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Brush Craft: What Makes A Great Brush?

The world of beauty brushes is overwhelming. From the type of hair, to the design, to the way it is manufactured, everything can affect the quality of a makeup brush and every brush maker seems to do things a little differently. With this series of blogs, we aim to demystify this vast and often misunderstood corner of the beauty community.

The Basics of a Great Brush

Hair

The most complex part of a brush is the hair. It can be natural, synthetic, or a blend of both, all of which affects the price of the brush. Natural is usually the most expensive as the processing is much more in depth. Natural hair is popular with powder products as each individual hair has organic texture that helps pick up product. Blends of natural and synthetic hair are less common but some brush makers utilize this blend, hoping to highlight the best qualities of both in one brush. Strictly synthetic hair is the most common in the beauty market and can be the cheapest, but needs the expertise of experienced manufacturers. If a brush maker doesn’t use multi-diameter filaments or use fibers with a specially textured surface, makeup is harder to pick up and deposit as the surface of the hair is essentially smooth. No matter what, hair should feel relatively soft or smooth, never rough, scratchy, or unyielding.

Design

Brush design can be a long and detailed process that dances between form and function to create a brush that will be aesthetically appealing and apply makeup well. Almost all brush makers will have a range of classic head shapes (powder, foundation, crease, etc) and a few more innovative shapes that are great for specialty makeup. Novelty shapes (hearts, roses, flowers, etc) are cute for display but tend not to apply makeup well as their design is focused more on looks than performance. When curating a collection, try to pick a good mix of classic and innovative shapes so you can try any makeup look with ease.

Ferrule

While often overlooked, the ferrule is kind of like the nerve center of the brush. It holds the bristles and handle in place and is paramount to the durability of the brush overall. Ferrules can be made from a variety of metals and plated in nickel or chrome. While aluminum is one of the most common and durable ferrule materials, any ferrule should be able to withstand daily use without bending, denting, or changing color.

Handle

Finally, the handle is where a brush can show off its “personality” and is what many consumers are drawn to the most. Generally, handles come in three sizes - artist length, standard, and travel. There is no correct size - it all depends on your preference! But handle materials are another story. Traditionally, all brush handles were made of wood and some purists still seek out wooden handles. However, wood breaks down and is also slightly porous, meaning the glue in the ferrule holding everything together will be slowly absorbed by the wood over time and cause the brush to break or become loose. Polymer or acrylic handles are much more durable and long lasting, and can even be eco-friendly thanks to advances in manufacturing technology. Don’t be tantalized by a pretty handle alone - check to see what it’s made out of and make sure it feels solid in your hand.

Choosing a great brush can be difficult and these tips are by no means exhaustive. Your best resource for finding exactly what need, though, is at your fingertips - emailing us, the brush experts! With over 70 years of experience, we can help you with any and all questions you have concerning brushes and point you in the right direction.