Brush 101: Brush Anatomy 2


How well do you know your brushes? I recently purchased a few makeup brushes to add to my collection and have noticed how unique each of them were. Looking back, I wish I knew more about makeup brushes before I decided to stock up and buy different kinds without actually knowing what they were for. So to help out aspiring makeup artists or girls starting out with makeup, I decided to create BRUSH 101, a brand new series of blog posts dedicated solely to brushes and makeup tools.

Having information about brushes and its basic components is almost half the battle. Knowing these definitely helped me determine what kind of brushes to buy and which ones are appropriate for a specific job.

First things first — I’d like to discuss the anatomy of a makeup brush. Every brush is built differently. Some have natural bristles, some have synthetic bristles. Some with wooden handles, some with metal or acrylic. Some are machine-made (mass produced) while some are articulately handcrafted — you get the gist. Every brush or brush line is unique.


The bristles, or the “hairs” of the brush can be made from either synthetic or natural fibers. Natural bristles work well with powders because it picks up the product a lot easier, while synthetic fibers work a lot better with cream and liquid products. Natural fibers are a lot like our own hair — it’s absorbent. So if you use a natural fibered brush with a cream product, tendencies are it’s going to pick up a lot more product than needed, and it may also stain the hairs.

Quick tip: I find that synthetic brushes have a slight shine on the bristles while most natural fibered brushes I own do not. This is how I quickly assess the type of hairs my brushes have.

Now the ferrule — which I think is the most important part of the brush because it holds the brush together. This metal band secures the handle and the ferrule in place. When washing brushes, avoid getting water in or near the ferrule as it will cause the glue to break down, making your brushes less sturdy and cause it to fall apart. If you unfortunately have a broken brush (it usually breaks at the part where the handle and the ferrule meet), an easy fix is a little dab of E-6000. Let it dry overnight.

Lastly, the handle. The handle can be made out of different kinds of materials — wood, metal, acrylic, etc. The handle sometimes affects the weight of the brush, so choosing which kind of brushes to buy is ultimately up to you. The handle is also where you would usually find the name or number of a specific brush.

Now have a look at your own set of brushes. Can you determine which ones are natural or synthetic? Again, synthetic brushes have a slight shine to it, while natural bristles rarely do. Check your ferrules — are they intact and sturdy? What about your handles? Are they light or heavy?

Or if you’re just starting out and would like to invest on some makeup brushes, I would suggest going to a store and actually touch the brush. Feel the handle and see what it’s like to have it in your hand. Remember, don’t get a makeup brush that you do not feel comfortable using. Odds are, it will sit on your vanity and collect dust.

No matter what brush you decide to go for, I hope this has been helpful. Whether you’re just your own makeup artist or you are starting out, knowing the basics about brushes is half the battle. And lastly, don’t forget to have fun. Makeup is all about self expression!

Next up on the series: The Brush Cleaning Guide.

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