A place all its own: Frank Shaving Company Synthetic Brush

Discussion in 'The Brush' started by GDCarrington, Aug 6, 2011.

  1. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    We all seem to have favorites when it comes to brushes. Some enjoy the stiffness of a boar brush, some the softness of a badger brush, some like the horse hair brush as a compromise between the badger and the boar. Some even like combinations of badger, boar and horse that allow for a averaging of all the types, or the best of all worlds as some say. Some individuals like inexpensive brushes such as the Omega boars, Tweezerman badger, etc. Some individuals like more expensive brushes such as some of the Rooney, Simpson, and products from other higher end brush manufacturers.

    All of these types of brushes have one thing in common. The hairs are supplied by animals. Here is where our world of shaving brushes will collide with the world of animal rights activists. A large number of animal rights activists have an extremely strong belief set that animals should never be used for any purpose by humans. These very vocal segments are campaigning to eliminate any animal product use to legislative bodies world wide. As their very vocal efforts continue, we may begin to see shortages sometime in the future in the amount of products that are made from animals due to legislation. We may very well begin to see a major impact upon the brush industry (both for shaving and cosmetics). This is not presented as a political argument. The validity of the viewpoints of animal rights activists is clearly not the focus of this discussion. This fact, which supplies of badger, boar and horse hairs to serve as a supply for brushes will be endangered, is a clear, simple and direct reality. This reality will have to be addressed by the industry now and in the future.

    With that backdrop in mind, we have an additional alternative that may help to alleviate the supply issue for brushes in the future, depending upon how well the technology will be advanced. This alternative is the synthetic brush.

    Most wet shavers view the synthetic brush with disdain because the fibers have not been made to match the characteristics of animal hair. Some, but not all the issues, that have been raised include the following:
    1. The synthetic brushes do not hold water very well.
    2. The synthetic brush is always stiff and never “breaks in” like a boar or a badger brush.
    3. The synthetic brush does not capture the soap or cream in concert with the water to allow for a favorable lather to be developed.
    4. The synthetic brush does not allow for a “soft / smooth” application of lather to the skin.
    5. The synthetic brush simply does not have the “quality” feel against the skin of an animal brush.
    I have tried some of the synthetic brushes and have found these claims to be true. The real question is when will the synthetic brushes have fibers that resemble the natural animal hairs? Maybe now…

    I present to you a new synthetic brush from Frank Shaving Company sold on eBay through starshavingsupplies.

    The specifications from starshavingsupplies are as follows:
    “This New Synthetic Hair Shaving Brush comes in a plastic resin handle, 4 7/16" overall height with 2 7/16" synthetic hair height and will create the richest lather. The synthetic hair will work for those with allergies against animal hair. The hair knot size is 24mm or .945" and this synthetic hair shaving brush will hold enough lather to do 3 passes on your face. This synthetic hair is soft yet the bristles are stiff enough to make a tough beard stand up, thick and tall compared to most shaving brushes. The densely filled brush head is ideal for holding and distributing water and lather and will help soften and raise your beard while exfoliating your skin for a close comfortable shave.”

    The price is currently $12.49 U.S.D. with $3.50 U.S.D. shipping charge. With that in mind, I decided to take the plunge to see whether or not the claims were true. The cost was low enough to give this brush a try. I chose the black resin handled model. It arrived a few days after it was ordered and I was ready to put my trusty Tweezerman down for a while to try another brush.

    Attached are pictures of the brush and comparison photos with a Tweezerman badger and an Omega Syntex brush. The first thing that struck me was that the fit and finish are excellent for such a low priced brush. You can tell that it is a synthetic from the handle end of the brushes in thickness and coloration, but there is a striking difference from other synthetic brushes when you look at the tips of the brush. They flair and are soft, like a badger brush. The fibers have plenty of backbone, more like a boar than most badgers brushes. When I first applied this brush to water, the fibers sagged like a badger, unlike the fibers of the Omega Syntex which were rigid and harsh when wet as when dry. So here was one major difference that could be seen was that the brush behaved more like an animal than other synthetics.

    Frank Synthetic TSD1.jpg Frank Synthetic TSD2.jpg Frank Synthetic TSD3.jpg Frank Synthetic TSD4.jpg

    Next was lathering test. Both lather testing with soap and creams proved to be excellent. The brush in an average puck of tallow soap could generate enough lather for 4 passes of the face and a complete head shave. I was impressed with the way it generated and held lather. It was almost as good as my Tweezerman at generating lots of lather in the mug with soap. The photos that show the brush and lather were generated with soap after approximately a 45 second whisking. The next test was the most critical of all. How does it feel? It was softer to the skin than my Tweezerman, but had slightly less backbone. The lather spread on smooth and easy, unlike the Syntex which was rigid and felt more like a boar that had never been broken in. The Syntex, although having a beautiful handle and a solid reputation due to being manufactured by Omega, was outclassed by the Frank synthetic in each and every way. The Frank held water better, generated richer lather, applied the lather more smoothly and evenly than the Syntex. In fact it was in operation so close to the Tweezerman, but softer which is an improvement.

    In the area of brush quality, this brush has not lost a hair in the first two weeks of use. That is better than any other brush that I have used, except the Syntex which did not lose a hair in its testing.

    Another area where synthetics trump animal hairs is in the drying process. They are quicker drying and are less likely to develop mold and fungus issues over time if less than adequate care is provided. The Frank brush when I use it in the morning is totally dry in the stand by my return at the end of the work day. My Tweezerman would still be slightly wet and would require the remainder of the evening before completely drying out on the same stand. Another facet that I appreciate is that I do not have to “baby” this brush like many high end brush owners seem to be compelled to do because of cost. This brush does not cost a lot, so I do not have to worry about using it to its maximum potential.

    Now the question is, could I live with this brush as my only brush? The answer is that if I had to, this brush would provide me excellent shaves and my experience would not be diminished if this were my only brush. Are there better brushes? Without question there are better brushes. However, there may come a day when fewer of these better brushes are available at much higher prices. Synthetics do have an issue with needing more petroleum products to manufacture, but if it holds up longer than animal hair then that may not be a issue large enough to cause concern.

    Is this an endorsement of the Frank Shaving Company Synthetic Brush? Yes it is. It provides a high level of value given its cost and its composition. You may or may not have a similar experience if you buy this. You may want a higher end natural brush, or this may become your “go to” brush. You will never know until you try.

    In my shave den, the Frank Shaving Company Synthetic Brush now has a place all its own.
    Doryferon, Tdmsu, m_conley and 5 others like this.
  2. SharpSpine

    SharpSpine Well-Known Member

    Very interesting! I'm still thrilled with the quality of my Frank Shaving Finest so whenever I do look for a synthetic I'll definitely give this one a try.

    Thanks GDC!
  3. stingraysrock

    stingraysrock PIF'd away his custom title

    Certainly front page worthy stuff... You should join the Article Team...

    I am a huge fan of the TGN synthetic knot and I wonder if the Frank brush is using the same knot... all of your stated observations certainly echo my experience with the TGN synthetic.
  4. Williams Warrior

    Williams Warrior Well-Known Member

    I was thinking the same thing.
  5. Sodapopjones

    Sodapopjones Well-Known Member

    I concur on both counts!
  6. MRast01

    MRast01 Well-Known Member

    Great article/review! I can't say that I've ever really been interested in a synthetic brush, but quite enjoyed reading your thoughts on this one. I will differently keep this in mind for a future brush acquisition.
  7. fishcrow

    fishcrow Birdman of TSD

    Great review of a seldom used brush type.
  8. VANCE723

    VANCE723 Active Member

    very good read
  9. Regan

    Regan Well-Known Member

    great type up and sounds like a possible travel brush that dries fast and can probably take a bit of abuse.
  10. Godan

    Godan Member

    Thanks for your thorough and convincing review. My Men-U Synthetic does a much better job face lathering with an Arko stick than my low-end Omega Synthetic, which may be the one you used in your comparisons. I just ordered the Frank Synthetic instead of (perhaps temporarily) the well-reviewed and much more expensive Muhle 2011 Synthetic.
  11. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    They may actually be the same knot, because I was reading a review with photos and the resemblance is uncanny between the two.
  12. Godan

    Godan Member

    GDCarrington: Do you think that the Frank and the Muhle use the same knot, or that one of them is similar to the Men-U? I would probably have bought the Muhle after reading the reviews if it had been available for delivery from one of the U.S. vendors with whom I usually deal. Star Shaving responded immediately with clear communication to my order for the Frank, so I anticipate prompt delivery of an interesting brush.
  13. NUMCKS

    NUMCKS Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the heads-up and review. I have been very impressed with my FS badgers and may give this a try. I've been disappointed with my Body Shop and Vulfix synthetics. I have an Omega "artificial badger" synthetic that is passable, but not great. Anybody compared this to the Body Shop synthetic?
  14. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    Well, here is an image of the Muhle. That is all that I can base my comparison on.


    Remember, the reason why I bought the Frank and not the Muhle was due to price. The FS Synthetic is truly at the price point provides a great bang for you buck. For the price that Muhle wants, I would not have pulled the trigger.
  15. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    I was very disappointed in the Omega Syntex. It looks nice, but it was not even as good for me as my old Burma Shave brush.
    P.S. I used a Burma Shave for the first 3 months of wet shaving so I know about it's level of quality. I was lucky and got a good one and it performed O.K.
  16. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    An update on the Frank Synthetic. It is been used daily since this thread was posted so I have almost one month (7/25) of full use. I am reporting zero shed fibers and the brush when dried looks as it did on day 1. It is still an excellent lathering brush. This brush and the Tweezerman have been the best brushes that I have used under $20. The "bang for your buck" is high for this little beauty!
  17. Dridecker

    Dridecker Sherlock

    :think002: Hmm... I've always wanted to try a synthetic brush.
  18. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    Another update on the FS synthetic brush. No shedding, no change in the fibers. It still looks and performs exactly like the day I started with it. This brush is the best bang for the buck shaving product I have purchased to date.
    Doryferon likes this.
  19. mwleach58

    mwleach58 Active Member

    Did you need to work through any synthetic stench in the first week or so?
  20. Sodapopjones

    Sodapopjones Well-Known Member

    I'd love to try it if I could get one with this Muhle/Shavemac handle.


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