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Brush knowhow and expert knowledge

Our "brush-wiki"

Here you will find a summary on the topics of material science, brushes and their areas of application as well as our tips for brush care.


1. Hair / bristle

The hairs and bristles are the most important and relevant raw materials of the brush manufacturers. We talk about hair when the fibers have a very thin diameter and when a distinction is made between the root side (thick) and a clearly defined tip (very thin). Bristles are stronger and often end in several parts (flag).

For hair and bristle it’s important that the natural tip is not cut off. The fine tips are essential for a perfect brush function. If you would cut off the hair and bristle tips, they will scratch and the desired shape of the brush would be difficult to implement.

Natural hairs and bristles were the only option traditional brush manufacturers had in the past, because synthetic hair wasn’t available or not of satisfying quality yet. Nowadays, the purchase of natural hair is becoming increasingly difficult due to the following reasons:

  • Cessation of fur industry and thus also hair dressing capacities
  • Industrial slaughter, which leaves no time for cutting off the hair
  • Frequent supply shortages
  • Strong quality fluctuations

All natural hair and bristles must be cleaned and degreased by the brush manufacturers before using it. After that, the raw material is sorted and bundled by length. This finishing process is very complex and requires a lot of experience. Especially in Germany, there is a great deal of finishing expertise thanks to decades of experience.

This is the highest quality and also most valuable hair that the brush makers use. The hair comes from the tail of a large weasel species (lat. mustela sibirica) which can be found mainly in Russia and China. This pure hair can cost up to 20.000 €/ kg depending on the quality grade and hair length.

The Indian species of this animal is under species protection. However, the Chinese and Russian animals are sometimes even considered pests. Due to Corona, the trade with wild animals is severely restricted. This leads to massive supply shortages. Generally, certificates of origin are required for the trade of this hair. The Kolinsky hair is so popular because it has an extremely fine, long and elastic tip. Like all natural hair it also has a very high liquid absorption capacity. Each individual hair has a small belly or a thicker diameter area along its length. This thicker area makes the hair very strong. This is also the reason why Kolinsky hair has not been satisfactorily replicated by synthetic fibers yet.

In particular, Kolinsky hair is used for very high-quality dental layering brushes, nail design brushes and artist brushes.

Red salbe or weasel hair is often compared with Kolinsky hair, but it has a lower quality level. The animals or tails are slightly smaller. Therefore, the hair and hair tips are also less long and not quite as strong. Areas of application are also dental brushes, nail design brushes and artist brushes.


Squirrel hair is the softest natural hair. It comes from the tail of the squirrel. These animals live in cold regions such as Siberia, China and Canada. The hair has very fine tips, but it’s also very delicate and tears easily. The hair has the highest liquid absorption capacity within the natural hair but a very low elasticity. Traditional areas of application are washing techniques, watercolour painting, porcelain painting and gliding. For many years, fehair was also the first choice for high-quality cosmetic brushes. In the meantime, fehair can be well replaced by hair blends or even pure synthetic hair qualities.


It comes from the edges of the ears of the cattle. The animals mostly come from Europe and South America. The natural colors are black, dark brown or light brown. For the Italian market there is a reddish colored variety (pelo bue). The cow hair does not have such fine tips as Kolinsky, red marten or fehair, but it is stronger. It was often used for simple watercolor or oil paint brushes. Today, cow hair is no longer of great importance because it can be easily replaced by more efficient synthetic hair.


Pony hair is a very low-quality hair. It does not form a fine tip, nor is it strong. In addition, it isn’t sufficiently cleaned very often. Unfortunately, for reasons of cost, it is still used and even by reputable suppliers for school painting or hobby brushes. For over 15 years, Zahn Pinselmanufaktur has completely replaced pony hair with significantly higher quality and bacteriologically safe PONEX synthetic hair and was thus a pioneer in the industry.


The goat hair comes from the back of the goat. There are up to 7 different quality levels for simple dust brushes to the highest quality cosmetic brushes. The natural colors are white and black, but the hair is often dyed. Similar to fehair, goat hair is very soft, has fine tips and tears easily. For most fields of application, there is now more powerful synthetic hair.


Due to species protection regulations, iltishair is no longer important for brush production. Zahn Pinselmanufaktur offers oil painting brushes made from a so-called iltishair imitation, which consists of a high-quality mixture of various natural and synthetic hair.


For a long time, this hair was the first choice for high-quality oil painting brushes because it is very strong and has fine tips. However, the trade is prohibited for species protection reasons. Zahn Pinselmanufaktur can now offer a very high-quality natural synthetic hair blend that surpasses the performance of natural mongoose hair.


Badger hair is the strongest and waviest natural hair of all. Therefore, it is particularly suitable for brushes that should fan out well. The parade application is for shaving brushes. For simple shaving brushes, the so-called stick hair is used. It comes from the lateral back of the badger and has a gray, inhomogeneous coloring. For medium shaving brush qualities one uses so-called plucked hair in black color, 2-band material with dark color in the root area and lighter color of the tips as well as mantle pluck with light tips and a dark band in the middle area. The highest quality badger hair has silver tip hair. It has shimmering silver tips and a black band of color in the center. It comes from the middle back of the badger and is the longest.

The pattern of the side hairs is not as pronounced as the comb hairs on the back. They are processed separately during the finishing process. Badger hair is not straight like other fine hair, but slightly wavy.

  • Silvertip
    Silver tip is the hair from the back comb with the typical white-black pattern. It is the highest quality badger hair; if it is handpicked, it is called Silberspitz Auslese from Badger Hair.
  • Badger Pluck
    The pluck is the back hair of the badger. It has a very high quality, but without the "Silberspitz" markings. It is called pluck because the longest hair of badger hairs of different length is plucked out. The hair has a uniform length.

    Light: color white grayish with black touches
    Black: color relatively dark, gray-black.
  • Badger stick
    Is both the shorter ventral hair of the badger, and the badger hair that remains as a remnant after the (longer) badger pluck is plucked out. Softer than badger pluck.
  • Badger imitation
    Natural pig bristle, which is badger colored
  • Bristle
    Natural pig bristle, bleached white
  • Synthetic fibers
    With innovative synthetic fibers, which are both mechanically and chemically corrugated and in some cases have a surface treatment, natural hair is increasingly being replaced - whether for ethical reasons or ultimately because of the good price-performance ratio and price consistency of synthetic fibers.

    Just like natural hair, the processing of synthetic fibers requires a great deal of craftsmanship and experience in processing.
    Synthetic fibers are available in a wide variety of colors and diameters, which makes the design and feel of the shaving brush very variable.

The bristle comes in particular from the back of the pig. Due to the ever-shortening lifespan of pigs, long, high-quality natural bristles are becoming increasingly rare. Natural bristles still come almost exclusively from China. In the past, bristle types were named after the Chinese shipping ports (e.g. Chungking, Shanghai or Tsingtao). The natural bristle colors are yellowish (falb), gray or black. The yellowish bristle is often bleached for a more harmonious appearance. The quality for very high quality brushes is 90% bristles of equal length with natural flag (90% tops). A flag is the multi-linked tip of the bristle, similar to a split end in hair. This multi-linked tip is important for a soft painting behavior of the brush and a high paint absorption. Due to the procurement problems, almost only natural synthetic bristle blends or even pure synthetic bristles are now used for craftsman's brushes. Pure natural bristles are now only used for artists' brushes, hobby brushes or simple shaving brushes.


Synthetic hairs are increasingly replacing plant and animal hairs and fibers. Their appearance often mimics that of natural fibers and they are often visually indistinguishable from them. Their performance and durability now often significantly exceeds that of natural fibers. The pioneer in the development of synthetic hair was the Japanese company Toray. That is why Toray is still often used synonymously, although there are now many other manufacturers from Japan, Germany, Thailand, Korea and also China. Synthetic hairs are available in a wide variety of diameters from approx. 0.06mm to over 2mm.


Synthetikhaare überzeugen heutzutage durch ihre Leistungsfähigkeit und Lebensdauer. Ausführliche Informationen finden Sie in den Folgeunterpunkten.


Synthetic hair has a longer service life than natural hair in most applications. They are also significantly more tear-resistant, for example. However, media compatibility and operating conditions must always be examined more closely in individual cases.


Synthetic hair can now be designed precisely for their intended use. Possible parameters are, for example, the diameter, the conicity and the cross-section geometry.


By mixing different diameters, using special synthetics and fiber geometries, synthetic hair achieves a significantly higher performance than natural hair, the quality of which often depends on climatic conditions and can therefore fluctuate greatly.


Climatic conditions, species protection or import restrictions often make these trades with natural products unpredictable. The supply of man-made fibers is not subject to these influencing factors and is therefore significantly more stable.


Synthetic hair can be dyed as desired. This can be done either already through the synthetic granules or subsequently on the bundled fiber.


In many applications, especially in the cosmetics sector, the trend is leaning towards vegan brushes. Zahn Pinselmanufaktur has been supporting this trend for many years with a large selection of synthetic trim materials.


  • Pointed / slotted
  • Wavy
  • With hollow channel
  • Different cross-section geometrics
  • Surface coatings

Polybutylene Terephthalate has proven to be perfect especially for thin, tear-resistant hair with precisely adjustable taper.


Due to the procurement difficulties and cost development of Kolinsky and red sable hair, Zahn Pinselmanufaktur began to develop a powerful synthetic hair alternative very early. The aim of the development was to achieve a comparable strong brush shape, including the belly typical of natural Kolinsky hair, very good tip formation and outstanding liquid absorption capacity. This was achieved by using synthetic hair with a high taper, wavy fiber geometry and different diameters and fiber lengths. Zahn Pinselmanufaktur is the only manufacturer in the world that can offer synthetic Kolinsky brushes with the typical belly shape. We have given this milestone in brush fiber development the name KOLINEX. For many artists, KOLINEX brushes represent the benchmark in high-quality synthetic hair brushes.


The FALBEX synthetic hair is the powerful all-purpose weapon of the Zahn Pinselmanufaktur for all craftsman and broad brush applications. Due to its fine tip and robust body, FALBEX hair is the perfect choice for all demanding users. Due to the good shape retention, laborious taping can often be completely avoided. With the fine fiber tips, the color can be applied extremely homogeneously without leaving fiber traces. The hair is perfect for all finish brushes, but also flat brushes, slash brushes, round brushes, slanted brushes, window brushes, muntin brushes and all other professional craft brushes.


Zahn Pinselmanufaktur is particularly proud of the development of the BRISLON synthetic bristle. This is the hitherto unique combination of a conical hollow channel fiber with slotted, multi-link tips. The model for this development was the natural pig bristle. The ingenious connection of the hollow channel with the artificial flag made it possible to achieve a capillary effect that even exceeds the liquid absorption of natural bristles. The BRISLON synthetic bristle is therefore ideally suited for very high-quality artist brushes for applications with strong, but also thin fluid paint. The fiber has a very high elasticity and forms very fine tips.


With the PONEX synthetic hair, Zahn Pinselmanufaktur was able to successfully replace the inferior and bacteriologically questionable pony hair in school and hobby brushes at a very early stage. The PONEX hair is usually used in a fiber thickness of 0.10 mm and leads to the exact brush shapes due to its stable conicity and restoring force. Due to the good price-performance ratio of PONEX, there remains no rational justification for the existence of natural pony hair.


Like its natural model, the synthetic imitation fehair from Zahn Pinselmanufaktur has extremely fine and long tips. In order to be able to use it well for large-volume brushes in the cosmetics sector, we also have a slightly wavy variant in our range. With this synthetic hair, we have succeeded in topping nature in terms of durability and tear resistance. In addition to using for cosmetic brushes, the fehair-imitation is ideal for gilding brushes and watercolor painting brushes with the highest liquid absorption capacity.


For applications that require very high chemical resistance and fibers with high resilience, polyamide 6.12 is often the first choice. However, polyamide is difficult to adjust to an exact taper. Brushes that require very precise accuracy can therefore only be manufactured with great effort.


Polykaron bi-color:

This innovative material is a very robust PET/PBT fiber blend of 2 different hair lengths. Due to the recessed fibers in shorter length, the brushes can close very well and therefore remain shape-retaining.

Currently, more and more bio-based synthetic fibers are being offered. These fibers are manufactured on the basis of corn starch or castor oil, for example. We continuously discuss the latest developments with our customers and test them for specific applications.


Recycled plastic fibers are also becoming increasingly important. However, the material properties often differ significantly. Therefore, detailed application coordination is also necessary here.


For very high-quality brush series, Zahn Pinselmanufaktur often develops special fiber mixtures together with the customer, which are precisely matched to the application. These fiber mixtures contain hair with different lengths, diameters, tapers and geometries. It is also possible to blend natural and synthetic hair. The development and formulation of these hair mixtures involves a great deal of know-how that only a few brush manufacturers have mastered. For the blending itself, complex and expensive mixing machines are necessary to keep the blending loss as low as possible and to ensure a high blending homogeneity.


Often, the perfectly matched hair mixtures are the decisive secret to the success of a perfect brush.

Natural fibers such as Tampico are also suitable for certain applications. The grass fiber originating from South America is mainly used in the broom and brush sector and is also used by us for special applications.


2. Ferrules

The brush hair is usually fixed with special adhesives in the ferrules. In addition, the hair can be pressed or bound.

It is important for all ferrules to be free of burrs and as seamless as possible. This prevents the hair from being damaged and also prevents injury to the brush user.

For some applications, brushes without ferrules are required. Also for these special brush series, you can count on our expertise.

Stainless steel is recommended as a rustproof variant of the ferrules. This robust material is mainly used for high-quality craftsman's brushes and painting tools.


Ferrules made of nickel-plated brass - so-called "silver ferrules" - are the standard design in our brush manufacture. The stainless surface can be individually designed by colored anodizing, e.g. gold-colored, bronze-colored, black, anthracite, etc. in each case in matt and glossy finish. The clamps can be customized with your logo using our laser or multi-color printing process.


For broad brushes and flat brushes, among others, we use tinplate ferrules in different thicknesses. The so-called "thickness" defines the thickness of the brush, starting with I. thickness (from 4 mm) up to VI. thickness (approx. 15 mm), on which we have specialized our production. The thicker the sheet, the more trim can be incorporated into the brush head. The design of the sheets is available with fold and soldered, whereby the folded variant is preferable to the soldered one.



Clamps made of plastic are another option for framing the hair. As a rule, however, a metal clamp is preferable to a plastic clamp.


For certain applications, the hair or synthetic fibers can also be mounted directly into the handle without a ferrule. For example, we can offer this for barista brushes and some cosmetic brushes from our production. Not only for ecological reasons, we are still striving to offer further brush series with direct mounting.


3. Handles


The handle represents the third part in our brush component kit.

It offers space for a variety of individualization options regarding shape, color and imprint.

Ergonomic aspects can also be taken into account when designing the handle.

The majority of our wooden brush handles is FSC® certified and comes from sustainable European forestry.


For a large part of our brush range we offer brushes with wooden handles. Wood as a natural material is a proven material for handle production and convinces with a pleasant feel and a variety of customization options.


Zahn Pinselmanufaktur has been FSC-certified since 2007 and only uses wood from controlled and sustainable forestry. Important for all woods are a good drying and an exact surface finish.


More information for sustainability & environmental protection.

European birch wood is our classic for use in the handle area. This type of wood is easy to process and is used as a "raw" handle without varnish as well as in a wide variety of surface finishes.


Beech is also a native wood species and is used for a variety of craft and shaving brush series.


Bamboo is considered a rapidly renewable raw material, but it is mainly found in Southeast Asia, where it is often grown on land cleared for this purpose. In addition, the long transport routes from the Far East do not cast a positive light on the ecological balance of this natural material. From an ecological point of view, we therefore recommend a combination with European FSC® certified birch or beech wood from sustainable forestry to our customers.


For high-quality brush series in the field of shaving brushes and caring cosmetics, we also offer handles or grips made of oiled olive wood, plum wood and a variety of other types of wood. The woods are processed in German turneries according to traditional wood craftsmanship and offer an exclusive appearance for high-quality brush series.


Our stem lacquers are spit-safe and EN71 - Part 3 compliant. Drum coatings and dip coatings with matte and gloss finishes offer a variety of customization options for each customer project. For small quantities of 120 pieces or more, we can draw on a variety of standard colors in our component warehouse. For larger order volumes, we can also implement paint finishes according to your RAL or Pantone specifications for your brand design.


Plastic handles are rather an exception for us due to ecological aspects. However, we can also offer you plastic handles for certain fields of application, e.g. brushes with flow-through function. You are also welcome to provide components for further processing.


Metal handles, for example, for high-quality nail design brushes or metal components for nail brush sets or for travel watercolor paint brushes offer an attractive and durable alternative to wooden handles. The handles can be individually engraved with your own brand using our laser and are available in various surface colors and finishes.


4. Print

Individual imprinting with the customer's own brand is an important part of the individualization options.

The imprint makes every brush unique and shows next to the customer's brand also further information for the brush application or EAN barcode.

Various options are available for this in our brush manufactory.


Pad printing is our proven process for single-color imprinting with customer logo, article reference, barcode. A variety of standard colors are available for individual imprinting.


By thermal transfer printing, the print image is transferred to the brush handle all around by a transfer film.


With our laser, we can precisely engrave your private label logo into metal ferrules and metal handles. This high-quality customization option is the most durable option. Laser engraving of raw wooden handles is possible through our partners. You can also provide us with lasered brush components for our further processing.


With the multicolor printing process we can also realize, for example, multicolor and complex prints on brush handles and ferrules. The prints are particularly durable and adhere very well not only to painted surfaces but also to metallic surfaces and acrylic.

This makes them very suitable for all artist brushes, cosmetic brushes and nail design brushes, shaving brushes, dental brushes and craft brushes. As a special highlight, the prints can also be haptic.

5. Packing


Attractive customer packaging for the point of sale or well-protected transport packaging for individual further processing represents the final component of our component system.

Single packaging, multi-pack oder individual brush set: take your choice from our various packaging options for your own brand.


For the packaging of individual brushes and brush sets, we offer a variety of customizable packaging options made of paper or cardboard. With a Eurohole for practical hanging or supplemented by a label with barcode, packaging made of certified cardboard or paper offers an attractive and sustainable variant for the respective point of sale.


A wide range of sizes and designs including customizable inserts are available for plastic packaging for individual brushes or brush sets. The product is directly visible to the customer through the transparent packaging. In some cases, the packaging can also be reused for storage. For shaving brushes, for example, we offer attractive transparent plastic packaging with a recycled content of 80 % R-PET.


Our product overview

Artist brushes

Cosmetic brushes

Nail design brushes

Shaving brushes

Brushes for craftsmen

Dental Brushes

Technical brushes

Model paint brushes

More information for material science and "How to find the right brush".

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