Kit Basics

9 Best Cruelty-Free Brushes for Pro Makeup Artists

Brushes are essential to any makeup kit, but they are not all created equal. Here are Tahira's favourite vegan and cruelty-free brush brands for pro-MUA's.

Ethics

Cruelty free brushes

Table of Contents

Introduction

Cruelty-free brushes are made with synthetic hair and have existed for many years. The overall quality of synthetic fibre brushes has dramatically improved in the last 5-10 years, with technology dedicated to creating brush hairs designed for makeup application or to replicate real hair.

Buying high quality cruelty free brushes ensures a long lasting tool that is effective and performs well over time. The fibers deposit products and/or blend makeup as it should, remaining soft and comfortable on the skin even after lots of washing.

There are millions (literally) of low quality synthetic makeup brushes on the market – which have a heavy impact on the environment and animal welfare.

This is because of the large scale manufacture of the polyester fibers (ie: they are petroleum-based, non-biodegradable and energy intensive to produce) much of which is made in China – where animal rights policies are questionable in the cosmetic industry.

Not to mention, cheap cruelty-free brushes shed their fibres more easily, meaning small plastic hairs are being sent down the drain when they are washed and just into the environment at large.

1. Louise Young Cosmetics

 Not only is Louise a lovely person and a talented artist, she also has a fabulous brush line. Recently, Louise  switched her whole brush range top vegan fibres and the quality is exceptional. 

The Louise Young Brush Collection is definitely designed for professional makeup artists, but work well for avid amateurs as well.  

The range come in a variety of shapes, perfect for the whole face.

2. Real Techniques

Sam and Nic Chapman are an amazing pair of sisters, also known as Pixiwoo . In case you don’t know, they single-handedly (double-handedly really) revolutionized the way young people learned about makeup. Tutorials had been around for a while, but not like this. 

Finally Real Techniques was born in 2011, an affordable range of cruelty-free brushes designed by pros.

Real Techniques Brushes  are available everywhere and according to their site monitor their manufacturing practices. They also have a variety of qualities and styles.

3. EcoTools

We really like EcoTools for the brand’s overarching principles that include using bamboo handles, using recycled materials and have a strong philanthropic mission.  EcoTools brushes are inexpensive and convenient and come in some great sets. Their website promises exciting new biodegradable seed paper packaging this autumn.

4. So Eco

So Eco Brushes are relatively new to the scene and seem to be found online at larger retailers like Look Fantastic, but also in supermarket beauty sections and pharmacies. Their brush and tool sets are simple and basic like EcoTools, designed more for personal use. 

However, with their low price point they are a great place to get your cruelty-free brush selections started.

5. Artis

Artis brushes revolutionized the shape of makeup brushes several years ago. Artis were  the first company using synthetic fibres specifically designed for cosmetics.

The hairs are so densely packed and fine that they act almost like a sponge.  These cruelty free brushes have been imitated by many, but never duplicated.

My personal favourites are Oval 3, 4 and 6.

6. Nanshy

I really love the fluffy eye brushes by Nanshy. They are super soft, but keep the colour focused and concentrated. I do like the face brushes as well, but have been vey taken by the eye set. They wash easily and retain their shape and feel. 

Just a MUA note, there is an option for white handles, but I assure you they will never stay that way – opt for the black ones if you can!

7. My Kitco

We love these brushes especially the My Kitco Pro Brush Range  There are lots of funny little shapes and sizes, perfect for intricate work, along with all the standard shapes. 

Created by the amazing artist, James Molloy. This line of brushes is vast and offers a brush for every occasion, and they have a great selection of kit bags and accessories  to choose from.

8. EmJ Company

This is a capsule collection of vegan makeup Brushes created by cruelty-free makeup artist EmJ, who is passionate about a plant-based lifestyle. The EmJ Company Brush collection that complements her selection of Brush belts, pencil rolls etc. the limited collection has a few sets as well if you are looking for a little collection the long handles are perfect for the pro-MUA brush belt or holder.

9. Kit Stars

This newer brush company advertises itself as a Luxury Makeup brushes at affordable prices. Kit Star Brushes have handles that are coated in black lacquer and the ferrules are copper and gold plate apparently. These brushes come in more ”Makeup Artist” shapes and the fibers are extremely soft and blend well. Watch out for using highly pigmented items with these brushes as the fibers are white and come sometimes get stained.

Caring for Your Makeup Brushes

During the workday, we constantly sanitize our brushes, and in the current climate, this will be more important than ever. So it’s important that we wash our brushes well to extend their life and keep our clients, models and actors safe.

Between Washes:

You can use 99% Alcohol (IPA) or a natural hand sanitiser such as Dr. Bronner‘s (in an emergency, which contains 62% alcohol) sprayed onto a cloth/pad, which is washable so it saves on tissues.

Reach For The Bars:

To wash our brushes, we often use a solid shampoo like OSCA  London Tea Tree soap which has a refillable bar and contains organic oils that care for the bristles and leave your brushes smelling amazing. Also, the lid has those handy nubbly bits, perfect for really getting makeup out!

Degrease:

For foundation/concealer and lip brushes, use an eco-friendly anti-bacterial hand soap like Bio D Sanitizing Wash (which you can get in giant 5 L sizes and refill) to help lift the grease off the bristles.

 

Tahira's Top Tip

ALWAYS leave your brushes to dry flat on the edge of a counter to let the air pass through and dry them properly in between the fibres.

Conclusion

A good makeup brush, well taken care of, will last you forever. 

Some brushes in our kits are 20+ years old! A good brush in good condition never gets discarded,  although often they do go missing. But you can usually find them in one of three places:

  • In your SFX makeup bag;
  • In an assistant’s brush roll;
  • or at the bottom of our personal makeup bags!

As with most things in life, it is best to invest in the best quality brushes you can afford and take care of them. They land up being far more affordable in the long run

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