Ollie wanted to know what the differences between natural-haired and synthetic-haired makeup brushes are, and also the use of a kabuki brush.
As you know, makeup brushes come in many different types, shapes and sizes. The main difference between the brushes is the type of bristles used (for different purposes). They are either synthetic- or natural-haired.
Physical Difference between Naturals and Synthetics
Synthetic brush bristles are softer and smoother upon touch. Now I know that natural hair bristles can also be very soft, but at first touch, synthetic brushes are softer and appear more shiny. Natural-haired brushes feel just a tad rougher compared to synthetic-haired brushes. That does not mean they are better; just that they are meant for different uses.
Synthetic-Haired Makeup Brushes
- Man-made, using either nylon or polyester filaments.
- Common types are taklon and nylon. These are very similar to the taklon or nylon paintbrushes you see at art stores.
- Less prone to damage from makeup and solvents
- Easier to keep clean compared to natural-haired brushes as the filaments do not trap or absorb pigment.
- As the bristles are very smooth, they don’t hold powders very well. Thus, they are better suited for soft layering of powder, or best for application of creams (liquid/cream foundation, cream blushes, cream eyeshadows, etc).
Natural-Haired Makeup Brushes
- Natural-haired brushes are made from natural hair like squirrel( very soft) , badger (firm), pony and kolinsky.
- Slightly more difficult to care for compared to synthetic-hair brushes.
- Used for powder makeup applications – face powder, powder eyeshadow, powder blush.
- You can learn more about the different types of natural-haired brushes from Urban Apothecary.
The brushes can come in a variety of colours; it’s just a matter of dyeing the hairs. In general, synthetic-haired brushes can come in a slightly more colourful variety (I’ve seen them in brown, pink, blue, white, etc) compared to natural-haired ones (mostly black, brown or white).
I learned the difference between the brushes the hard way when I used synthetic-haired eyeshadow brushes to apply powder shadows. I experience a lot of powder fall-out upon application. Also, using a synthetic-hair brush on powder (loose or compact) gives me a sheerer cover, whereas the natural-haired one packs more punch per application. I like using a natural-haired blush brush when I use blush which are less pigmented on me, e.g. Benefit Dandelion. When it comes to NARS blushes (except for the Orgasm and Deep Throat, they are extremely pigmented), I use my synthetic-haired blush brush (from Eco Tools) instead so that I have more control over the amount of flush I want.
What is a Kabuki Brush?
A kabuki brush comes in a very short handle, with a lot of bristles firmly packed at its circular base. It’s used for application of mineral foundation, or face powder. The very short handle makes it very easy to buff the powder onto the skin, and the firmly packed bristles in a circle give it more coverage. Its principal purpose is to create an even and thorough coverage of the powder on the face.
This is not to say you cannot use a kabuki brush as a blush brush. But in general, it’s not used for that purpose because you don’t want to accidentally puff too much colour onto your cheeks, making you look like a clown. A proper blush brush is better used for even distribution of colour and natural looking definition on the cheeks, because of its tapered, flat head.
The difference between a face brush and a kabuki brush is that the kabuki brush packs more coverage onto the skin, whereas with a face brush, you’d just want to sweep some powder onto your face to set your liquid foundation. A light sweep of powder will do to avoid the cakey look, and a face brush does just the job.
I hope this has answered your question, Ollie 🙂
Keep the questions coming!