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Get to Know Brushes

Nov 07, 2017


Makeup application can alter due to the materials used to create a makeup brush. Bristles of a makeup brush can either be synthetic or natural. The brush itself is important to the application of makeup as it can densely pack on product or loosely pack on product.

Synthetic Bristles

Synthetic bristles are the most common material used in a makeup brush. They are widely found in drugstores and makeup specific stores. The bristles are made out of plastic, and are often dyed to get some color on the bristles. Synthetic bristles are often used with liquid and cream products, as they tend to blend out products more easily and will not absorb product as much compared to a natural bristle brush.

Synthetic are cruelty-free. The bristles are usually made from nylon or other synthetic fibers. The longevity of synthetic brushes are usually longer than natural haired bristles as they do not degrade or breakdown and are not as fragile.

Natural Bristles

Natural bristles are made from real hair as opposed to plastic. Many prefer to use natural bristles, since they could be less abrasive to the skin. Although natural bristles are more preferred in the cosmetic industry, the bristles themselves can cause allergic reactions because of the animal fur/hair.

Natural bristles may be easier to control the product when blending out or even packing on a product. Natural bristles do have hair cuticles which is why it is easier for the brush to pick up more product and blending it out.

Types of Natural Bristle Brushes

  • Synthetic/Vegan Hair

Cosmetics companies often use synthetic material as well. It allows ‘Vegan Brushes’ to be created. It is a specially developed nylon material that can be used for all different types of makeup brushes. It provides a smooth and even finish for cream products and can also be turned into a beautifully soft Kabuki Brush for powders.

The brush hairs are all identical and hence all brushes will be exactly the same and show no irregularities. The colour of the material is often dyed to resemble the same colours that animal hair exhibit. This hair is also a good material to use to create art brushes.

  • Sable

Sable is the strongest, yet the most soft of the common hairs used in makeup brushes. Brushes made from this material are often more expensive than other brushes but they last a very long time before needing replacement if proper care of them is taken. These brushes maintain their shape very well and are used often in brushes where a point is needed, such as those for creating fine lines of colour around the eye where precise application is required.

  • Goat

Goat Hair is one of the most effective types of hair to pick up makeup powder on its bristles and layer it smoothly and evenly onto the skin. It is ideal for buffing and can be used in blending brushes.  It brings shine and vibrancy to the skin.

  • Badger

Badger Hair has the firmest bristles of all the most commonly used hair. It is ideal for eyebrow brushes, fan brushes, bronzer brushes and shaver brushes.

High-quality badger hair has a natural light and dark brown colour, whilst lower quality badger hair is grey and is commonly  used for shaving brushes. Although badger hair is extremely firm, it also feels soft and has an elastic quality. This means it won’t scratch the face.

  • Pony

Pony Hair is the most common type of hair for soft cheek, contour and powder brushes where thick colour deposits are required.
Pony Hair does not come to a point but splays and hence lends itself well for blending/mixing brushes.

It is less rough than goat hair and is also finer. ‘A Grade’ Pony Hair comes from the belly of the pony which is the highest quality.

  • Squirrel

Squirrel Hair is durable and fine, yet quite thick. It is often made into brushes that need conical shapes. It is the softest natural hair that can be used to create makeup brushes.

Squirrel Hair is ideal for blending heavy pigment, which is why it is commonly used for eye-shadow brushes. Often, this hair is blended with other types of hair to reduce cost and this should be checked carefully when buying or making a brush.

The look, feel and usage of each makeup brush is determined by a number of different factors.

The important characteristics of a brush include:

  • The type of brush hair

  • The quality or ‘grade’ of the  brush hair

  • The length of the brush hair

  • The curve of the brush hair

  • The cut- shape of the brush hair

  • The type and shape of the brush handle

  • How the brush is made and assembled together