The New Generation of Synthetic Brushes – Part III
“These are not your daddy’s synths.”
Summary of Responses to Questions 7
7. Do you have any summary comments regarding your findings? Would you recommend them to others?
Wim: I would recommend both Silvertip fibers, the Black fibers and the artificial badger knots to any wet shaver.
The new generation Silvertip Fibers are the biggest leap forward compared with the previous editions. The Mühle Classic 23mm model is a great all-rounder that offers tremendous value for money. In fact, its quality and performance outclass the majority if not all of the brushes I know around the $55 mark. They really are that good.
The black fibers are like softer, cloudier version of the silvertip fibers. The difference is that the black fibre knots are made by machine, the Silvertip fibers are tied by hand, as Mühle has stated after a question on The Shave Nook. The other difference is the color and diameter of the single fibers. They perform excellent and will be a gem for people who love softer yet firm brushes. To me, their handles do not appeal as much as the classy silvertip fibers handles, so I hope one day Mühle will offer a wider choice of handles.
The artificial badger also impressed me, after the experience with the Syntex knots. The Omega brush is built with good materials, better than was expected considering the price point of 17 GBP or $26 U.S. (though I have seen it on sale for as much as $45). In boar country, that is Semogue Owners Club territory, and I think the Omega does match the Semogue quality standards. It is also the same league as the new Mühle black fibers. The Omega did shed a couple of fibers though, but nothing dramatic. Omega has made this brush in a barber style design, which I find very attractive. It also works well to me. A simple plastic stand is included, which is a nice touch but in my den does not see much use. The material of this brush, called Ovangkol, is not without debate as the tree that provides it is threatened with habitat loss. Had I known that before I bought the brush, I think I would have chosen another handle indeed.
I think the Omega is another example of synthetics having usually relatively high lofts for their diameter to work well. I face lather exclusively, but can imagine the loft being equally suitable for bowl latherers. All in all, these artificial badger knots are an improvement compared with the previous Syntex editions. The Omega 343312 model is a nice addition to any den, and a great entry in the world of synthetics. It certainly is value for money.
It is tempting to compare this brush to natural silvertip badger brushes, for many in the wet shaving community the Holy Grail or at least a common reference for quality. I do think however, that synthetics are a class of their own, just like boars and horsehair brushes, and have their own merits and are to be judged by that. This particular brush to me is an excellent one, and for its price hard if not impossible to beat. It also gives some of the much more expensive silvertips I have a good run for their money.
I also feel that synthetics are in a league of their own. Just as badgers have their unique qualities, so do synthetics. I like my Mühles a lot, for their efficacy as well as for their look and feel. And I would not want them to try to be like any other type of brush at all. And like there are good and bad boars, good and bad badgers and good and bad horse brushes there will be good and bad synthetics as well. We certainly have seen some bad synths, so the current wave of new generation synthetics is a real treat.
Gary: As I stated earlier, all brushes have a series of strengths and weaknesses. It is up to the user to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each brush to determine the brush that is right for each user. Now for decades the choices that have dominated the discussion have been Badger, Boar and Horse. All of these solutions have a single commonality. They are from natural sources namely animals. Now based on the developments over the past couple of years, synthetic knots and fibers have come into their own. They are now at a level of sophistication and robustness that they can and do compete in every way with the natural products. This provides the traditional shaver with one additional choice in the arsenal of available products. In the grand scheme of things, it is always better to have more choices and these new synthetics provide some excellent choices. Would I recommend them to others? Yes.
I have and I do recommend them for both new and experienced traditional shavers.
Mark: I now feel more comfortable recommending synthetic shaving brushes to those who have an objection to using natural hair shaving brushes, though I still feel natural hair brushes (particularly horsehair and badger hair) are superior performers.
“T”: I would recommend (I do actually, in all of the reviews) the new Mühle silvertip fibre with no hesitation to others. Right price, works like badger hair but even better, and are the best options for those who care for animals.
Jim: When this project began, I asked two questions:
Have synthetics come of age?
The answer to this question is Yes, at least with regard to Mühle, Edwin Jagger, H.I.S. and Omega. Their new synthetic brushes demonstrate big steps forward in the areas of water retention, attractiveness, softness of tips, performance, density, backbone, drying time and economical use of soaps and creams. These brushes have come a long way. These are not your daddy’s synths.
Do they have qualities that are as good as or better than their natural counterparts?
I would rank Mühle and Edwin Jagger synthetic brushes with very good performing natural best badger and silvertip brushes. My reference brushes are Edwin Jagger 23mm Best Badger and Franks Shaving 21mm Silvertips, both of which have been favorites of mine. They have been replaced by the Mühle Classic 23mm Silvertip Fiber and HJM 21mm Black Fiber brushes, both of which I feel are improvements. Sadly, I have not yet tried an H.I.S. or Omega synth.
The project team is aware that synthetic brush development among manufacturers continues at unprecedented pace. We had opportunities to test a number of prototype and/or pre-release models and can say with certainty that further improvements in fibers and brush density are coming in the not-too-distant future.
I’d like to thank the members of the project team for their many hours of work, thoughtful insights and dedication to the
shaving community. Special thanks to Gary for developing our test criteria and allowing the use of his photos, and to
Wim who first suggested it was time for a new look at these brushes.