Horse Hair Brush....

Discussion in 'The Brush' started by poppi, Sep 8, 2018.

  1. poppi

    poppi Well-Known Member

    thinking of getting a horse hair brush but haven't a clue on what to look for or where to get one.

    Any tips/hints/secrets that would help??

    Thanks in advance and enjoy those shaves
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  2. wchnu

    wchnu Duck Season!

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  3. ajc347

    ajc347 Well-Known Member

    I did a review of some horse hair brushes a few years ago on another forum and have copied it below.

    I hope this is of some help.


    I've not used horse brushes before and thought I'd share my views on them after having used them a few times.

    The Brushes


    The brushes are (from L to R):

    Vie Long 13071 Wooden handle with died knot (50% mane / 50% tail).
    Vie Long 13065S-1 Butterscotch Edition Brown Horse with a Fan knot (35% mane / 65% tail).
    Epsilon Butterscotch White Horse with a Fan knot (50% mane / 50% tail).


    The knot specifications are slightly different to those listed on the Gifts and Care website. The actual specifications of the brushes are:

    13071 (died knot with wooden handle) - handle 50mm, knot 24 x 55mm.
    13065S-1 Butterscotch Edition with Amphora-style handle - handle 54mm, knot 25 x 49mm.
    Epsilon - handle 47mm, knot 29 x 50mm.

    Knot Density


    The density of the knots is interesting. As can be seen from the photo above the 13071 lacks density and the knot looks as if it has collapsed (from what I can gather this is normal behaviour for this style of knot). The two Butterscotch brushes, however, have more than sufficient levels of density.

    Lather Shots

    I thought that it would make sense to take some pictures of these brushes in action. I only ever bowl lather and thought that it would make sense to use a hard shaving soap that many people find difficult to lather (as this would provide a difficult test for the brushes), so I bloomed a puck of Musgo Real and used it with one of my Steve Woodhead scuttles.


    The 13071 performed pretty well when it came to the task of lathering and easily produced a nice, useable lather.


    The Epsilon performed excellently and whipped up more than enough lather with comparative ease.


    The 13065S-1 Butterscotch Edition brush was simply amazing. It devoured the soap and produced much more lather than the other two brushes. It produced much more lather than I could realistically use. It was simply awesome. :)

    Post-use Bloom


    As you can see there is a small amount of noticeable bloom on each brush. There's nowhere near as much bloom as would be expected with a comparable badger brush.


    What surprised me most about these brushes is how well they have performed whilst being used over the past few days. I was expecting, based upon what I have read, to find each brush to have some noticeable scritch which would slowly ease off over time.

    The 13071 didn't disappoint in this respect - it feels very much like a pure badger knot and didn't impress me that much at all. I'm hoping that the tips will soften with use. It's a floppy brush and will work well in a bowl. I wouldn't want to even attempt to face lather with it though.

    I am pretty sensitive to scritch and have found a couple of Vie Long Silvertips and a number of 2-band Badgers to be too scritchy for me in the past. I was, therefore, really surprised when I couldn't detect any scritch from either of the two Butterscotch brushes. If I were describing badger brushes I would be using phrases such as 'a wall of badger' to describe these brushes. I'm not sure what the appropriate phrase would be to describe a horse hair brush, but both brushes certainly have very soft tips straight out of the box.

    Both the Butterscotch brushes have more than sufficient backbone and really have changed my thoughts about horse hair brushes. For me, the knot dimensions and hair type are spot-on and I would wholeheartedly recommend giving the Vie Long fan-shaped knots a try. Whilst they are relatively cheap brushes, they punch well above their weight and perform as well as, if not better than, many of much more expensive badger brushes I have in my collection.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  4. 178-bplatoon

    178-bplatoon Well-Known Member

    I've used and liked the two Vie Longs that I have, however my favorite and the one I use daily is the #6 horse hair. I get great lather, the tips are reasonably soft and it has great backbone. However there is some debate over whether its horse or boar.:)
  5. Zykris

    Zykris Well-Known Member

    You cant go wrong with a Vie Long brush in my opinion. Choose a style and go!
  6. poppi

    poppi Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the info folks, lots to think about.

    One question though, how can you tell the ratio of mane/tail on the various models of brushes? Can't seem to find it on the sites I"ve looked at
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  7. Zykris

    Zykris Well-Known Member

    Usually Italian barber and Maggards has the ratio, otherwise I just google the brush model with mane/tail ratio.

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  8. Pete123

    Pete123 Well-Known Member

    I really like horse hair brushes and have several. Vie-Long has many horse hair brushes that are high quality. The brush on the far left seems to get floppy. Others have said, and I agree, that a horse hair brush is in between a boar and a badger. One thing I really like about horse hair brushes are that they are the only popular natural fiber where nothing is killed (the badger) and no animal is treated in a manner that I consider to be inhumane. Boar bristle doesn't come from hogs about to become pork chops. It comes from special pigs that are harvested throughout their lives and the bristle is often pulled out as bristle with the roots as that brings more money.

    I usually don't soak mine before using, though this does require more water for the second pass.

    The one on the left, model 12750, has a loft of 55 mm, which gets floppy.
    I don't have a model number for the second one.
    The13066, third from the left, is my favorite because I think the handle is really cool.
    The 12601, on the far right is a small brush that does a good job. It is travel size, though horse hair doesn't dry that quickly.

    I would highly recommend any of the ones below other than the 12750

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  9. Enrico

    Enrico Popcorn

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  10. Keithmax

    Keithmax Breeds Pet Rocks

    I didn’t know that is how they harvested bristle.
  11. Frijolero

    Frijolero Well-Known Member

    Do you have a reliable source for that info? I have heard it before, but the source was always some guy on another forum somewhere. Never anything I'd call authoritative.
    It just doesn't seem practical at all to me. When pigs become pork chops the bristles are just thrown away, not sold? Really?
    And it's hard to imagine boar brushes being as cheap as they are if special pigs are raised only for their bristles. Raising animals aint cheap. Raising two separate sets of the same animal, one for meat and one for bristle, makes no economic sense.
    But if you can point me to a reliable source, I'll give it a look.
  12. Pete123

    Pete123 Well-Known Member

    Yes, I researched this as thoroughly as possible. Let me find the info and I'll post it here.
  13. Pete123

    Pete123 Well-Known Member

    @Frijolero, I know that they make leather from the hogs slaughtered for meat.

    The information didn't come from one source. It took detective work, creative Google searches and drawing some conclusions.

    Sources included shaving forums, Wikipedia and various other sites. I discarded information from brush manufacturers as well as animal rights activists that many would consider extreme.

    Some of the insights / concepts were:

    • Almost all boar bristle comes from China, not known for humane treatment of animals.
    • There are special hogs that produce bristle, they aren't slaughtered for food, but have bristle harvested over and over.
    • I can’t find the most important source, which in my mind, is the one where demonstrating that bristles with roots bring more money. If true, that means they would have to pull them out vs shearing them like sheep. I can’t find the source I used for that - it’s been a while since doing my research.
    • Manufacturers usually don’t miss a chance to advertise things like being animal friendly. The horse hair brush manufacturers certainly do. The boarbristle folks don’t

    Here are a few of the websites:

    I posted this on another forum and a member there replied with:

    "I can verify that one particular boar brush I bought (Stirling) did include the roots of the hair in its knot. The way I could tell is that a large number of the bristles were upside down in the knot, making for a somewhat uncomfortable face lathering experience. Those ones would never break in and develop split ends. I went ahead and swapped it out with a different knot."
  14. Frijolero

    Frijolero Well-Known Member

    I don't dispute the last part. Saw it myself, also on a Stirling boar brush.

    But that is a far cry from showing that pigs are raised only for bristles, and that they are ripped out while the animal is alive. And nothing else
    in those links supports that either, except for some guy on some forum.

    As I said, raising two separate sets of animals just does not make economic sense. If the situation ever did exist, someone would have long since recognized the inefficiency and gotten rich by eliminating it. That's how things work. I would expect that boar brushes are so cheap precisely because of the efficiency of raising one animal, and wasting nothing from it.

    But other than basic economic principals, I also don't have any source that I can point to showing how bristles are harvested. So I'm open to being convinced that I'm wrong. And if it does happen like you say then I do want to know that. It just needs to be more convincing than some guy on some forum.
  15. kfbrady

    kfbrady Well-Known Member


    I know that Mason Pearson, one of the top - and most expensive! - UK hairbrush manufacturers claims that "no animals are harmed in the collection of the boar bristle" they use, but who really knows, especially from less reputable sources.
  16. Pete123

    Pete123 Well-Known Member

    I went back and looked at the links I posted above and can't say there is much evidence of how the bristles are obtained. This wasn't the original research I did as I put the post above together when someone asked. What I remember from the original research I did was that I couldn't find a definitive answer, but that most boar bristle comes from China, that there are breeds known for bristle long enough to use and that they got a higher price if the roots were in tact.

    Having said all of that, I'm not comfortable today saying that bristle isn't harvested in a humane way.

    Don't want to hijack the thread here, back to horse hair brushes.

    Based on my experience, I would go with one that has a diameter of no more than 24 mm and a loft at 54 mm or less.

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