Makeup Brush Confidential – The Anatomy of a Makeup Brush

Welcome to the first in a series of articles all about a slight obsession of mine – Makeup Brushes.

I firmly believe that your finished makeup look depends more on the quality of your brushes than the quality of your makeup.

Each Friday I’ll be sharing my knowledge about brush brands, brush function and anything else you want to know. To set you up with the base level of knowledge, today we’ll be discussing the anatomy of a Makeup Brush.

Anatomy of a Makeup Brush


Makeup brush bristles can be made of either natural hair or synthetic fibers. Traditionally, natural fibres from animal hair are used with powder based makeup products as the porous nature of these fibres are able to easily “grab” the product. Synthetic fibres have always been considered best for liquid and cream makeup products, as the fibres have a smooth shaft with a bit of slip, ensuring that product is not wasted through absorption into the bristles.

As fibre technology has evolved, a new generation of synthetic brushes have become available that are just as good at “picking up” powder products as any natural hair.

​Common Natural Brush Fibres

  • Sable
  • Squirrel
  • Goat
  • Badger
  • Pony

​Common Synthetic Brush Fibres

  • Taklon
  • Nylon


Anatomy of a Makeup Brush 1

The Ferrule is the metal part of your makeup brush that joins the bristles to the handle. It is the key structural component to most makeup brushes, and requires the most care. The key this to remember when caring for your brushes is to keep water out of the ferrule. Water can deteriorate the glue in the ferrule and cause your brush head to fall off the handle or cause your bristles to fall out.


Anatomy of a Makeup Brush 2

Most commonly made of laquered wood, the handle of a makeup brush is pretty self-explanatory. You use it to hold and control the brush!

Not all makeup brushes fit this anatomical breakdown. 2 currently popular examples of brushes that don’t fit the mould are:

Anatomy of a Makeup Brush 3
Yachiyo Kabuki Brush – the ferrule is not visible under the cane wrapping.

Anatomy of a Makeup Brush 4
Real Techniques range – these popular brushes are virtually all ferrule.

I hope you found this introduction to brushes informative and useful. As we delve further into the world of makeup brushes the terminology becomes increasingly important to understand.

Next Friday I’ll be sharing with you how I test the quality of a makeup brush before I buy it. 

Do you find Makeup Brushes daunting? Have any burning questions about brushes that you would like answered? Can’t be bothered with them at all and like to stick with fingers and sponge applicators? Let me know in the comments!