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If you look inside the makeup bag of any vegan, you’re guaranteed to find products with a little bunny on the label and the certification “cruelty-free.”
Lots of people—non-vegans included—are careful to pick cosmetics that are free of animal products and animal testing. However, even if all of your makeup is vegan, what about your makeup brushes?
Sadly, your favorite makeup brush might be made from animal hair: squirrel, goat, horse and even mink are common. Fortunately, however, there are plenty of high-quality vegan makeup brushes on the market.
Buying synthetic is a great step toward making your entire beauty routine cruelty-free.
Why use vegan makeup brushes?
Being a vegan means doing your best to not use animal products at all. On the surface, a tiny mink or “pony” eyeshadow brush may not seem like that big of a deal. However, the truth is that little bit of hair is likely to be a by-product of the fur or meat industry.
Besides the cruelty-free aspect, vegan makeup brush sets have other benefits over their animal hair counterparts. Nonporous eco-friendly makeup brushes are easy to clean and don’t trap as much bacteria.
They also resist shedding and are better for sensitive skin.
Finally, while animal hair brushes only work with powder products, you can use your synthetic brushes to apply cream, liquid, and powder makeup. Contrary to popular belief, quality cruelty-free makeup brushes are also just as soft and luxurious as animal hair beauty tools too.
How do you know if makeup brushes are synthetic?
When shopping for vegan makeup brushes, you’ll need to take extra care to be sure of what you’re buying. The way companies label brushes can be confusing, so you’ll have to double check that any brushes you buy are actually synthetic. For peace of mind, all the brushes we review below are definitely vegan.
The bristles of synthetic makeup brushes should be made of fibers like rayon or polyester. Some companies don’t disclose whether their brushes are rayon, polyester, or a combination of the two.
However, if the brushes are labeled “synthetic” or “vegan,” you can be sure that they don’t contain animal hair.
When shopping for brushes, be wary of the word “natural.” Despite having eco-friendly connotations, manufacturers actually use the word “natural” to indicate that brushes are made of animal hair. If it’s labeled “natural,” it’s not a vegan brush set.
If you’re not sure if a brush is natural or synthetic, there are two definitive ways to tell. First, synthetic fibers reflect light differently than animal hair. Gently bend the bristles of the brush toward the light and you’ll see that synthetic fibers will reflect a lot of light, giving them a distinct shine.
If you’re still not sure, try the pull test. Take a single hair of the brush and try to pluck it out by pulling out and downward. (If you’re in a store, do this discretely or a salesperson might yell at you!) Animal hair will easily pull out of the brush, but a synthetic hair will not budge.
If you want to see what these tests look like, check out this quick video guide:
Finally, there are supposedly “cruelty-free” animal hair brushes on the market, but we recommend steering clear of these. In the case of brushes, companies get to define “cruelty-free” for themselves. Therefore, consumers can’t be sure of the welfare of the animals involved.
There’s really no reason to buy any animal hair brushes with so many quality vegan brushes to choose from. Now that you know how to identify vegan brushes, we’ll move on to discussing how to find the best synthetic makeup brushes for you.
How many brushes do you need?
Just like “natural” brushes, eco makeup brushes come in sets that will please everyone from makeup minimalists to dedicated gurus. You may be tempted to buy your brushes one at a time, but you can often save a lot of money by buying in sets.
Even a gal who goes for the no-makeup makeup look will likely need at least seven brushes for foundation, concealer, powder, brows, lips (don’t forget your Chapstick alternatives, either), and different eyeshadow techniques.
There’s no reason to stop at seven brushes, however. Having a blender brush, angled eyeliner brush, and smudger brush can help you nail that smokey eye. Anyone interested in contouring—from dabblers to pros—can also make use of a fan brush, angled blush brush, and kabuki brush.
All of these are available with synthetic fibers, so you’re free to choose what you need for your signature look.
How do you determine the quality of synthetic brushes?
Once you’ve figured out how many brushes you want, you’ll want to be sure to get a sturdy set. With proper care and regular cleaning, quality synthetic brushes can last indefinitely.
It can be a little tricky to determine the quality of any makeup brush, but there are a few tell-tale things to look for.
First, swipe the brush against a delicate part of your skin, such as the inside of your wrist. The brush should feel soft. Any scratching indicates that the bristles may not have been properly washed or treated while they were being made.
Keep in mind that concealer and liner brushes are supposed to have stiffer fibers, but the brush should not be uncomfortable to use.
Next, run a finger gently through the bristles of the brush to check for shedding. None of the hairs should pop off and float away.
If they do, this indicates that the brush is improperly glued or that the ferrule, the metal ring attaching the bristles to the handle, isn’t tight enough. Either way, a shedding brush won’t last long.
Finally, look for breakage. A vegan makeup brush set will generally be tougher than animal hair brushes, so a new brush should have no broken or out-of-place bristles.
If any hairs are sticking out at strange angles, bent in the middle, or otherwise misshapen, the brush will only continue to fall apart. Don’t buy it!
What sort of handle do your prefer?
Synthetic makeup brushes mostly come with plastic or metal handles, but you can also find sets with handles made of wood or bamboo. Handles also come in varying lengths. Short handles make quick, circular movements easier while long ones are better for control.
If you’re not sure what works best for you, you can visit your favorite makeup store and take a look at what they have in stock. You can also ask your makeup-loving friends if you can see what types of brushes they own.
All of these brushes probably won’t be synthetic, but they’ll at least give you an idea about what handle style works for you.
Best Vegan Makeup Brush Sets Reviewed
Now that you know more about cruelty-free brushes in general, let’s take an in-depth look at some of the best vegan makeup brushes.
Nanshy Masterful Collection Professional Artist Kit
All Nanshy brushes are PETA approved, meaning you can be confident your purchase is cruelty-free.
The Nanshy professional series is known for being super soft and gentle on delicate facial skin. These brushes are also durable, keeping their shape even after long periods of use.
The 12-piece Nanshy Masterful Collection Professional Artist set is available with either onyx black or pearl white handles.
In addition to all the standard brushes like foundation, blush, and blending, this kit also includes some advanced tools like an angled detailer and stippling brush.
Customers say that the synthetic bristles are easy to wash and dry quickly, making the chore of cleaning your makeup brushes a little less of a hassle.
The short, ergonomic handles make these brushes easy to pack and take with you.
However, some of the brushes in this set are very similar and might seem redundant to minimalists or women who like to travel light.
This synthetic brush set does it all, but might be best kept at home.
- 12-pieces provides a wide range of tools
- Super soft, PETA-approved synthetic bristles
- Brushes are easy to wash and dry quickly
- Some duplicate brushes
Crystal Eye Collection from Be You, BEAUTIFULLY
These 10 brushes from Be You, Beautifully are praised for their soft feel, smooth blending, and beautiful packaging.
The synthetic fiber bristles hold product well so your makeup ends up on your face, not your vanity. Some customers proudly claim these are the only makeup brushes they own.
The set has all the necessities for your face but also includes an impressive seven eyeshadow brushes: angled eyeliner brush, detail brush, brow brush, small crease brush, large crease brush, angled eye shadow brush, and lash-brow duo brush.
The bristles of each Be You, Beautifully brush are cut by hand. Clear handles and gold ferrules make this vegan makeup brush set attractive and unique.
However, those clear handles are going to show every fingerprint and speck of stray product. This might be a good reminder to wash your brushes regularly, but it’s also likely to drive clean-freaks crazy.
- Brushes pick up a lot of product and apply it smoothly
- Seven eyeshadow tools
- Superior craftsmanship: each brush is made by hand
- Clear handles will show a lot of dirt and grime
It Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Brush Set The It Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Brush Set comes with six workhorse brushes for foundation, blush, shadow, brows, liner, and detailing. The kit also comes in a convenient stand-up travel case that keeps the brushes organized and clean. The charcoal gray handles are each topped with a shiny crystal, making these brushes seem just a little more special. If you need a gift for any makeup lover—vegan or not—this set also comes wrapped with a bow and gift tag. However, you will probably want to keep these brushes for yourself. Customers love It Cosmetics brushes for their soft feel and shed-free durability. Makeup application is consistent and smooth. If you like firmer, less flexible bristles, these super soft brushes might feel a little too delicate. Devotees of the brand also want shoppers to know that the powder brush in this set is not the big, fluffy brush that It Cosmetics is known for. However, this is a great starter set; there’s no reason why you can’t add on to it later.
Pretty styling with a crystal on the end of each brush Pre-wrapped and perfect for gifting Consistent, smooth application
Bristles may be too soft for people who like more control Set doesn’t come with It Cosmetics’ signature powder brush
Professional Luxury Rose Gold Vintage Rose by Arose Beauty
Another 10-piece set, these brushes by Arose Beauty are designed to strike the balance between firm application and softness on skin.
In addition to the standard brushes, this kit features a buffer brush for smooth foundation application and a multipurpose brush for powders, blushes, and highlighters.
Makeup novices will also appreciate the included guide to help them navigate each brush and its uses. The vegan leather pouch for storing the brushes is understated yet stylish. The rose gold ferrules are pretty and eye-catching, but some people are turned off by the all-white bristles which tend to stain.
Women who are used to wooden handled brushes also found this set a little too light for their taste. For others, however, the lightness might make the brushes easier for daily use or traveling.
Overall, the multi-function brushes and precise application make this set an all-around crowd-pleaser.
- Brushes provide firm application without compromising softness
- Features minimalist-pleasing multipurpose brushes
- Brush guide and stylish carrying case included
- Handles felt too light for some customers
- All-white bristles will inevitably stain
Audre Lorent Pro Makeup Brush Set Audre Lorent brushes are a favorite of professional makeup artists, but don’t be intimidated if you’re a newbie. This 5-piece set is meant to be used by the average girl on a daily basis. The kit comes with a foundation brush, powder brush, eyeshadow brush, angled liner brush, and lip brush. The circular white case stands on its own and is so stylish you’ll want to keep it out all the time. Andre Lorent also touts the benefits of the synthetic Luxefiber used to make the bristles. The company doesn’t specify what exactly the bristles are made of, but customers seem to love them. Women who own these brushes agree that the bristles are soft, easy to clean, and long-lasting. These are issues of personal taste, but a few customers didn’t like the density of the eyeshadow brush. Also, the white handles and copper/brown ferrules aren’t the prettiest we’ve seen. However, even though the kit comes with just five brushes, it gets the job done for women looking for simple and luxurious makeup application.
Cool carrying case that you can use to display your brushes Soft, durable Luxefiber bristles 5-piece essential brushes are perfect for daily use
Eyeshadow brushes aren’t dense enough for some customers White handles and copper/brown ferrules aren’t very pretty
Missamé Premium Synthetic Makeup Brush Set
Visually, this 10-piece brush set by Missamé is stunning. The handles are made from high-quality bamboo, beautifully shaped and polished to a gorgeous shine.
This bamboo makeup brush set isn’t just about looks, however; it also performs. Pros and everyday women alike remark how Missamé brushes provide even, flawless application.
The brushes are soft and stand up to heavy use without becoming stiff or cakey.
Missamé is also proud of the distinct design and function of each brush. You can tell just by looking that each brush has a distinct function. However, if you need some help figuring it out, the kit also comes with a handy brush guide.
The carrying case is a simple, silk-like wrap: no frills there, but it seems to serve its purpose. As a final note, some customers complain of a chemically smell when they first unwrapped their brushes.
That being said, Missamé includes instructions for initial cleaning that should take care of this problem.
- Beautiful bamboo handles
- Even application from soft bristles
- No duplicates: each brush is unique
- Some chemical smell before you wash them
Lamora Essential Brush Set
This simple, effective 6-piece kit by Lamora is designed for everything from occasional travel to heavy professional use.
The kit also comes with a kabuki brush, a major draw for women who like to contour and blend. The white handles and silver ferrules don’t draw any extra attention, but the quality of these brushes makes them a stand-out for many women.
Professional artists love the density of these brushes, but this may take getting used to for the rest of us. Because the bristles are so dense, you will need less product to achieve the same amount of coverage. Start with a light application and build.
Even though Lamora specifies this kit is travel-friendly, it’s not clear what makes these brushes good for travel. Customers confirm that these are standard-size brushes, not mini travel versions.
The set also does not come with any sort of case, so you’ll have to provide one if you intend to take them on the road.
- Comes with a kabuki brush
- Dense bristles work great for professional makeup artists
- No carrying case
- May be harder to use for non-pros
Karity Professional 32-piece Eco Makeup Brush Set Yes, you read that right. This extensive kit by Karity comes with 32 brushes! Truly designed for professional use, this eco-friendly makeup brush kit and carrying case are drool-worthy for any makeup enthusiast. Karity makes their brushes using a combination of synthetic fibers. This means that the brushes are the best of both worlds: pillowy soft on top but firm near the base for better control. From the extra-large fan brush to the tiny doe-foot shader, you’ll definitely have everything you need to achieve any look. Fans of Karity rave about the quality and durability of these brushes. The black and white handles are made of wood and the tight ferrules prevent any shedding. The carrying case is also durable and perfect for organizing an extensive brush collection. About that carrying case: some customers can’t stand its strong chemical smell. Unlike brushes which you can wash easily, a lot of people seem to have trouble ridding the case of its paint-like odor. For some this may be a small issue, but for others it may interfere with the use and enjoyment of their Karity brushes.
Amazing variety of brushes: everything you could ever need! Made of different types of fibers so the brushes are both soft and firm Organizer carrying case
Carrying case has a strong odor Some duplication of brushes, which seems inevitable with 32 to choose from
DUcare Wooden Handle Makeup Brush Set
So pretty! This 11-piece set by DUcare features mint green handles and a white burlap carrying case.
The kit contains all the standard brushes—foundation brush, blush brush, eyeshadow brush, etc.—plus some extras like a fan brush and flat-top kabuki brush.
The handles are made of wood, so they work well for women who like a heavier feel.
Because of their relatively light density, the blush and foundation brushes don’t pick up as much product as some women would like. Others complain that the chemical smell of the new brushes doesn’t completely go away after washing.
The guide doesn’t actually say what each brush is used for, which may not work for makeup lovers who need a bit more guidance.
On the other hand, happy customers say that the soft bristles hold up well and resist shedding. These brushes help them get the makeup looks they want no problem.
Overall, this set is a favorite of non-professionals who like the brushes’ softness and cute color.
- Unique mint green handles are made of wood
- Very soft bristles don’t shed
- Lighter bristle density than some other brushes
- Chemical smell may not totally go away with washing
So, what are the best vegan brushes for makeup?
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Everyone needs something different from their makeup brushes. While some might be thrilled with the 5-piece Audre Lorent set, others will feel deprived without 32 Karity brushes in their arsenal.
Overall, however, the clear winner for us is the 10-piece Missamé Premium Synthetic Makeup Brush set. We love Missamé’s stunning bamboo makeup brushes for their soft feel, durability, and smooth application. With this set, professionals and everyday women get all the brushes they need without any duplicates.
When shopping for makeup brushes vegan customers have the same concerns as every other makeup addict. The difference is we want durability, softness, and performance without the animal hair.
Fortunately, there are plenty of makeup brands on the same page. By picking vegan brushes, you can feel better knowing your makeup regimen is 100% cruelty-free.
About The Author:
Lisa Williams is a committed vegan, passionate animal welfare advocate, and keen follower of too many v-friendly food blogs to mention. She started happyhappyvegan.com back in 2016 because she felt there was a need for more straightforward information on plant-based living.
Back then, too many sites seem to either concentrate solely on recipes or be too intimidating or inaccessible for the v-curious, and she wanted to change that. The landscape is certainly a whole lot different now!