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Thread: Newb Does The 'Pepsi Challenge' With Brushes!

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    Seeking Shaving Zen Prahston's Avatar
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    Default Newb Does The 'Pepsi Challenge' With Brushes!

    The purpose of this Review is, primarily, to write information that I wish I could have gone back and delivered to myself over a year ago in order to save time, money and a bit of frustration. Secondarily, my goal was to separate the chaff as much as possible and avoid what I like to call the ‘Ford/Chevy Phenomenon’ (F/CP) where you have two relatively equal objects that, for whatever reason, have a strong subjective following in onedirection or another. And, I wanted to have a little fun.

    So, what I did was to purchase a variety of brushes from different Manufacturers and in different hair types and qualities… I used each for two weeks shaving 3 times each week with Cella & L’Occitane Cade Soaps and Taylor Of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Cream to give me as much diversity as I had available. I have a goatee but I also shave my head so I have plenty ofreal estate to use these brushes on despite the facial hair.

    I started this process off over a year ago when I purchased a Van Der Hagen Brush, Cup and Soap set for about $15. However, the quality was not much and combining that with my poor technique soon led to a catastrophic failure and large chunks of bristles coming out. This brush was always a big shedder losing half a dozen or more hairs each shave so definitely not my best decision but it gave me the motivation I needed to get into other brushes and do this Review.

    Note, this Review is written from a Newb’s perspective so may not be as comprehensive as people may be used to… But, I believe I came upwith good information and a good sample group and had enough fun to share.

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Size:  35.7 KBHere’s the line-up… From left to right… Chinese ‘No Name’, ‘Disco’ shave brush from India, Van Der Hagen, Taylor Of Old Bond Street ‘Pure Badger’, Edwin Jagger ‘Best Badger’, Parker ‘Silvertip Badger’ and a Star Shaving ‘Synthetic’.
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Size:  18.4 KBThe Chinese ‘No Name’ brush came with a SS double wall shaving cup I picked up off eBay for $10 and was not initially intended for this Review but it came with the cup so I threw it in. Interestingly, it only took about 12 days to get here from China. The dimensions are- Knot: 22mm/FanWidth: 48mm/Bristle Height: 52mm/Total Height: 107mm. The handle is wood andfit and finish is actually quite good. Wood is smooth and ergonomics are that of a basic brush. The bristles are Boar and quite stiff but did not shed more than a few bristles initially then not again. Overall, the brush does an okay job, gives you plenty of scrubbing action and makes fine lather but the volume of lather held leaves something to be desired.
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Size:  17.7 KBThe 'Disco' shave brush I ordered on eBay because it was $6.75 shipped from India and I’d read another Review of this brush that sounded intriguing. It took a staggering 5 weeks to get here so was the last brush I recently finished with. The dimensions are- Knot: 18mm/Fan Width: 62mm/BristleHeight: 62mm/Total Height: 120mm. The handle is wood and fit and finish is,well, different. The wood is not sanded to what you’d normally expect. BUT,that rough texture under the paint actually gives the ergonomics a nice little tweak as far as grip goes but are otherwise what you’d expect of a basic brush.The bristles are Boar and quite long and soft compared to the other brushes and this one did not shed much at all either. Overall, this brush is a little hard to handle with soaps as the bristles are long enough to be hard to control. It does better with creams but never did develop much volume of lather easily.
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Size:  43.7 KB The Van Der Hagen shave brush has a bit of a soft spot forme just because it was my first brush but, otherwise, was pretty much a dud even compared to the ones from China and India. The $15 price tag and packaging with a cup and soap makes the sting a little less and it was the ‘only’ type thing I could find nearby in my area at a local Pharmacy. The dimensions are-Knot: 26mm/Fan Width: 55m/Bristle Height: 55mm/Total Height: 108mm. The handle is plastic and has the same shape many modern brushes have had for some time now and ergonomics are good putting the bulk of the handle in your hand rather than holding on to the end. The bristles are Boar and, as mentioned above, shed readily and with poor technique resulted in catastrophic failure. It did develop good volume with all three soaps/cream I used but left so many hairs even in them that it was a hassle.
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Size:  17.6 KBThe Taylor Of Old Bond Street brush I found packaged with atub of their Sandalwood Cream for $30 on Amazon so getting both for that price was a huge score for me. The dimensions are- Knot: 20mm/Fan Width: 46mm/BristleHeight: 50mm/Total Height: 102mm. The handle is plastic and despite the brushes smaller size the ergonomics are quite good having a deeper cavity to promote a more comfortable grip. The bristles are ‘Pure Badger’, largely black and shed maybe a handful of hairs total. This brush is a blast and is somewhat softer than the ‘Best Badger’ below but not quite as soft as the ‘Silvertip’ at the end. This brush soaks up water and develops lather volume readily and, despite its’ smaller size, holds plenty of lather for multiple passes.
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Size:  19.8 KB The Edwin Jagger brush was $43 off Amazon and was a fake horn color which I really liked as I’d found some a few bucks cheaper but were the same color as the TOBS and I was looking for some variety.Prior to deciding I was going to do this Review, I had initially decided that if I was going to put money just in one brush it was going to be this one. All the other reviews I had read and information pulled from various sites led me to believe ‘Best Badger’ had the best qualities, overall, that I was looking for and I was not disappointed. The dimensions are-Knot: 22mm/Fan Width: 50mm/Bristle Height: 56mm/Total Height: 102mm. The handle is plastic, a bit smaller and the ergonomics are perhaps not quite as good asthe TOBS as the angle where you grip is more abrupt rather than following the contours of a thumb/finger. This brush is soft, not quite lush and has enough stiffness to provide some exfoliation. It shed only a few bristles initially then stopped. This brush also soaks up water readily with all soaps and cream used and holds plenty of volume for multiple passes.
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Size:  19.4 KBThe Parker brush was $60 off Amazon and had a fake wood-grain type color which was important to me for variety as mentioned above.‘Silvertip’ is kind of the cream of the crop and so I was very interested to find out exactly how much difference there was to justify the price increases of 33% and greater vs ‘Best Badger’. What I found was that the uniformity and overall density of the bristles makes an incredible difference. In fact, this was the only brush out of all of them that I was able to get the Warm Latherthing to work with likely due to the volume of water/lather it is able to hold.The dimensions are- Knot: 22mm/Fan Width: 66mm/Bristle Height: 60mm/TotalHeight: 108mm. The handle is plastic and larger than both the EJ and TOBS but witha perfect balance of the best qualities of the other brushes ergonomics. This brush is soft, lush really and has minimal stiffness so exfoliation would bedifficult and you’d likely risk damaging the bristles pushing hard enough toget any of that action though this did not shed more than a few bristles initially either. Where this brush really excels is the volume of water and lather held. It easily provides Warm Lather and holds enough lather for acouple people to share as they are shaving at the same time. Looking at the photo from above you can really get a better idea of the density of bristles.Even though this brush isn’t a Simpson, Plisson or the like it easilydemonstrates why ‘Silvertip’ is so superior.
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Size:  16.4 KBFinally, I picked up a ‘Synthetic’ from Star Shaving for $13and it was an XL so I was eager to see if the bigger size provided better ergonomics. I had seen some pretty nasty videos of fur harvesting in China somy initial reflex was to just choose ‘Synthetic’ and avoid natural bristles altogether.However, the sheer number of recommendations for the three main types of Badger hair as well as the long historical use of those and Boar bristles led me to believe I needed a more broad experience in order to make an appropriate decision. One thing that was very different with this bristle type was the ‘Flickability’… I soaked this brush the same as the rest but found if I flicked too hard I would essentially dry out the brush enough that it would need re-soaking. I did not experience that at all with the other brushes. The dimensions are- Knot: 26mm/Fan Width:58mm/Bristle Height: 62mm/Total Height: 112mm. The ‘Synthetic’ bristle type is interesting. It is a bit softer than the Boar bristles on the Van Der Hagen but much stiffer than any of the Badger bristles. The bristles hold water but tenuously and it does develop good lather. However, this brush has a large mass above the knot which I was unable to determine what it was but looks to be part of what holds the bristles in place. The brush is BIG but I found that this did not positively affect ergonomics any more than the larger size of the Parker over the other two smaller Badger brushes. So, in this brush comparison at least, the larger size was unnecessary. I wear Xl/XXLgloves so this was quite a surprise as I had initially thought it would make quite a difference. Overall, I don’tbelieve this Synthetic performed as good as any of the Badger and it would be aclose tie with the Van Der Hagen though it did not shed more than a handful of bristles initially. The only other noticeable drawback with this brush is the logo nearly wore off in just the two weeks of shaving and, in fact, with the extra handling during this Review is now completely gone. Not much of a complaint but worth mentioning if you like to collect brushes or considering resale.

    My conclusion… I think I would have been happy enough had Ionly purchased the ‘Best Badger’ EJ but I would have really been missingsomething had I not tried a ‘Silvertip’ and the ‘Pure Badger’ had greatqualities of both of the other two Badger types. So, I guess you could say youcan’t go wrong with Badger but you definitely owe it to yourself to try ‘Silvertip’as, depending on your preferences, it could really be a deal maker or breaker.The other brushes were fine and easily get the job done but with largevariances in quality, fit and finish. The Synthetic is really in a class all byitself and it may be worth investigating to see if another Brand or quality ofSynthetic bristles hold different qualities.

    I hope some find this informative and helpful. HappyShaving!
    Last edited by Prahston; 09-30-2012 at 06:39 AM. Reason: Multiple errors due to Cut/Paste from Word

  2. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Prahston For This Useful Post:

    maddafinga (09-30-2012), rickydazla (11-10-2013)

  3. #2
    Seeking Shaving Zen Prahston's Avatar
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    Holy Margins and Spaces Batman! Well, the Cut/Paste from Word didn't work great but the information is all there... Sorry for the tough read... I'm afraid if I try to Edit much I'll really mess something up. ??

  4. #3
    Junior Member rickydazla's Avatar
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    I realize this post is over a year old now but what a great little write up. What are you using now?
    Prahston likes this.
    I'm a million different people

  5. #4
    Seeking Shaving Zen Prahston's Avatar
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    Definitely a blast from the past with my Newbiness in all its' shining glory!

    Thanks for the compliment! At the time I wrote this I'd been focusing on buying vintage and new brushes as a distraction while my SR shaving technique slowly developed and I had a lot of fun writing the Review! Back then I was truly drooling over the premium makers mentioned like a Simpson, Plisson or similar but those prices were WAY out of my range and, despite a heavy and focused eBay assault, I was nowhere in the same galaxy in terms of being able to afford one of those.

    So, until a month or so ago I was alternating between the Parker and the Jagger above... I'd just use one for a week or two then switch to the other one and was completely content. They are both still in great shape and appear to be able to last long, long into the future in terms of durability. I've since learned the Parker's wood grain look is an overlay and some people in their reviews reported peeling of this material but mine has not done this at all. The Jagger is in exactly the same condition as when I bought it as well and if it were a little bigger/longer handle I'd say that could be a brush I'd use forever. I still have all the rest of the brushes but they are just display items at this time as each of them had a quality that took time/focus away from my shaving such as being just too soft that it took forever to load (TOBS) or being so long and floppy that it never felt right (Disco).

    In the last year my focus has been on Honing/Restoration working with Gerrit (Deighaingel) who is a local Mentor and attending the Pac NW Fall Meet and getting to work with GSSixgun and a handful of other gents that showed up. I've also been developing a website (Razors Edge Work | - Finding your perfect shave; a shave to last a lifetime!) in preparation to offer honing services here on SRP which I'm hoping to post within a week! A few weeks ago Gerrit covered Brush Making/Turning and I was able to make a couple brushes using a Standard Silvertip knot from The Golden Nib.

    22mm Silvertip STD XH 22mm silvertip badger hair knot, wholesale pricing [22-ST] - $18.95 : Fountain Pen parts - NIBS, - Wholesale Fountain Pen Ink - Golden Nib AZ

    Ordering your own parts and making your own brush is by far a much more affordable way to get into knots of every quality and there are a number of different pre-made handle blanks on this and I'm sure many other websites. Conversely, being able to look at the prices of just the knots does help justify the prices of the premium makers as those knots alone can be a significant percentage of the price. So, I may still someday end up with one of those big-name brands in my possession. Only time will tell as with so many other things in the wet shaving world.

    The brown brush pictured on the left is Cocobolo wood and Gerrit helped me (A LOT) using his lathe to turn that design which was mostly accidental due to my lack of skill with the lathe/tools but, in a stroke of luck, turned out to be incredible with respect to function and ergonomics and just fits my hand and grip in the best way. What it lacks in aesthetics/form it more than makes up for in comfort and ease of use for my hand. The yellow brush on the right is a pre-made acrylic from The Golden Nib so you just buy the handle, buy the knot and epoxy it in after a little clean up and possible tweaks. The yellow brush is great but quite a bit shorter so nowhere near the same ergonomic feel or function which is kind of the final piece of the puzzle for me... Longer is better as I can place my index and middle fingers on the back of the brush in the indents and my thumb rests in the topmost indent on the front of the brush like in the pic and just feels great!

    I guess the only downside of turning your own brush and getting a non-standard design that works and you really like is that I'll be lucky to find anything similar so may have another skill to develop, tools/machinery to buy, etc in order to produce the next one. But, for now, I think these two will serve me well for some time!

    Thanks for the question and bump... It was cool to re-read where I was so long ago and to take a peek at how far I've come!

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    Last edited by Prahston; 11-12-2013 at 04:51 PM.

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