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This is an image of about 10 makeup brushes splayed out on a table.

These Vegan Makeup Brushes Are Amazing

When I first transitioned to a vegan diet, at first, it was pretty easy.

I easily cut out meat, eggs, and even honey. It seemed pretty straightforward to determine what ingredients were animal-derived, and to avoid them altogether.

Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that animal ingredients were lingering in a ton of things I hadn't before considered. From whey powder buried in my protein bars to the gelatin in my vitamins. I realized I needed to look more closely at my food labels.

Then I started looking at my beauty products, and another world of animal ingredients came running at me.

Besides the testing on animals, animal ingredients were lurking in almost everything I used. Another thing that was astonishing to learn was that most of my makeup brushes had real animal hair. In a world full of synthetic and cruelty-free alternatives, I wondered how this was still the norm?

Luckily, that is not the case anymore, and our options for beauty products and brushes without cruelty are abundant. Consumers across the globe are waking up to the realities of what their products have in them and demanding that brands do better.

We see a continuous wave of brands adopting cruelty-free testing practices and eliminating animal-derived ingredients in their products left and right. It is safe to say cruelty-free and vegan is more than just a trend in the beauty space, and that goes for our makeup brushes, too. 

What is animal hair used in makeup brushes? 

Makeup brushes are often made from squirrel, mink, sable, horse, or goat hair. Most of these animals are raised purely for human use, and in the case of sable and mink, they are products of the cruel fur industry. 

What’s wrong with animal hair brushes? 

Currently, there are very few regulations or laws protecting the welfare of fur animals that are used to make cosmetic brushes. So, while many companies claim that “no animals are being harmed,” no one actually verifies that. 

Again, most animals being used in cosmetics are raised purely for human use and often live in bad conditions. 

What are vegan makeup brushes? 

Most vegan makeup brushes are made with synthetic fibers such as taklon or nylon. Brushes made with artificial bristles are just as soft and durable as animal-derived bristles, but without the cruelty.

As a safe measure, stay away from any products that only proclaim they have “cruelty-free” natural bristles, and opt for fully vegan brushes instead. 

Taklon is a delicate and soft fiber made from polyester. It is pulled and tapered into an excellent point. Taklon is used when a softer fiber is needed, such as in blush or powder brushes. 

Nylon, an incredibly versatile fiber, is used to make a plethora of items. Nylon’s robust and slightly firmer composition makes it great for cosmetic brushes. Nylon is used in brushes where a more sturdy structured brush is needed, such as foundation or concealer brushes.

Additionally, brands can blend the two fibers to get the best of both worlds, and create the perfect brush for each purpose. 

The benefits of vegan makeup brushes 

The first point is a no-brainer; they are always cruelty-free. Many animal hair brush companies claim that they use non-harmful methods to secure the animal hair for the products. Still, as previously stated, this is not a regulated measure, so it’s impossible to know. Vegan brushes are also synthetic and therefore are always cruelty-free. 

As a benefit of not being derived from natural fibers, vegan brushes are naturally hypoallergenic. This means that the risk of people having an allergic reaction to the brushes is quite minimal and makes these brushes ideal for anyone with sensitive skin. 

While the myth used to be that synthetic brushes were not as high of quality, that is not the case. They offer the same in terms of quality, and many are even cheaper to purchase. 

We all know cleaning our brushes regularly is crucial, and synthetic brushes are much easier to clean. Animal hair or fur is much more prone to harboring bacteria because it has an irregular surface, making it easy to get trapped inside. Synthetic fibers do not have surface irregularities, making it harder for bacteria to grow and, therefore, easier to clean. 

How to care for your synthetic makeup brushes 

Cleaning your brushes is important to make them last longer and keep your skin cleaner as you use them. Bacteria and dirt can easily get transferred from the brush onto your skin each time you use it. 

The best cleansers for your brushes include either gentle liquid antibacterial soap or a gentle clarifying shampoo. Anything that adds moisture or has a conditioner should be avoided.

Then it is best to lay your brushes flat to dry so that water stays out of the brush and doesn’t damage the fibers. 

What makeup brushes do you actually need? 

There seems to be a brush in every size and shape these days. Here are some vegan makeup brushes every makeup bag should definitely have, and pick the right ones. 

Powder Brush

A good powder brush is key in your routine. If you are applying products where you don’t want too much coverage look for a light and fluffy brush as it will help you avoid applying too much product. These are ideal for setting powder, blush, and even bronzer.

We love Tatcha Powder Brush.

This brush is wonderfully ergonomically designed, has a natural antibacterial Kiri woof handle and 24k gold ferrule. The individually razor-trimmed bristles are cut to various lengths to hug the contours of your face better. 

Contour Brush

To contour or not to contour. Am I the only one that asks myself that daily? It can be a bit much, and I honestly wonder if anyone can tell through my Zoom meeting, but if you opt to contour, the perfect brush will make all the difference.

Use one that smaller than a powder brush but larger than an eye brush. Yes, we are looking for the goldilocks of brushes here. For a more concentrated application, you’ll want to select an angled brush with soft but dense bristles.

We love Jane Iredale Contour Brush.

This vegan and gluten-free contour brush is a large and flat brush with densely packed bristles. It is luxuriously soft and designed for targeted contouring. 

Foundation brush 

A step in most people’s makeup routine, a foundation brush is key to helping you achieve a perfectly blended base layer. A flat foundation brush is great for liquid or cream foundations, and for a full coverage application, look for a brush with a dense concentration of bristles.

We love Tarte Bamboo Foundation Brush.

High-density fibers packed into this brush help to deliver natural to buildable full coverage with your foundation. It is easy to buff and blend into your skin and provides a flawless finish, great for hiding little imperfections. We also love the luxe, yes sustainable bamboo handle. 

Flat Eye Shadow Brush

A flat brush for eye shadow application is definitely something you’ll want. Thin, synthetic bristles are great for achieving a defined, even coverage on your lids. Whether for your favorite shade or for creating that beloved halo look, this brush will do the trick. Look for one that is small to medium size in comparison to the size of your eyes.

We love: Thrive Causmetics Precision Lid Defining Eyeshadow Brush.

This delicately tapered eyeshadow brush was designed to provide the precision to perfect the eye designs of your dreams. 100% vegan, get that smoky eye without causing harm. 

Eyeliner Brush

Whew, there are many options to pick from here - smudgers, flat brushes, angles brushes - oh my. Ultimately, a slim, wonderful brush is ideal for creating those perfect, precise lines. If you are going for that sought-after winged liner, look for one with an angled side to help you get the best precision.

We love Hourglass Angled Liner Brush.

These short, angled bristles help to ensure a precise, firm, and even stroke for linen and defining eyes. You can easily achieve a polished and professional result every time. 

Brow Brush

Last but certainly not least, good brows are always in style, and the right brow brush will help you keep them in shape. An angled brush helps apply products such as pomades, powders, and waxes. A spoolie, on the other hand, is helpful for grooming and achieving that polished finish.

We love MG Naturals Eyebrow Brush.

This double-ended brush helps you fill in those small gaps and creates defined lines. The spoolie end is perfect for studying up your brows and brushing through for a more natural look. Use the angled side to creating those delicate hairlike strokes.

The best vegan makeup brush brands

EcoTools

From dabbing your setting powder to applying blush, EcoTools has a brush for that. All their products are crafted with sustainable bamboo handles and synthetic taklon bristles, making them a cruelty-free and eco-friendly choice. They are also very affordable and come as individuals or pick up a whole set.

We love: Start the Day Beautifull Kit

This kit includes 6 must-have brushes for your morning routine, including a liner brush, a blush brush, and a carrying case. 

Real Techniques

Another one dedicated to being 100% synthetic and cruelty-free, Real Techniques brushes are great for powder, liquid, and even gel formulas. They help to seamlessly buff the product into your skin for a flawless finish.

We love Complexion Blender Brush.

This unique brush has a swirled cut for blending skincare products into your skin before you put on your favorite makeup. Blending in your lotion with a brush helps to ensure a more even and smooth finish. 

Lime Crime

Coming decorated with glitter-filled handles and amazing colorful bristles, LimeCrime wins for the most fun makeup brushes. Each brush has ultra-soft synthetic bristles that easily glide over your skin as you apply your makeup. They are ideal for an array of formulas to help create your perfect look.

We love Aquamarine Brush Kit.

Packed with 7 essential brushes made with soft, cruelty-free fibers and covers all your makeup needs from eyeshadow to blush and highlighter. We love the glitter handles that sparkle as you move and make your makeup magic. The accompanying liquid glitter pouch is even cute enough to use as a clutch.

PÜR Cosmetics

Since its inception in 2002, PÜR has been dedicated to clean beauty with a mission to offer good-for-you products to its consumers. Their beauty brushes are no different.  Their entire product range is also cruelty-free and vegan.

We love Airbrush Blurring Powder Brush.

This unique brush is cut into a dome shape with tapered bristles. This allows for the best precision and a beautiful blend. The cut of this brush makes it extremely easy to apply powders to small and hard-to-reach areas, like under the eyes. 

Too Faced

A cult favorite in the beauty space, Too Faced has been creating cruelty-free beauty for years. Their makeup brushes are also trendy as they work with both powders and creams and are created for those whole love a little experimentation with their makeup.

We love: Mr. Right Eye Brush Set

This kit features five ultra-soft brushes to help you effortlessly apply the eye look you’ve always longed for. Made with their coined cruelty-free Teddy Bear Bristles, every step seamlessly glides onto your skin. 

Urban Decay

Another popular cruelty-free brand, Urban Decay, is dedicated to stellar makeup. Their brushes are created for every step of your morning routine, from foundation to eyeshadow. Their pro-quality brushes are also good for the environment. The gunmetal handles are made from recycled aluminum, and the soft, synthetic hair is made from recycled plastic.

We love Detailed Smudger Brush.

The smudger brush is tightly packed and has dome-shaped bristles that easily blend cream, pencil, or powder lines. It softly diffuses the hard lines on the crease and lash lines leaving a perfect, not-so-perfect look. 

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NOTE: A product appearing in our blog is not an official Kinder Beauty endorsement. While every product we feature in an article is cruelty-free and vegan, these products do not necessarily meet all of our strict brand standards for curation in one of our boxes. 

Jackie Lutze has been writing about cruelty-free beauty for years and loves finding the best vegan products to help readers build their ultimate beauty routine.