Hakuhodo was in town for a very short while last week, and it was heaven on earth for all of us brush-freaks.
Here is an embarrassing fact about me: until recently, I have survived on merely 5 makeup brushes (blush, eyebrow, eyeshadow, liner, and concealor). Unbelievable, I know! These 5 brushes have been with me for more than a decade (maybe 15, 20 years??!). It wasn’t until my trusty eyeshadow brush fell into some unreachable crevice in my car that I decided it was time to get a new set. And as all shopaholics would tell you, that’s how it all begins.
To be fair, I have been experimenting around with brushes – MAC, Bobbi Brown, Chanel, etc. I just never felt the need for more. The problem with that was, I never got to experiment with Japanese brushes! I did acquire a Hakuhodo tapered brush not too long ago, because Hakuhodo is like the reigning queen of all brushes, and I thought “hmm… a tapered brush, how interesting!” Unfortunately, that brush just wasn’t me, and whatever brief interest I had went away.
So when I heard that Hakuhodo was holding a brush fair at Takashimaya, I was somewhat apprehensive. But like a fly to a flame, I went to check it out all the same. And this was what I came home with!
Err…overkill much?! Not!! Yes, you guessed it, I quickly became a brush addict from my first encounter!
If I had thought that 5 brushes sufficed in the past, imagine my shock at the 200 over brushes Hakuhodo has to offer! Yes, there is a brush for every smallest need you may have, and plenty more that you never knew you needed! Hakuhodo makes brushes using a variety of natural hair ranging from the silky soft blue squirrel to the more commonly found goat. Each brush is expertly hand-made in Kumano, Japan (home to some of the world’s best brush makers), with every single strand of hair uncut to retain the natural tapered shape. What that means is superior softness that simply cannot be replicated by mass-produced laser-cut brushes!
Narrowing down to my final selection was not an easy task. I tried looking up reviews online, which just made me even more confused because everybody has their own HG brushes. Hakuhodo has brush-making down to such an art, that for every shape, there are various iterations in different hair-types and handles. For certain brushes, there are also variations in sizes. This allows each user to pick the ultimate brush for his/her preference (e.g. how heavy-handed are you? What sort of makeup do you frequently use – liquid / powder, baked / loose, etc?), skin type (oily, sensitive, etc), and even face shape/size!
So, I started out with some recommendations from friends who knew brushes and Hakuhodo well, and then I had immense help from the extremely patient and knowledgeable SA! I’m not going to review these brushes as I hadn’t had the chance to use them very much yet, and I don’t think my very beginner knowledge is of any use anyway. But for those who looking for ideas as a base to start exploring the brand, and just for some eye-candy, here are my final selections!
This gorgeous S105 Powder Brush round is my ultimate favorite brush!!! It is a member of Hakuhodo’s flagship S100 Vermillion range, and is made entirely of blue squirrel. I used it for the first time today, and it felt like baby’s breath on my skin! It is soo insanely soft and silky, I had never experienced anything like that in my life! I am also crazy over the vermillion wooden handle and 24kt plated ferrule… oh sweet decadence!!
One of the top items on my shopping list was a foundation brush. However, when the SA asked me what type of foundation do I have in mind, I was stumped. Liquid, obviously, but I do also own a very precious jar of Guerlain Orchidee Imperiale Cream foundation that would benefit much more from an equally quality brush. That was how I ended up with S5555. This brush is made from goat & synthetic fibers, and is angled to make application much easier and intuitive. This is part of the S100 range, similar to the S105 above, but comes with a black wooden handle, which is only sold in Japan prior to this. It is much cheaper than the vermillion version which is available worldwide.
I also picked up G5552 which is the shorter brush pictured above. This is the smaller sibling to S5555, and was recommended to me for applying cream blushes. It can also be used for cream foundations, particularly handy for smaller crevices on the face such as around the nose. The only problem is it will probably take a bit more time and effort if I were to rely on this for the entire face!
Although both S5555 and G5552 were recommended to me for specific uses, they may also be used for liquid and powder (more likely mineral) foundations. However, the bristles are somewhat shorter with less flex, and will give you a heavier coverage.
To replace my 1 miserable eyeshadow brush of the past, are these 4 new lovelies! From the top, I have S142, B133, B005 and J5523.
S142 Eyeshadow round is from the prestigious S100 vermillion line, and is made from my favorite blue squirrel. Just like S105 above, it is silky and soft, and is perfect for blending above the crease. It also comes in J142, which is made of goat hair, and may have a bit more resilient better for smudging.
B133 is a round and flat eyeshadow brush, suitable for applying most eyeshadow types. It is made from Canadian squirrel, and is perhaps the softest eyeshadow brush of its kind that is available. This brush is available in a few sizes and handle types.
B005 is another flat eyeshadow brush, but more square in shape, perfect for upper and lower liners, and extending the outer corners. It is made from weasel, and can be used for powder and cream products. B005 is also available in a few sizes and handle types.
J5523 is a fluffy round eyeshadow brush, perfect for sweeping color all over the lids. It is made from undyed white goat hair.
Remember my 1st Hakuhodo brush was a round tapered brush and I was so not impressed by it? This B5521 is a completely different feel! Made from blue squirrel and goat, it has the right combination of softness and resilient for precise highlighting. The size is perfect for my small face, and the tapered shape allows me even greater control.
Prior to this, I have only tried the fan brush included in my Chanel Les Beiges, and let me just say, Hakuhodo’s fan brush is nothing like that! This was luxuriously soft (making Chanel’s feel irritatingly scratchy in comparison), and lush. The handle feels perfect in my hands, and the brush fans out easily to cover my entire face. Unfortunately, by the time I returned to the fair, the blue squirrel & goat version was already sold out, so I picked up this one in undyed white goat hair instead.
Hakuhodo also carries an extensive range of retractable brushes, perfect for travel and toting around in the handbag. I picked this J601 Slide Face round and flat brush, made from undyed white goat hair. This is recommended for applying blush, but may also be used for powder. It comes in a pink case with black goat hair, but this is slightly softer.
These are more than what I set out to buy, and not all that I had wanted. The fair was a perfect way to get introduced to all that Hakuhodo had to offer as there were demos of each and every brush, allowing me to caress to my heart’s content. I heard there are no demos available in the stores in Japan. The SA was incredibly helpful, listening to my needs and recommending the brush of my dream, ready to offer up alternatives as needed. I really appreciated their no-pushy sales attitude, even advising me against a couple of brushes because they were either too big or simply ill-suited for my skin type.
If you missed the mini fair, Hakuhodo will be back at Beauty Asia next February! Mark your calendars, because these magical brushes are bound to fly off the shelves faster than you can say Accio Hakuhodo! I know, because a very special Kokutan blue squirrel blush slipped me by!!! The stuff of dreams!