It is an oddity that we women will spend countless dollars on our cosmetics, and use any old thing lying around in our drawers to apply them, not really knowing any different. Purchasing a makeup brush is almost as mysterious as buying carpet, in my opinion. Knowing that you can’t rely on price to determine quality, how do you know if you’re getting your money’s worth? One brush (or carpet sample) may feel nicer to the touch, but does that mean it will hold up over time? Does it mean it’s of higher quality? Doing some simple searches across the internet did not yield any articles explaining the different types of brushes hairs, and which type ranks higher over which, so I’ve put together my own primer for those of us who are trying to get the best bang for our buck.
A well constructed brush that is maintained properly can last you over 10 years. Now think about how many cheapo dime-store brushes you buy over the same period of time – you’ve ended up spending far more on the throwaways! Furthermore, using the correct brush for your application made of quality materials will make your application more even and easier to apply. When purchasing makeup brushes, buy ones that are hand made, as the hair tips can only be preserved when the brushes are made by hand and not machine.
The construction of a makeup brush can be divided into 3 major parts: the hair, handle, and ferrule (the metal part that attaches the hair to the handle). The hair type is the focus of this article, as it is the biggest and most important component, as well as the most “mysterious”. Brush hair types are broken down into 3 categories: natural hair, natural bristle, & synthetic hair.
Natural hair brushes are the best type of brushes as they can deliver and apply makeup more effectively, as they trap and hold the powders the best. When pressure is applied from the brush against your skin, they release these powder trappings (foundation, blush, eye shadow, etc). Synthetic hair (nylon or taklon) is not absorbent and does not trap powders, making it more suitable for concealer brushes, eyeliner brushes, or liquid foundation. Natural haired brushes will get softer with each use over time, and are most appropriate for powder brushes, foundation brushes, eye shadow, and blush brushes. Conversely, synthetic brushes will get stiffer with each use. For powder applications, the softer, the better.
Both hair type and cut will determine the quality and softness. First cut hairs are the highest quality and are cruelty-free. The tips of the hairs on first cut or virgin cut bristles are soft and pointed, while second or blunt cut hairs are just that: flat across. Think of how soft the hair on your forearms is compared to the hair on your legs as the stubble grows back after shaving, and you’ll get the idea. So now we’ve determined 2 factors you want to look for in a brush, no matter the price range: handmade, first cut hairs. permanent makeup machine manufacturers
Here is a list of types of animal hairs commonly used in cosmetic brushes:
– Kolinsky is an animal found in the coldest regions of Russia and China, and is a mink species. Kolinsky brushes are the finest, softest, and most expensive brushes.
Badger Hair – Badger can come in different forms, making for differing quality and uses. Badger “tapers” are conical in shape, and have more elasticity, making them springier and softer on your face. A high quality badger hair brush will have a variegated appearance: light-dark-light. Badger gray hairs are less tapered, less elastic, less soft, and less expensive. These brushes are really more suitable as barber’s brushes!
Squirrel Hair – Squirrel hair is extremely soft, and is the most popular with makeup artists. Only long squirrel hair is considered to be valuable, as the hair ends in a very fine point. These must be handmade to preserve the tips.