Make Up Brushes (Materials)

Rather than smearing and smudging makeup on your face with your fingers and other applicators, get the professional and finished look you desire with the proper use of makeup brushes. A good quality makeup brush set with proper cleaning and care is an investment that will last several years. There are three pieces that compose a makeup brush: the brush, ferrule, and handle. In this article I will explain the different types of each of these.

First we will start with the handle. There are many different materials that can be used to make handles. Metal, acrylic, plastic, bamboo and wood are all used. Many professional makeup artists choose wooden handles for their good quality, control and sustainability.

Next are ferrules. Ferrules are responsible for keeping the bristles intact while also keeping the handle in place. A strong ferrule is very important to a good quality brush. Ferrules can be made from brass, copper or aluminum. Brass ferrules are considered the strongest. Ferrules should be double crimped and seamless to hold the handle firmly in place and keep it from becoming wobbly over time. Ferrules are often coated with nickel or other colored coating to improve the look of the ferrule and protect the metal from corrosion.

Finally we get to the brushes. Brushes are either made from natural hair or synthetic fibers. Natural hair brushes can be made of just one type of hair or can be a mixture of animal hair. Different types of animal hair are better suited for different types of brushes. Factors to consider when choosing a type of animal hair include length, shape of the individual hairs, and texture.

Here are the main types of animal hair used to make brushes:

Badger hair is grey colored and relatively firm. Higher quality badger tapers are long, elastic, and very soft. Badger hair is commonly seen in fan brushes. Since badger tapers are so expensive, other hair is often mixed into the brush to lower the price.

Squirrel hair is a soft hair used for makeup brushes. No, these are not the squirrels you see running around your backyard; they are highly prized longhaired squirrels. Their hair is conically shaped with a very fine point. Squirrel hair is used for powder and blush brushes. Brushes with 100% squirrel hair are highly coveted. Squirrel hair can be mixed with other hair to keep the price down while providing a similar feel.

Pony hair has a cylindrical shape. It is less expensive than other types of hair and is commonly mixed with squirrel hair to cut costs.

Goat hair is very versatile. Sometimes referred to as squirrel subs, goat hair is commonly used as a squirrel hair substitute. The prime cut of goat hair is relatively high quality hair and can make great brushes if they are handmade. The lower grade hair is mass produced for less expensive products that, naturally, have a lower quality.

Sable hair includes Weasel, Red Sable, and Kolinsky Sable hair. The hairs are long and fine. 

Pure Kolinsky Sable hair brushes are the softest, finest, and most expensive of any makeup brush. Other types of sable hair brushes are not as nice but have similar characteristics to the Kolinsky Sable hair.

Synthetic fibers are the alternative to natural hair for makeup brushes. The two main types of synthetic fibers are made from nylon or taklon. Unlike natural hair, which tends to get softer as it is used, synthetic hair gets stiffer after each use.

As you can see, brushes come in all shapes and sizes and can be made from a plethora of natural and synthetic materials. For more information please visit This has been Intern Mitchell for makeup brushes.

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