For a while now a team of testers have been testing synthetic brushes. The results of these tests have been displayed throughout the traditional shaving community on various forums and blogs for some time.
The discussions of these tests, threads and blogs were basically three fold in nature. The first was individual evaluations of various brushes to see if synthetics were truly a viable player in the shaving brush market. This required the testers to obtain a large number of brushes to test and review. The testing team noted that in the past three years especially there has been enough advancements in this area that Synthetic brushes are a viable player, and a growing sector in the shaving brush market, for various reasons that this discussed elsewhere. The second was to research and explore the history of synthetic brushes and what areas of fiber development in other areas, such as the toothbrush, paintbrush and cosmetic brush industries supported and allowed fibers to be developed, which eventually allow for fibers to exist to be used in today’s synthetic shaving brushes. The third area was to try to find common ground between groups of brushes that used the same fiber or very similar fibers, along with how the brushes felt at the tip, backbone, etc. Based on all the testing information I developed the “Synthetic Generations” concept to help users compare brushes and to understand the differences within synthetic brushes. In addition to data that the Synthetic testing team produced, discussions from various forums and blogs were also taken into account when refining the generations listings as displayed in the following threads and the threads that are linked within.
The reason behind this was unlike badger, boar, and horse hair brushes, which have long histories and documented data, the Synthetic brush was far less mature in the market place with far less data for users and potential users to discuss and compare. So the Generational System was meant to provide that framework of discussion with commonly available benchmarks to compare and contrast various synthetic offerings, but all that is about to change.
The Synthetic Generations listing concept is rapidly becoming obsolete!
The earlier era of only few viable brush makers involved in manufacturing synthetics has changed. Users are now seeing Synthetic brushes as a viable stand alone class of brushes and many have switched totally to synthetics based on both the merits of the products being produced and how these products satisfy their desires in a shaving brush. So now the market has changed with a user base that has sufficient critical mass to drive more producers into the market. As more brush makers enter the market, there will be more demand for fiber manufacturers that have developed these classes of fibers for the cosmetic industry, such as DuPont, Toray Industries, and others, will be further pressed into service to alter, change and develop fiber types at a much more rapid pace for the shaving brush industry. The differences between fibers will become harder and harder to differentiate because of the sheer number of closely grouped fiber types. That is one challenge.
Another challenge will be from the brush makers themselves. They will become a major factor in this obsolescence. This will come from two areas. One will be from producers who will constantly adjust their products with very little fanfare or no discussion of changes at all. The second will be from producers who will utilize marketing techniques to blur the distinctions further. Already a couple of sellers of brushes have begun to lay claim to having fiber technology that is Generation 5. Remember that the Synthetic testing team is primarily a group of end users (consumers) and not brush making companies, so their is no Generation 5 fiber yet. The brush makers had nothing to do in developing the testing or the Generational class system. They will be more than happy to use minor fiber alterations to make claims and create a blizzard of “Generation Classes” for marketing purposes just like badger brushes which seem to have hundreds of different nomenclatures meant to market hair types from an animal with only 8 distinct species and limited different hair types . Call it hype, or call it marketing, but the combination of lack of clear information caused by the brush makers secret minor adjustments and overblown marketing will come about due to the maturing of the market.
The “Synthetic Generations” concept was intended to allow a set of common benchmarks in an emerging market. It provided a common language for those entering into the market or transitioning from natural hair brushes to using synthetic brushes. However, “Synthetic Generations” concept is a temporary thing and soon it will fade away as the offerings will become too varied and nuanced to continue to have a team or even a groups maintain configuration control of the “common language.” You simply cannot have a control group procure, test and enforce a “common language” because it will grow to unwieldy to maintain.
Shaving Brush market is growing up. Are these changes good or bad for the consumer? Mostly it will be good for the consumer because more products and choices is a good thing. Will there be the same problems (challenges) that exist with individual consumers trying to determine what the differences are between the different makers, grades and names of badger hair brushes? I see that answer as yes, but that is what forums and blogs are for, to discuss these items in detail.
I hope in a way, I have contributed by providing the “Synthetic Generations” concept to help the user navigate in the less mature market that is coming to an end. Changes and challenges will lay in store for all. All things must change and I see the end of one era and the beginning of a new era.