I recently got one of the new Deranged shaving brushes from West Coast shaving. This is a relatively large, synthetic hair shaving brush with an interesting handle design. At first I wasn’t particularly impressed with it’s performance…until I discovered a secret to it.
Deranged Brush Design
From the West Coast Shaving website:
“Our newest line of shaving brushes here at West Coast Shaving might just be our most ambitious yet. A collaboration with several top-of-the-line artisans, these grooming requisites are creative, unique, lather monsters. The idea for these shaving brushes handles was inspired by the amazing work done by Deranged Donkey and combined with the phenomenal turning and knots coming from TurnNShave.
The synthetic hair from TurnNShave is a fabulous fiber capable of whipping up a great lather. This 28mm knot has superior splay, ultra-soft tips, and luxurious density. And with its fast drying, it is great at home or on the go. You can’t go wrong with this one.
The handle is a resin and burl composite. Deranged Donkey crafts these blocks in a “pourcasso” process by which the maple burl is placed in a form, covered with resin, and then placed in a vacuum. As the air is removed, the resin is “pulled” into the wood creating these fabulous designs…grounded in a base of maple burl.”
This is a big ol’ honker of a brush for me, 28mm
My First Few Uses
I haven’t seen many comments about the Deranged brushes so I knew I would be going into some uncharted territory and I wanted to give it a good workout.
Background: it’s a typically hot, humid Summer here in Texas and during this time of year I usually face lather and use a sink of fairly tepid water (my water is also fairly “hard“).
After the first week of use my reaction was pretty much…well…meh. The lather it made was good but not great, the synthetic fibers were a bit too stiff for my preference (“ultra soft tips” was not what I was thinking!), and the large 28mm size was a bit unwieldy for me (my brush “sweet spot” seems to be around 24mm). I couldn’t really understand why West Coast Shaving was so enthusiastic about this new line.
But I pressed on and gave it another week, thinking I may need some subtle changes in technique to get the brush to “sing.”
Nope, after week two, still…meh.
Discovering The Secret
I was pretty much going to give up on this brush–I have so many others that work better for me (including other brushes from West Coast Shaving) that it didn’t seem worth working up a sweat about.
But I wanted to give it one last try and this time and, on a whim, I decided to bowl lather.
As I mentioned earlier, this time of year I usually use water with a fairly tepid temperature. But for this use I filled a lather scuttle with piping-hot water.
And I was immediately rewarded with a better lather….
Hmmmm…this is interesting.
My past experience with synthetic shave brush fibers indicated I did not need to soak them like a do for a boar or badger brush. Just give a few swishes, a flick or two, and go to town. Maybe this type of synthetic was different?
I filled my sink with much hotter water (not scalding-hot, mind you, just a lot hotter than I usually use this time of year). Then I threw the brush into the filled sink and let it soak for a minute just like I do with animal hair brushes. Face lathered.
Result? Even better lather and the synthetic fibers felt softer!
OK, I seem to be onto something here. 🙂
My next shave combined the hot soak with bowl lathering in a hot scuttle.
Success! I got a much better lather with fibers that were much softer-feeling (I was able to splay out the fibers more easily and control the large knot much more effectively. “Ultra soft tips” indeed). Now I was liking this brush!
As I have continued using this brush I am appreciating it more and more. Up until now synthetic brushes have generally been an “also-ran” for me–for better or worse I just prefer badger hair brushes. My usual go-to set of brushes (excluding those for travel) are all badger.
As long as I use hot water the West Coast Shaving Deranged shave brush is the first synthetic brush that made it into my regular rotation. 😉