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Synthetic Fibers – A Historical Perspective and how they Relate to Shaving Brushes (Part 8)

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Mantic59 And The Men-U

This is the eighth in a series of articles on synthetic fibers and how they relate to shaving brushes, including a brief history of synthetic fibers, their development, stagnation, and resurrection in the market place. By the early 2000’s the traditional shaving market was still a very small segment of the market place. A new form of communication was about to change that situation. The Internet has opened up the world of communication and commerce all over the world and that has allowed niche markets to boom. If you were a traditional shaver before 2000 you had some limited brick and mortar choices, unless you lived in an area that could sustained major traditional shaving shops such as St James Street & Jermyn Street in London. The Internet changed that situation by providing access to vendors throughout the world. International shipping allowed people the opportunity to have access to traditional shaving products that a few years prior would have never entered their imagination.
The Internet also allowed what was known as “Bulletin Boards” to spring up. This provided the first means of sharing data, tips, techniques, where to shop, etc. These eventually gave way to full fledged forums which allowed users to sell and swap among themselves along with all the other functions of the old “Bulletin Boards.” An Internet site called eBay® allowed a “virtual marketplace” to exist. This new site allowed individuals and small businesses the capability of buying or selling both vintage and new products all across the world. Another Internet site called YouTube® allowed for users to post their own videos and a certain individual going by the moniker of “Mantic59” began making demonstration videos to show various shaving techniques, tools, etc. This allowed the new traditional shaver a wealth of opportunities and experience to tap into.

With all of this innovation taking place, the market began to grow for all traditional shaving products and the brush makers began to realize that several issues would be in play. The first issue was that if the growth would be sustained then the issue of demand would eventually outpace natural hair supplies. The second issue was that many new users would enter traditional shaving truly seeking less expensive products that would have a long life span. These new users were seeking to find economical substitutes for the cartridge and can products, and would only be interested in items that would save money in the long run and not move into an expensive hobby. The third issue was one that went back to the original nylon bristle toothbrush discussion in which, practicing Muslim and Jews (who don’t consume pork products) would seek a product that they could use with a clear conscience. [1] The fourth issue was one that was beginning to affect more than one market. The Internet provided communication on more issues than just shaving. It provide communication and information for another movement that has been building for years, and that is the animal rights movement. Whether you agree or disagree with their premise on the use of animals, their impact on society has been felt. Some manufacturers realized that there would be a strong market for a brushes that did not use animal hairs, just as in the cosmetic brush industry had experienced for many years.

With those things in mind, a few companies began to venture out into developing synthetic brushes was Men-ü. In 2005, a blogger had this to say about the early Men-ü synthetic brush.

The only synthetic shaving brush I could find was $50 from the creepily named Men-ü, but if you check very carefully, you can find `natural bristle’ brushes, which are plant-derived. [2]

Given time, the name Men-ü does not sound as creepy as the blogger stated due to the level of discussion their products have received since that time. The cost of the early brushes were high and any natural brush of equal price would best it in performance, but again, performance can be a lower level issue if the user has other concerns preventing the use of a natural brush. In fact the image for this article was from a Mantic59 video with the discussion revolving around the fact that the synthetic brush displayed was relatively new to the market and that they (synthetic brushes) were worth looking into:

Soon other companies would soon take up the challenge of making synthetic brushes using the materials and techniques developed in the cosmetic industry and the added competition would come from a variety of areas of the world. That will remain for future discussion in a later article.


GD Carrington

GD Carrington

10 thoughts on “Synthetic Fibers – A Historical Perspective and how they Relate to Shaving Brushes (Part 8)”

  1. Picked up a Rockwell synthetic on a whim. It was a low cost $12 experiment. This thing performs as well as any brush I’ve owned badger or boar.

  2. As long as no boars were harmed in the making of this article… But seriously, I agree with Gary that the context of the article is what matters. I believe most readers grasped that. Besides, now that the offending item has been removed we can get back to talking about what matters, right? 🙂

  3. There are a few shave brands out there that I just refuse to use on name alone. Men-ü is one of them.
    I opted to get an Edwin Jagger synthetic brush (which is the same as a Muhle silvertip fibre right?), and I think it’s a great brush for those that want to support non dead animal products. A few things I noticed about the brush, it tends to take a bit longer to load, and it gets colder faster. I may also check out the Muhle Black Fibre brush at some point too.

  4. You need to do a little fact checking here. While you are correct about avoiding pork, your statement that practicing Muslims and Jews do not consume animal products is 100% false. Practicing Jews and Muslims can and absolutely do consume animal products (the arrival of pastrami in the United States came via immigration of Romanian Jews). Badger and boar are not kosher or halal meats and can therefore not be eaten. Jewish law also allows for contact with non-kosher animals and animal products from animals that are not raised for food. For example, horses are not kosher to eat but you could be an observant Jew and raise horses as they are not raised primarily for consumption, unlike pigs. As badgers are not primarily raised for consumption, use of badger-derived products would not be strictly forbidden. Boar meat is eaten commonly so that may be more of an issue. Another issue is that if you are an orthodox Jew (and some would argue that the same is true for religious Muslim men), shaving your beard is prohibited, so the adaptation of brush fibers to satisfy religious concerns may be apocryphal. Jews and Muslims who shave their beards are unlikely to care about the origin of their brush hairs so long as they are not from non-kosher animals that are raised for food production (e.g., pig). Badger and horse hair brushes would be acceptable for use if shaving were allowed, which for strictly religious men it were not.

    1. Dr. K. I took the statement from the source article as is (I do the same with other referenced articles).
      You are correct about the consumption of animal products by both Jews and Muslims, but in the context of the original article which was cited the extracted statement was discussing the direct insertion of boar hair toothbrushes into the mouth for brushing the teeth which was the controversial issue of that day.
      Now as to the use of boar and badger products, I have read that some practicing Jews and Muslims have no issue and others do have an issue.
      Thank you.

      1. Thank you for your reply, but it sounds like you are defending an inaccurate statement rather than retracting it simply because you lifted it from another source. I wouldn’t trust that article, since it is factually inaccurate. There is so much information available nowadays, it is very easy to cite low quality sources. The unknowing reader sees references and assumes that the information is accurate because it is researched. Part of good research is verifying the quality of one’s sources.
        Use of boar hairs in one’s mouth (which would be particularly offensive since intra-oral use is more akin to consumption than brushing one’s skin with a fiber) or anywhere else for that matter would be prohibited since boar is raised for consumption as food. As badgers are not raised for food, badger-derived products would be acceptable. But it’s still a stretch to assume that marketing and manufacturing entities would be concerned about developing shaving products to satisfy the religious requirements of religions that do not condone shaving. Especially when existing products such as badger products would be acceptable to those who are not strictly observant but wish to avoid products that would not be fit for use.
        Sometimes as a writer one needs to admit that a statement is factually incorrect and retract it. As of this writing, you still have this inaccurate statement about Jews and Muslims not consuming animal products in your article. Does this mean that you stand by this inaccurate statement?

        1. Most, but not all, natural toothbrushes of that day ranged from a mix of softer animal hair and boar for stability for the soft brushes, to all boar for the harder hair brushes. So even a mixed haired brush would not be allowable for certain people.
          The purpose of that citation was brought up in more detail in part 3 of the article.

          The citation was used to point out the fact, which has been verified from other sources, that the toothbrush was the first to use Nylon bristles before usage in shaving brushes was adopted.
          Now you have stated that, “Use of boar hairs in one’s mouth (which would be particularly offensive since intra-oral use is more akin to consumption than brushing one’s skin with a fiber) or anywhere else for that matter would be prohibited since boar is raised for consumption as food.” That is one, but not the only reason, why the Nylon toothbrush took off so quickly. Most people wanted to use this brush, but some had greater personal reasons than simply that it was a new product.
          Now I agree that the writer of the original toothbrush article could have spent more time defining the issue of softer mixed boar and animal haired toothbrushes brushes versus harder all boar toothbrushes. However, the cited brush itself, and the first use of Nylon bristles is what is critical to the discussion of why the fiber was used in a follow up manner in shaving brushes.
          The cited article is not inaccurate in terms of the reasons (plural) as to why a Nylon toothbrush was so quickly adopted by the majority of people, but unfortunately discusses the some of the issues in a shortened matter.

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