Natural Makeup Brushes Vs. Vegan Makeup Brushes
This is one of the few instances where we don’t want to see the word “natural” printed on the package.
Natural bristle makeup brushes are typically not vegan-friendly, because their “natural” bristles are various types of animal hair.
More troublesome than wiping animal fur on your face is that many of these animal hair brushes are still labeled as cruelty-free, because technically, “cruelty-free” only pertains to animal testing.
While some claim harvesting hair doesn’t hurt the animals, we’d treat this with a healthy dose of skepticism. Animal fur used in makeup brushes is either a product of the extremely problematic fur industry to the equally problematic meat industry.
What are vegan makeup brushes made of?
Vegan brushes are made with synthetic fibers like nylon and polyester. The exact material and quality differ by brand.
Are vegan makeup brushes good?
Ethics aside, synthetic brushes are better than animal hair brushes on several levels.
They’re more durable and resistant to damage, and, unlike animal hair, synthetic fibers are non-porous. This makes them hypoallergenic, resistant to bacterial and microbial growth, and easier to clean.
Because the feathery-soft bristles don’t break, shed, or lose flexibility, synthetic fibers deliver a better performance over a wider variety of makeup types—like applying cream foundations, liquids, and gels.
The soft bristles yields better blending and a less blotchy finish.
Making Your Synthetic Bristles More Sustainable
Learning which makeup brushes are vegan is the first step toward conscious cosmetic application. Then we need to know how to make them more sustainable makeup brushes, too.
Unfortunately, synthetic bristles don’t have a good end-of-life outcome. They’re not compostable and take years to biodegrade.
While there are plenty of wood and bamboo makeup brushes out there, so far there are no options with entirely plant-based bristles—meaning there are no zero waste makeup brushes that are also vegan.
To compost your bamboo makeup brush, you’ll need to remove the bristles first.
We still believe that when a choice has to be made, concern over potential waste must take a backseat to animal welfare.
However, we also believe in not being haphazard about your brushes to ensure they last longer.
Firstly, the most sustainable makeup brushes are the ones you already have. If you don’t need to replace them, don’t.
If your brushes do need replacing, seek a secondhand set that has been well looked after.
The next best thing is to buy high-quality vegan cruelty-free makeup brushes, and only to buy what you need. Minimalism also means minimal impact!
Proper brush care and maintenance can also drastically improve the lifespan of your synthetic brushes.
This means washing your brushes thoroughly and often, and letting them fully dry. Leaving makeup to cake and clump in the bristles is the shortest path to early brush retirement (and smudged makeup).
When they start losing bristles or don’t work as well anymore, try to repurpose instead of throwing them away.
Maybe your children could use them for arts and crafts. If not, see if a local school or daycare could use them.