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A Guide to Makeup Brush Bristle Types

A Guide to Makeup Brush Bristle Types


The bristles are what sets fude apart from other makeup brushes. Bristles are first hand-selected to ensure quality, and are then bundled by hand to achieve the different shapes. There is no cutting or trimming, to keep the natural tip intact for optimum softness and performance. This is a painstaking process, but one that sets the brushes apart.  

Understanding the characteristics of the material and how it behaves as a bristle with makeup products. 

The first decision you'll need to make is natural vs synthetic bristles. 


Natural Bristles

The biggest difference from synthetic hair is that it has a natural cuticle that picks up just the right amount of makeup. Because of this, natural bristles are the best for powder-based products. It is an ideal choice for application as well as blending.

There are hundreds of different kind of animal hair used for makeup brushes; Goat, Squirrel, Weasel / Sable, Pony, Horse, Tamage, Water Badger, Deer, and Racoon. They offer the most variable touch to your skin from the very firm hair of Badger, to the soft heavenly touch of Squirrel brushes. 

The most important aspect of the quality of makeup brush is the tip of the hair. Cut-off hair tip can not only give you itchy feeling but can give skin irritation. All of the Japanese hand crafted makeup brushes on A-Janaika Japan Japan has tips still intact and provide the most pleasing touch for your face.

In some brushes, those natural hair are blended to take advantages of the different properties of each hair; keeping the bristle shape in tact, stabilizing the quality, adding more resilience and 


They are the softest of them all. It has an excellent texture for powder makeup product. They are mainly from Russia and northern part of the world. Hard to acquire and always short in supply. Not resilient nor strong, so squirrel brushes should not be used with cream or liquid type product as it would significantly damage the hair, except wood/tree squirrel because they have similar hair to that of weasel.

Gray Squirrel 炭リス (also called blue squirrel and ash squirrel) – More resilient than Blue or Red Squirrel, this is the most common squirrel hair for the makeup brush. It is sometimes confused with Blue squirrel hair.

Has ultra soft, delicate touch and smoothest of all. Can be used for a various purpose and offer good control. According to Hakuhodo website, it has one of the most pleasant textures among natural hairs.

Canadian Squirrel – Very rare and highly valued, its hair has an excellent uniformed body and great controllability. Its short hair limits its usage in smaller brushes such as eye shadow or highlighting brush.

Kazan Squirrel – Quite rare like Canadian squirrel but has similar characteristic to Blue squirrel, only softer.

Red Squirrel – one of the rarest of them all – it is very limited in number and always in high value. It is similar to blue squirrel – soft and pleasant but has more delicate, fragile touch.

Pine Squirrel – Often found in eye shadow brush, pine squirrel hair offer soft, thin bristle.

Wood/Tree Squirrel – it has a similar characteristic as weasel hair. Can be used with cream or liquid type product. They are often found in eye shadow brushes.



Provides optimum bristle and a wide range of characteristics from stiff and the soft hair.  The most versatile hair of all, Goat hair can be found in almost every kind of makeup brushes: Powder, Blush, Highlighter and eye shadow. The property of the hair varies a lot depending on the gender and parts of the body.


Saibikoho 細微光峰

Saikoho hair is from the chest area of a white, straight-haired male mountain goat. Its softness and lightness of touch is comparable to squirrel, yet has resilience and durability of goat. 

Read more about Saibikoho bristles


Saikoho goat 細光峰

Luxuriously soft, It is the highest grade hair of the goat, good for medium to full application. The Sokoho hairs are long, soft and thin, only comparable to squirrel hair. They are rare, hard to find and of high value. 


Sokoho goat 粗光峰

Comes second to Saikoho, It is soft, yet strong and durable enough to be used as the main material for a powder brush, a finishing brush, a blush brush, highlighter brush and an eyeshadow brush. It offers great control over the tip of the brush, and



A species of mink and a family of Sable, Kolinsky are commonly found in Siberia and northeast of China. It is good for precise layering and gradation application. Strength, spring, and snap.


It has good strength and ability to retain its shape. Durable and strong, they are often used with goat or squirrel hair as a blend. Especially, the Horse hair is the most common hair used for makeup brushes. 

Dampen the brush evenly to have a more opaque coverage, with a light wash of color.

Sable / Weasel

Sable is a member of the weasel family with red hair. They are found in many kinds of brushes as the quality and the characteristic varies greatly. Pure sable hair has pointy tips and are quite expensive compared to badger, but less so to Kolinsky. 



Stiff and resilient enough to define and shape, Badger’s hair is typically used for eye brushes. Water badger is more flexible, and excel in defining detailed sharp eye line.

Badger’s hair has long history and tradition in various parts of the world. And common material found in other kinds of brushes.

Hair is thicker toward the tip and thinner at the bottom, giving “bushy” looks.

Good quality badger hair typically has a light brown color.


Synthetic Bristles (Vegan Makeup Brushes)

They are typically made of manmade materials such as Nylon or polyester fibers, and completely cruelty-free. It also does not contain any protein element, so it is vegan-friendly. There are many differences between synthetic and natural brushes, It sometimes regarded as inferior to natural hair bristle, but advancement in technology and manufacturing process enabled recreating most of the feature of natural hair through tapering, tipping, flagging, abrading or etching.

  • Typically does not have cuticles
  • Strong against damage from makeup solvents
  • Cleaning is easier compared to natural makeup brush bristle since the filament doesn’t absorb of trap makeup pigment.
  • More smooth, softer touch than natural haired brushes.
  • Comes in various color.
  • Allergy free
  • Great for soft layering of powder, cream, and concealer.
  • Perfect for a liquid type product with solid texture such as liquid foundation, CC Cream, and BB Cream

A great example for the makeup brushes with synthetic hair is Chikuhodo’s AF Series, Koyudo's Makiko Series,  and Nakamura Seisakusho's Ai Series.

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