Make-up brushes play an important role in getting the most from your products – the difference between flawless application and a patchy, unblended mess lies with the tools you use.
If you’re keen to ensure your kit is vegan, there’s plenty of brands now catering to consumers seeking to cut out all animal-derived products from their routines.
The bristles of non-vegan brushes are typically made from weasel, squirrel, mink, badger or pony hair, whereas alternative options are created with synthetic material, most commonly taklon, derived from polyester or nylon.
A reliable vegan, cruelty-free option should be equally as good at applying product, be it cream, liquid, gel or powder textures, making the switch a piece of cake.
We’ve put a bunch to the test to find the very best, to suit all budgets, accompanying products and application techniques, whether you like a full coverage, high impact look or more natural finish. These are the 10 essential tools deserving of a spot in your make-up bag.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Ruba Beauty eye brow brush duo
We loved using this to fill in sparse eyebrow hairs with precise strokes, and crafting feline flicks of eyeliner using cream, gel and powder products. The spoolie end is ideal for shaping brows and laying them down flat before applying your favourite brow products too. Affordable and dual purpose, this is a fantastic essential for simple or complex make-up looks and even after washing it multiple times, it still retained its razor sharp angle and softness. Everybody needs this in their make-up kit.
Lush cheek to cheek brush
This blush brush is designed in a more traditional style, and its fluffy synthetic bristles work best with powder products. Sweep it over the apples of cheeks to add colour and a natural rosy glow to warm up your complexion. Its wide-reaching bristles are brilliant for slowly layering colour, particularly if you’re a bit timid when it comes to brighter blushers, as it’s easily able to diffuse. Anything that allows room for error we love. The handles are also made from sustainably sourced wood, finished with a vegan lacquer and arrived wrapped in 100 per cent recyclable paper.
Illamasqua smoulder eye shadow brush
This densely packed brush is teeny tiny, allowing precise movements and blending. We tried it both to smudge out eyeliner for a softer look and to add pops of highlighter underneath the brow bone and in the inner corner of the eye to tie our make-up looks together. We’d recommend it to someone keen to create more colourful or complicated looks and it’s a must-have if you’re a fan of a smokey eye, as it allows you to build darker shades such as black with room for error, without packing on too much in one go.
Spectrum Collections B06 tall tapered blender
A well-known name in the make-up brush world, Spectrum Collections’s range is packed with inexpensive essentials that add a colourful touch to your make-up bag while being high quality, durable and easy to clean. This extra fluffy tapered brush is perfect for seamlessly blending in powder shadows, particularly in the eye crease, with no patchiness. We also loved how it delivered a light wash of shimmer when working with more pigmented glitter based eyeshadows and the dome shaped allows it to fit perfectly into the eye socket so there’s no harsh lines between colours.
KVD Vegan Beauty lock it edge foundation brush #10
Make-up brushes are constantly evolving and this contoured design is one of the best we’ve tried. The sculpted shapes are tapered to a slight wave which follows the contour of your cheekbones, under the eye and along the jawline, meaning you can reach every single spot of skin with ease and ensure your base products are always beautifully blended. We found it particularly brilliant when buffing in stick foundations that are typically waxier in texture so need a little extra density in your bristles to be streak-free.
Iconic London face and body brush
If you’re short on time but not prepared to scrimp on luxury, you’ll love this face and body brush. It buffs in foundation in just a few seconds thanks to the oval shape which fits snugly into the contours of your face and the densely packed bristles deliver even coverage. It covers larger surface areas such as cheeks and collarbones with ease, with no patchiness in sight. We also found it a handy tool for buffing in fake tan around trickier areas by our ankles. The rose gold tone adds a lavish touch too.
Eco Tools seamless stippling makeup brush
If you prefer less coverage or a your-skin-but-better sheer finish, this stippling brush is perfect for delivering a natural look when using lightweight liquid products such as tinted moisturiser, cream blusher and highlighter. The duo fibre bristles offer more control over how much product you apply and work to lightly give skin a wash of colour rather than a high impact look. Lightweight to use and an easy addition to slot into your routine, its handles are made from renewable bamboo and recycled aluminium. Not to mention it’s an absolute bargain.
Hourglass ambient lighting edit brush
Luxury beauty brand Hourglass has a wide range of vegan make-up brushes but this double-ended one is by far our favourite. It’s an excellent multi-tasker that makes its high price tag worthwhile and can be successfully used across all textures. We found the tapered end worked particularly well at blending concealer under the eye and dabbing on cream and liquid highlighter while the rounded end did a stellar job of applying blush and bronzer on the cheeks. The rounded end is retractable too, making it easy to keep clean and the bristles neatly packed together. The taklon bristles are also PETA approved
E.l.f highlighter brush
This fluffy brush is ideal for adding a radiant glow with powder highlight. In one sweep across the high points of the cheekbones and across the cupid’s bow it packs on product without leaving it looking patchy and is ideal if you prefer an effortlessly, natural glow rather than a blinding finish. The bristles are made from taklon and for less than a fiver, it’s well worth adding to your collection if you favour powder products.
The Body Shop buffing brush
Keeping to a traditional buffing brush shape, the densely packed brush hairs on this tool make it ideal for cream and liquid base products, however due to its small circumference we would recommend using this for blusher, contouring and bronzers rather than foundation as it takes a little longer to cover larger surface areas.
The sustainably sourced wooden handle is sturdy but not weighty and the synthetic brushes are super soft, which wash well too, we didn’t find a single hair moulted, just make sure you give it a full 24 hours after washing before use to allow it time to fully dry.
The verdict: Vegan make-up brushes
Lesser known beauty brand, Ruba Beauty, has created a versatile tool that’s hard to fault. Angled brushes need to be as super fine to avoid mess and you won’t find much better than this one, especially for its low price tag. Whether you want to groom brows or create sharp eyeliner, it ticks all our boxes. The Spectrum Collections’ B06 tall tapered blender also deserves a special mention for how easy it made blending multiple eyeshadow shades together too.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.