The functionality of a makeup brush depends on the size, shape, density, and type of makeup brush bristles in the hair knot. The features of bristles define what a makeup brush applies and what it is used for.
Makeup brush bristles can be broadly classified into natural bristles and synthetic bristles. Hybrid bristles, loosely a third type, form a hair knot that uses natural and synthetic bristles in combination.
Natural hair bristles are obtained from animals. The animals whose furs are valuable for makeup brushes manufacturing are silver fox, squirrel, sable, goat, horse, badger, and kolinsky. It is obvious there are difficulties obtaining natural hair bristles.
Synthetic hair bristles as a raw material are immediately available as they are machine-made. The synthetic bristles in the material can be Taklon fibers, nylon fibers, and polyester fibers.
In this blog post, we will discuss makeup brush bristle types in detail. Also, we will be comparing natural bristles with synthetic bristles to see what could be the best option for you.
Natural hair bristles
Natural hair bristles are obtained from animals. The quality of natural hair depends on the source (animal) and harvesting plus hair processing methods. The age of the animal and its specie type, and the body part from where the hair is harvested also matter for the hair quality.
The harvesting method mainly defines how the hair is cut. There can be many ways to harvest hair. For instance, the hair may be trimmed from fur or there can be blunt haircuts. Harvesting and processing methods affect hair quality.
Let us discuss the natural bristles classified as per their sources.
Silver fox hair bristles
Russian and European nobles used silver fox pelts to keep themselves warm. Silver fox hair bristles form luxury makeup brushes. The bristles are soft and hold onto powder pigment. The price of these makeup brushes is high.
Squirrel hair bristles
Squirrel hair bristles are considered the softest of all. Squirrel bristles form luxury makeup brushes. It is because the squirrel bristles are the best for powder makeup products. The brushes touch the skin gently and give an airbrushed look.
The squirrel bristles absorb water and thus aren’t compatible with liquid makeup products. There could also be some limitations with gel and cream products.
Please note all squirrels aren’t cosmetic grade. Only a select few serves the purpose. The brushes are expensive and there has been a decline in the squirrel hair makeup brushes buyers.
Pony hair bristles
Pony/horse hair bristles are soft. The bristles are trimmed mostly from the neck of a pony.
The pony bristles are stiff. They are also resilient and durable. Just as other natural hair makeup brushes, pony hair makeup brushes are good for pigmented products.
Badger hair bristles
Badger hair bristles are conical in shape. China has been the source of the badger hair bristles. There are different grades of badger hair that account for the change in prices of badger hair makeup brushes. Overall, the badger hair is resilient and gives a gentle touch.
Goat hair bristles
If you are on the lookout for natural hair makeup brushes, goat hair makeup brushes might be an economical option for you. Goat hair is soft and forms high-quality luxury makeup brushes. However, the goat bristles are not as soft as the squirrel bristles.
The manufacturers generally classify goat hair into four grades: XGF goat hair, ZGF goat hair, HJF goat hair, and BGF goat hair. The classification is based on the factors like age of the goat, harvesting method, and part of the body from where it is obtained.
Sable hair bristles
Sable hair bristles that are suitable for makeup brushes are obtained from the sable’s tail. The brushes are soft and good for powdered pigments. The sable hair makeup brushes do precision work.
1 gram of kolinsky hair bristles costs three times more than 1 gram of gold. Kolinsky brushes are highly expensive. Kolinsky bristles are obtained from the tail of kolinsky, a specie native to Russia and Siberia. Kolinsky brushes are also termed kolinsky sable brushes.
Synthetic bristles are inorganic. These bristles in the material can be Taklon fibers, nylon fibers, and polyester fibers. Basically, these materials are types of plastic and thus can be made in a factory.
This is a fact that there is no overseeing authority that guides makeup brush design and manufacturing.
Wholesale buyers are free to specify the bristles materials for their personalized makeup brushes. So, it is not rare to see brands using hybrid bristles for their makeup brushes.
Hybrid bristles are a result of a combination of bristles. Say, natural hair bristles are grouped together with synthetic hair bristles. There are other blending options too.
For example, camel hair is a term used for a blend of squirrel, goat, and/or pony hair. Camel hair brushes are quite popular among artists.
Anyhow, manufacturers and retailers have to meet safety and health standards as makeup brushes come in direct contact with skin.
Natural hair brushes versus synthetic hair bristles
Natural hair, irrespective of its source, is porous. Thus, natural hair makeup brushes hold onto the makeup product and apply smoothly. In general, natural makeup brushes aren’t good for liquid or gel makeup products.
Synthetic bristles are manmade. They try to mimic natural hair. Synthetic hair makeup brushes work the same way. In addition, synthetic makeup brushes are compatible with liquid, cream, and gel.
Natural hair bristles as a raw material can be difficult to procure. Synthetic hair bristles as a raw material are immediately available.
Natural hair makeup brushes are more expensive than synthetic hair makeup brushes. The reasons are quite obvious. Natural bristles have a more gentle touch and are difficult to procure. Synthetic bristles can be a less expensive alternative and align with your brand’s vegan values.
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