Vegan Cruelty-Free Makeup Brushes Part 1–Complexion Brushes

I love makeup, but you know what’s a close second? Makeup brushes! I’ve enjoyed trying a variety of shapes and sizes to find what works best for me. Since cruelty-free status is extremely important to me, I only purchase brushes from cruelty-free companies. Additionally, I only buy vegan (synthetic) brushes. Some of my favorite brands of vegan cruelty-free makeup brushes are e.l.f. Cosmetics, Real Techniques, and Profusion Cosmetics. All of these brands are affordable, so I didn’t have to break the bank trying a variety of their brushes!

I decided to do a short series of posts about my favorite makeup brushes, split into three categories: complexion, cheek, and eye brushes. I hope that my top picks will be helpful, whether you are interested in the same brushes that I use, something similar, orVegan Cruelty-Free Makeup Brushes you may even decide that you need something entirely different for your face and eyes. In this post, I’m going to focus on complexion brushes which include brushes that I use for foundation, concealer, and powder. In this category, every single brush happens to come from e.l.f. Cosmetics. I won’t hide the fact that I am a big fan of the brand overall, but I genuinely enjoy these particular brushes very much and I prefer them over complexion brushes that I own from other brands.

Qualities of a good makeup brush

Makeup brushes can make a huge difference in application. A good brush might make you realize that you actually enjoy a product that you thought you’d never use, while a poor quality brush may have the opposite effect. So what qualities does a brush need to be “good?”

  • Soft bristles
  • Durable construction
  • Does not shed
  • Comfortable handle
  • Blends products easily and evenly

All of the makeup brushes mentioned in this post and the others to come, share these qualities.

Vegan makeup brushes VS. Natural animal hair makeup brushes

My primary reason for buying vegan (synthetic) makeup brushes rather than natural animal hair brushes, is that I don’t want to support animal cruelty. However, there are several other reasons that synthetic brushes are superior!:

  • Synthetic brushes hold up better over time, even with frequent cleaning
  • Filaments (bristles) aren’t as porous as animal hairs and therefore don’t absorb as much product
  • Easier to clean
  • Hypoallergenic; animal hairs can cause allergic reactions
  • Often more affordable

Disclosure: IntegriBeauty includes affiliate links within product review posts. I receive commissions for purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you. IntegriBeauty is independently owned and all products discussed within IntegriBeauty product review posts are thoroughly tested and given honest reviews.

Liquid foundation and concealer – e.l.f. Angled Buffing Brush

Product claims on A versatile angled brush that applies, buffs out and blends thick liquids and creams. Its round slanted shape allows you to utilize this brush for foundations, blushes or bronzers, with densely packed bristles that assist in picking up the right amount of product.

Most liquid foundations (including BB creams, CC creams, and tinted moisturizers) and concealers can be applied with a brush, beauty sponge, or even fingers. That doesn’t mean they will look as good with each of those options, however. I occasionally use beauty sponges to apply foundation, but I don’t like how much product they soak up, and I never use fingers because I know I wouldn’t get an even application. My preferred application tool for liquid foundations and concealers is a foundation brush.

My favored style of foundation brush is a densely packed brush that is angled. When I apply liquid foundations, I use more of a stippling motion than buffing to get more coverage, and I’ve found that densely packed bristles are best for that type of application. It’s ironic that the name of my current favorite foundation brush is the e.l.f. Angled Buffing Brush. It would certainly work well for buffing as well, that just isn’t my preference. As far as the angled aspect, that is simply a personal preference. I don’t think it makes that big of a difference for foundation, but may allow for slightly more precise application. It certainly makes blending concealer easier since the angled “point” of the brush is easy to maneuver around the eye area. If you prefer a dense foundation brush that is dome shaped (not angled), e.l.f. also offers a Buffing Foundation Brush which is similar to this brush except for the shape

The e.l.f. Angled Buffing Brush checks my boxes for a foundation brush since it has densely packed bristles that aren’t too long, and they’re cut at the angle that I like. It makes foundation application easy and blends all of my liquid foundations evenly. It would work well for powder foundations too, but I have another foundation brush that I like even better for powders.

Powder foundation – e.l.f. Ultimate Blending Brush

Product claims on e.l.f.’s Ultimate Blending Brush is specifically designed for advanced makeup techniques that help achieve professional looks. The large dome-shaped head and densely packed bristles maneuver in and around the crevices and contours of your face for seamless, even coverage. Picks up the perfect amount of product to build coverage with powder, liquid, or mousse formulas ideal for foundation, bronzer, or blush.

I usually see large fluffy brushes suggested for use with powder foundations, but I don’t think that type of brush is ideal if you want coverage from a powder foundation. Since powder foundations are obviously powder, they have to be packed on (not so much to be cakey, but more than a dusting) to provide coverage. The type of brush I like to use for powder foundation is very similar to the brushes I use for liquid foundations. My go-to brush for powder foundation is the e.l.f. Ultimate Blending Brush. Its bristles aren’t as densely packed as the Angled Buffing Brush, but they’re more dense than a lot of foundation brushes, allowing it to pick up a good amount of powder. The sides are tapered, making it easy to buff the foundation into the skin. I agree with e.l.f.’s product claims 100%!

Setting powder – e.l.f. Flawless Face Brush

Product claims on This soft, synthetic brush lets you apply product with the lightest touch for a soft, sheer, natural-looking effect. The slight point at the tip fits nicely into the contours of the face for more precise placement. Use the flat side for all over application of powders, or the skinny side for blush and bronzer. 

The e.l.f. Flawless Face brush is one of the most unique brushes I own. As e.l.f.’s product description notes, it has a very interesting shape. I only use this brush to apply setting powder (my current favorite is e.l.f. Halo Glow Setting Powder), but it would be perfect as a multitasking tool for traveling light! I use the flat side of the brush to pick up and apply setting powder all over my face (except under my eyes, but I’ll get to that next). When applying powder, I pat it on and then sweep excess product around to distribute evenly. I find that when using that method for powder application, I never disturb my foundation and I don’t get as much product buildup on the brush. I can’t fully explain why, but I definitely prefer the unique shape of Flawless Face Brush over traditional powder brushes. It’s probably because the large domed shape of most powder brushes encourages more of a sweeping/buffing motion and that’s not my preferred application method.

Under-eye setting powder – e.l.f. Small Tapered Brush

Product claims on The tapered head of the Small Tapered Brush makes application easy for reaching small crevices for a flawless finish. This precision brush is perfect for contouring and creating even coverage. Use with powder to set under the eye, on the hollows of the cheek to contour with bronzer, or use with foundation to achieve a light finish.

E.l.f. must’ve been bored with naming products when this brush launched, because the Small Tapered Brush is just that–a tapered brush that is small! All jokes aside, this is a great little brush. Before I powder the rest of my face, I pick up a little setting powder on the Small Tapered Brush and tap it under my eyes to prevent creasing. I prefer to use this brush on the under-eye area instead of the Flawless Face Brush because the size and shape are ideal for smaller areas of the face. On days that I don’t want to powder my whole face, I will use the Small Tapered Brush to powder my under-eye area, t-zone, and that’s it. Very quick and easy for simple makeup looks.

All of the complexion brushes I mentioned in this post are very high quality. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to spend big money to get quality brushes (you can purchase all four of these brushes for only $22.00!). E.l.f. offers several other popular brushes as well, so I encourage you to check them out! 😉

What are some of your favorite complexion brushes? Are any of them from e.l.f.? If not, you might want to give them a shot and see how they compare with your current faves!


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