The 7 Best Vegan Makeup Brushes of 2021

Consider these brushes to complete your cruelty-free cosmetics kit.

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Replacing animal-derived foods is the first step if you’re on the road towards a 100% vegan lifestyle, but there’s another place in your home where they might be hiding: your makeup bag. 

The use of animal fibers in makeup brushes might seem like an archaic practice, but even the biggest makeup brands continue to employ animal-derived materials in their products. Because of a lack of regulation or animal welfare laws in countries where many of these items are manufactured, it's difficult to know if products are made in a cruelty-free way, particularly as few brands can trace the origins of these materials back to the source. 

There is an easy, and truly cruelty-free alternative, however. Synthetic fibers are an affordable alternative, and one that’s actually better for your skin, according to Tai Young, a Los Angeles-based celebrity makeup artist. “They’re easier to clean and sanitize, and will last longer than animal hair brushes,” she says. “They’re naturally more hygienic than animal hair brushes, which are more porous and therefore more likely to collect bacterial and microbial growth.”

If you like to make the switch, we’ve searched high and low for the best vegan makeup brushes that are also eco-friendly.

The Rundown
Streamline your makeup bag with this set of five interchangeable brushes made from recycled and recyclable materials.
With FSC-certified wooden handles and synthetic bristles, this eye and brow brush duo is both vegan and affordable.
Invest in the future of your skin with these gorgeous makeup brushes from Indigenous-founded beauty company Prados.
Go glam with this 12-piece makeup brush set, handcrafted by artisans based in Kumano, Japan.
Say no to animal testing and animal-derived ingredients and yes to an ultra-soft eyeshadow brush from B Corp The Body Shop.
For a minimalist pick that does it all, consider this multi-use bamboo brush from B Corp Elate Cosmetics.
These professional-grade makeup brushes are 100% vegan and the company is against animal testing for all of its lines.

Best Overall: EcoTools Daily Essentials Face Brush Set

EcoTools Daily Essentials Face Brush Set

There’s no smarter way of keeping your makeup bag green and lightweight than with a set of interchangeable brushes from EcoTools. This little tin set comes complete with five brush heads, which include an angled brush for bronzers and powders, a buffer for applying cream foundations, an airbrush concealer, angled crease for eyeshadow, and a spoolie for combing out mascara-coated lashes or brows. However, what makes this set so handy is the fact the heads can be interchanged across two bamboo handles, making this kit minimalist and ideal for on-the-go. 

We love EcoTools for the fact that 100% of its products are vegan and cruelty-free. These brushes have synthetic bristles, recycled aluminum and bamboo—the latter of which is a more sustainable alternative to plastic. These brushes come in packaging that is biodegradable, too.

Best Budget: Brandless Vegan Eye and Brow Brush Set

Brandless Vegan Eye and Brow Brush Set

If you need just one set of tools for your makeup bag, consider this duo from affordable beauty company, Brandless. The handles of these vegan brushes might look like they’re made from plastic, but they’re actually manufactured from wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), meaning the material comes from sustainably-managed forests. 

The brushes are made of synthetic hair, too, ensuring they’re 100% vegan, while the brand itself is committed to no animal testing and has also eliminated 400 potentially harmful chemicals from its entire line to ensure everything is fully safe for use by you. 

This set not only ensures your lashes and brows remain perfectly manicured, even when you’re on the go, but it’s affordable too. In fact, all of the brushes available from this brand range from between $4 and $10, making them a truly economical and vegan choice.

Best Luxury: Prados Beauty Artistry Brushes

Prados Beauty Artistry Brushes

Invest in the future of your skin with these gorgeous makeup brushes from Indigenous-founded beauty company Prados, which is based in New Mexico. The brushes are handcrafted and made from 100% recycled materials, including 100% synthetic brush fibers, 100% recycled wood handles, and the metal ferrule that joins the two is made from 100% recycled aluminum. Better yet, this company isn’t just doing good for the environment, it also donates a portion of their profits to Indigenous communities. 

If you’re committed to going green as well as vegan when it comes to your cosmetics, it’s well worth splurging on these brushes. You can expect only a small amount of shedding from the bristles, meaning these brushes will last you a very long time. Buy an angled blending brush for a softer application of eyeshadow, opt for a soft concealer brush that’ll help you gain full coverage, or nab the full set for professional makeup application, whatever the look you’re seeking.

Best Set: Firma Beauty 12-Piece Elite Brush Set

Firma Beauty 12-Piece Elite Brush Set

Go glam without animal hair with this 12-piece vegan makeup brush set. Handcrafted by artisans based in Kumano, Japan, the kit includes every brush you need for both day-to-day application and more elaborate designs. From a large powder brush down to a tiny precision pencil brush, you'll have the full range of sizes to complete your look.

Best of all, the feathery soft bristles are made from synthetic fibers and are designed to avoid shedding thanks to high-quality materials. Expect to contour, blend, and conceal with ease for years to come.

Best for Eye Makeup: The Body Shop Double Ended Eyeshadow Brush

The Body Shop Double Ended Eyeshadow Brush

Few companies have quite the same vegan credentials as the Body Shop, who have been tirelessly campaigning against animal testing for over 40 years. This UK brand sells a selection of ultra-soft brushes that have nylon bristles and bamboo handles, with our favorite being this double ended eyeshadow brush.  

Best of all, the Body Shop has been B Corp certified since 2019—and is the biggest B Corp on the planet to have been founded by women. It’s also certified cruelty free by the industry-leading Leaping Bunny, which ensures that absolutely no animal testing has been used in the making of the product. For extra eco-friendly brownie points, 66% of all The Body Shop’s packaging is currently recyclable, with the aim of all 100% being reached by 2025.

Best Bamboo: Elate Cosmetics Bamboo Multi-Use Makeup Brush

Elate Cosmetics Bamboo Multi-Use Makeup Brush

For a minimalist pick that does it all, consider this multi-use bamboo brush from B Corp Elate Cosmetics. Made by the vegan and sustainable makeup brand Elate Cosmetics. It’s perfect for applying liquids, creams, and powders, making it an ideal all-round tool. 

The ethically-sourced and FSC-certified bamboo handle—which is water processed, rather than chemically treated for a far greener manufacturing process—is glued using biodegradable eco-resin to naturally non-porous and antibacterial synthetic Taklon bristles. Once the brush has finished its life, you can even compost the bamboo handle, returning it back to the earth.

Elate Cosmetics also sells a range of different brushes for applying eye shadow, liner, and other products, or you can buy a handy five-piece set that comes in a super sustainable bamboo canister for easy-peasie storage (view on Elate). The company is also certified vegan by PETA and cruelty-free according to the Leaping Bunny standard.

Most Attractive: Bdellium Green Bambu Mineral 5pc. Brush Set

Bdellium Green Bambu Mineral 5pc. Brush Set


“One of my favorite brands of brush is Bdellium, and they have a line of vegan brushes that are also treated with an antimicrobial bristle, which is an obvious benefit,” says makeup artist Mandie Brice.

The five-piece professional-grade set features bamboo handles and soft bristles that help minimize discomfort. The company is against animal testing for all of its lines, and their products are not sold anywhere that requires animal testing due to local laws and regulations.

Final Verdict

It’s hard to beat the price and quality of the brushes from leading vegan makeup brand, EcoTools and we love the practicality of the interchangeable handles found in this set (view on EcoTools.com). With their sustainably-sourced bamboo handles and hypoallergenic bristles, the multi-use makeup brush from Elate Cosmetics is a similarly affordable and sustainable alternative and can even be sent with minimal packaging if you’re striving to be waste-free (view on ElateBeauty.com).

What To Look for in a Vegan Makeup Brush

Cruelty-Free Credentials

Cruelty-free doesn’t necessarily mean vegan, which is why you have to be more mindful when purchasing products that claim to be animal-friendly. The best vegan products haven’t been tested on animals, nor do they contain any animal-derived materials or ingredients. 

Look out for certifications such as the Leaping Bunny standard from Cruelty Free International, which proves that no products, nor any of the materials used in the manufacturing of those products, have been tested on animals. You an also look for the PETA “Beauty Without Bunnies” logo, which certifies that a company is either cruelty-free or cruelty-free and vegan. 


Environmentally-Friendly Materials

Makeup brushes aren’t just about the bristles. The handles can have an environmental impact, too, and vegan doesn’t necessarily mean environmentally friendly, as it often relies on plastic materials that are byproducts of the fossil fuel industry. 

To mitigate this impact, keep an eye out for those using more sustainable materials in the handle. The most common is bamboo, which is fast to grow when compared with other woods and doesn’t require the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. To ensure this has been sustainably sourced, look for certifications by third-party bodies such as the Forest Stewardship Council. This certification shows that the wood has come from forests that are sustainably managed according to strict environmental and social standards, meaning that your purchase isn’t damaging the world’s forests. 

Sustainable Packaging

If you want to prevent cruelty to animals and also help protect wild habitats, it's a good idea to avoid plastic-heavy packaging, which will most likely end up in landfill, being burned, or polluting the ocean. Look for products that are in more easily recyclable packaging such as paper or card and which don’t use unnecessary boxes or wrappings.

FAQs

Are vegan makeup brushes as good as brushes that use animal hair for applying makeup?

“Even beyond ethical reasons, there is some decent rationale for makeup brushes with synthetic bristles,” explains Los Angeles makeup artist Mandie Brice. “If you are using liquid or cream makeup products, a synthetic bristle would be recommended anyway because it is both better for application, and easier to clean than an animal hair bristle brush.” 

What’s more, because a synthetic bristle is less fragile, you can actually disinfect them more easily, without worrying about them disintegrating. “This is an important factor to consider, especially during a pandemic or cold and flu season,” says Brice.

Do vegan makeup brushes soak up the product more?

No. Animal hair is more porous, meaning that it will soak up more of the product. As a result, using synthetic fibers will actually help to make your makeup go further and last longer, which is a win for your pocket and for the planet. This also makes vegan brushes great for liquid makeup such as foundation or concealer, as you’ll find that more is actually reaching your face, rather than staying on the brush.

Are vegan makeup brushes sustainable?

It depends. Synthetic fibers are generally made from plastic materials, which are a by-product of the petroleum industry and can be difficult or completely impossible to recycle. However, many vegan makeup brushes try to balance this by using sustainable materials in the rest of the design. Many use fast-growing bamboo for the handle; this wood is considered more sustainable than others as it requires no pesticides or chemicals to grow and can often be composted at the end of its life.

Aluminum can also be used in the ferrules on the brushes (the metal that joins the bristles with the handle); aluminum is easily recycled, and so can be reused again and again and again, making this one of the most sustainable choices of metal.

Why Trust Treehugger?

To make this list, we investigated products that are vegan, looking specifically for those with external certifications. We also aimed to make our selection as environmentally-friendly as possible, through their materials, packaging, and manufacturing process. We also interviewed professional makeup artists about the pros and cons of switching to vegan makeup brushes.

Author Steph Dyson is a lover of all things sustainable and enjoys test-driving green products. She is committed to reducing her environmental impact by selecting vegan products and making other ethical choices in her day-to-day life.