Kabuki brushes: animal or synthetic hair?

kabuki brushes

I love using Kabuki brushes to apply my foundation, whether I am using mineral or compact powder. They work better than sponges for me. I have Kabuki brushes using animal as well as synthetic hair. I alternate between the two, loving them for different reasons. Today, I like to make a comparison of the two based on some common properties.

I don’t know why people say that animal hair is softer but my experience tells me otherwise. I’ve tried Kabuki brushes made with goat, sable and pony hair and all feels a tad scratchy on my face. Perhaps I haven’t come across a superior grade that is really soft on contact. On the other hand, all the Kabuki brushes made with synthetic hair are incredibly soft and feels fabulous on my skin. Because they’re very dense, I have no problem applying powder with them at all.

Kabuki brushes made with animal hair are porous and hence, tend to pick up powder better. Although I’ve heard that animal grade Kabuki brushes don’t need that much powder compared to synthetic ones, I personally don’t see that much of a difference. And actually, I find that I make a bigger mess in terms of leftover powder on the table whenever I use a brush with animal hair.

In fact, I feel that synthetic Kabuki brushes offer me smoother coverage and doesn’t make my pores so obvious. Perhaps the softness of the hair makes it easier to blend the powder into my skin.

Generally, I find Kabuki brushes using animal hair easier to wash and quicker to dry though. Their shape also stays more or less intact after drying. Synthetic ones are not that difficult to wash either but they take a longer time to air dry. In addition, when washed over a period of time, their shapes tend to distort and the hair seem to get oilier.

Overall, I like synthetic grade Kabuki brushes better. I haven’t come across a brush with animal hair that feels totally fabulous on my skin. However, some of you may have tried and if so, do leave a comment here to recommend. But I do like to alternate both types of brushes. Lucky thing also that I am not allergic to certain animal hairs as I know some people are.

So what about you? Do you use Kabuki brushes for powder application? If so, what’s your preference?


  1. alixana says:

    Have only tried animal hair kabuki brushes (Bobbi Brown), so can’t really make a comparison. But yes, it feels a tad scratchy at times. My synthetic TBS powder brushes all feel much much softer (but blending power isn’t as fab). I understand that you use Lumiere’s brush – any idea if it’s available locally? I avoid online shopping if I can ?

  2. sesame says:

    Yes, I was using Lumiere until this year I switched to using those I got from Momo Minerals. The Lumiere one is still around but it got kind of greasy I’ve not been using it for awhile now. I haven’t seen it available locally though. It’s either direct from their online shop or via sprees.

  3. Nikki says:

    I say “aye” for synthetic kabuki brush being softer! I on the other hand, likes synthetic kabuki brush too! ? i guess I am pro for the softness ?

  4. flym says:

    My experience is varied. My natural kabuki from Red Earth is fab, soft as cotton, while another brand’s natural hair one sucks. The TBS synthetic is good, and lasts well but uses more powder and takes longer to apply MMU with. I’ve other brands of natural and synthetic kabukis that can be heavenly to use or a pain to work with. I can’t really generalize.

    I’m curious about using kabuki to apply compact powders though. Is it compact foundation powder, like the 2-way type? Won’t it be too creamy to use with a brush? Or I imagine the wastage might be quite substantial. Would like to know how it’s like to apply powder foundation with brush instead of sponge.

  5. sesame says:

    You like synthetic ones too? I get the impression you use quite a number of brushes so you would have lots of experience to say this too!

  6. sesame says:

    Yes, the 2-way type. I wrote an entry about the application here https://www.vivawoman.net/2008/11/20/applying-foundation-with-sponge-or-brush/. You’re right that there is a lot of wastage but I found that the brush gave me a more natural finishing. Sponge can sometimes make my foundation look streaky especially if I’m in a hurry.

    TBS one is almost similar to Lumiere one when I felt it. Red Earth sounds interesting – must take a look at it next time. Hope the price is also reasonable.

  7. sesame says:

    I just realized after looking at Flym’s comments that the one from The Body Shop is actually quite similar to Lumiere’s. But the price is a lot higher if I remember correctly.

  8. jins says:

    Hi sesame,
    I also use the red earth brush. Its really soft. bought from sasa. is there any good synthetic brush other than TBS locally available?

  9. sesame says:

    My latest buy was from Momo Minerals – a local online store. You can read my review here https://www.vivawoman.net/2009/01/26/synthetic-and-natural-hair-kabuki-brushes/. I like the brushes – very soft and blends well. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the same one as Everyday Minerals – look very identical. The big one cost S$19 now. Not too bad a price.

  10. Cyndi says:

    I started off with using animal hair brush and I thought they are the softest ever. Until I found EDM kabuki brush and flat top brush only I know
    that I love synthetics more ?

  11. Raelynn says:

    i cant quite remember my experience with the face brush with bobbi brown. but my experience with Micabella’s natural brush was really BAD. i agree with most points that yu’ve covered, but i disagree with dynthetics drying faster than naturals… my EDM brushes always take a super long time to dry.

  12. pf1123 says:

    I actually like animal hair brushes better in general. Synthetic ones picks up too much powder for me.

    I don’t like the dense hair feeling. Makes me feel like I’m pushing powder into my pores and filling them up. I dunno…freaks me out. heheh…

  13. sesame says:

    I’ve heard lots of raves on EDM brushes. I believe the ones I’m using could be from the same source.

  14. sesame says:

    No, I agree that synthetic takes longer time to dry. Usually takes me days! It’s those with animal hair that dries quickly.

  15. sesame says:

    Animal hair brushes are good except that mine can feel scratchy. The feeling can even linger on for awhile after I’m done with brushing.

  16. Dee says:

    No matter what brushes I use, I go for synthetic. It just feels much more nice. I have some face brushes that are supposedly made out of squirrel/goat’s hair, and it took quite a few washes until they started to get “less pokey”. Plus, brushes with animal hair smells pretty bad.

  17. Florence says:

    I am using forever female flat top & I love it.I don’t think I like brushes with animial hair coz I had one powder blush that is animial hair & is scratchy.

  18. sesame says:

    I’ve never tried squirrel I think. I was under the impression that it might be softer. As for washing, I remembered one which got more pokey after washing a few times.

  19. sesame says:

    I must try flat top after hearing all the raves. Forever Female is not a brand I’m familiar with – must google to check it out.

  20. Florence says:

    Forever female brush very soft.I brought from Aubrey nicole & Joppa’s minerals also carring this range.Adorned with grace premium brush also very good ,no animial hair.

  21. sesame says:

    Hey thanks for the info Florence! Will take a look at Aubrey Nicole’s site.

  22. Florence says:

    Hey sesame, u are most welcome.AN shipping is not cheap, so usually I wait for the free shiiping. As for AWG,they have good stuff & brushes & shipping is ard USD$2-5.

  23. sesame says:

    $2 to $5 is reasonable!

  24. flym says:

    Thanks for the link on applying compact powder makeup with kabukis.

    The Red Earth kabuki is wonderful to use but it’s not cheap. Regularly priced at about $50. I bought it during the GSS at Sasa with a 50% discount. If not for the sale, I wouldn’t have paid so much for a kabuki.

    An great synthetic kabuki is a retractable one from Ecotools. Bought it in USA for USD 10 from Target or Walmart. It’s not as dense as the TBS one but I find it softer.

  25. sesame says:

    $50! Wow, that’s ex considering I said TBS one is costly. But getting it at 50% discount is really a steal.

    Oh yes, I’ve heard of Ecotools and wanted it badly at one point. Then I got those from Momo Minerals and I lost interest in that range.

  26. pf1123 says:

    Hey, I tried using my synthetic kabuki with my powder foundation for 2 days. Works great! Didn’t realised it!

  27. pf1123 says:

    thanks for “converting” me!

  28. sesame says:

    Oh that’s great! I like using brush with foundation powder. Only thing is I finish the powder much faster!

  29. . says:

    Animal hair ones are so unsanitary. I’d never put one of those on my face!

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