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The big synthetic brush round-up

I thought perhaps it would be good to start a general synthetic brush thread now that I've reviewed all my synthetic brushes. Here are links to the reviews: Body Shop, Culmak, Men-U, Muhle, Omega Sintex, Omega Big Boy, Rooney, Taylor of Old Bond Street. I should point out that all the reviews are just that, reviews. They tell my opinions and experiences. Your mileage may vary. Now that's said I'll summarize things.

My favourite of the bunch is the Taylor of Old Bond Street brush, which I like both because it works well and feels nice, but also because in a kind of geeky way I like how they've managed to make a brush completely different from all other synthetics with its blend of different hairs. I would like to try the large model they have though, the one I have is medium. The Men-U who's got positive mentions on the boards is by no means bad, but lands in second place as far as I am concerned.

When it comes to picking one from the cheaper ones, I'd pick the Body Shop brush over the Omega Sintex. I like the softness of the tips, but I can see how it might be too stiff for some.


And some notes about things I haven't mentioned in the individual reviews:
Pricing
I realise I have said "budget group", but haven't really talked about money much. What I call the "budget group" includes the Body Shop, Omega Sintex and Culmak brushes and all go for about $10 each. The other brushes all go for about $40-50 each.

Packaging
A few brushes come with little or no packaging. The Body Shop and Culmak had none, the Men-U, Muhle and Omega Sintex all had a flimsy plastic tube or box. The Rooney, Taylor, Omega big boy had a bit more proper boxes.

Smell
You won't get badger butt smell of a synthetic, but you might get a bit of... android butt. But like with natural brushes, the smell goes away after not too long.

Hair loss
I read someone suggesting that the reason badger brushes lose hair is because they absorb water and will expand and retract. Whether this is true or not, I know that the synthetics hardly lose any hairs. My Taylor's has done a little bit of shedding, but otherwise they've all held their hair very well.

Brushes not reviewed
Apparently Salter makes a synthetic brush, but it isn't listed on their own website, and I haven't been searching for retailers who carry it because apparently it's the same as the Rooney. Edwin Jagger make a synthetic brush, but I couldn't tell a difference between the knot it had and the one on my Muhle, so everything I've written goes for the EJ as well (except the EJ has a different, equally nice, handle). Delong makes a $12.50 nylon brush, but the only retailer I've seen who carries it is Cotton Blossom Crafts, who don't ship to outside the US.


Finally I'd like to thank Exapno and L. Martino for getting my collection to where it is now.
 

TimmyBoston

Moderator Emeritus
Bjorn, I really appreciate you looking into synthetics. I for one have been interested in them for quite a while. How do these brushes compare to top of the line badgers?
 
First off, I forgot to add this in the first post, here's a pic of all the synthetics side by side. From left to right: Culmak, Omega Sintex, Body Shop, Men-U, Rooney, Taylor, Omega, Muhle.


As for comparisons to badger brushes, I only have two badger brushes to compare with. A small Wilkinson-Sword pure badger brush, and the B&B brush in finest. Here they are with the Men-U in the middle:


So I don't have that much from the top end to compare to, but I'll compare them to what I have. Joel who has a lot of brushes seemed to think the Men-U wasn't all that bad, and I'd (and I'm sure more people) would love to see more reviews of the Men-U and the Taylor's from people with larger brush collections. Anyway, I'd pick almost any synthetic brush over the Wilkinson (the exception is the Culmak which just gets on my nerves). I'll try to compare a bit to the B&B, but it's hard since it's bigger than all the synthetics.

I personally find it much easier to build lather with the Taylor or Men-U than the B&B, I'm not sure if it's because I've gotten used to synthetics, or the size of the B&B (or a combination of both), but it feels like I need to feed it much more cream (or soap) than the synthetics before I get any results, it just takes more effort.

I'd say the B&B and Men-U are pretty close in softness of tips, both a little bit scratchy, up until you really press it into your skin, then the B&B has nicer more flexible hairs. The Taylor's doesn't really become prickly, but has perhaps a little more springy hairs than the B&B.

Generally the synthetics are very springy. The Body Shop & Omega Big Boy are the extreme cases with very soft tips but extremely stiff hairs. The Omega Sintex is really the only real floppy synthetic.


I hope that gives you a rough idea :)
 
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Jack Black has another brush I hadn't seen before. If anyone owns this one and could take pictures or describe it a bit, I'd love to see/hear about it.
 
There's something with Dutch people and brushes... I think a lot more synthetic brushes need to be made before I get into your league (I guess that's a comfort to my wallet). :p


Edit: I see that someone made the thread into a sticky. Thanks! :)
 
It would seem like the niftiest thing about comparing synthetics is that comparing all the major players is a very real possibility. Very nice!
 
Yeah, that's nice. With badgers it's hard even to get all models of some brands for comparison. I'm glad I got them all, I'm feeling my *ADs abating (alhough... that Jack Black brush... :rolleyes:).
 
I started out with the body shope brush and thought is was good. I till use it if/when I use soaps, it works really well with the soaps.
 
Thanks for the reviews Björn! Nice work! :thumbup:
Have been considering the Bodyshop brush as a travel brush and it seems like a reasonable choice for not too much money (boar is too prickly for me).
 
Just updated the shave brush hair grades Wikipage with the synthetic brushes you reviewed, but which were not yet included. Again nice work!
 
Obviously, Taylor's themselves sell the brush. Besides them there are a few webshops that carry them. Like Executive Shaving and Tones Barber shop, most only carry one or two models though.

One of the shops that didn't show up in the google search results for me was Charles Nicholls, although I'd have to think twice before ordering from a shop expressing that synthetic brushes are the worst and cheapest brushes available while at the same time have the synthetic brushes start at £22 and their badger brushes at £18 (and have boar brushes listed under synthetic). :confused:

Taylor calls the brushes "imitation badger", so using that rather than "synthetic" might give you better google results if you're searching.
 

TimmyBoston

Moderator Emeritus
Obviously, Taylor's themselves sell the brush. Besides them there are a few webshops that carry them. Like Executive Shaving and Tones Barber shop, most only carry one or two models though.

One of the shops that didn't show up in the google search results for me was Charles Nicholls, although I'd have to think twice before ordering from a shop expressing that synthetic brushes are the worst and cheapest brushes available while at the same time have the synthetic brushes start at £22 and their badger brushes at £18 (and have boar brushes listed under synthetic). :confused:

Taylor calls the brushes "imitation badger", so using that rather than "synthetic" might give you better google results if you're searching.
Thanks Bjorn
 
Excellent work Björn, you've saved me a lot of work and quite a few quid :laugh:

I really like the look of that Jack Black brush... but $85 :scared: Even with the weak dollar that's one expensive synthetic. Has anyone out there tried it or seen it?
 
I have to agree with bjorn about the taylor. I just got a taylor imitation badger and it is a very soft and nice brush.It has a nice bloom to it too.
 
My favourite of the bunch is the Taylor of Old Bond Street brush, which I like both because it works well and feels nice, but also because in a kind of geeky way I like how they've managed to make a brush completely different from all other synthetics with its blend of different hairs.
The full TOBS synthetic brush review says:

The other synthetic brushes all have picked one type of hair of a specific material with specific characteristics (thickness, springiness, softness and so on), this brush is very different, the whole knot is a mix of different fibres. The fibres range from very thin to rather thick, but that's not enough, the materials differ as well with some fibres rigid and some rubbery and elastic. The mix makes it unique among the synthetics, it feels the closest to a badger brush, and the mix also helps it retain water more than the other synthetics, and consequently also takes a bit longer to dry out.
I want to add that I just checked my Men-U Premiere and it has at least two different kinds of hairs--straight thin hairs and thick wavy hairs. I have no idea if they are made of the same material, or if there is a third or fourth kind of hair. I only looked on the outside edge of the brush. (I just noticed it at the sink and remembered this thread. And I thought it should be posted. I might look in more detail later tonight.)

[On a side note...this great review has inspired me to try the TOBS synthetic brush!]

Thank you,
Christopher
 
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