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What are the Different Types of Mascara Brushes?

By T. Alaine
Updated May 21, 2024
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Mascara brushes are available in several different styles, each meant to create a particular finished eye makeup look. Generally, people using mascara have their sights set on achieving volume, length, curl, separation, or all of the above. It is possible to achieve a wide variety of lash looks based on which brush style is selected. The primary types of mascara brushes are straight, curved, and combs; each of these styles can be outfitted with either long, short or rubber bristles.

Straight mascara brushes are popular because they are easy to use and can be very versatile. When the applicator part of the mascara wand, which is the part that comes in contact with the eyelashes, is straight, it is easier to reach small lashes or lashes located in the corners of the eyes. Beginner mascara users might favor straight brushes because they are easy to use and typically forgiving of mistakes. People just beginning to use mascara often need several swipes of the applicator, sometimes held at different angles, to fully coat the lashes, and straight brushes make this possible.

Curved mascara brushes are generally recommended for users seeking extra curl and lift for their lashes. Sweeping the curved brush back and forth across the lashes while simultaneously pulling the brush from root to tip encourages curl and can make eyes look bigger or more open. The application technique is more complex than the requirements for a straight brush, so mascara rookies may want to develop a steady hand before trying curved brushes.

Comb mascara brushes are small, flat, and usually plastic. Individual tines are designed to separate lashes and discourage clumping. Combs are good for exaggerating length, but generally do not add a lot of volume to lashes. As a result, this style of brush may be best suited to individuals who have naturally thick or curled lashes, or those who are just looking for length or separation.

Unlike combs, brushes that are straight or curved have bristles, which are also important for achieving the desired lash style. A brush with short, tightly spaced bristles will be ideal for adding volume to lashes, whereas a brush with long, loosely spaced bristles is best for lengthening and separating lashes. Rubber bristles attempt to combine the qualities expressed by both long and short bristles. A mascara brush with rubber bristles coats even the tiniest lashes, which adds volume, but is also strong enough to coat lashes from root to tip, which adds length. The sturdiness of the rubber bristles also mimics the effects of a comb and separates the lashes.

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Discussion Comments
By donasmrs — On Aug 07, 2012

The mascara wand I've been really impressed with lately is a wand that combines a comb like plastic as well as bristles. The great part about it is that you don't have to choose between volume and separation, you get both!

There are so many new kinds of mascara wands on the market lately. I feel like cosmetic brands come up with a new every three months. The ones I'm curious about right now is the vibrating and spinning mascara wands and those round spiky ones. I have no idea if they work well, but they look really cool!

I think I might be scared of using the vibrating one. I'd fear that some of the mascara would get into my eye. But I'm going to try the round spiky brush soon. I've been hearing good reviews of it. Has anyone tried this kind of mascara wand?

By discographer — On Aug 07, 2012

@fify-- Hey! Yes, there are brushes that work well on both upper and lower lashes. You need to look for a mascara brush that has two different length bristles. It should be longer on one side and shorter on the other.

You're supposed to use the side with the longer bristles for your upper lashes and then twist the brush and use the side with the shorter bristles for your lower lashes.

I've been using a waterproof mascara with this kind of brush for the past two months and I'm very happy with it.

By fify — On Aug 06, 2012

The problem I have with my mascara, which is a straight mascara, is that it doesn't work well for lower lashes. I think the bristles are too big for lower lashes because it always makes a huge mess when I try to coat them. The mascara goes on excessively and gets all over my skin.

I've tried holding it in a slanted way and just using the tip of the brush. But it's even worse then because all the mascara builds up on the tip.

What kind of a brush am I supposed to be using for lower lashes? Isn't there a type of brush that works equally well for upper and lower lashes? Please help!

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