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Thread: The Synthetic Brush Shootout

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenRipper View Post
    At long last I'm finally coming to the end of my review. Along the way I've learned quite a bit about brushes, lather and my own preferences. When I started all of this I had hoped to find a brush to add to my daily shave routine, what I've found is a little more complicated.

    Before I get to that though I'm going to pass along a little warning. If you've skipped to the end just to see my results then please do yourself a favor and go back and read the individual reviews. I say this not because you've missed a great literary work but because choosing a knot based on what I prefer is probably not the best strategy for finding the best synthetic knot for you. I have attempted to keep each of my reviews relatively positive and highlight the best traits of each of these knots. Keep that in mind while you read the reviews and hopefully my work will lead you to a great synthetic brush of your own.

    There is no doubt that this little exercise has changed the way I look at my brushes and my lather. I find now that I generally take a little more time every morning to build my lather, putting in the work to build the best lather I can. This doesn't mean that every morning is met with wonderful foam but it does mean that, on average, I enjoy better lather now then I did before all of this started. I'll also admit that while I like Mitchell's Wool Fat I've been very happy to use some other soaps and even add a few new pucks to my small collection.

    Of course all of this was supposed to be about the brushes.


    When I started this I was hoping to find my "perfect" knot but I quickly discovered that I what I really crave is variety. Luckily for me the world of synthetic brushes seems to have a large number of options. In my own small collection I have six brushes with rather different personalities. From the ultra plush tips of the Cashmere to the assertive backbone of the Ubersoft 2 I found several knots to put both lather and a smile on my face.

    Ranking the Knots

    #6 - Whipped Dog
    When I first used this knot its soft tips made me happy but that was after having used budget badger brushes and before experiencing the even softer tips of the other synthetic knots. As I mentioned before, I tend toward sensitive skin and I'm now aware that scritch simply isn't my thing. As such the Whipped Dog is destined to languished, unused, in a drawer until it eventually finds a loving home with someone who can appreciate its qualities more than I.

    #5 - Game Changer
    This is the knot that I had high hopes for but which was simply out performed by its peers. I still have no complaints about this knot but it simply didn't grab my attention like those that ranked higher. The fact of the matter is that the little workhorse feels like a compromise to me, failing to distinguish itself with either ultra soft tips, scritch or assertive backbone. I could have started wet shaving with the Game Changer ten years ago and still be extremely happy using it today. Unfortunately for this unlucky knot I've found other options that I simply like better.

    #4 - Sunrise
    The Sunrise is a knot that has benefited from my own mistakes. Originally I had this knot at #5 but since my temporary mounting has been somewhat more permanent than originally intended this brush has gotten a bit more use in recent days. For me the Sunrise suffers from what I'm calling "soulless synthetic syndrome." This knot, like the Game Changer, simply doesn't distinguish itself and is over shadowed by the other knots in my panel. Yet over the last several weeks two of my top three have been unavailable and the Sunrise has stepped in to do duty in my mug and make a case for itself to be posted at #4. I suspect that this knot will find a permanent home at my mother's house, awaiting my visits to be pulled out of the bathroom cabinet and put to use.

    #3 - Ubersoft 2
    The Ubersoft 2 has earned itself a place in my regular rotation with its assertive backbone and relatively soft tips. Backbone is where this knot shines and it provides a wonderful massage as I apply lather. Recently I acquired a puck of Fine's Snake Bite and I find my hand reaching for the Ubersoft 2 every time I break out this soap. I'll admit, there is something about the icy cool of the Snake Bite that simply demands that it be applied with a firm hand wielding an equally firm brush. If variety is what I'm actually seeking then the Ubersoft 2 seems to have earned the position representing synthetic knots with substantial backbone.

    #2 - Cashmere
    If you are looking for ultra plush tips then you may love the Cashmere as much, or even more, than I do. I can't say that the Cashmere, with its lack of backbone, is going to be my go-to brush on a daily basis but I can certainly see it becoming my favorite on Saturdays when I decide to luxuriate in the shaving experience. I didn't think that I would care for a knot that many might critique as being "floppy" but the lather it produced and the way it feels on my face make the Cashmere a winner for me.

    #1 - Tuxedo
    When I first got this knot I was immediately attracted to its stunning looks. While I found myself hoping that the Tuxedo would perform well I suspected that the Game Changer would me more to my liking. What I learned is that first impressions are important but you can't really get to know a knot until the soap and water arrive at the party. With a touch less plushness to its tips than the Cashmere and a bit more backbone than the Game Changer the Tuxedo comes close to being my perfect synthetic knot. The Cashmere and Ubersoft 2 will find soaps and situations where their particular talents are called for but, for now, the Tuxedo will be the mainstay of my daily shave routine.

    In the end I could recommend any of these knots to a wet shaver looking to try a synthetic knot. While the Sunrise, Game Changer and Whipped Dog knots are unlikely to spend any substantial time as part of my shave routine I am positive that these knots could fulfill a need in the rotation of others. Just because none of these knots are perfect for me it doesn't mean that they can't bring a new level of enjoyment to your daily shave.

    As for those knots that I have chosen to make part of my rotation, the Cashmere and Tuxedo have temporarily left my possession to find a permanent home in a pair of custom handles from Brush Craft (also known as SRP's Trimmy72). Those handles are being turned this weekend and I look forward to having two beautiful new brushes to add to my shave routine. In fact, Trimmy sent along a sneak peek which I'd like to share:


    I've been promised more pictures, which I hope to share later today.

    Last but not least I'd like to thank all of you here at SRP who've been reading my reviews and posting your encouraging responses. This all started as a personal search for a new brush and grew into a shared experience. I've enjoyed this project immensely and there is a part of me that would love to continue this work with even more knots (the dissenting vote coming from my bank account). I finish with a continued dissatisfaction that I am unable to do more to quantify these brushes' attributes but some tasks are more difficult that others. I leave this work with the sincere hope that my efforts help at least one SRP member to find a brush they can love.
    I'm curious, now that a few months have passed, if the Cashmere and Tuxedo remain your top two picks?

    Thanks.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheKey View Post
    I'm curious, now that a few months have passed, if the Cashmere and Tuxedo remain your top two picks?

    Thanks.
    Sorry it took me so long to answer this, I've been busy and haven't visited SRP much over the last few weeks. As it is I just saw your post this morning and it reminded me that I should probably update where I am with these knots and my shaving routine.

    I'll start with the routine. Since early summer I've moved almost exclusively to face lathering after a road trip to meet up with family in KC. I made the move pretty much because it made my daily routine somewhat simpler for the trip and once I returned home I stuck with the new method. I've also recently been playing with my pre-lather prep as of late. I have largely ceased blooming my soaps most mornings unless, like MWF, the soap really seems to need it. Some soaps still receive a quick dash of water to moisten them a bit before I shower while others won't see any water until the brush arrives. At this point I'm still experimenting and while I think that I generally built consistently better lather with a full bloom I tend to believe that this is largely a matter of developing experience. I'm including all of this so that everyone knows that these knots are still performing well even though I've adopted a different approach.

    Now to the knots! To answer your question, "Yes, I still stand by the Cashmere and Tuxedo knots as my top picks." Both of these knots spend all of their time taking up valuable space on my rather small sink and one or the other is used to build a lather almost every morning. The biggest evolution is probably in how I use the two brushes, which get more equal duty than I previously expected. I'm not a "rotation guy", as I tend to grab the razor, brush, soap and splash that catch my interest on any given morning. Because of that there is no real rhyme or reason to how often any piece of equipment I own gets used. As it stands the most interesting development is that I've come to associate each brush with certain soaps, a pairing that has a little to do with how hard the soap is but seems to do more with how I feel each brush pairs with the resulting lather and fragrance. So if I'm using my Sudsy Soapery's collaboration with Chatillon Lux, Delor de Treget, I tend to reach for the Cashmere but using Twice Mint from the same artisan soap maker means that the Tuxedo is more likely to get the nod (yep, it sounds a bit weird to me too but then just being part of this community of shave enthusiasts puts us outside the norm).

    The story on the other knots is a bit more complex. The Ubersoft 2 still resides in the handle used for the tests and rattles around my vanity drawer that holds soaps, splashes and a few other brushes. I will admit that it doesn't see as much use as I had hoped but storage location and handle shape certainly play into that. The Sunrise hasn't seen much more use but it has gotten the nod as a travel companion on a few occasions. It is destined to find its way to my mother's house as a permanent fixture for my visits there but every time I've made the trip this summer it has either been forgotten at home or been accidentally packed for the return journey. I'm going back down in a few weeks so this time it may finally stay in its intended home.

    Currently I've given into the BAD and am planning a new custom brush from Brush Craft. A month or so ago the guys at Beyond Wood Products did a limited run of an acrylic that caught my eye and I had Chris order me a blank for a future handle. I had originally planned on having the Ubersoft 2 mounted in this handle but here lately I've been contemplating investing in a 2-band badger and giving a better grade of badger a try. Last but not least I've been wanting to give one more synthetic, another APShaveCO offering, a home. I have been so happy with the Tuxedo and Cashmere knots that I've wanted to try their sibling, the 22mm faux horsehair knot. If and when I make this move it will be as a travel brush but this is a consideration for next year, at best.

    No matter what I wind up with in my new brushes I feel confident that the Cashmere and Tuxedo will remain a beloved part of my collection. If anything I'm more enamored with these two brushes today than when I first tested them. I am thrilled that these knots perform great and classify as artwork, thanks to the handles that Chris turned for me.
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  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenRipper View Post
    Sorry it took me so long to answer this, I've been busy and haven't visited SRP much over the last few weeks. As it is I just saw your post this morning and it reminded me that I should probably update where I am with these knots and my shaving routine.

    I'll start with the routine. Since early summer I've moved almost exclusively to face lathering after a road trip to meet up with family in KC. I made the move pretty much because it made my daily routine somewhat simpler for the trip and once I returned home I stuck with the new method. I've also recently been playing with my pre-lather prep as of late. I have largely ceased blooming my soaps most mornings unless, like MWF, the soap really seems to need it. Some soaps still receive a quick dash of water to moisten them a bit before I shower while others won't see any water until the brush arrives. At this point I'm still experimenting and while I think that I generally built consistently better lather with a full bloom I tend to believe that this is largely a matter of developing experience. I'm including all of this so that everyone knows that these knots are still performing well even though I've adopted a different approach.

    Now to the knots! To answer your question, "Yes, I still stand by the Cashmere and Tuxedo knots as my top picks." Both of these knots spend all of their time taking up valuable space on my rather small sink and one or the other is used to build a lather almost every morning. The biggest evolution is probably in how I use the two brushes, which get more equal duty than I previously expected. I'm not a "rotation guy", as I tend to grab the razor, brush, soap and splash that catch my interest on any given morning. Because of that there is no real rhyme or reason to how often any piece of equipment I own gets used. As it stands the most interesting development is that I've come to associate each brush with certain soaps, a pairing that has a little to do with how hard the soap is but seems to do more with how I feel each brush pairs with the resulting lather and fragrance. So if I'm using my Sudsy Soapery's collaboration with Chatillon Lux, Delor de Treget, I tend to reach for the Cashmere but using Twice Mint from the same artisan soap maker means that the Tuxedo is more likely to get the nod (yep, it sounds a bit weird to me too but then just being part of this community of shave enthusiasts puts us outside the norm).

    The story on the other knots is a bit more complex. The Ubersoft 2 still resides in the handle used for the tests and rattles around my vanity drawer that holds soaps, splashes and a few other brushes. I will admit that it doesn't see as much use as I had hoped but storage location and handle shape certainly play into that. The Sunrise hasn't seen much more use but it has gotten the nod as a travel companion on a few occasions. It is destined to find its way to my mother's house as a permanent fixture for my visits there but every time I've made the trip this summer it has either been forgotten at home or been accidentally packed for the return journey. I'm going back down in a few weeks so this time it may finally stay in its intended home.

    Currently I've given into the BAD and am planning a new custom brush from Brush Craft. A month or so ago the guys at Beyond Wood Products did a limited run of an acrylic that caught my eye and I had Chris order me a blank for a future handle. I had originally planned on having the Ubersoft 2 mounted in this handle but here lately I've been contemplating investing in a 2-band badger and giving a better grade of badger a try. Last but not least I've been wanting to give one more synthetic, another APShaveCO offering, a home. I have been so happy with the Tuxedo and Cashmere knots that I've wanted to try their sibling, the 22mm faux horsehair knot. If and when I make this move it will be as a travel brush but this is a consideration for next year, at best.

    No matter what I wind up with in my new brushes I feel confident that the Cashmere and Tuxedo will remain a beloved part of my collection. If anything I'm more enamored with these two brushes today than when I first tested them. I am thrilled that these knots perform great and classify as artwork, thanks to the handles that Chris turned for me.
    Thank you for the info. It is helpful.

    I have ordered both the Tuxedo and the Cashmere. Just waiting for them to arrive. Can't wait to use them.

  4. #34
    Senior Member GreenRipper's Avatar
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    I'm glad that I've been of help and I hope that you enjoy your synthetics as much I as enjoy mine. That said I offer up the usual caveat of YMMV but I hope that having defined the attributes of each of these knots I've helped you make choices that you'll be happy with. Let us know how you like the knots, after all your experiences might just help someone else in the future!
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    Both of my brushes just came in. Today, I tried the cashmere. What an incredibly soft and luxurious brush. It has plenty of backbone and yets splays easily.

    I used a new soap today as well from Grooming Dept. It is by far the slickest and best soap I have ever used. The combination was incredible between the brush and the soap.

    Tomorrow I will give the Tuxedo a try. The Cashmere is all I had hoped it would be.

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    Glad to hear that you enjoyed the Cashmere! It's nice to see someone getting some practical use out of my review because when I posted it I wondered how many people would take the time to read it and actually find it useful. Needless to say, I was floored when I looked in yesterday and saw that the views had climbed to 4,500.
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    Well done on a superb, well written review which I enjoyed reading.
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    So what's the verdict on your Tuxedo?
    Knowledge is power. Power corrupts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenRipper View Post
    So what's the verdict on your Tuxedo?
    I love it. Just used it again this morning. Lots of backbone but not real springy, if that makes sense. Once it starts splaying, it really is easy to load the brush or whip up the lather.

    It is super soft, thick and luxurious. Feels fantastic on my face. An amazing brush for sure.

    I might give the tiniest of nods to the Cashmere but it is darn near equal and I'm very glad I don't have to choose.
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    It seems that you and I are two of a kind as I wouldn't want to have to choose between the two either. I just finished my shave and when I stepped into the shower I was all set to put the Cashmere to work on my tub of Delor de Treget but when I got out I decided that I was in the mood for a combination of Snake Bite and Taum Sauk AS, which meant that my hand immediately drifted to the Tuxedo.

    I think that one thing I love about the hobby is the options and I like having plenty of my own, including my beautiful Tuxedo and Cashmere knotted brushes!
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