Monday, March 5th, 2012

Rant & Rave

This Week’s Topic: SYNTHETIC MAKEUP BRUSHES!

Your Mission: Tell us what you love, hate, or are otherwise indifferent to about synthetic makeup brushes. What drives you bananas? What makes them necessary?

Discussion and debate are highly encouraged, and we expect community members to participate respectfully. When asking a question, please check the FAQ section (above) for information about purchasing, price, dupes, and the like. If you have general feedback or need technical support, please contact us.

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44 thoughts on “Rant & Rave: Synthetic Makeup Brushes

  1. I hate when they’re not thick enough, makes them unusable…

  2. Chelsea

    Synthetic brushes are definitely best for liquid or cream products. I use synthetic brushes for almost everything because I find a lot of natural bristles/animal fur to be itchy on my extremely sensitive skin.

  3. I adore synthetic brushes. The technology has gotten to a place where I don’t really even see a need for animal hair brushes if you have good quality synthetics. They’re the best for working with creams as creams can break down non-synth brushes, and they don’t (in my experience) soak up excess product so what you put on the brush will end up on your skin. I supposed that could be bad if you use too much of something that’s highly pigmented!

  4. No ranting from me. I thoroughly in love with my oh so real texture Royal & Langnickle Greenline/S.I.L.K. SYNTHETIC brushes.

    Sigmas I only own the Sigmax/Precision ones but they are excellent as well.

    I only have one Real Techiniques brush as they are impossible to get without spend $40 in shipping and it’s the stippling brush. Probably the only synthetic stippling brush that actually works the way it should.

  5. Love ‘em! Real hair brushes tend to be scratchier in my experience. Plus, it’s my understanding that animal cruelty is often involved in getting the hairs for real hair brushes, so I’m happy not to be contributing to that.

  6. Suselew

    I only buy synthetic brushes. I have found that there is a synthetic brush made for every makeup function making natural hair brushes unnecessary. Cruelty-free in cosmetics should include makeup brushes, too. Sigma, IT Cosmetics and Hourglass make high quality synthetic brushes.

  7. Madison

    i love synthetic brushes. i don’t mind having to go back in and get some more powder eyeshadow or whatever it may be. my main concern with brushes is how loose or condensed they are and what their shape is. i don’t care if they’re synthetic or not.

  8. powell

    I hate it when the bristles come out during makeup application.

  9. Liz

    Love them! Although the only downside is anytime I clean mine the soap seems to leave a residue on the bristles.

    Does anyone know how I can get rid of this?

    • I haven’t had that problem – I use baby shampoo and it seems to rinse out well.

    • Hi there. I use a cleanser like Dawn Detergent as it cuts grease so if you are using it for your foundation it makes it disappear in a second. Mine is squeaking and rinsing easily. I get the one gentle for hands and it is amazing:)

      • Liz

        I’ll try that out!

        Most of my synthetic brushes are fine, but I have this one from Sephora, an airbrush foundation brush, and it is impossible to properly clean. I’ve tried baby shampoo, organic bar soap, dish soap, and everything seems to leave a residue or not clean it properly.

  10. Selenite

    RAve! Cheaper, softer, and cruelty free.

  11. Dinitchka

    I have no pref over animal hair brushes and synthetic, though I have more synthetic than animal hair. Some of my fav brushes are Crown (a set bought from Haute Look) and they are animal cruelty free. I have a few brushes picked up at Wam-Lart which are synthetic and for a cheaper brush, they are really nice.

    • Suselew

      Don’t be fooled by Crown Brush. They were illegally using PETA’s logo. I talked directly with PETA about them. They are not a cruelty-free company. They provide brushes for a lot of companies, like the new Rae Morris brushes who also tried to use the PETA logo illegally and PETA put a stop to that, too. If you want cruelty-free brushes, contact PETA or go to caringconsumer.org to verify truly cruelty-free products.

  12. Kathy S.

    Synthetic brushes used to be inferior in just about every way. They were honestly one step up from the watercolor brushes that we used in school. Now, when you use a brush from Real Techniques or MAC, it’s not the same scratchy experience. That said, I prefer natural brushes for powder application, but synthetic is a must-have for creamy products. I like ELF’s Contour and C brushes for my Color Tattoo application and all of my detail brushes are synthetic.

  13. Veronica

    I actually prefer them, since I use a lot of cream based makeup. It makes them easier to rinse out afterwards given the lower absorption. They can be tricky to find good quality ones sometimes, though. For really delicate eye areas, I’m generally willing to shell out a little extra for a natural hair brushes.

  14. Miss J

    It seems like there are a lot more synthetic brush options now than there used to be many years ago when I first got into makeup. I think that’s a great thing for people looking for all cruelty-free/vegan brushes. My favorite brushes for use with pigments are MAC #231 & #224, which are both synthetic. Synthetic brushes have always been my favorite with pigments. I almost always use a synthetic for my foundation.

    The only thing I dislike about synthetic brushes is sometimes they seem too soft, and I feel that at certain times a brush with coarser texture is needed. I feel like my natural hair brushes pack on pressed eye shadow better, and I’ve never met a synthetic blending brush that I’ve liked for eye work.

    I love brushes, so I have a good mix of both, but I find that for eye makeup unless it’s pigment or cream, I always find myself reaching for a natural hair bristle over synthetic.

  15. tigress

    I will only use synthetic makeup brushes because they are vegan and cruelty free.

  16. Samuel

    Synthetic brushes are very necessary. Dont look at them as a cheap alternative to a natural fiber brush. Synthetic brushes deposit more color than natural fiber brushes making them a great tool for dramatic or intense color applications.

  17. Marian

    Rave! I’m using more and more cream products and synthetic is the only way to go with those!

  18. Mayra

    It is usually harder to pick up the product with them…

  19. Sally

    For me there is only love for synthetic brushes. You can use them with creams and gels and they are much more environmentally friendly. Moreover, for me, my synthetic brushes seem to last longer and have a much more consistant texture. I have Sigma’s Ms. Bunny set and adore it. Some other favs are Sonia Kashik and Japonesque.

  20. I love synthetic makeup brushes. I have very few animal hair brushes anymore and that’s due to the fact that I’ve found some great cruelty free brushes. The only brush I haven’t found a perfect synthetic dupe for is the MAC 224. I love the Real Techniques brushes, I love Too Faced’s brushes and I love ecoTools brushes. Urban Decay makes some nice brushes, too.

    I guess my only complaint is that I feel like people think that synthetic means inferior, and I really don’t think that’s the case.

    • shelly

      Illamasqua has one you may like. (Blending Brush #2, I think. Available only through their website, though, and for about the same money as a 224.) There is one in Sigma’s “Bunny” kits as well (synthetic version of the E40), but you’d have to buy the entire kit since they’re not sold individually (which is a bit of a shame, IMO).

  21. Lauren

    They’re so flipping hard to clean!! >:( My angled eyeliner brush is never fully clean because I can’t get all of the product out of the bristles, and don’t even get me started on my concealer brush. I use it for my cream shadows and it is stained to high heaven because I can’t clean it completely!

  22. Kide

    I love synthetic brushes because they are so so soft. The Body Shop brushes are my favourite but Ecotools brushes are a very good option too. I have very sensitive skin so natural hair brushes actually irritate visible redness on my face and since that is my major issue to begin with I hardly ever use natural hair brushes anymore. Synthetic brushes are also easier to clean and animal friedly of course.

  23. Heidi

    I only use synthetic brushes because they’re cruelty free and vegan, plus they feel better and softer. I adore OCC, Cozzette, Illamasqua, Sigma sigmax and EcoTools brushes. Mac has some synthetic brushes too that are great, like 252,242,190,210,209,211 etc. The new generation of vegan brushes are absolutely fantastic! They perform really well.

  24. Safyre

    From my experience, my synthetic brushes are softer and tend not to shed as much as my animal-brushed do. However, I notice that if they are to shed, big chunks come out rather than say, a bristle or two :/

  25. I like synthetic brushes because they don’t have any animal in them. The only non synthetic brush I own is the MAC 217

  26. Jocelyn

    I would never buy a makeup brush made from animal fur.
    Which is why I like Urban Decay brushes.

  27. dont own enough of them…but the ones I own are ok.

  28. Love them! I don’t like animals getting hurt just because i want to look pretty

  29. I used to be a strictly natural bristles gal, but since I bought a set of Illamasqua brushes last year, I’ve become a synthetic convert!

    The illamasqua range are among the most convincing natural bristle dupes I’ve found in a synthetic range. They’re still pricey, but the cruelty free aspect is something I feel happier buying into.

    The only brush I can’t put down that’s natural bristled is my MAC 217!

  30. Nancy

    I only use synthetic because they are cruelty free. I have MAC synthetic, Tokidoki, Sonia Kashuk and others, they are all great and I clean them with a little baby shampoo.

  31. Erica C

    As long as you get good quality brushes they are so soft, easy to clean and dries superfast. I get perfect results with both liquid and mineral make up and none of my brushes have ever shed.

    And the best reason for buying synthetic brushes: no squirrels got hurt in the making. ;)

    Love it!

  32. I have almost turned completely synthetic as I don’t have to worry about walking around with bristles on my face and the application is so smooth. They are also very easy to clean! I still love my 239 and some eyeshadow brushes that cannot be replaced but I could swap out for foundations and such easily. Thanks!

    • ViennaGal

      Illamasqua do an eyeshadow brush that is THE dupe for the MAC 239. Try it, it’s pretty awesome (as are the rest of their brushes). As for eyeshadow brushes, Cozzette and OCC do great ones.

      HOWEVER, I am on the lookout for a synthetic equivalent of the 217. Anyone know of one?

  33. Melissa

    I love my Real Technique synthetic buffing and stippling brushes for applying foundation, concealer and cream blush. They don’t shed, are easy to clean and don’t leave hair on my face.