Almost all personal care products, including make-up such as lipstick, mascara, and nail polish, contain a lot of chemicals and toxins. In addition, there’s a huge amount of cruelty involved in the manufacture of these products due to them being tested on animals.
Then there are those of us who use brushes to apply make-up because they make it easier to control application, blend, and create a natural look, without adding dirt or grease from our fingers. When we’re carefully choosing cosmetics made by companies that don’t test on animals, we also need to consider the tools we use. If we don’t want to wear fur, or leather, we should be mindful that our brushes aren’t made from animal hair.
Most make-up brushes available today are made using the hair of animals. The animals that unwillingly donate their hair to these brushes include: badgers, goats, horses (sometimes called “pony”), mink, sable, and squirrels. The different hair is used in brushes because each type offers its own unique advantages and strengths.
As for how the hair is sourced, mink and sable is obtained through the barbaric and cruel fur industry where animals are trapped in the wild or raised on fur farms before being killed for their skin, either by electrocution or gassing. Badgers and squirrels are hunted or trapped for their hair, goats are shorn like sheep, and the horses are slaughtered for their meat.
The workers responsible for gathering this hair are often paid by volume and therefore the methods used to obtain as much as possible are often extremely painful to the animals, if even still alive. In addition, a lot of make-up brush manufacturers source the animal hair from countries where there is little, or no, animal protection legislation or regulation.
There is only one way to ensure no animals have been harmed in the making of make-up brushes and that is to choose synthetic. It isn’t ideal to have to choose between animal cruelty or something unnatural, but causing no harm to another sentient being should trump the desire to eradicate synthetic fibres.
In choosing synthetic brushes there are additional benefits over those that are made from animal hair, such as repelling bacteria and dirt more effectively and being easier to clean, limiting exposure to known allergens, and resisting shedding. In addition, synthetic brushes aren’t coated in preservatives to stop the hair from dying. Synthetic brushes are in fact an excellent choice for all cream- and power-based make-up products and are still able to offer an even application.
10 Better Options
There are an increasing number of companies who are focused on cruelty-free and eco-friendly products, and in comparison to ten years ago there are a lot more high-quality synthetic make-up brushes available. One Green Planet has previously talked about why we should switch to synthetic options, while recommending a couple of great brands. Below we build on this list to name ten fantastic brush options:
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