Whilst the reaction to Frank Shaving brushes has been very favourable indeed and many people are enjoying these high quality badger brushes having paid very low prices for them, there is always ways that things can be improved and Ian Tang, my supplier, is very keen to look after his customers.
One of the main parameters of a shaving brush is how much stiffness is built into the knot (the bundle of hairs), this is the result of a number of factors in the construction of the brush. Some people prefer their brushes floppy so they can paint their faces, usually with shaving cream lather. At the other extreme there are those who like a lot of backbone to attack hard soaps and to massage the face vigorously. So there was demand for Frank Shaving to produce a brush with more backbone.
Now it is not as if the original $9.99 Frank Shaving Finest Badger brush is floppy. Far from it. It compares well with some expensive European brushes and has no problem with hard soaps. But there are other brushes that are stiffer and this is what some people wanted from Frank Shaving too. The Frank Shaving Silvertip is considerably floppier, but then that is the nature of silvertip hair.
On his eBay adverts Ian has always listed the knot dimensions (which differ quite a lot, these are handmade items) so people have been able to select their brush’s backbone to a degree. When he asked me if I thought that he should go to even shorter lofts I sent him the knot dimensions of the Simpson brush range as a reference point. Even a couple of millimetres change in the loft can make a considerable difference to how the brush behaves.
As a result Ian has had some short loft brushes made and sent me two prototypes to sample. One is a Silvertip with a 22mm knot according to my vernier. The other is a 3 band Best Badger, not the 2 band Finest that Frank normally use, with a knot of around 21mm. Both of these brushes have a 50mm loft. This is a full 5mm less than the loft of the original Silvertip and Finest brushes that I bought, a big difference.
Out of the box the softness of the tips is still there, but there is a marked difference between the long and short loft silvertips, the newer brush feeling more luxurious. The long loft Finest and the short loft Best are both less soft than the Silvertips and have the slight pricklyness that you would expect, but they feel exactly the same as each other. Both short loft brushes have more backbone though. I used both of them to work up a lather using a puck of Mitchell’s Wool Fat hard soap which is a stern test. The Silvertip did the job quickly and efficiently the short loft Best even faster, it loaded up the soap as fast as any brush I have used before. So far so good.
Day 1. Used Mitchell’s Wool Fat and the short loft Silvertip on the left of my face with the short loft Best on the right side of my face, face lathering with both which is a very stern test. The Best just romped away, it loaded quick and made a great lather with no effort. The Silvertip was not so happy, it still did the job, but didn’t load or lather so easily. However it was extremely soft and luxurious on the face. So, much as you would expect of a Silvertip.
Day 2. Taylor’s of Old Bond Street (TOBS) Lavender cream. Once again a side of the face each, charged both brushes up and face lathered. Both brushes were excellent at this, honours were even. They held enough charge for four passes with enough left for several more. The difference was that the Best was more prickly whilst the Silvertip was again superbly soft.
Day 3. Proraso cream. This time it was the short lofted silvertip Vs the long lofted silvertip that I bought earlier. The short lofted brush has bloomed much more than the long lofted so may be packed more densely, also when dry the tips are now much softer. I charged both brushes up then face lathered half my face with each through 3 passes. The biggest difference between them was that the short lofted brush was markedly softer and more luxurious at the tips, secondly it released its charge of lather more easily and finally it had a tiny bit more backbone, but you really had to go looking for this.
Day 4 etc I will post in the comments section at the bottom of this article. Plus some conclusions.
Finally, Ian has added another new brush to his listings, this time it is a Silvertip with a massive 28mm knot and a 54mm loft. This is a short loft for such a big brush and it must hold enough lather to shave an entire rugby team. It would certainly be perfect for a lady who wanted to shave her legs.
note: A well known shaving forum has deleted a lot of posts from their members about Frank Shaving brushes. When challenged their moderators came up with reasons that are, at best, spurious and disingenuous. Charges of multiple accounts and shilling are untrue and absurd. You would wonder what their real, ulterior motives were for this action. This same forum has banned many of the key people in today’s traditional shaving renaissance, they have also banned some of the very best suppliers of goods. Once again their stated reasons for doing so are often spurious and disingenuous. They lose relevance and credibility by their actions. It is a great pity that real shaving lacks an unpoliticised, vibrant, well moderated online community, something that is surely holding back the development of the movement.
Meanwhile the members of the offending forum are being deprived of knowledge of one of the great bargains of modern traditional shaving, the Frank Shaving brush. That you can buy such high quality, luxurious items at far lower prices than the competition is something we should all be shouting about. And it is the only reason that I have championed these products.
further note: The other two great bargains of traditional shaving are the Lord L6 razor and the European Palmolive tallow shaving stick.