As a newbie with brushes in the size and price range mentioned, I shall weigh in on my experiences.
- Water Retention: My brushes, from most to least: Silvertip Badger -> Horse -> Pure Badger -> Boar
- Loading: They can all load from every soap and cream I've tried. The horse and boar load fastest, the pure badger isn't very dense and loads slowest.
- Backbone: Badger backbone is a complicated function of density, loft, and knot size. That said, my dense short silverhair still has less backbone than my horse and boar. Boar has the most.
- Feel: My pure badger is the least pleasant to use. The worst combination of flimsy and prickly. The horse and boar, due to their heavy backbone, can be prickly if you press too hard, but soft and pleasant when used sanely. The silvertip is a really luxurious feeling on the face.
- Price-wise, you can get a much nicer horse or boar brush than badger for the same amount of money.
Caveat: I'm sure a pure or Black Badger brush from a better line would be more comfortable to use.
- Shea Moisture Pure Badger brush ($9)
- Vie-Long 13800 Horse Hair brush ($25)
- Reconditioned Ever-Ready C40 w/ a Silvertip knot from The Golden Nib (~$55)
- Omega Pro 49 boar ($10, not yet fully broken in.)
- Eric "Fountain pens, oil paints, wet shaving. Maybe I was born after my time."
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