Ethical brushes for the eco-conscious man
So much attention is paid to cruelty-free beauty products these days. It’s easy to forget attitudes toward the tools we use to apply them are beginning to change too, with both consumers and companies eschewing animal hair brushes for synthetic, vegan-friendly alternatives.
Many brands, including British perfumers Penhaligon’s, have removed animal hair shaving brushes from their grooming ranges entirely, and a raft of companies have also released synthetic alternatives. Make-up giant MAC announced it was replacing animal hair brushes with 100 per cent man-made fibres, and the number of alternatives now available mean there is no excuse to be brushing your hair with the hair of another animal. Kent Brushes’ Woodyhog brush uses wooden quills instead of bristles and is great for detangling hair without damaging it, while Bulldog’s beard comb dispenses with the need for a brush altogether.
Advocates of ‘natural’ brushes argue they’re better than synthetic alternatives (sable brushes are softer and pick up and distribute powder more efficiently, traditional sliver-tip badger hair shaving brushes hold more water and deliver a better lather, and boar bristle hair brushes are gentler), but technology and production techniques have improved to the point where many man-made products are now on a par with historical favourites.
In fact, so good are the alternatives, many make-up artists and barbers I know actually prefer synthetic brushes, as they’re less likely to shed, harbour bacteria, trigger allergic reactions and clean up easier. And, because synthetic make-up brushes are not as absorbent as animal hair, they’re perfect for applying cream and powder products.
As with many things, the more you pay, the better and more refined the synthetic brush. But regardless of how much you shell out, one thing is for sure: now, in 2019, it’s never been easier to look your best without harming a single hair on an animal’s head.