1. What synthetic brushes did you test for this project?
H.I.S, Edwin Jagger, Muhle
2. Have you used synthetic brushes prior to 2011? What did you think of them? What strengths and shortcomings did you find?
Yes: a Men-U synthetic and an Omega Syntex (nylon). I found the Men-U held water reasonably well but was difficult to lather with because the bristles were so stiff. I like the Omega Syntex: although small it holds enough water and lathers well enough, dries quickly, and is inexpensive. I use it as a travel brush. I would describe the performance of these brushes as “adequate”–they got the job done.
3. Do you find significant changes in the new generation of synthetic brushes? How would you describe the changes you found? What advancements did you find, if any.
They’re definitely better than the previous generation. The H.I.S. brush is a little large for my taste, while the Muhle and Edwin Jagger are a bit small for my routine use. Again I have noticed that unless you’re careful not to push down the bristles too hard the brush’s “breech” still opens much too quickly, spilling water, though not nearly as dramatically as the older generation brushes.
4. Are there brushes that stood out for you in your tests? Why?
The newest Muhle and Edwin Jagger brushes felt the most “badger-like” with soft but resilient fibers. The H.I.S. brush was good too, but while it was soft it didn’t feel as “natural” to me.
5. In what areas did you find new synthetic brushes most improved? Where do they need further improvement?
Lathering with a “massaging” action (vs. “paintbrush” motions) is still more difficult compared to natural hair brushes but is better than the older generation. The newest Edwin Jagger and Muhle brushes are a little small for my personal preference.
6. In your opinion, are there areas where further testing is indicated? Please describe.
Fibers have gotten “softer” and more resilient but work is still needed to make them more “face lather friendly” by modifying the softness of the fiber in the center of the brush. The action of the “breech” needs to be modified so that it doesn’t open so easily, giving the water and soap/cream a better chance of mixing properly.
7. Do you have any summary comments regarding your findings? Would you recommend them to others?
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 horse hair and badger hair) are superior performers.