I have quite the collection of cruelty-free makeup brushes now. I had switched over to synthetic bristle brushes over a year ago and I’m really happy with my decision. Not only are they more ethical as no animals are harmed to produce them, they also last longer, don’t shed and are more hygienic than animal hair brushes. For more information on why synthetic brushes are better than natural hair brushes, check out my post Making The Switch: Why Synthetic Makeup Brushes Are Better Than Natural Hair Brushes.
I have quite a few favourite cruelty-free makeup brushes, but here is a list of my top five brushes under $10 CAD in order of price.
1. Essence Precise Eyeliner Brush ($3 CAD | $2 USD)
This brush is sold to be used with the Essence gel eyeliner (also a fabulous product) but it is a great angle brush to use for filling in brows or lining with powder/pencil products. The brushes come in a variety of colours including purple, pink, blue and red, but they all function equally well.
In Canada they are sold at Shoppers Drug Mart for $3 CAD, and $2 USD at Ulta in the States. I use this on a daily basis to apply eyeliner and create winged smokey looks with eyeshadow.
For more information check out the description on the Essence website: Essence Precise Eyeliner Brush
2.Wet n’ Wild Angle Brush ($4 CAD | $3 USD)
This brush comes in their gel eyeliner kit, which I find is too dense and thick to be used for gel eyeliner. It’s fine if you want to apply a thick line but it is virtually impossible to have much control on the thickness of the line.
Also the brush handle is really small (about 3″ including ferrel) which makes it hard to maneuver for eyeliner. So instead I like to use this brush to fill in my eyebrows. It’s dense and soft making it perfect to apply power, and the shorter handle is not a problem to work on brows. It’s also great to travel with since it takes up very little room.
The kit itself is $4 which comes with the gel eyeliner (it’s a decent gel liner) and the brush, so for $4 you can’t go wrong. I think they might be $3 in the States, but I’m not sure. Wet n’ Wild products are only sold at Walmart in Canada.
3. Real Techniques Fine Liner Brush ($7-9 CAD | $6 USD)
This is my favourite liner brush for gel liner. I prefer liner brushes over angled brushes, and all the other liner brushes I’ve tried have either been too long, too stiff, inflexible or too short. This brush is perfect and I loved mine so much I got a second. It also dries incredibly quickly and I often wash it in the morning, dry it off on a towel and use it immediately after without any issues. It’s awesome!
These brushes are available at a few locations in Canada. Online and in Toronto they are sold at Designer Cosmetics for $9 and online at Farleyco for $7. I’ve only purchased brushes at the Designer Cosmetics store in Toronto so I cannot provide feedback on purchasing off their online store or off of the Farleyco online store. It may be available at London Drugs.
4. Real Techniques Shading Brush ($7-10 CAD | $6 USD)
I love this brush. It is a very dense brush that is great to apply eyeshadows but also great for buffing or products. I personally prefer to use this brush primarily to apply creame or gel products as bases to my lids and then buffing them out into the crease. It’s great when I’m playing around with makeup for Halloween looks that use a lot of creame products.
Like the Real Techniques liner brush, I liked this so much I bought a second brush. It also dries very quickly like the liner brush and I’ve washed and dried it with a towel and used it immediately after. Obviously this takes a little more buffing on the towel to get it completely dry, but it is workable. I would only do this though to use creame products. It wouldn’t be dry enough to use with powders unless you’re going for a slightly foiled look.
5. Bdellium Green Bamboo ($9 CAD | $6 USD)
This is my go-to eyeshadow brush. I own three of these and I still want more. They are soft, semi-dense and are great for applying and blending shadows. Normally I only use these to apply shadow with and I use the bdellium blending brush (#787 – $11) to blend the shadows with, but this brush works in a pinch if you rotate it sideways. It’s fluffy enough to do the job but it also tapers at the tip which is great for patting on shadow with.
The green bamboo line has shorter handles than the pink bamboo line, which may make them problematic for people with larger hands or who prefer longer handles. I don’t mind them and I find that they’re great for traveling with.
In Canada these brushes are available on Devu Cosmetics and All Cosmetic Wholesale. Devu Cosmetics is a Canadian website charging in Canadian dollars and you won’t have to pay duties. All Cosmetic Wholesale is a U.S. site charging in USD but ships to Canada. I first used them when I bought some of my bdellium brushes and didn’t have any issues with them. The second I used Devo Cosmetics and they were great as well. For Canadians I would recommend Devu Cosmetics only because there is less hassle and they ship really quickly so you’ll get your products much sooner without worrying about potential COD charges.
Disclaimer: All brushes mentioned were purchased by myself and I am not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in this post.