I am moving more towards only using vegan products. As an art student I use and buy tons and tons of paint brushes but how will I know what brush is a vegan and ecological?
There are two kinds of paint brushes; paint brushes made from natural hairs and synthetic paint brushes. Paint brushes made from natural hair are usually meant for oil color, acrylic or watercolor painting also many make up brushes are made from natural hairs. Make up brushes are usually made from squirrels, badgers, horses or goats. Watercolor paint brushes has hair from squirrels and /or ponies. Natural hair oil color brushes are made from pig's hair.
Especially paint brushes made in China are made from butchery left-overs. Part of paint brushes made in Europe are also made from butchery left-overs or they are left overs from European fur farms. That has animal being dead or alive when hair has been cut off? is pretty much impossible to tell. Oil color brushes that are made in China comes from butcheries. Skin is removed from the pigs and hair is taken of by boiling the skin.
All companies that make paint and make-up brushes have their own contractors and contractors have their own subcontractors. This is why it is extremely difficult to track the exact origin of paint brushes made from natural hair.
In Europe there are two categories for natural hair paint brushes. These are.
- Harvested (origin unknown)
- Cruelty free (animal wasn't harmed during the process)
These days synthetic brushes are very well made and work just as well for painting and make-up than natural hair brushes. Buying synthetic brushes you can be shore that animals weren't killed during any part of the process.
However if you prefer using brushes made with natural hair but still don't support killing animals I recommend not to buy any brushes made in China and look for brushes made in Europe that have cruelty free certification. If you are uncertain which category brush belongs ask from the importer about their certifications.
Many art companies have their own lines of synthetic brushes. Some are moving towards only making synthetic brushes. If you want to super ecological you can always try making your own paint brushes. You can cut your own hair or some hair from your cat or dog.
Here are some directions I've found:
If you don't really care are brushes natural or synthetic but you still wish to be more ecological artists one way is to use recycled paint brushes. When I've studied art in different schools few times I've got free supplies when teachers have made art supply inventory. Of course remember to check are brushes in good condition. Especially children don't always remember to wash them after use. You also might have friends and family members who used to paint but got bored with it and would gladly give painting supplies forwards.