How to Extend the Life of Your Makeup Brushes

You might not think that the tools you use to apply your makeup are of any consequence, or that maintaining them is important, but unless you want to waste money buying new brushes every few months, there are some things you should know. Different shapes and sizes of brushes are required to achieve different effects (an angled blush brush will give you a swipe of color for more pronounced cheekbones while a large, fluffy powder blush affords you a sheer wash of color that's more like a natural flush). And in the same way, the brushes you choose and the way you take care of them will have an impact how well they work and how long they last. So here are a few tips that will ensure you get the right kind of brushes the first time around and that they last as long as possible.

The first thing you should think about is whether you want brushes that have natural or synthetic fiber bristles. Some people swear that brushes made with natural fibers (animal hair, in other words) are better for makeup application and that they last longer (they're certainly more expensive). Goat and horse hair are the most common types used in makeup brushes, mainly because the ends are blunt rather than pointed, making them ideal for even distribution of powder. Squirrel is also popular, and sable, while expensive, tends to be the most durable and versatile (it can be used with both wet and dry cosmetics).

However, before you go out and spend a ton of dough on a sable brush set you may want to consider the pros and cons. One of the reasons that the application tend to be a bit smoother with natural fibers (as opposed to synthetic) is that real hairs have cuticles that make them absorbent. As a result they hold makeup better, generally making for more even and precise application. Unfortunately, it also means that they can hang onto old makeup (mixing it with the new for a muddled, cosmetic mess) as well as bacteria that can lead to breakouts. And if you clean them frequently to account for this tendency, they may absorb any cleaning solutions you use and become damaged more quickly.

On the other hand, synthetic brushes made of nylon, taklon, or polyester will soak up neither makeup products nor cleansers. Plus, they are made to mimic the application properties of natural fibers and they're a good alternative for those with animal allergies of other sensitivities to animal products (vegans, for example). They also tend to cost less. However, even with regular cleaning they may not hold up as well as animal fibers, becoming rather stiff. And when it comes to powdered products they will simply never pick up and distribute the pigments as well as natural bristles.

So what's the solution? In truth, you will probably want a variety of brushes for your lineup of cosmetics. You can always use delicate soaps (like dish soap, for example) to clean your brushes as a way to make them last longer with less damage. And you can turn to cruelty-free options like those found at Crown brush if the thought of harming animals in the pursuit of beauty bothers you. But whether you choose natural or synthetic fiber brushes for makeup application, take the steps to keep them in good condition so that you will have them for years to come.

(Guest Post by Carol)

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