Skip to content

Can A Sub-$20 Shave Brush Do The Job?

Listen to this article

inexpensive shaving brushes
A while back I recommended some “good deal” shaving brushes.  The gang on Reddit’s Wet_Shavers board, an experienced but surly bunch, took me to task over some of my choices.  So I challenged them: “OK, what would you suggest?”  I promised to take their most popular suggestions, buy them myself and try them long enough to get a good impression of them, and report back.  Here is the list and my experiences with the brushes.

The List

Here’s what I ended up getting:


omega s brushes
The “Beehive” was slightly larger in total height but the ’77 and the ’81 performed pretty much the same way–adequately.  Both are very stiff and did not hold water particularly well for me.  I could get better results by bowl-lathering vs. face lathering but the lather itself was only just acceptable.  The S brush’s stiffness do not lend themselves well to my normal circular lathering pattern.  Using a paint-brush motion was more successful.

Chunky Chub

omega chunky chub
My least favorite brush of the bunch.  This boar hair brush would probably perform better with an extended break-in period but I found nothing in this brush that would recommend it over the classic Omega PRO 48 or PRO 49 brushes.

Mixed Mighty Midget

omega mighty might
Easily my favorite of the group.  Although small it generated a very good lather quickly.  Bowl lathering and face lathering were equally effective.  The brush’s small size still held enough lather for a 3 pass + shave.  I’m really impressed with this little fella.  🙂


vie long horse hair brush
This Vie-Long horse hair shave brush performs somewhere between boar and badger hair; better than the S-brush examples.  The higher loft helps compensate for the comparatively poorer water-retention capability.  A note of caution for those who are considering this brush, the animal-hair scent is pretty strong (in other words it stinks!) and I would strongly recommend a few good shampooings with animal shampoo before using it.  But it does perform well for the price.


Looking at these brushes and the brushes in the previous article, there are a few that I would recommend as good, basic brushes that can get the job done for under $20 (and most under $10)–though none are anywhere near “luxurious.”  From this group I like the “Mighty Midget” boar/badger mix and the “Cachurro” horse hair.  In my opinion the rest of this group is acceptable but I think a better option for any of them would be the Omega PRO 48.

Do you have any of these brushes?  What do you think of them?


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

10 thoughts on “Can A Sub-$20 Shave Brush Do The Job?”

  1. Mark, I agree that the Omega PRO 48 is a good brush and I have one also.
    As Rob says above, the Turkish brushes are great, especially the Number 6 horsehair brush from It is currently $2.65. You do have to wash them a few times with a pet shampoo due to the smell when wet after they first arrive. I normally use either the Turkish horse hair brush or one of two synthetics. I am a low budget shaver. I am not aware of a Vie-Long being available in my country. I can’t imagine it being superior to the Turkish horse hair brush which in my opinion is better than any boar bristle brush. My synthetics are a Parker which is a good example, apparently, and a late model Edwin Jagger obtained online for half price, the price error was corrected shortly afterwards. When I see bad reviews of the Parker, I assume that there are production quality issues, because mine is great for face lathering. has a synthetic for $6.45 which is probably worth trying, the photo on the website looks very good. Anyone after a good inexpensive brush cannot do better than $2.65.

  2. I bought a nondescript brush from a Turkish website for a little over £2. I was buying some blades so I thought I may as well add it to the order for curiosity’s sake. It’s got a cheap looking wooden handle and the bristles stank a bit at first (Horse or Boar – I’m not sure!) but it whips up lather brilliantly.

  3. I have the Omega Midget and have used it as my only brush for a while now, never saw a point in going back to try others, so I’m glad you did for me! I usually find most of the bristles to be too coarse for lather purposes, and not comfortable to use when applying the lather either. This little brush I have does everything perfectly for me, and the cost more than pays for itself ten times over versus some of the others I’ve gone through trying to find it. Only note: keep the handle dry afterward completely or it will get something on it that looks rusty that doesn’t come off but does seem like corrosion.

  4. The $18 Elite synthetic brush is a pretty good brush. It’s a little crude but has been a workhorse for me for over a year at home and on the road. I also own An Omega S, Omega Hi Brush, & Kent Infinity, yet I often use the Elite over those synthetics. I have a Boar and Badger too but prefer the synthetic knots.

  5. I read the original article and this follow-up. Great objective and honest reviews. I really appreciated the interaction with your audience and the thoughtful response. I would submit the Semogue 1305 for your list. It’s on the edge at $19, but it’s a wonderful brush that gets better and better as it breaks in.

  6. I love the mixed midget. It’s really the only boar brush I’ve ever liked. The size may be unconventional but it still performs great. Probably its first competitor would be the wee Scot, which I also love, but for twice the price I think I’d always recommend the omega first

  7. Mixed boar/badger brushes don’t get much mention, but I’ve used two excellent ones, the 11047 mentioned here and a Semogue Mistura from 2013, limited edition unfortunately. On my face, they are a wonderful combination of soft and scrubby, they hold heat better than pure boar, and provide lather release better than badger.

  8. Interesting report. I find the S-Series brushes not at all stiff—on the contrary, for me they are on the soft side, very pleasant on the face, and do a fine job of making and holding lather. I understand that tastes vary, but these brushes do not seem stiff to me at all. And since they are half the price of the Pro 48 (The cheaper S-Series from is $6, and others are around $8), I think they are a fine alternative. I’ve been giving them as starter brushes, and most like them.
    So far as holding water, I had to give the brush two shakes in this video, where I used this model with Mitchell’s Wool Fat. The brush was chosen for the challenge specifically because it is a soft brush.
    I also like the Omega 11047 and used it yesterday. I do soak that knot because of the boar content.
    Interesting article, but my experience is somewhat different.

    1. Maybe “stiff” is a poor choice of words on my part. I agree that the feel of the bristles of the S Brushes are soft in that they are not “prickly” on the face like some other brushes, but the knot just refuses to splay out properly for me.

  9. I own the Kent Silvertex and a Tweezerman (mentioned in your original article on the subject) and virtually never use either. I completely despise the Tweezerman. The Silvertex is a fine brush, just not really for me.
    I have yet to use a brush from this selection, though I have been wanting to try a horse hair brush. Perhaps I will give the Vie-Lone a try.
    But I wanted to say for about 50% of my shaves I use a brush that cost me $10. It was billed as a “defective handle” brush on e-Bay, though there was no observable defect other than a poor job with the silk screen logo (which wore off in weeks anyway). It is a 21″ Fine Badger almost certainly from Frank Shaving. It is just a bit smaller than the very nice 23″ Frank Shaving Fine Badger brush I use the other 50% of the time. They perform nearly identically. (which is to say “wonderfully”).

Comments are closed.