A squirrel brush is a makeup application brush made of squirrel hair. Higher-quality squirrel hair brushes are typically made with the hair of the gray or blue squirrel native to Russia. Brown squirrel hair is more readily available, and brushes made from it are usually cheaper and considered medium-quality. Sometimes, squirrel hair is mixed with other hair in the brush to lower the cost.
Squirrel hair is generally very soft and gentle on the skin. It is also considered durable, and many prefer it over other natural brush types. If a person has sensitive skin, they might consider a squirrel brush to apply makeup. Before choosing a brush, however, it is a good idea for individuals to be sure that the hair is not mixed with other, more coarse hair, which may irritate the skin. An allergy test may also be a good idea before purchasing a squirrel brush.
Most squirrel brushes are not made from the hair of the typical garden-variety squirrel. Instead, longhair squirrels native to Canada and Russia are usually used. The longer hairs from the tail are most often used, and they are generally kept as natural and unprocessed as possible. The hair chosen is very fine, so the brushes can be packed more densely. They are typically good for eyeshadow and powder foundation brushes—some art brush companies also use squirrel hair in their paintbrushes, and they are said to be very good for watercolor.
While some consider a squirrel brush to be a high-quality product, others choose not to use them. Some of these brushes are made in countries with little or no animal welfare laws and regulations. Even those manufactured with strict regulations and minimal animal cruelty might not be purchased by those against using animal products of any kind.
Typically, any cosmetic salon or shop will carry the squirrel hair brush. It is important to keep all makeup brushes clean, but natural brushes may require even more care. Natural makeup brushes tend to trap and hold dirt and bacteria, which can cause infections or other complications when they come into contact with the face. To clean a squirrel brush, individuals should swirl it around in a bowl of warm water mixed with a few drops of shampoo, then rinse the brush under running warm water thoroughly. It generally takes several hours for a squirrel brush to dry completely, so it is best for users to lay it flat and allow it to dry overnight.