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Vie-Long natural horse hair comparison



Vie-Long offers different types of horse hair in their brushes, and my curiosity once again got the best of me, especially after I recently purchased two American style brushes; one with white and one with brown horse hair.
I have two other brushes with the same type of hair, just the knots are larger, so I thought it could be fun to compare the knot sizes and these two hair types.

The two types of knots:
The brown knot consists of 35% mane and 65% tail hair.
The white knot consists of 50% mane and 50% tail hair.

The brushes in this test:
Brush
Knot type
[mane/tail]
Knot size
[mm]
Loft
[mm]
Vie-Long Professional #235/6520.361.0
Vie-Long 13071B50/5024.054.2
Vie-Long American style35/6519.449.1
Vie-Long American style50/5020.949.5














The first comparison will be of the two brown hair brushes:
I didn't expect much of a difference between the two brushes, as I thought the larger knot of the Professional would compensate for the equivalent higher loft, but I was wrong.
Immediately when loading the brushes I could feel a difference. The Professional felt almost floppy compared to the American style, which showed a really great backbone and loaded the soap quite fast.
Lathering up took less time with the American style, again because of more backbone.

Applying the lather in circular motions the backbone again gave a noticeable difference of the feel of the brush. The Professional splayed more and thus covering more area in a stroke, whereas the American style felt more firm and massaging.
Applying lather in painting strokes was more similar, although again the American style felt more firm in the knot and of course didn't splay as much as the larger Professional. Nice feel from both.

The feel of the tips was equal; a light massaging effect with just a slight prickliness, which I didn't find uncomfortable in any way.
If I should compare the tip-feel to a badger brush, it would be in the region of a Best badger or Finest badger.

My personal favourite of these two is the American style, to my surprise actually. Even though the knot is smaller I find the more firm backbone to be more to my liking. It loaded the soap and whipped up the lather fast and with no difficulty at all. Creams won't be challenge and I have no doubt that it will face lather quite nicely as well because of the backbone.
The Professional can do all three as well, but it will take longer especially in face lathering as it splay somewhat more and has a softer backbone.
However, one has to remember that the Professional is developed exactly for; professional barbers, who use the brush in a slightly different manner than you do at home.




Next comparison is the two white hair brushes:
With the experience of my first test clearly in my mind, I would say that it was naturally to expect a similar behaviour from these two brushes.
And once again I was wrong :)

Despite the differences in knot size and loft height, those two brushes felt and behaved similar. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't detect any noticeable difference between them.

Their backbone is very firm, and they loaded fast and with ease. Whipping up lather was an equally easy and fast procedure.
The firm backbone means that there is very little splay when applying lather in both circular and painting motions.

The tip-feel from both is definitely pricklier; in fact it is close to where I think it is too much (I like soft tips).
Anyone who likes a good massaging effect where you really can feel the tips will likely like this brush. The white hairs will most certainly do very well for face lathering.
The tip-feel would be similar to a Pure badger or prickly Best badger.

Since the two brushes are so equal in behaviour the difference that makes the "winner" is the handle, and here it is the 13071B that takes the honour.
The larger handle makes it a little more comfortable for me to hold, and I like the slightly higher loft as well.




And last the comparison of the two American style knots:
Almost identical measures and very similar behaviour and yet a noticeable difference as well.
This is almost just a repeat - backbone in both brushes is great, they feel very firm. They both load fast and whips up lather with ease.
They don't splay much no matter the technique; circular or painting motions.

The tip feel is where the difference is. The brown hair knot feels more comfortable and less prickly than the white haired version, and this actually took me by surprise, as I would have thought the knot with most mane hair would be the softest, but that is not the case.
I find the prickliness from horse hair is more direct and harder (lack of better word) than the prickliness from a boar or badger. The two latter has a softer feel even with a prickly brush, and they can soften up on use, especially valid for boar brushes, whereas my experience with horse hair is that they maintain the prickliness they are "born" with.

Of the two I prefer the brown hair knot (35/65 mane/tail) due to the softer feel.
I think the knot size/loft height ratio is spot on for these knots. They will be great all-rounder’s able of doing whatever you want from them - apart from being heavenly soft tipped :)





Should I have a small critique point it would be the handle width. I wouldn't mind a couple of mm's more in diameter to ease the hold of the brush.
It is 29 mm at its widest at the base and 17 mm at the narrowest point.
But it is really nitpicking, because it is not a strain to hold the handle.

I have chosen a version with dark wooden handle, but the American style also comes in a version with light wood and it is possible to choose a version with a 2-band badger knot as well.
 
Many thanks for the great review!

How often have you used the brushes. In my experience the white Vie-Long knot becomes ultra soft after ~10 uses.

I almost gave away my first one, because it was very prickly at first. But then I was told to hang in there, and I was rewarded with one of the softest knots in my stable.

After trying a couple of these, I stuck with the Vie-Long Epsilon with white hair - my favourite horse brush so far!
 
I also have a Professional #2 in a white horse hair/boar mix and even with quite a few uses it hasn't soften up.
The 13071B has also been used well, I love the handle, the backbone the size of the knot but I find it a little too prickly for my taste. Not uncomfortable though, I would just like it to be a little more soft. This hasn't brush changed either.
I will try the conditioner trick on one of them, it has worked quite nice with some of my badger brushes.
If you are right that use will soften them up, they will definitely be a treat.
 
I only have 2 Vie-Long horse hairs and although I like both of them, my preference is the 50/50 white over the 35/65 brown. I might buy 1 more in white because I love the Epsilon handles.

But I have to respectfully disagree with one of your observations: The tips on my white 50/50 is decidedly softer than the 35/65 brown.
 
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Great review! Thanks for sharing. Those American style handles look like a million bucks. Just lovely. Actually, the other handles look great too. You're fueling my SBAD for sure!
 
I only have 2 Vie-Long horse hairs and although I like both of them, my preference is the 50/50 white over the 35/65 brown. I might buy 1 more in white because I love the Epsilon handles.

But I have to respectfully disagree with one of your observations: The tips on my white 50/50 is decidedly softer than the 35/65 brown.
I was surprised myself, I would have thought the "conclusion" would be like your describe; the white being softer.
However, both brown hair brushes was noticeable softer, not by much but compared head-to-head I was not in doubt.

I have a brown knot about the size of the 13071B and I will compare the two tomorrow, just to see if there is any difference.
I also have a white Professional, although a horse/boar mix, but I could be tempted to compare the two Professionals too.

This is fun
, and even more when we don't get to the same results :001_smile


Great review! Thanks for sharing. Those American style handles look like a million bucks. Just lovely. Actually, the other handles look great too. You're fueling my SBAD for sure!
I really love the American style too. It is a beautiful handle, and as described I find the knot/loft ratio to be perfect - just saying :wink:
 
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Today I compared the 13071B and the 14831M.

I will still have to say the brown knot feel a bit softer, I will concede not by much.
It is hard to explain, but the prickliness from the tips felt similar in "hardness", but it felt like there were more prickly hairs in the white knot than the brown, thus making it feel more prickly.

I am really interested in following the white hair brushes to see if they soften up with use like mentioned above.
 

franz

Moderator Emeritus
It's been too long since I read one of your detailed reviews. Nice work.

Based on your observations of the qualities of each knot, I conclude that horse hair is probably not for me, though it may be perfect for others. That's helpful to know. :001_smile
 
Very nice review thanks! I recently got a brown horse hair Vie Long and I can't wait to try it. I don't mind the prickly bristles as they afford a nice way of stimulating and exfoliating your skin but I will see how soft my brown brush will be!
$Vie long.jpg
 
@shm I came here inspired by your recent SOTD photos where you seem to be on a horse hair phase.
Excellent review, bumping it to give others the opportunity to read. As always, great photos too.
 
Thank you very much Gents.

And just for information; The tips have softened a bit, or I have grown more accustomed to them :001_smile . The brown hair ones are definitely softer tipped than the white hairs, and I really love the brown haired Vie-Longs.
 
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