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

October 26, 2022
By: | by L'Oréal
three makeup brushes on a colored background
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 are important, there’s 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. Ahead, we break down the difference between both. 

Natural Makeup Brushes

Natural makeup brushes are made of animal hair (often sable, squirrel or goat) and, for this reason, tend to be more expensive than synthetic brushes. The real hair offers a super soft feel and makes blending a breeze. Just like the hair on our head, the natural hair on the makeup brush contains cuticles, which help lift and absorb powdery pigment 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 powders 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.

Morphe M310 Large Soft Fan Brush

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. We also love the ROEN Beauty Blush + Blend Brush, which has synthetic bristles that mimic real goat hair. The ultra-luxurious brush has a sculpted head, which makes it easy to diffuse a rosy flush across the cheeks.

IT Cosmetics Heavenly Skin-Smoothing Complexion Brush #704
Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn

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