Synthetic vs. Natural Makeup Brushes — What’s the Difference?

September 18, 2020
By: Angela Melero | by L'Oréal
Synthetic versus Natural Makeup Brushes — What’s the Difference?
When it comes to a flawless face, we are quick to assume it’s all about the makeup. While we agree that the foundation formulas and setting powders we love so much make all the difference in perfecting our faces, there is another often-overlooked component that plays a huge role: brushes. Makeup brushes can make or break your look when it comes to pristine application. With so many options at your fingertips, though, it can be hard to decide which tools are best for foundation application. One of the most common questions about brushes involves the use of natural makeup brushes versus synthetic makeup brushes. Is there really a difference? Which type provides the best application and coverage? We got to the bottom of the great brush debate, ahead.

Natural Makeup Brushes

Natural makeup brushes are made of animal hair, often sable, squirrel or goat. Natural brushes tend to be more expensive than synthetic brushes because they’re made from real animal hair. The natural hair offers a super soft feel and makes it easy for blending makeup on the face. That’s because, just like the hair on our head, the natural hair on the makeup brushes contains cuticles, which have great pick-up and blending properties. Cuticles help lift and absorb powdery pigment along with your skin’s oils and blend them seamlessly across the face, creating a natural, non-blotchy look. 

Natural makeup brushes are best used for applying powder-based makeup products such as eyeshadow, finishing and setting powder and powder-based blushes and bronzers. For example, the Morphe M310 Large Soft Fan Brush is made with natural goat bristles and is great for highlighting and sweeping away excess powder. 

Synthetic Makeup Brushes

Synthetic makeup brushes are typically made of man-made materials like nylon, taklon or polyester fibers. While they’re not as soft as natural makeup brushes, synthetic brushes are typically more affordable because they use easily accessible materials. They’re also unique in that the bristles naturally gravitate toward each other, allowing for a more precise, smooth and streak-free application. Because of the hairs’ properties, they are great for angled, sharply cut brushes, like the NYX Professional Makeup Pro Angled Brush

Faux-hair brushes are also great for liquid products like foundations, cream blush or gel eyeliner. The synthetic hairs are not as porous as natural hairs, so they don’t soak up too much makeup or get clumpy and gunky. One of our favorite brushes is the IT Cosmetics Heavenly Skin-Smoothing Complexion Brush #704, for its cruelty-free bristles that are infused with anti-aging collagen, silk, peptides, niacin and antioxidants for a smooth and seamless application.
Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

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