Sunday, January 20, 2008

Synthetic Vs. Natural

Inspired by Liz's comment on a previous entry, I'll put a little something on one of the biggest considerations when selecting makeup brushes: Do I go for natural brushes or synthetic brushes?

(Before I say anything more, I would just like to say that I love animals just as much as the next person and, like a lot of people, I'm very much against animal cruelty. Still, as this is a beauty blog, I leave the fiery debates about animal vs. synthetic hair to other worthwhile discussion sites).

As every makeup enthusiast knows, great makeup application depends heavily on finding the right makeup tools, foremost of which are brushes. Using the right makeup brushes for our various make up needs can spell the difference between skillful and sloppy makeup application. Therefore, it's just but proper to examine which type of makeup brush can aid us in our face painting adventures.

I have to admit, there was a point in my life when I didn't pay much attention to the type of brush I was getting, just as long as the bristles felt soft on my face and they seemed to do whatever they were supposed to do. Apparently, particular brushes work so much better depending on their type and their use. So hey, I'm all for improving my makeup application skills. All it takes is asking the sales assistant at your favorite cosmetics counter the type of brush you want to purchase.

The general rule is: natural fibers work best with powders (powder eyeshadows, blushes, etc) while synthetic fibers work best with creams (lipsticks, cream concealers, cream blush, etc).

There, that's all there is to it basically. Natural fibers are best for powders because unlike synthetic fibers, natural hair has scales and they are more porous so they are able to hold the pigment on the brushes for a longer period. Also, creams stick to natural fibers more easily so they don't glide on as well when you apply them. Natural bristles can be made from a single animal (squirrel, sable, goat, even mongoose!) or they can be a mixture of these animal hairs while most synthetic fibers are made from nylon or Taklon. Brushes made from natural hair are more expensive, so keep that in mind when you're looking for concealer brush or liquid foundation brush. You might be spending more when you could get synthetic fibers that are not only cheaper but are more suited for your needs! Still, some people prefer to invest in brushes made from natural hair because they say they last longer. A drawback of brushes made from natural hair like squirrel is that they take longer to dry when you clean them. In the end, each type of brush has its own pros and cons so it's really up to you to decide which type of brush you'd rather invest in. This is just but a little guide to help you choose the perfect brush for you.

So to summarize, here's something that might help you next time you go makeup brush shopping:

powder eyeshadow
- natural hair

powder blush
- natural hair preferably made from pony or squirrel

face powder
- also natural hair preferably made from pony or squirrel
- brands to check out: Shu Uemura pony brushes, Bobbi Brown pony blend brushes and Japonesque squirrel blend brushes

- synthetic fibers preferably made of Taklon

- synthetic fibers
- check out Stila's concealer brush

lipstick brush
- synthetic fibers

eyebrow - synthetic fibers preferably made from nylon

If, in the end, you just can't imagine using some poor little squirrel's hair on your face, then there are equally good synthetic brushes out there. For fans of synthetic, "cruelty-free" brushes, you might want to check out the following:

Paula Dorf brushes
Red Earth's synthetic eye makeup brushes
Urban Decay brushes*
The Body Shop brushes*
E.L.F Cosmetics brushes*

*Thanks to Fluxcore Magazine for these suggestions!


jillsabs said...

i never really thought of brushes as being particularly anti-animal, i mean don't they just clip off a part of their tail and won't that grow back again?

eeep! that sounds so naive no? :P

but aren't brushes a way lesser evil than say, fur coats, which use animal pelts?

Sumbongera said...

Me too!!! Haha! I never really thought it actually hurts the animals. I thought it was just like shearing sheep for wool or something like that, hehe... I don't know how they go about it though and I seriously hope no animal gets hurt in the process.

But yeah, I think using natural hair fibers is definitely milder than using fur coats! That's just not right.

Liz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Liz said...

thanks, mia!

this is very helpful.. :-) i also planned to do a short (i usually post short entries anyway, kasi tamad ako.. haha!) article about this.. pero dysfunctional pa utak ko.

urban decay has always been animal friendly. i love them for that.

anyway, animals DO get hurt ( er, killed, most of them) in the process. goats are shorn like sheep, pony brushes are from slaughtered horses (for their meat), and some makeup brushes (squirrel, etc..) actually come from fur farms (yup.. where fur coats are 'harvested'):

*sorry, had to deleted my previous comment. typo. :-p

Sumbongera said...

The animals get hurt? Oh no... I didn't know.. I'll definitely consider that when I buy makeup brushes!

Mushu said...

Hi girl!

I must say that is the best article i found on the net about brushes.. being a makeup late-bloomer that i am.. i have always wondered which is best for what.. now i got the straight-forward answer i need. thanks much..

Hope it's ok if i repost this on my multiply(i'll include your link)

thanks again.. keep posting good stuff!