Well, it's been around 3 weeks since New Zealand was directed to go into Level 4 Lockdown. Thankfully, a few days before, I received a Jock Synthetic Shaving Brush from Brian at Executive Shaving and have been trying it out.
I saw a post by Brian that The Executive Shaving Company was to no longer stock Badger hair brushes and I was intrigued. (Read our statement on why we no longer stock badger brushes here)
I do know that harvesting Badger Hair isn't ethically sound and results in the often-cruel captivity and death of the animals.
BUT I was sceptical of the performance of synthetic brushes. I have a few, bought over the years, or sent as samples and without doubt, NONE have compared to a good Badger Brush. Stiff, scratchy and like a cheap boar hair brush of yesteryear.
Is there no way to harvest Badger Hair and preserve the welfare of the animal? Can we not shear them like sheep and allow the creatures to roam like free-range hens?
I emailed Brian and put this to him, he replied that yes, some synthetic brushes were horrible but at the other end of the scale good ones were as good as Badger hair so I took the plunge and bought one.
Three weeks in and I have to agree, this one is good, VERY good and a keeper.
Pictured below is the Executive Shaving Jock Synthetic Brush (left) next to my two favourite Badger Hair ones.
My Badger Brushes are old, the Badgers that provided the hair would have died long ago from old age!
In the middle is a Simpson’s Chubby, coloured Butterscotch from age I date it to around 1960s or earlier, it’s great and my second go-to brush.
To the right is an antique. It is imprinted ‘Best Badger’ and with a London Drug Store Brand, in a bone handle and probably 100 years old. I picked it up from an antique fair in original packaging and unused. This is my favourite brush!
I do have a Georgian Silver travel Brush from 1825 (Hallmarked) and a real Ivory Officers Travel Brush from the 1900s, but these are the result of my Shaving Brush collecting geek streak and not everyday brushes!
So, back to the Executive Shaving Jock Synthetic. In short, it is as good, or if not better than my two favourite Badger ones! I never thought I would write this, but there you go.
Synthetic hair can be a good or better than Badger hair, if produced correctly.
Here’s the technical stuff!
Being an engineer, I did some measuring - for which you need a Micrometer.
Previous synthetic brushes I’ve tried have a hair diameter of around 6 thousandths of an inch (0.15mm). The Executive Shaving one Brian sent has a hair diameter of around 4 thousandths of an inch (0.1mm). This few thousandths of an inch (yes, I’m old school) makes all the difference and provides the soft yet structured feel and performance. Instead of flicking soap onto your mirror, the softness of the bristles allows it to be worked into the stubble.
So, in summary, I won’t throw out my antique Badger brushes BUT I won’t buy a new one either. If you need a new brush, a good Synthetic like the Executive Shaving Jock ticks all the boxes.
Review by Dave Glynn based in New Zealand
April 17th 2020.