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Walk down the makeup-brush aisle, and you’ll see lots of options, some of which are much higher-priced than others. The main difference between each typically has to do with what’s on the edge of the brush -- the bristles, which can be either natural or synthetic. Since each is useful for different things -- and you always want to look your best -- it’s a good idea to “brush up” on makeup-brush fibers.
If you rub the brushes back and forth in your hand, you may feel some differences between natural and real fibers. Real makeup brushes tend to be softer and are made from different animal hairs, including blue squirrel, pony hair, goat and kolinsky sable, which comes from the tail of a red-colored weasel and is often used in high-end paintbrushes. Synthetic brushes tend to be a little firmer and are made from high-tech, plastic fibers.
Uses: Real Makeup Brushes
What synthetic brushes can’t fake is that natural bristles have natural cuticles, just like your own hair does. Their structure makes them better equipped to grab powder makeup, such as loose powder, blush or eye shadow, and keep them on the brush until you sweep them onto your face.
Uses: Synthetic Makeup Brushes
While synthetic makeup brushes don’t have cuticles like the real brushes, they are better suited for applying your liquid foundation or cream-makeup products. Think about it: Your hair absorbs moisture, and natural brushes are as real as your own hair, so they’ll soak up your liquid foundation instead of putting it on your face. Since synthetic brushes aren’t the real thing, they won’t soak up the liquid makeup. Synthetic brushes also may be useful for eyebrow brushes too; since they are firmer, they can shape your eyebrows better than a natural-bristle brush.
How You Clean Them
Since real makeup brushes are similar to your own hair, you’ll wash them the same way: with shampoo. Wash them at least once a month with shampoo and then rinse them with warm water. You don’t have to use the shampoo for your synthetic-makeup brushes. Instead, you can wash your synthetic brush with dish soap to get it super clean. Don’t neglect the cleansing step -- you need it to keep bacteria from growing on your makeup brush that can contribute to breakouts.