Synthetic vs Natural Brushes: Which Should You Buy?

Buying makeup brushes? We can help. Narrow down your choices between synthetic and natural makeup brushes

How to decide whether to go natural or synthetic for your makeup brushes

If you've watched any popular YouTube makeup videos, or have stepped into a Sephora’s aisle-long makeup brush section, you may be overwhelmed by the plethora of amazing makeup brushes out there in different styles, shapes and sizes. As they are known to be an integral part of makeup, brushes can become yet another tool in which you have to decide which type is best for you. To help you narrow that field down, we are pitting synthetic vs. natural makeup brushes against each other to see which you should buy.

Natural vs Synthetic Brushes: The Big Difference

Though the two seem worlds apart, there is only one simple difference. Natural brushes are made with animal hair. They usually appear in a brown or tan color, though they are sometimes bleached to a fine white color, or otherwise dyed black. They tend to be very fluffy, soft and easily-bendable, which makes most of these brushes on the more expensive side, especially since they are made with real animal hair, meaning you’ll see them for blending and blurring jobs like bronzer or other powder brushes.

Synthetic brushes are man-made with fibers like nylon, polyester, or other materials. They can appear in a range of different colors, as these brushes are often dyed; otherwise, they are typically colored white. These brushes are quite stiff, flatter, and can be shaped at sharper angles compared to natural brushes, meaning you’ll see them for more precise jobs, like eyeliner or lip brushes.

Great Uses For Natural Brushes

Because natural brushes come from a natural thing, each hair has a cuticle, which lifts up to trap powders and oils. Because hair cuticles have texture, they are great for holding onto product, and giving you the best and most pigmented powder applications. If you like to use loose pigments, or just need a brush that will give you the best powder application, then natural brushes will work like magic.

And since the hairs on a natural brush fan out as opposed to sticking together the way synthetic brushes do, they are best for blending out powder products as well as packing them on.

Great Uses For Synthetic Brushes

Now, because synthetic brushes are man-made, they don’t have any cuticle, or texture that readily holds onto product the same way. But due to their smooth flatness, they are great for applying cream or liquid products like your liquid foundation or concealer (although blending out these products would be best with a sponge or natural-hair foundation brush). Since a lot of synthetic brushes are laser-cut into sharp-angled styles and the hairs tend to stick together, they also work best for any meticulous, clean application you might need, such as eyeliner, lipstick, or eyebrow pomades.

Things To Note About Natural Brushes

With a natural brush’s amazing ability to hold onto product, that makes it the most difficult of the two to clean. And because it is real hair, they are more likely to break off and shed when in use or during washing—and again, can be the pricier option in the natural vs. synthetic makeup brush debate. The fact they are made with real animal hair is an important thing to note, particularly if you are vegan, interested in cruelty-free makeup, or would just like to save a few sweet little bunnies. If this worries you, then it might be the best choice for you to use synthetic brushes in your makeup application.

Things To Note About Synthetic Brushes

Because synthetic brushes are more easily-made, they are relatively cheap and widely available in multiple stores, as well as online. They are easier to clean than natural brushes, and hardly ever shed.

The Takeaway: Natural vs Synthetic Makeup Brushes?

Now that you know what you need to know about both types, it’s up to your style and ultimate desires to choose which option is best for you.

For those who never underestimate the importance of blending, don’t mind investing in a good tool, and want the perfect makeup application, then natural brushes are the best bet for you. If you are on a budget, or prefer animal-free products, then stick to synthetic brushes, unless you'd like to splurge one day on a good natural-haired powder brush.

All in all, it can’t hurt to mix it up and get a set of each type of makeup brush so you can experience all the benefits either option has to offer, and have it all in your collection.

Resources—Style Caster, Frends Beauty

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