Best Cruelty-Free and Vegan Makeup Brushes

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Best Cruelty-Free and Vegan Makeup Brushes

It’s one thing to use the best makeup products, but they really shine with the right brushes!

You need good makeup brushes to apply your makeup, but the good news is that there are TONS of affordable makeup brushes at the drugstore. Because, like fur and leather, non-vegan (a.k.a. animal hair) brushes are usually more expensive than their synthetic counterparts.

As always, make sure to check that the brushes you’re getting are synthetic, and/or come from a brand that only makes synthetic brushes.

What’s the difference between synthetic and animal-hair makeup brushes?

Aside from the price, animal hair brushes *used* to be the ideal way to apply powder eyeshadow.

(I don’t really recall seeing too many face brushes with real animal hair? Maybe I wasn’t paying too much attention. Even before I was vegan I refused to use animal hair brushes.)

There’s something about the hairs that grab onto powders, BUT they have been able to replicate that with super-soft synthetic materials.

And, you don’t have to condition synthetic brushes. Just wash and go, baby.

“Brand XYZ” has animal hair bristles, and they claim to be “cruelty-free”!

Unfortunately, “cruelty-free” and “vegan” aren’t synonymous. Check out this post for more information.

Makeup brushes and other tools wouldn’t be tested on animals, therefore companies can still be “cruelty-free” if they have animal hair brushes. But they can also still be “cruelty-free” if they use non vegan ingredients, as explained in the linked post.

Many brands will claim that their animal hairs for their brushes are “sustainably sourced” or “no animals were harmed”.

I don’t like to be graphic or use graphic images in my posts, so let me explain in the most PG way I can.

The animals used for makeup brushes, mink lashes, etc, are not pets. It’s not like they just happened to get a haircut or their owner just collected the hairs from their shedding.

The animals are bred solely for the purpose of growing their hairs for brushes, fake eyelashes, or fur clothing. It is not a by-product of the meat industry, just like leather is not a by-product of the meat industry. Totally separate.

If you think about it, how much of a nice, personal, gentle treatment could these animals get when their hair is being mass harvested for thousands of makeup brushes… and one badger or squirrel might make… two brushes? Come on.

There is no way to know for sure how the animals are treated. Even if they were treated “well”, it is still unnecessary for us to use animals in this way, when there are plenty of alternatives that are just as good, if not better.

Can’t I just use my fingers or disposable applicators or the little poufs that come with my powder?

Please don’t. And thank me later.

Those little sponge-tip applicators (that thankfully don’t come with many eyeshadow palettes anymore) don’t do a great job of blending, and are very difficult to clean. They don’t really blend at all, actually. You definitely need at least a blending brush.

If you use the powder poufs that come with powders, have you noticed that your powder pan kinda gets… crusty? That’s because the oils from your face and other products under the powder are getting into the pouf and then into the powder pan.

Brushes are more sanitary as they are easy to wash, and haven’t been touching your phone, doorknobs, etc like your hands do. They also make applying makeup significantly easier.

For those who may have mobility issues, or something that would cause you to not be able to use brushes as well, I’d recommend getting packs of disposable applicators and poufs. That way you don’t have to worry about cleaning them or reusing dirty ones. As much as we like to say “disposables are evil,” do what you gotta do.

You can also get some rubbing alcohol or an instant brush cleaner in a spray bottle to spot-clean the brushes a bit easier.

But for the rest of us, get yourself some brushes.

Cruelty-Free Brush Brands with Synthetic Options (or are 100% synthetic).

I will share my collection in just a bit, but I wanted to share a list of makeup brush brands for easy shopping. So if you already know what kinds of brushes you need, or maybe want to just buy a whole set, then this list is for you.

Real Techniques – They are available almost anywhere that sells drugstore-priced makeup, at least here in the States. I would say the majority of the brushes in my collection are Real Techniques, and most I’ve had for well over 6 years or so. All of Real Techniques brushes are synthetic.

Real Techniques has lots of kits and sets, and are fairly inexpensive. They also have my favorite sponge – the Miracle Complexion Sponge. Plus, they’re often on sale or BOGO at Ulta.

e.l.f. Cosmetics – e.l.f. Cosmetics is also available almost anywhere that has drugstore-priced makeup, and is the most affordable. e.l.f. is a 100% vegan brand. Years ago, they had some animal hair brushes, but have switched to entirely synthetic.

Their white handle brushes are the most inexpensive, but I think it’s worth the extra few dollars for the black handle brushes.

NYX Cosmetics – NYX has some great brush options that are incredibly soft. I did confirm that all of their brushes are synthetic.

I only have one from NYX, but I visited a NYX store a while back and was able to feel the testers, and they were all so nice, I wanted them all. (Note their brushes are vegan but not 100% of their makeup).

EcoTools – EcoTools has been around forever, and has always been a staple for beauty tools. All of their brushes are synthetic and made with renewable materials.

My oldest brush is from them, and I use it every time I do makeup. Sadly that particular one was discontinued, so I’m cherishing it.

BH Cosmetics – BH Cosmetics has a HUGE selection of both complete brush sets, and individual brushes. I have not tried any of their brushes, but have heard great things. They are very affordable, and would make great gifts as they also have some cute sets with matching containers. (Note their brushes are vegan but not 100% of their makeup).

MOTD Cosmetics – MOTD Cosmetics is a mid-range brush brand, so they’re going to cost a bit more than others. I’ve heard they are some of the best, so if you’re looking to splurge, I’d say go for it.

Coloured Raine – Coloured Raine has just released a line of synthetic brushes, and are around drugstore price. I haven’t tried them yet, but I may grab the set with my next order, I love their eyeshadows and lip products. (Note their brushes are vegan but not 100% of their makeup).

Sonia Kashuk – Sonia Kashuk brushes are sold primarily at Target, and have a wide variety of individual brushes, brush sets, and makeup bags. There are a few different lines of their brushes, and they vary in price.

Not all of their brushes are/were synthetic, so make sure to double check before purchasing. From Target’s website, all that I found currently available are synthetic, but sometimes they release limited edition collections that may have animal hair.

I’m sure there are other brands that have a few brushes as well, but these are the most popular that I’ve noticed and have full selections.

My collection of cruelty-free and vegan makeup brushes.

Best cruelty-free and vegan makeup brushes made from synthetic fibers.

Let’s start with face brushes.

Here are close-up pictures of my brush collection.

I haven’t bought many new makeup brushes in years, just a few here and there. Some of these have been discontinued, so I won’t be able to link them all. But – I will list my must-haves at the end!

Cruelty-free and vegan synthetic foundation brushes
KVD Vegan Beauty, EcoTools, Real Techniques
cruelty-free and vegan synthetic makeup brushes
Real Techniques, e.l.f. Cosmetics

(These Real Techniques brushes no longer come with the wide bases like that, these are at least 6 or 7 years old. It is quite annoying to store them.)

cruelty-free and vegan synthetic face makeup brushes
EcoTools, e.l.f. Cosmetics, Real Techniques

Eye Brushes.

cruelty-free and vegan synthetic makeup brushes for eyes
cruelty-free and vegan eye makeup brushes
e.l.f. Cosmetics, Real Techniques
cruelty-free and vegan synthetic eye makeup brushes
e.l.f. Cosmetics, EcoTools, Real Techniques
cruelty-free and vegan synthetic eye makeup brushes
e.l.f. Cosmetics, Real Techniques, Sonia Kashuk, NYX Cosmetics

Best Cruelty-Free and Vegan Makeup Brushes – Recommendations.

Here are my top favorite brushes that I’ve personally used, and are staples in my collection.

  1. (Not an actual brush) the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge. I’ve used these sponges exclusively for years, and have quite a few left. I bought way too many when they were on sale once, but when I run out I’ll try others. You definitely don’t need to splurge on the BeautyBlender brand.
  2. EcoTools Wonder Cover Complexion Brush – This is the perfect multi-tasker brush. Just this and a powder brush, and you can do your entire face. It is dense and wide enough to do foundation, but the oval shape is great for undereye concealer. You can even do contour, blush, and highlight with it.
  3. Real Techniques Blush Brush – Pair this with the EcoTools Wonder Cover Complexion Brush and you’ve got your whole face. It’s the perfect size for all-over powder, and can be used for bronzer and blush if you’re careful.
  4. e.l.f. Cosmetics Small Stipple Brush – This brush has a cult following for good reason. It applies cream and liquid blush or highlight perfectly.
  5. e.l.f. Cosmetics Eyeshadow Brush – I know I said stay away from the white handle brushes, but this one is the exception. It’s cheap and gets the job done. This will pack on color on your lids to really get it opaque. Pair this with a blending brush and you’ve got an easy eye look.
  6. e.l.f. Cosmetics Crease Brush – This brush is a great small blending brush. Some can be too big for your eye area, depending on the person. Blending brushes diffuse eyeshadow on the lids and blend out the colors.

With just those few brushes, your whole face is done.

There are a few brands and sets on my radar, like the rest of the NYX Cosmetics line and the new set from Coloured Raine.

Leave a comment with your favorite makeup brushes!

Best cruelty-free and vegan makeup brushes pinterest pin
Best cruelty-free and vegan makeup brushes pinterest pin
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