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Monday 14 October 2013

Natural v Synthetic Brushes | What's the Difference?

I've always known that there are two types of makeup brush you can get, natural or synthetic, and I've always had a preference for synthetic brushes. However, I never knew much about the difference between natural brushes and synthetic brushes, and if one type of brush was better suited to certain things than another. However, after doing a lot of research, I now understand the difference between the two types of brushes and thought I'd share it with you.

What are they made of?
The two types of brushes are differently because they are made using different types of hair. Natural hair brushes are made using natural hair from animals. Hair from squirrels and goat are some of the most popular types of hair used for makeup brushes. Synthetic brushes are man-made, usually from materials such as Nylon or Taklon, but they can be made from anything which is similar to animal hair.

What they look like
 You can usually tell which type of hair a brush is made from by its appearance. You should be able to see that the two types of brushes look very different in the photos above. Natural hair brushes tend to feel a bit rougher and won't look uniform. There will be longer and shorter hairs, and there may be strays. The hairs also tend to be dyed, with common colours being black, brown or white. Synthetic brushes tend to be more uniform as they have been man-made and will often feel very smooth and may look shiny. They tend to be dyed in gradients, for example the white and brown you can see in the photos.

Which type of brushes are better suited for certain jobs?
I never used to realise that certain types of brushes (natural/synthetic) were better for certain makeup application, I thought they all did the same thing. However, natural hair brushes are much better for powder products, such as blusher, bronzer and setting powder. They naturally pick up more product than synthetic brushes as the natural ridges in the brush pick up the product better than the uniform hairs on the synthetic brushes. However, synthetic brushes are much better for use with cream/liquid product. They don't absorb the liquid like natural brushes do and also absorb less product. They are good for foundation as less product will be wasted in the process. They are ideal for foundation, lipstick and cream blushes/eyeshadow. They also allow for more precise application as there are less stray hairs, so they are good for precise concealing.

Is one more hygienic?

Synthetic brushes are actually slightly more hygienic than natural haired brushes. Because of the irregular surfaces on natural brushes they are more likely to trap dead skin cells and bacteria in them, so they need washing more often than synthetic brushes. They are also harder to wash than synthetic brushes are often take longer to dry. People can also be sensitive to animal hair or have allergies which can be an issue.

Is there an ethical issue?
The main issue with natural brushes is the sourcing of the hairs. Although some companies state they are cruelty free it is hard to know exactly how the hairs are sourced or the company's concept of what 'cruelty free' is, particularly from the smaller, lesser known brands. For this reason, some choose to avoid using natural haired brushes.
    Which ever type of brush you decide to go for, it is important that you know how to care for them correctly, and make sure that you are deep cleaning them regularly. If you don't know how to do this, check out this post.

    I hope this post has helped you to learn the difference between the two types of brushes and I hoped this was useful!

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