Italian made shaving brush with revolutionary synthetic bristles. The first shaving brush development in over 250 years! These new bristles generate an amazing amount of lather, require less shaving cream, rinse easily and dry extremely fast - making this shaving brush more hygenic than animal hair and easier for travel. Generates a rich creamy lather, lifts the beard away from the face, making a smooth close shave easier.

Number 3
Omega Synthetic

This is a great brush and one that I use regularly. It had a large, soft, flexible head that feels great on the face and makes lather like a champ. It's not that expensive either! I especially like using it on my "Italian" days when I use mostly Proraso pre-shave, cream & balm. The brush works really well
by virtue of the long and dense knot. I wouldn't be surprised if someone told me that the men-u brush has the same bristles but the Omega simply has more of them.

All in all this feels like putting a big soft paintbrush over your face. Very nice...
Omega Synthetic
100% synthetic fibres shaving brush badger imitation
Resin handle
Height 11,2 cm - 4,41"

Number 2
Edwin Jagger Chatsworth Shaving Brush - New Synthetic

I have given high praise for these brushes and it's deserved. The "new" synthetic fill is an absolute gem and makes lather exceptionally well. Another reason I like this brush so much is that it works equally well with soaps and creams. The excellent performance combined with the quality handles make this a really great choice and one that I use regularly.
Edwin Jagger Chatsworth imitation/Faux Ivory Range
£33.50 (£29.13 ex. Tax)
Similar brushes with same knot available for £24

Number 1
Taylors of Old Bond Street Synthetic Shaving Brush

In Bjorn's synthetic brush round-up a Taylor brush came out on top BUT this brush was not synthetic - it was made of animal hairs other than badger. Once the notice went out that Taylors would be releasing a 100% synthetic brush, I was keen to give it a try. The brush itself was only made available recently and has now taken pride of place as my most used brush.

This thing is great - the handle is high quality, the fill is soft and the spring exceptional. Using this brush has made me want to face-lather more and more and I hardly use my scuttle these days. I don't know what they have done to the bristles but they hold water much better than any other synthetic brush. Have a look:

Here I have wetted my top three brushes.

Now I give them one hard shake. Notice how the other two have lost a lot of their water while the Taylors brush is still matted.

Now I have shaken them several times to get them as dry as possible. The Edwin Jagger and Omega brushes are basically almost dry but the Taylors brush hairs are still matted. You have to use a hair-drier or something to get this brush dry!

This is a highly recommended brush and if you can only have one, buy this one!
Synthetic Shaving Brush - Small/Medium (10cm)
This brush is made from 100% Durable Synthetic Fibers that have been specially crimped to retain water and shaving cream/soap when in use.
Price: £35.00

What's next? Well I have bought some synthetic knots from GoldenNib and they looks really promising. The knots are pretty good and hold water well - almost as well as the Taylors. The are soft but there is the occasional bit of scratchiness. One of these knots with the Edwin Jagger rubber handle may make a very strong contender in the next top 10!

I have been wet shaving all my life but only recently discovered the pleasures of the DE razor.

:lol:that's pretty good, I had to wait while I was 15 before I started shaving

sorry, too much levity? a seriously good post and one I shall refer to when buying my new brush - thanks
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Thanks for the review. I based my decision to buy an EJ new technology from your previous reviews and it has been fantastic. It is now my favorite brush. It really is a lather machine. I don't know if I will get another any time soon, but now I know which one I want if I do.


Wonderful review. I have the Omega Nylon and the Omega Synthetic and have enjoyed them . Synths have two advantages over badger hair, they don't shed like badgers , nor can you break the hair with rough use.

I believe whether with badger and synthetics that Omega has made quite a few rebrands for the Brits.
What a great review -thanks! I bought my EJ synthetic based on your posts, and it is without a doubt my favourite. I completely agree with your assessment of The Body Shop brush -after the EJ it is clumpy and harsh to the face. My only complaint of the EJ brush is that I wish the head were just a tad bigger, but I guess I've got used to it. Without a doubt, the EJ is a quality product.

Would love to try a TOBS though based on your feedback.
Great review. Thank you. My favorite brush at the moment is a vintage handle that I re-knotted with a GN Nylon knot. I'm curious how it compares to the ones you've reviewed here. I may have to buy a couple more synthetics and give them a whirl. Meanwhile, I'll share a little synthetic brush porn. :biggrin: (Sorry, can't resist.)

Thanks for putting this together.

Saw and felt! the Taylors one when I was in the shop 3 months ago. Think its £35 here in the UK.
Great review. Thank you. My favorite brush at the moment is a vintage handle that I re-knotted with a GN Nylon knot. I'm curious how it compares to the ones you've reviewed here. I may have to buy a couple more synthetics and give them a whirl. Meanwhile, I'll share a little synthetic brush porn. :biggrin: (Sorry, can't resist.)

Jack, I bought 4 of those knots myself. I'm just waiting to find something suitable to stick them in. I'm too crude a handyman to make anything decent. Maybe I need to get a pro to make a handle for me...
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