The Science Behind Natural vs Synthetic Makeup Brushes

Makeup essentials include beauty products such as foundation, powder and concealers but equally important are makeup tools that give the face a flawless finish.

Makeup tools have evolved in recent years. Now there are different kinds of beauty blenders and makeup brushes for every part of your face.

The makeup brush that goes on the eyelids is not ideal for concealer application under the eye. Knowing the specific makeup brushes to use allows you to achieve seamless application of products.

Makeup brushes available in the market are either natural or synthetic. Let’s find out the differences between the two.

Natural Makeup Brushes: What Are They Made Up Of?

The most significant difference between natural and synthetic makeup brushes is how they are made. As the name suggests, natural makeup brushes are made up of animal hair and fur.

The natural hair comes from animals such as horses, badgers, boar, goats, squirrels, foxes, mink and sable. This is the hair that can be presumed animals shed but the possibility of specifically gathering it is not far from possible.

A makeup brush either has hair from the same animal or a combination of different ones. Every animal’s hair has a different shingle pattern. This is why they can be different in applying and picking makeup.

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Natural makeup brushes usually use goat hair because of its medium stiffness, and high bushiness as well as higher pickup and release. Alongside that, it has a large diameter. Squirrel, sable and pony are next in line.

After collection, the hair is hand-tied, hand-crafted and hand-bunched. Considering the hair is natural, it feels very soft and luxurious on the skin. But there is one other advantage.

The natural hair on the brushes has cuticles that can absorb oils and lift powdery pigment. That allows for seamless application and blending on the face.

This makes the natural makeup brushes ideal for use with powder-based makeup products such as bronzer, eyeshadow, powder blushes and setting powders. The hairs on these brushes fan out, assisting in blending and contouring.

A Look Into Synthetic Makeup Brushes

Earlier synthetic makeup brushes used spun and melted polymers such as nylon and plastic. These were flat and stiff fibers that could not stick powder products on a flat surface.

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This is why synthetic makeup brushes were only compatible with products with a liquid consistency. Therefore, they were better for cream or liquid foundations and concealers. Also, they were rough, flat and stiff so they made for good precise application which was essential for eyebrow pomades, lipsticks and eyeliners.

However, over time synthetic makeup brushes have greatly improved. The bristles gravitate towards one another which results in a smoother and streak-free application.

The material Taklon is made from thermoplastic polyester to make bristles that resemble natural sable hair. It is softer than nylon brushes and can also pick powders better but it is still not as good as natural makeup brushes to absorb powdery pigments or oils.

By narrowing the diameter of the fibers and by making a suitable toe shape, the synthetic brushes have been able to improve their pickup, payoff and softness.

That said, there have been even better advancements in synthetic makeup brushes not keeping them far behind natural brushes.

Newest Improvements

There have been attempts to replicate goat hair. The process roughs the surface structure of polyester fiber with texturizing additives. The resulting rough microscopic structure acts like a natural cuticle and picks up powdered products even better than a goat’s hair.

Besides that, there have been successful efforts in extracting fiber from manufacturing machines like it grows out of the skin of animals. Thus, you get a more natural style of fiber. It is soft has less fall out and can work on powders equally well.

How to Clean Makeup Brushes at Home

So you may wonder whether you should go for natural or synthetic makeup brushes. Let’s find that out below.

Choosing Between Natural vs Synthetic Makeup Brushes

Both of these brush types come up with their pros and cons. The beauty industry cares more about flawless makeup whether it is skin-like or not. To achieve that, the tools used should be effective in blending the product.

Natural and Synthetic Makeup Brushes can both achieve a flawless look provided they are used with the right product. Natural Makeup Brushes can pick up and release powder pigments and oils so they are thought to be ideal for bronzer, powder blushes and eyeshadows.

Previously synthetic brushes were thought to be better for only liquids but now they are also equipped to pick powder pigments. Therefore, while comparing the two, we should look beyond their application.


Getting fur or hair from animals may not be an ethical process behind the scenes. Some animals are tortured or even killed to get their fur. While there are a few companies that ethically source hair by brushing the animals when they are in their shedding cycles, not many consumers would prefer any harm done to animals.

Synthetic brushes do not use any hair keeping in line with animal safety. Therefore, if animal harm is a legitimate source of concern, choosing synthetic brushes is the better option.


The bristles in natural makeup brushes have cuticles that can trap product, bacteria and dead skin cells. The oils and powder pigments are easily absorbed in the brush. As a result, it is harder to clean them. And if not cleaned properly there is the danger of breaking out.

Synthetic brush fibers are smooth and will not absorb oils so it is easier to clean and also do not dry out. Moreover, the bristles will not fall off in your makeup. Hence, from a hygiene point of view, these brushes fare better.


Synthetic brushes are cheaper than natural ones because it is easier to mass-produce them. The process of making natural brushes will be more costly and time-consuming which in turn will increase their price.


Natural hair fibers are durable but they may dry out after cleaning leading to shedding. Earlier synthetic brushes couldn’t beat natural brushes in durability but these days, they can keep their shape and last a long while.


Keeping the differences between natural and synthetic makeup brushes in mind, it won’t be wrong to say that synthetic brushes are the future. They are advancing to become even better and product pick up, blending and payoff.

Additionally, they are more ethically sourced, are cheaper, easier to clean and can also last a long time. The makeup brands will surely choose to produce more synthetic brushes that are mass-produced and will get more in demand due to ethical concerns.

Filed under: Makeup & Hair, Tips and Myths

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