Can Animal Hairbrushes Be Cruelty-Free?

by Becky

March 1, 2021

Many sellers of animal hairbrushes claim that their brushes are cruelty-free. To users who love makeup brushes made with animal hair, this may sound promising.

However, the inevitable question is – can cruelty-free animal hairbrushes exist?

Overall, animal hairbrushes are not cruelty-free. Most of the time, the hair used comes from animals that are mistreated on fur farms. Moreover, much of the animal hair used in brushes is harvested overseas, where regulation is non-existent.

If you’re currently using any hairbrushes made from animal hair and you want to know how to source things more ethically – read on.

Animal Hairbrushes Cannot Be Cruelty-Free

While many people prefer animal hairbrushes for their superior softness and gliding ability, they all share one thing in common: they do not exist without the mistreatment of animals.

The majority of animal hairbrushes are made from unethically harvested fur from animals such as:

  • Badgers – used for shaving brushes.
  • Minks –  used for makeup brushes and even eyelashes.
  • Other animals like sables and mongoose used for brush-making in general.

Where Does the Animal Hair for Brushes Come From?

Makeup animal hair brushes

The vast majority of hair used for animal hairbrushes comes from China, with little to no restrictions or animal protections. There is a reason Peta refers to animal-hair paintbrushes as being akin to like buying fur.

Whatever the brush type, if it’s animal hair, it was not harvested properly or ethically. In fact, it’s unlikely that any animal hairbrushes that you find will be cruelty-free. When it comes to labelling – you need to be extremely vigilant.

There are certain cruelty-free associations that you can rely on and the rest are not reputable.  Read on here if you want to know more about Which Cruelty-Free Logos You Can Trust in 2021.

Other countries are responsible for the harvesting of animal hair, but most of it is done in China. If you’re currently living or travelling to China and want to know where you can find cruelty-free beauty products – we’ve got your back. Find out more here: Are Cosmetics Made in China Cruelty-Free in 2021?

Companies Often Don’t Disclose Hair Origins

You’ll often observe companies that claim that their animal hairbrushes were manufactured without harming the animals. However, you should take those claims with a pinch of salt.

Some companies claim that their brushes are cruelty-free because they utilize alternative methods for harvesting hair.

One particular company states that they either shave the hair from the animal or gently comb it.

This could be true, but statistics show that the overwhelming majority of animal hair is imported to the U.S. from China and is obtained using cruel methods.

How Can You Know If a Company’s Cruelty-Free Claims Are True?

You can choose to believe that your favorite makeup brand is telling you the truth about its products, but there is a big chance that their claims are not true.

Unfortunately, no one is there to check how true these statements are. And there are no laws stating that companies must disclose where the hair for their brushes comes from.

Neither are they required to monitor the methods that suppliers use to obtain the hair.

Until there are better regulations to protect these animals, you can’t know for sure that they are being treated humanely.

How Fur is Extracted from Animals

Billions of animals are put through unimaginable abuse and are eventually killed for their fur. Often, the method used is the one that will do the least damage to the animal’s fur, with no regard for the well-being of the animal. Some animals have even been skinned alive for their fur.

Many animals are born into fur farms, where they are raised solely for their fur. The fur is harvested by any means for as long as the animal produces fur.

What Happens When an Animal’s Body Can’t Produce Fur Anymore?

After the animal can’t produce high-quality fur, the animal may be killed, skinned, and used for whatever product is appropriate. It’s not nice to hear but it’s true – the main methods to kill these animals range from electrocution to gassing.

Can the Term “Cruelty-Free” Be Trusted?

As a consumer, you may have seen many products that have “cruelty-free” on the label.

You may not know that there are no laws governing how the term can be used on products. This means that the companies themselves get to determine what cruelty-free means for their products.

This is not ideal, as some companies may use the term “cruelty-free” in their promotions and packaging when their products are not entirely without cruelty to living things.

The only way to know whether your brushes are cruelty-free is to refrain from using animal hairbrushes.

Paint Brushes Also Use Animal Hair

paint brushes and paint

As we mentioned briefly above, animal hair is not only used for makeup brushes. It is also used for paintbrushes.

There are many different types of paintbrushes on the market, and many of them require fur from animals like hogs, goats, and sables.

Unfortunately, the methods for collecting the hair for the brushes is not communicated transparently either. This is because, as mentioned a bit earlier, there is no legal push for animal hair suppliers or companies to be transparent.

The bottom line is that the animal hair business is a free-for-all – where companies and suppliers can do business without thinking about the ethical implications.

Alternatives to Animal Hairbrushes

Now that you know that animal hairbrushes are not cruelty-free, you will be relieved to know that there are quite a number of alternatives.

You can avoid all the uncertainty when it comes to animal hair brushes by choosing the other options.

Vegan Makeup Brushes

The market is becoming more and more saturated with vegan makeup brushes as time progresses. These brushes were manufactured with no animal hair.

The majority of vegan makeup brushes are made with either nylon, taklon, or a combination of both of these fibers.

Some think that they have to sacrifice quality by switching from animal hairbrushes to synthetic brushes, but this does not have to be the case. Some of the best cosmetic companies produce brushes that work just as well as brushes made of animal fur.

But even if you purchase a synthetic makeup brush that you don’t love, remember that by using vegan brushes, you aren’t contributing to the torture and death of animals.

And you don’t have to worry about price either – cruelty-free doesn’t necessarily mean more expensive. You can find out all about that here: Are Cruelty-Free Products More Expensive?

To ensure that you get a quality synthetic makeup brush, browse the following brands: BH Cosmetics or Urban Decay.

Vegan Paint Brushes

You can find many vegan paintbrushes with a simple internet search. Animal conscious companies make their brushes with 100% synthetic materials.

While painting with animal fur paintbrushes can help you create some of your best works of art, going synthetic does not mean that you have to compromise on quality.

Some of the top-quality synthetic paintbrushes are sold by Wonder Forest.

Synthetic Brush Benefits

There are many benefits to going synthetic. Not only will it allow you to take a stand against unfair treatment and slaughter of innocent animals, but you’ll enjoy other benefits, including:

  • Money savings. Synthetic brushes cost much less than animal hairbrushes. Animal hair brushes are often several times more expensive than synthetic brushes.
  • Easier Cleaning. Animal hairbrushes are notorious for being difficult to clean. Synthetic brushes, on the other hand, can be washed thoroughly without any stress.
  • Durability. Man-made brushes are often more durable than animal hairbrushes, which is good for you if you plan to use your brushes daily.

Synthetic Brush Drawbacks

In the interest of full disclosure, we should examine some of the drawbacks of synthetic brushes too.

One of the most common drawbacks to synthetic brushes is that they don’t pick up and distribute as much pigment as animal hairbrushes do.

This can be an issue if you are working with time constraints, as you will need to spend a bit more time building up facial coverage or laying down coats of paint.

Another drawback is that the man-made materials of some synthetic brushes can be skin irritants.

If you use a synthetic brush and develop a reaction, stop using that brush and try one made of different synthetic material.

Final Thoughts

Now you know that animal hairbrushes are generally not cruelty-free and that there are alternatives that you can use.

When there is doubt about where materials are sourced, especially when innocent animals are hanging in the balance, it’s best to err on the side of caution and go synthetic.

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