Monday, September 7, 2015

The Anatomy of a Nail Brush

Bristles: Bristles can be made of animal hair or synthetic materials like nylon filament, Taklon, or polyester.
Ferrule: The ferrule is the metal portion that holds the bristles. It keeps the bristles tightly in place and helps protect them from damage. The bristles are held in the ferrule with glue which will break down if exposed to monomer or acetone. For this reason you should never store your brush with the bristles up.
Handle: Acrylic brushes in the nail industry typically have handles made of wood, plastic, or in some cases aluminum. If you get a wood handle with a coating be sure it is solvent resistant.
Belly: The belly of the brush is the fullest part of the bristles. It is also the portion of the brush used to press acrylic flat.
Sable and Kolinsky Acrylic Brushes
Kolinsky are small forest animals related to badgers and mink that are valued for their fur. The fur has been favored amongst artists for hundreds of years. Because of its strength, spring, and ability to retain shape ("snap"), it is considered the finest fiber for art and acrylic brushes. It holds a very fine point or edge. Kolinsky is considered to be a professional grade of hair, and if properly cared for, it will last for many years.
- Avoid skin contact with the bristles - oils from the body can deteriorate the bristles over time.
- Only use monomer for cleaning natural hair acrylic brushes
Kolinsky hair is obtained from the tail of the Kolinsky weasel during the winter months as the fur is thicker, fuller and healthier. Kolinsky bristles tend to be pale red in color with darker tips. The weasel is not an animal that is raised well in captivity, and is generally isolated to the geographical region of Siberia. Due to this difficulty in harvesting the hair, and the fact that other natural and artificial bristles are not comparable in quality, these bristles are expensive.
Red Sable is obtained from any weasel with "red" hair, not from the animal known as the sable. Its quality and characteristics that vary greatly. A quality pure red sable brush is a good alternative to the more expensive Kolinsky, with similar performance and durability.

Gel Brushes
Synthetic bristles are a favored choice for working with gel. They are durable and hold up well to commercial cleaners. They also don’t have to be cleaned as thoroughly as a sable acrylic brush. Alcohol can actually be used to remove most of the gel from the bristles, and the brushes can always be stored upright as alcohol evaporates much more quickly than monomer. To clean a gel brush, simply swish it back and forth in cleaner or alcohol and press dry between two pieces of paper towel.

Nail Art Brushes
Nail art brushes are usually thinner for more detailed work. Some are as tiny as four or five hairs thick. Extreme care must be given to these types of brushes. Some cannot afford to even have one or two bristles mangled. If you’re using the brush with a water-based medium such as acrylic nail art paint, swish it slightly in soapy lukewarm water, rinse in cool water, and reshape with a dry paper towel. If you are doing art with nail polish you would have to clean your brushes in acetone which will deteriorate the brush. You may wish to have an inexpensive set of brushes if you use polish. More about nail art brush types here: