I have written on here before about Frank Shaving brushes from China and how they are remarkably good quality for not much money. The value is so good that I decided to buy a second $9.99 Finest badger brush from iantang19821024 on eBay. It took less than 2 weeks to arrive and is just perfect. Now they come in stout cardboard boxes with good brush care instructions in English. A nice touch was that the stand supplied was black to match the faux ebony of the handle.
Ian Tang tells me that his brush turnover has tripled since he started receiving publicity on shaving blogs and forums, which is hardly surprising considering the immense value he provides. What is nice is that many people who have now received these brushes are writing their experiences up and are reporting quality of product and service similar to what I have reported here.
The facts are quite simple, virtually all the badger hair in the world used for shaving brushes comes from China. Making the hair into knots is not rocket science but is labour intensive, so it is hardly surprising that most of the badger hair knots that go into brushes are made in China where they have low wages and the raw materials. There are very, very few workshops in the West that now make their own knots. Yet badger hair brushes are traditionally expensive, luxury items. So retailers in the West still charge a lot of money for their brushes even though the knots (and also often the handles) are bought quite cheaply from China.
What Ian Tang is doing on eBay is allowing you to buy direct and cut out the middleman and the huge premium you have to pay for a fancy name on your brush. I am in regular email correspondence with Ian and he seems very keen to continually improve his products and his service. For instance he now offers a range of different handle styles (at least 6 now including a long handle) and also different knot sizes. Also if someone asks for a specific brush specification: handle shape, handle material, hair type and knot size, then Ian tends to make up a batch and add them to his store. So the range of his offering is continually increasing.
The Silver Tip badger brush that he offers is amazing, super soft and able to hold huge amounts of lather, it is perfect for shaving creams. But I prefer his Finest, it is not as soft but it has more backbone so is better for working soaps and for exfoliating the face. However some people look for even more backbone in a brush, so Ian is now experimenting with shorter lofts in order to provide this. He says he will send me a prototype to try.
So I will now tell you my current opinion if you are looking to buy a shaving brush. If you are on a very tight budget then go to your local discount shop and buy a £1 to £2 boar bristle brush. It will do the job after a fashion. If you want something a whole lot nicer then buy a Frank Shaving brush. If you want the best buy a Simpson’s. And the reason that I continue to write about Frank Shaving here is because of the immense value that they offer to any traditional shaver.