Warning: For those who want to avoid the wall of text, you can skip and go to the part in bold at the end. I was wondering if experienced users can shed some light into this. So far, i have tried only 4 Omega models. The Proraso brush (blond hair), the 11574 (sketched, unbleached hair), the 80266 (same, but bleached hair) and the Omega 81151 (24x60, bleached). I can already tell you that the brushes behave differently. - The Proraso although it is the brush that i have used much more than the rest, has broken in partially and has the most backbone, to an uncomfortable level. Bristles have split mostly 2 ways and not all of them. Denser than any of the rest, bristles are superstiff when dry. - The 11574 is much softer (still backbone, but not uncomfortable), has broken in much faster, feels better than the Proraso. - The 2 bleached Omegas, are the best. They have bloomed more, but without going wild like Semogues do. They remain "disciplined". The bristles are softer than any of the above and look identical between them. Bottom line, the 80266 and the 11574, should be identical on paper (same dimensions), but they are not. The bleached bristle is much softer, the brush blooms more, yet remains disciplined, but when wet, it opens up much more, becoming much softer, while retaining backbone (but less). In fact, when bowl lathering, the 80266 opens up like a boar. The bleached bristles have split even 4 ways almost everwhere. This goes for both the 80266 and the 81151. The bristles feel identical and much better than the rest of the Omegas. Unfortunately, the black ring on my Omegas seem to be cracking one after the other. I noticed the 11574, while almost dry, when pressing the hand around the knot, had water come out of the space where the black ring is broken, like between the ring and the plastic handle. A bit earlier today, i put my 1st Proraso brush (i have a spare one unused, so...it wasn't breaking in well anyway...Might as well serve for my curiocity to see if the brush will soften. A sacrifice of science) into a bleach solution (1 part bleach to 2 parts water) and will leave it overnight. While putting the brush into a glass of bleached solution, i noticed bubbles coming up. So most probably, the broken ring also allows water inside the handle and the bubbles were air coming out of the handle. It's a bit too late to back off the Omegas with plastic ring, since i 've bought like 8 spares, but i am definitely not buying anymore. I know Omega uses this sort of plastic cup, where the knot is positioned and then the cup is glued into the handle. I also read people say that once the ring has cracked, at some point, the knot will come off, it's only a matter of time. So the question is: Does anyone know how other brands position their knots? Do they use metallic cups instead of plastic or do they just glue directly the knot on the handle or what? Because i may seek a bleached brush from some other company, if the handle doesn't have such problems with air/water passing through.