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July 11th, 2011 | By Alicia Silverstone

Kind Lifer, Megan, recently wrote to me asking how animal bristles are obtained for products like makeup brushes and paintbrushes, so I talked to PETA to get the downlow about brushes made from animal bristles.

According to PETA, it’s tough to get concrete information from a good source on this topic. But here is what we know:

Many brushes are made from animal hair, such as squirrel, pony, goat, sable, and mink. Every year, millions of these animals are trapped, cruelly beaten, and killed for their hair and fur. Additionally, a small amount of badger hair is imported into the United States from China, but it is expensive and strictly controlled, so it is not typically used by brush manufacturers.

Makers of pony and goat hairbrushes claim that the hair is collected during grooming. PETA says that given the number of goats and horses on farms, this is possible, but difficult to prove. On the other hand, hair obtained from wild animals most likely involves killing the animal – it’s hard to imagine anyone giving a badger, squirrel, or mink a haircut.

If you already have brushes that work well, don’t go out and buy new ones – enjoy the ones you have. Just be sure to buy kind versions next time you need them! If you do need some vegan makeup brushes, my EcoTools brushes are 100% cruelty-free and earth-friendly. If you are on the market for vegan paintbrushes, Winsor Newton makes some synthetic brushes – they also sell brushes made from animal hair though, so make sure to double check the materials from which your brushes are made.

Have any of you kind artists found a great brand of vegan paintbrushes and art supplies? And what are your favorite eco-friendly hairbrushes?

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