Help Me Choose My Brush

What kind of shaving brush do you use? Tell us all about it!
Splitting Hairs
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Help Me Choose My Brush

Post by Splitting Hairs » Tue Feb 05, 2008 4:58 pm

I'm a newbie to wet shaving and need a brush [my into post describing my shaving is here: http://www.shavemyface.com/forum/viewto ... 890#295890 ]

I’ve been reading over numerous brush posts, looking over numerous merchant sites, and I cannot really decide on a product. Some input would be useful.

My face (and head) is small. My whiskers are very mild, not full, could never dream of growing even a sparse beard or mustache (it would take 3-4 times the thickness of my whiskers to have a filled in beard or mustache…and I have virtually no sideburn whiskers to speak of). Essentially mild whiskers on my upper lip and chin with a few wild ones elswehere.

I’ll be using creams (currently purchased Taylor’s Avocado) and lathering in a bowl.
My skin can be sensitive i.e. I get razor burn and soreness with repeated razor strokes.
So I’m thinking because of my small face size and small shaving area a smaller brush would work better (I assume I do not need a ton of lather in the bowl). I’d like a brush that is comfortable on the face (I do not know if a brush would irritate me, but why force that issue?). I’d like good quality insofar as it is well made of good materials and will not be a disappointment to own and use.

I am not a fan of ‘ye olde school’ design for most things (there are exceptions) but for my hygiene and grooming stuff I prefer modern design, the sleeker and more contemporary the better.

My budget is around $50 (maybe a tad more…. $75? …for a shave brush YIKES!) new or used. I do not want to go overboard nor do I want something that I’ll have an urge to replace anytime soon. This could be a once in a lifetime purchase as I barely have room for the other shaving stuff in my bathroom (shared), and none whatsoever for a ‘collection’. Would like to have something that I am proud to own and that is a joy to use.

Any ideas?

PS: I live in NYC but will likely purchase online.

Whistler
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Post by Whistler » Tue Feb 05, 2008 5:27 pm

Thats a tough one to answer, a $50 brush to last a lifetime. There are many more members that I am sure will chime in with more experience but I will suggest for $35 this brush http://store.crabtree-evelyn.com/acc130291.html


It is a bit floppy , it is small and it is soft, I have it and like it. Good Luck on your search...


Regards,
Marty
Regards,
Marty
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Pen-in-Hand
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Suggestions

Post by Pen-in-Hand » Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:22 pm

Welcome to SMF!
Whistler wrote:I will suggest for $35 this brush http://store.crabtree-evelyn.com/acc130291.html It is a bit floppy , it is small and it is soft, I have it and like it. Regards,
Marty
The C&E BBB at the above link is a terrific entry level brush. I don't think it's too floppy, mine lathers well in a bowl or on my face.

Foe a modern-looking brush of very high quality (even with matching razors if you like M3's), take a look at the Muhle Pinsel line:

http://www.muehle-shaving.com/shop

This is a German manufacturer, quality brushes with a bit of flare.

Frankly, if this will be your only brush for a while, I might consider those other lines, Rooney, Simpsom, Shavemac. They're traditional in style, but excellent in construction and will certainly last a lifetime.
Jay

"Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana." - Groucho Marx

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alabamalawyer
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Post by alabamalawyer » Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:28 pm

I would check out Shavemac - http://shavemac.com/index.php?lang=en&area=men&sel=2
They have some great brushes with a more modern design. Bernd is great to deal with as well.
Chris

CMur12
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Post by CMur12 » Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:22 am

Hi Splitting Hairs -

The good news (if you're on a budget) is that any decent brush will do an excellent job of lathering in a bowl. The bad news (if you're aflicted with SBAD = Shaving Brush Acquisition Disorder) is that any decent brush will do an excellent job of lathering in a bowl.

I only shave my neck, I have very sensitive skin, and I lather in a bowl because my skin won't tolerate on-site lathering with even the softest brush.

I would recommend you buy a small brush, with a knot between 20mm and 22mm. Such a brush will make all the lather you need in a bowl, but it will allow better maneuverability and precision of application. I think you would find a larger brush "clumsy" for your application. (I favor brushes in this size, as well.)

The brushes I find most effective for lathering in a bowl are "pure badger" brushes, which cost considerably less than silvertip badger. These brushes make a denser lather and they do it more quickly than I can do it with a silvertip brush. A pure badger brush would be very prickly for face-lathering, but for painting the finished lather onto the beard, I suffer no irritation.

Moving on to the softer best badger, silvertip, and super badger brushes (these terms are often synonymous), gents often speak disparagingly of "floppy" or "flexible" brushes. This is because such brushes are not well suited to face lathering. They often have an advantage with creams for bowl-lathering, however. Vulfix brushes come readily to mind as soft, flexible, luxurious-feeling brushes for good prices. You can get Vulfix brushes at the following highly regarded vendors:

http://www.vintagebladesllc.com/index.html

http://www.leesrazors.com/

You can also get very good values in Omega brushes of all kinds (boar bristle, pure badger, and silvertip badger) at another favorite vendor of mine:

http://www.razorandbrush.com/indexbarbieria.html

The recommendations here by Whistler, Pen-in-Hand, and alabamalawyer are also good, so you have some good options.

- Murray

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NiksaNovovic
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Post by NiksaNovovic » Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:47 am

Hello Splitting Hairs! Welcome to SMF! The gentlemen above have made some very good suggestions and you would have very good brushes if you take them. I would like to suggest looking into the Vulfix line, especially the 2234 found at the following link http://www.classicshaving.com/catalog/i ... 422187.htm They are the best value in shaving brushes, completely hand made on the Isle of Mann and they make great brushes. They have been accused of having no backbone, that is the bristles are very flexible, which is good for persons with sensitive skin. I started my wet shaving career with one. Good luck with your decision! And do not hesitate to ask any questions that you may have, the gents on this forum are an invaluable resource!

Warmest regards, Niksa

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Pen-in-Hand
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Post by Pen-in-Hand » Wed Feb 06, 2008 8:44 am

As long as my colleagues are pointing out some classic and traditional brushes, may I add one? It's the Rooney Style 2,1 in Super Silvertip.

This is a brush with a small knot (about 21mm), with very soft bristles. Mine is very soft on the face and will make a lather in the bowl or on the face with no problem. I think the price is a real value at $75 for one of the best manufacturers in the world. Traditional, but very comfortable shape in the hand.

It's available at Vintage Blades, an excellent source. You can save $10 by getting the Genuine Silvertip badger at Classic Shaving; Vintage does not stock this Silvertip variety.
Jay

"Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana." - Groucho Marx

Splitting Hairs
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Post by Splitting Hairs » Thu Feb 07, 2008 1:36 pm

Is a pure badger better for lathering in a bowl than a silvertip?

You guys have given me lots of great suggestions.
I'm going to look more carefully at the suggestions you've offered and pick one.

Thanks again!

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nodaktim
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Post by nodaktim » Thu Feb 07, 2008 1:44 pm

Splitting Hairs,

If your budget is $75 or less let me throw in my $.02.

When I first started here last year, the common suggestion for a newbie was to get the C&E Best badger brush for around $35. I got an Edwin Jagger Best Badger Medium (21mm knot) which is the same thing. (C&E is just a re-branded EJ).

Later I got a Rooney 'Super' Silvertip style 3 size 1 (22mm knot) as shown here at Vintage Blades LLC...

http://vintagebladesllc.com/vshop/xcart ... 156&page=1

If I knew then, what I know now...I would have spent the extra $40 and just went right for the Rooney. Not to say the EJ was bad or anything, it is a great brush for the price, but IMHO the Rooney is easily worth the extra $$. That was $35 on the EJ that I did not need to spend.
~ Tim ~

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Post by Dave_D » Thu Feb 07, 2008 8:17 pm

Not to confuse to issue by adding my .02 but here goes - Ive seldom regretted spending a little more for something that wont need to be upgraded too soon. If you've really decided that wetshaving is for you, spending $80 or so on a brush is a pretty safe investment in the satisfaction and years of use you will get from it. Shavemac 177s are what I recommend when asked, the build quality is great and the cost is very reasonable, but the other suggestions here would serve you well also.

As far as certain bristle grades for lathering creams versus soaps and all that, Ive never noticed much of a difference in actual lathering ability being related to bristles, unless we are talking el flopp-ola brushes which wont lather a hard soap worth a tinker's d@_n.
Now the feel of bristle on the face, is another story and bristle grades make a difference. If its a Rooney you like, go for the super like the one referenced above, if Shavemac looks like the shape you like, go for the finest which is Shavemac's median grade. Both brushes would be in the $70-$80 range shipped.

Good luck,

Dave

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ichabod
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Post by ichabod » Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:23 am

I'll throw in my vote for the Rooney Super, a truly excellent brush, and worth the extra money compared to the C&E best.

As to modern looking, this one looks "modern" to me (but that's a subjective thing, I imagine). Of course, it does nudge up the budget (which is a strength of this site :wink: ). For something as traditional as a shaving brush, though, a modern look might be hard to achieve.
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Splitting Hairs
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Post by Splitting Hairs » Fri Feb 08, 2008 11:31 am

Ichabod, I was looking through the Meuhle site after Pen-In-Hand recommended it. The brushes are a tad too pricey for me but I DO like the styling of them more than most I've seen...they even have a carbon fiber handled brush - $449. :shock:

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ichabod
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Post by ichabod » Fri Feb 08, 2008 12:25 pm

Splitting Hairs wrote:Ichabod, I was looking through the Meuhle site after Pen-In-Hand recommended it. The brushes are a tad too pricey for me but I DO like the styling of them more than most I've seen...they even have a carbon fiber handled brush - $449. :shock:
See, the beauty of that is - all of a sudden the $95 one I linked seems positively reasonably priced!
Give us the luxuries, and we will forgo the necessities.
Give a man a fire, he'll be warm for a day.
Set a man on fire, he'll be toasty for the rest of his life.
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drP
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Post by drP » Fri Feb 08, 2008 12:35 pm

ichabod wrote:
Splitting Hairs wrote:Ichabod, I was looking through the Meuhle site after Pen-In-Hand recommended it. The brushes are a tad too pricey for me but I DO like the styling of them more than most I've seen...they even have a carbon fiber handled brush - $449. :shock:
See, the beauty of that is - all of a sudden the $95 one I linked seems positively reasonably priced!
I had it in my hands in november 2007...and returned it after one fast glimpse...on the loft that is...: a very loosely, extremely flexible/floppy bunch of badger bristles. My conclusion: €310,- for a carbon fiber handle was/is simply....nuts.
Peter

Splitting Hairs
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Post by Splitting Hairs » Wed Feb 13, 2008 2:54 pm

OK guys. I think I’ve narrowed my choices down and am ready to pull the trigger on a brush.


The choices are:

Rooney Style 3 Size 1 (Small) - "Super" $75

Vulfix No. 2234 Super Badger - $55

Shavemac 429, Handmade, Finest Badger ( or 501 Finest Badger) - both are $79


What's the differences between the Shavemac 429 & 501, is it fan vs. bulb shape? Otherwise they look to spec. identically.
[Btw Dave: the Shavemac #177 is $109 which puts it outside my budget].


From what I’ve gathered, all of the three brushes listed above are of respected quality and more or less in the same class. Unfortunately I’m not able to hold the brushes in my hand.
To those that have the experience, can you please describe what the differences between these brushes’ performance are and how that translates into a strength or weakness for the brush…in your opinion, of course. I’m trying to get a better grasp on which will suit me best. True, being a rank beginner it’s speculation about what qualities I’ll be drawn to in daily usage. In the end I’m certain I’ll be pleased with any of the brushes, however I’m trying to bias my decision slightly towards a brush I may prefer vs. randomly picking one.

Thanks again for your feedback. It's been most helpful.

Neal


EDIT:
I think what I want is a brush that will expediently lather ...I can't be making lather for 5 minutes, my mornings can be hugely rushed and shaving enjoyment ain't gonna change that, easy to apply lather to a small face, and something that is comfortable on the face....I do not know if my skin is sensitive or if I am just really heavy handed with my Sensor. Finally, a brush that just feels damn good to use, well, because it's time to spoil myslf with my grooming.
Btw, today I had a better shave than I can remember having: Tayler's Avacado, paint brush(!) to lather, one LIGHT PASS with Sensor with grain, followed by re-lather and light pass/minimum buffing against/across grain.
Last edited by Splitting Hairs on Wed Feb 13, 2008 5:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

notthesharpest
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Post by notthesharpest » Wed Feb 13, 2008 4:50 pm

On these three brushes, the most basic difference for me is:

Vulfix: flexible or even floppy
Rooney: stiffer than the Vulfix
Shavemac: maybe in between, not sure

If you want an even stiffer brush, you could get the Rooney in style 1 instead of the 3, if you don't mind the small handle. (You don't want a brush more flexible than the Vulfix, trust me.) :)

Of course there are other differences between them, but that's the big one from my point of view.

Your two Shavemacs appear to have the same head, with slightly different handles. Pick the handle that looks more comfortable, or the one you would like to admire on your bathroom shelf for the next 30 years. :)

And as you have said, all your choices are well-made and shouldn't cause any problems.

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Pen-in-Hand
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Fan vs bulb shape

Post by Pen-in-Hand » Sun Feb 17, 2008 4:14 pm

I've heard it from another member that the lightbulb shape feels like it's poking the skin, different from the more overall coverage of the fan shaped brush heads.
Jay

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Squire
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Post by Squire » Sun Feb 17, 2008 4:22 pm

I use both bulb and fan shape brushes interchangeably. So far no pesky poking sensation has reared its ugly head.
Regards,
Squire

bernards66
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Post by bernards66 » Sun Feb 17, 2008 4:32 pm

Neal, Well, the 'fan' vs. 'dome' shape is one of those perrenial debates. Personally, I prefer the classic English fan shape, as it seems to hold more lather, and just feels 'better' on the face, to me ( YMMV ). In truth, if you use the classic English creams, like Taylors, and use mainly a 'paint brush' style lathering technique, then the Vulfix 2234 is about as good as anything made. Vulfixes also lather up those types of creams unusually quickly I've found. If you think that you might be using some hard soaps, and/or lathering more fully on the face, then the Rooney might be the better choice. But either one is a very good, properly made, shaving brush. Best of luck with your purchase.
Regards,
Gordon

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Squire
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Post by Squire » Sun Feb 17, 2008 4:59 pm

Buy one each year on your birthday.
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Squire

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