Aug. 30, 2023
Makeup brushes are essential to the craft. In fact, some might say that an artist is only as good as his or her tools. Whether or not you believe that mantra, it is undeniable that quality brushes to make a difference in your work. But have you ever wondered how your makeup brushes are constructed? From handle length, to choosing bristle type, to density and length of bristles, manufacturers have to consider the wide range of tasks a brush is needed for. Let's take a dive into the world of makeup brushes and see exactly how they are made!
A makeup brush consists of three main parts: the bristles, the ferrule and the handle.
The bristles are the active end of the makeup brush. They are what picks up product and applies it to the face or body. The very tip of the bristles is called the "toe", and the end of the bristles that are secured into the ferrule are the "heel". The length, softness, shape and amount of hairs in the brush are dictated by what makeup application and products the brush has been designed for.
The ferrule is the metal piece that holds in the bristles and secures them to the handle of the brush. The ferrule is usually made of metal and less commonly from plastic. The bristles are held in place by the top of the ferrule, which is sometimes pinched flat, and has a good dollop of glue. The bottom of the ferrule is glued to the handle.
Protecting the ferrule of the brush is essential to ensuring its longevity. To keep your brushes from falling apart, take great care to prevent water from settling into the ferrule, as water can cause the glue to loosen in the brush's internal structure, which can lead to a broken brush. To keep your brushes happy, hold the hairs of the brush downward toward the flow of water while washing, so that the water trickles away from the ferrule. Once you've finished cleaning, lightly squeeze off the water with your fingers and lay the brushes flat on a clean towel. Allow the ends of the brushes to overhang to allow for faster, more complete drying.
Handles can be made from wood, resin or plastic. Today, some are even made from recycled or sustainable materials. The handle is where any brand logo and other information about the brush (like it's purpose or size) is printed. Brushes are made with varying lengths, depending on their intended purpose. For example, a set of travel brushes might have shorter handles to offer ease of use when packing or traveling. Long handles tend to give the artist more control, as the closer to the end of the handle the artist holds the brush, the less pressure and pigment applied.
The bristles of a makeup brush can be made from animal hair or synthetic hair, or a combination of the two.
• ANIMAL HAIR
Animal hair bristles are often referred to as "natural" bristles and often come from animals, including goats, squirrels, weasels (also called sable) and horses, or a combination of hairs. The type of hair chosen depends on the softness and cost desired by the manufacturer.
Animal hair has been traditionally used for makeup brushes for decades. The cuticle of the brush hair is layered with an outer coating on the hair shaft, which allows it to pickup and distribute product evenly. Because the bristles are real hair and have a cuticle, this means that natural bristle hairs are not ideal for use with cream products, as they pick up a large volume of cream and can lead to clumping or streaking.
The choice of hair type depends on the intended use of the brush. Sable hair is soft and flexible and comes to a fine tip, which is great from more precise applications. Goat hair is extremely soft, which is great for powders.
• SYNTHETIC HAIR
Synthetic brushes are made from 100 percent manufactured fibers, such as nylon and polyester. These bristles, therefore, do not have a cuticle and are very smooth. Synthetic bristles trap less product than natural bristles, making them the perfect choice for applying gels, creams and liquids. Some synthetic brushes are specifically made for applying powder and some great models are on the market today, making them a more sustainable substitute for natural bristles. Synthetic bristles are made in factories where the hair can be created, sorted, cut, and dyed. In fact, synthetic bristles are often dyed black or brown to mimic the look of natural bristles.
The types of brushes you choose are up to personal preference. It is a good idea to have a mixture of different choices, including natural and synthetic hairs. Keep a 100% synthetic brush set on hand, as many clients have vegan friendly preferences, or may even have an allergy to the type of natural bristles in your kit. Always stay educated about your manufacturers methods and materials to make sure your brushes are not only good for your client, but also for the environment.
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