Natural vs Synthetic Makeup Brushes

Friday, July 22, 2016

Natural vs Synthetic Makeup Brushes - Hey Pretty South African Beauty Blog

Did you know that the end results of your makeup isn't entirely based off the quality of cosmetics you use? Or that selecting the correct shade of foundation, blush or bronzer isn't the only decision you need to make to get a flawless result?

Were you aware that the tools which you use to apply the makeup to your face is just as important as the products you select? Well it is.

For years (around age 15 - 25)  I used my hands and fingers. Foundation, Concealer, Eyeshadow. I smudge with my fingers. I blended with my fingers, I buffed in my foundation with my hands and fingers combination - the only brush I owned was a standard powder brush and I used it to apply my powder, blush and bronzer. I'm all fairness, not once did I look at the end result and think - I'm terrible with makeup, but admittedly, after I actually discovered real makeup brushes, I found that my makeup just looked more polished. I think it was my 'born in the 80's mentality', but I had no concept of makeup brushes except for those funny spongy one's you received in your 4 colour Almay eyeshadow quad. It wasn't until the last decade and the rise of the internet that makeup brushes became a real thing and you began to see it everywhere.

Not only do makeup brushes provide a better end result, but take a moment to think about bacteria. Bacteria on your fingers. Bacteria spreading from one product to another as you dip your fingers in. Then you seal that product and the Bacteria flourishes. Closed, damp, dark containers... perfect conditions for bacteria to grow right?.

So now that you want to join the bandwagon and get yourself some shiny new makeup brushes... you are faced with another conundrum...

Natural or Synthetic?

Up until a few months ago, I had no idea what the difference between Natural and Synthetic makeup brushes meant. I noticed the talk. I paid some attention, but never enough to fully know and understand what it meant to be using just synthetic or just natural brushes daily. I kind of thought at first that most brushes were made from natural hair and that synthetic was created for those who prefer a more vegan option. Like synthetic brushes were the vegetarian version for makeup brushes and that it simply was just a personal choice.

I discovered I was correct to some extent. But when I recently was in the market for new brushes, I did some homework and research and it turns out my thought process was not entirely the only reason for Natural vs Synthetic makeup brushes.

Yes, one of the main reasons synthetic brushes are so readily available these days is because many consumers want the option to support or use only cruelty-free products. There is a lot of talk regarding whether or not the animals who (let's face is) unwillingly give up their hair for us to use to apply our faces with are in fact harmed or hurt in the process or if there is a safe, calm and hurt less technique used instead to give us the products we need. I have found that there isn't really a clear indication as to whether or not Goats, badgers, squirrels, minks, and ponies 'donate' their hair without any suffering to them or not, although there are a few companies who produce Natural Makeup Brushes and state that they have a really strict no animal cruelty policy and therefore no animals were harmed in the making of their brushes... So because there is no real way of knowing for sure, it's really a personal decision only you can make at the end of the day.

The second reason why Naural vs Synthetic is such a big topic is because each blend of brush offers pros and cons depending on what you are going to be using it for.

•• Natural Hair Makeup Brushes ••

These are made of various animal hair. Squirrel, Sable or goat to name a few. The pro's about Natural Makeup Brushes is that they become better to use the more you use them.

Natural Makeup Brushes are the best to use when it comes to applying powder products to your face. These brushes allow you to pick up more product because the hairs have cuticles. Most, and I say most because it is the case in most instances, Natural Brushes are fluffier than synthetic. It's a natural result of Natural Brushes. It's generally harder to create a good fluffy product in a synthetic material. That does not mean that every single fluffy brush you own will be made from Natural Hair. But it's the general standard in determining (if you are unsure) which brushes you have. Sometimes the Natural brushes are dyed, but more often it's just left as is.

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Powder blush, face powder, bronzer and eyeshadow are best applied with Natural Brushes. Because of the follicle in the natural hair, it has pores and this allows it to pick up more product than synthetic. The natural brushes also help to absorb the oil from your skin so it allows for better blending. These are generally softer and are also far easier to blend with because the hairs move freely. It's important to remember that using a Natural Brush with a liquid product will essentially be a waste of your product. Because these brushes can absorb easily, you will end up using more product because the brush will soak up quite a bit.

Natural Brushes hold onto pigment well and because of this, it's far harder to clean them. These brushes are not really a good option for those who are allergic to animal hair or suffer from allergies when exposed to animals. Natural Brushes are more likely to shed and are generally more expensive.

Natural Brushes are best used with:
Setting Powder
Face Powder
Powder Blush
Powder Bronzer
Mineral Foundation
Powder Eyeshadow
When Highlight or Contouring with powder products

Looking for some Natural Brushes that are completely cruelty-free? Try:
Morphe (Hey Pretty has some in stock!)
Too Faced

•• Synthetic Makeup Brushes ••

These brushes are made from synthetic material like polyester or nylon. 100% man-made. Often they are dyed to make them look more 'real'. These brushes don't shed as much as Natural Brushes and are typically cheaper. Synthetic Brushes are easier to clean because they don't absorb much product.

Synthetic Brushes work best with your liquid or cream products such as concealer, foundation, liquid bronzer, cream blushes, cream eyeshadows, lipsticks, gel liners ect. They do not hold onto powder products very well. 
Hey Pretty South African Beauty Blog
These brushes are largely not as soft as natural and because of this the fibres of synthetic brushes are usually more compact and the bristles naturally gravitate toward each other, allowing for more precise, smooth and streak-free application. Because these bristles are tightknit,  precision application like liquid eyeliner and lipstick are best applied with synthetic brushes. Synthetic brushes don't have a cuticle and therefore don't absorb much product so there's minimal waste when using it with your liquid or cream products.

Synthetic brushes can be harder and scratchier on the skin so it's important to remember, when you are looking at options to buy in the synthetic brush range, to go with a good brand and quality. Most popular brands do in fact produce a better quality synthetic bristle that closely resembles and feels like natural hairs. Don't just go with the cheapest, but don't just assume the more expensive is the better either. Synthetic is not just synthetic either way you go. There are vast differences in quality across the board. I own some cheap synthetics that are absolutely amazing and I own some pricier synthetics that feel like a cheap paint brush against my skin. For example, I have a few of the Cala Brushes from Dis-chem and they cost between R39 - R110 depending on the brush type. Clicks have a range called UBU that costs R100+  per brush and I have a few of them too. The Cala brushes, I adore. I use them often. The UBU is dreadful and scratchy. But you would assume because it's priced more, that it's better, but that's simply not the case. The bottom line... don't be fooled by pretty pink brushes! 

Synthetic Brushes are best to use with:
Cream Eyeshadows (like Colourpop)
Liquid Foundations
Liquid & Creme Bronzers
Liquid & Creme Blush
Liquid & Creme lipsticks
Liquid & Gel Eyeliner

Looking for some Synthetic Brushes? Try:
Real Techniques Brushes
BH Cosmetics (Hey Pretty has some in stock!)
Urban Decay
Cala Brushes

And there you go. Those are the major pro's and con's for both Natural and Synthetic Brushes. Drop a comment below if you've discovered an awesome brush or maybe you've accidently stumbled across a terrible brush... either way, let us know.

Stay Pretty!

Hey Pretty by Laurynne Gouws

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