Sustainability Special Newsletter

Synthetic brush fibers as a sustainable choice

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Synthetic brush fibers as a sustainable choice
Natural animal hair was once readily available as a by-product of food industries. Now that’s changing along with the global food supply. And, consumer attitudes are shifting too. As a result, beauty tool makers are developing new fiber alternatives.

A sustainably sourced material is one your company will reliably have access to. So as often as sustainable sourcing means gathering ready-to-use materials from nature in a way that doesn’t deplete the ecosystem, it means, instead, synthesizing materials with plentiful inputs (like plant cellulose or petrochemicals) that replace the natural version.

Often, manufactured versions can be tailored for an array of uses that conventional materials cannot accommodate. Cosmetics Design connected with Jim Perry, president and CEO of TaikiUSA, to get a closer look at the options. “Now that consumers and companies are no longer using natural hair (because of cruelty free, bacterial issues), synthetics options are needed,” ​he confirms.

Performance quality

In the beauty tools space, synthetic fibers are not new.  “Synthetic brushes have typically been used for liquid application,” ​notes Perry. Though, “currently many powder brushes are made from goat hair (or other animal hair) as this was always known to be the superior performing product.”

Natural hair brushes made from squirrel, pony, sable, kolinsky, goat and badger are the industry reference points for bristles shape and behavior. Perry believes that, “the superior standard of natural hair is squirrel hair.”

So it was that particular fiber, the company set out to replicate or improve upon: “With that goal in mind, Taiki created Tafre – Taiki Animal Free Ecological fibre,” ​he tells Cosmetics Design. Perry adds that the patented Tafre fiber “performs better and feels better – using cuticles that perform better than natural hair.”

Material design  

This new material is meant to meet consumer expectations and brand demand. “As consumers are using brushes and tools made of fibre other than natural fibres, there is a push towards creating solutions that perform better,” ​Perry emphasizes.            

Companies like Takai, FM Brush Company​, and Anisa International​ reliably include high-performance synthetic alternatives in their portfolios. Takai’s version is made with 37% annually renewable plant-base material. And, the company “encourages customers to use rapidly renewable woods like bamboo and birch,” ​says Perry.   

Both Anisa International and Takai partnered with DuPont on fiber development, And FM Brush Company boasts a portfolio of over 45 synthetic fiber types. Every manufacturer looking to compete with animal hair in this category claims to have alternatives that outperform the natural fibers. 

Many factors are in play here. “For all consumer categories, people are much more inquisitive and engaged and want to understand what sort of culture and material is behind what they are purchasing,” Anisa Telwar, founder of Anisa International told Cosmetics Design at MakeUp in New York​ this summer. For now, both natural and synthetic fibers remain relevant. Though when it’s all said and done, “the end consumer may be the one that decides which way the industry is moving,” ​says Telwar.

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