By Sonia Roselli

Are your makeup brushes cruelty free? What I am about to say may shock you, however we must be truthful to the best of our ability, right? When a company says their makeup brushes are “cruelty free” what does that really mean? Is there such a thing as cruelty free makeup brushes?

As a general rule, animal pelts are sold to brush manufacturers where the animal has met it’s demise in other ways, either as a food source or some other use. That means, brush manufacturers have purchased the hides of the animal that has been used for other commercial purposes. Think of this as a by-product of the food industry. But the term “cruelty free” generally means that brushes are synthetic. It’s hard to call a natural brush hair “cruelty free” because all natural hairs come from deceased animals.

Most cosmetic companies aren’t really lying when they claim “no animal was harmed in the making of their cosmetic brushes.” A lot of companies will tell you the animal is brushed for their hair (I was told this for many years by my previous manufacturer) but 99.9% of the time this is simply not true.

When I started designing my own makeup brushes, I consulted with my old friend Horst Rechelbacher, (founder of Aveda) and he confirmed that natural hairs all come from pelts of animals.

The only way to have a line of “cruelty free” makeup brushes would to be if they are 100% synthetic. -Horst Rechelbacher

For those of you who do not like the idea of using natural hairs, the good news is there is a whole new generation of synthetic hair fibers on the market. Technology is improving and some pro makeup artists find them to be comparable to other natural hairs in terms of performance. And cruelty free.

As a professional makeup artist, I personally have not been impressed with synthetic brushes for certain jobs where powders being used. I get the best results from my natural hair brushes. I am sure in the near future, there will be synthetic brushes that will be great for powder products, but then we run the risk of creating non-biodegradable products. In other words, we just can’t win.

In conclusion, animals are not specifically killed just to make cosmetic brushes; they were already deceased for some other purpose. It’s totally a personal decision on which products you use.

So when a cosmetic company tells you their brushes are “cruelty free” ask them exactly what that means. If they tell you the animal was “shaved” or brushed, I wouldn’t always take this as gospel truth. Here is a list of companies that sell cruelty free makeup brushes (come back often as we update our list.) Remember, when in doubt, synthetic brushes are always cruelty free.

Cruelty Free Makeup Brushes

  1. 100% Pure

  2. Urban Decay

  3. OCC Cosmetics

  4. Kelly Quan

  5. The Body Shop

If you know of a company that does do a cruelty free natural hair, please leave a comment below and we will investigate.

Stay Smart,