Tools + How-Tos

10 Amazing (and Cruelty-Free) Paint Brushes

August 11, 2021

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I'm a full-time artist and online educator. You can find my watercolor designs on products all around the globe. This blog is where I share all of my latest art business tips for you!

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If you’ve been looking for cruelty-free art supplies – meaning not made from any part of an animal and/or not tested on animals, etc. – today I’m rounding up a list of brushes for you. And regardless of if you’re worried about them being cruelty-free, these brushes are so good!

Now if you want to go completely vegan with your supplies, you’ll also need to look at the paper you’re using (what they use to treat it) and even what’s inside your paints.

There are also other considerations like how these supplies can affect our environment – whether that’s through the manufacturing process or even how we rinse our brushes in the sink.

Tip: avoid paints with “cadmium” in them if rinsing down your drain, and also avoid rinsing acrylic paint down your drain in general! You can instead let your water or paint bucket dry out naturally, like by a sunny window, and then throw away the dried acrylic paint in the trash.

Despite all of these considerations, focus today will be solely on animal hair-free brushes. Generally in brush world “synthetic” means they are NOT made with animal hair. “Natural” usually means it is made with real animal hair.

A tip on brush types: I tend to paint with round brushes for the most part because they are so versatile, so for beginners I recommend Round brushes in sizes 6, 8, or 10. You can use a Round Size 0 or 2 for smaller details. Once you want to expand your inventory, try a flat wash brush, mop brush, filbert brushes – have fun with it! 

Note that most of the links below are affiliate links, which means at no cost to you I may receive a small bonus with any purchases. Thank you for your extra support!

1. Princeton Lauren Series

These are my go-to brushes – and even better, they are relatively cheap! I use this brush for both watercolor and acrylic. 

2. Princeton Heritage Series

Another good and fairly inexpensive synthetic brush series from Princeton. Best for watercolors. 

3. SCHPIRERR FARBEN – Round Watercolor Brushes

These soft, round watercolor brushes are super budget-friendly and worth a shot if you’re looking for a really affordable brand.

4. da Vinci CosmoTop Synthetics 

I have a couple of these brushes, and while they are pricier, they have a really nice feel for when I want to be a bit looser with my painting (I find the Lauren brushes a bit snappier). All synthetic fibers, and certified green manufacturing with sustainable wood handles.

5. Escoda Versatil Watercolor and Acrylic Brushes

These brushes are made in Spain and on my try-next list. A bit more expensive, but have great reviews. 

6. Escoda Travel Brush

This synthetic brush comes with a convertible cap for easy travel to protect the bristles. How cool!

7. Princeton Neptune Series

Slightly pricier than the other options presented here, but these “synthetic squirrel” brushes are worth a try! Watercolors only. 

8. Winsor & Newton 5/8″ Mop Brush

Mop brushes tend to be a bit more expensive, but this synthetic version is a great price. 

9. Princeton Velvetouch Series

If you need brushes for oil paint, this animal-friendly brush series works for oil as well as watercolor and acrylic. 

10. The Pigeon Letter Brushes

Nice quality synthetic brushes and made by a fellow artist. Bonus: The Pigeon Letters donates a portion of all proceeds to nonprofits working toward sustaining wildlife!

What’s your go to brush size, shape, or brand? Let us know in the comments below!

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    Hi! I'm Juliet, an artist and surface designer. I create watercolor artwork and teach online classes for artists.

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