Nov. 01, 2023
MAKEUP BRUSH CONSTRUCTION
Understanding the construction of quality makeup brushes and how to test them will help you make smart choices when curating a collection for your pro kit.
I want to make sure your investment will pay you back with years of solid performance.
THE BRUSH BRISTLES
These are the brush "hairs" (natural or synthetic). The bristle tips are called the Toe, and the base is called the Heel.
The Toe gets its shape one of two ways:
1.The natural tapered tips of the bristles are gathered and arranged to create a shape (best quality).
2.Gathered tips are cut/sheared to create the shape.
Once the bristles have been given their desired shape, they are tied at the Heel, and the very base of the bristles are dipped in glue to hold them together. Once the glue is set, the bristles are secured (glued) into the Ferrule.
Look at the shape of the brush from all angles. Are the bristles arranged correctly? Do they create a uniform, symmetrical shape?
Now gently tug the brush bristles (I said gently). New brushes will often shed a few hairs, but if more than a few bristles come loose, they were not glued correctly at their base (Heel), and the brush is not well constructed.
Whether they're natural, synthetic or blended, brush bristles should always feel soft and smooth. Certain brushes shapes will feel firmer, but should never feel stiff.
Test the brush by running it across the soft skin on the inside of your wrist or elbow. If the brush feels stiff or prickly on your skin, it's going to feel uncomfortable on the person sitting in your makeup chair. Would you enjoy someone rubbing a stiff, scratchy brush on your face or eyes? I didn't think so – so don't buy it.
THE BRUSH FERRULE
This is the metal band that connects the bristles to the handle. Once the bristles have been shaped and set properly, they are glued into the Ferrule. When you combine the Bristles and Ferrule, it becomes what is known as the brush Head.
Hold the ferrule in one hand and the brush handle in the other. The brush head (ferrule and bristle assembly) should not be loose, spin easily or wobble on the handle.
The metal used to create the ferrule should be rust-proof (aluminum, brass, chrome, etc.) and should not dent or bend easily with finger pressure.The top of the ferrule (where the bristles are inserted) should have a smooth, even edge. If it feels sharp, it was finished cheaply.
NOTE: Brushes with wood or wood composite handles should be "crimped" (those ring indents at the base of the metal ferrule), securing it tightly to where the brush handle is inserted. Gluing the ferrule to a wood or wood composite handle without crimping the ferrule compromises brush stability and durability.
THE BRUSH HANDLE
The Handle of a makeup brush can be made of any number of materials – wood, wood composite, metal, acrylic, etc.
The handle should feel substantial – not too heavy or too light. It should be balanced and comfortable when you hold it in the application position.
Avoid gimmicky handles that don't enhance the performance of the brush. They might look cute or unusual, but if they're uncomfortable to hold while working, or difficult to keep clean and sanitized, they aren't a wise investment.
If your makeup brushes have solid hardwood or composite wood handles – DO NOT submerge them in water.
Wood handles are porous and will absorb water, which will cause the handle to expand (when wet) and contract (when dry). The expanding wood will stretch the metal ferrule where the handle is inserted and cause the entire brush head to become loose or possibly fall off when the wood dries and contracts.
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