I realize it has been an unusually content-heavy week here, and things are going to get even more intense today. It’s going to be a wonderful long Labor Day weekend, so I thought I’d leave you with some good reading materials just in case 😉 Since I have introduced so many makeup items thus far, it should be a nice change of pace to look at some makeup brushes today. And here’s a fair warning: these are no ordinary brushes, there is no going back after you’ve had a chance to play with these Surratt Artistique Brushes!
News of Surratt’s super luxury makeup brushes have been circulating the blogosphere for most of last year, and by the time they were finally released at Barneys NY last Fall, they were quickly snapped up. These brushes are made from genuine animal hair, and hand made by artisans in Kumano, Japan. It is rumored that the manufacturer is Chikuhodo, although when I asked in person, Troy preferred not to comment. In any case, these are certainly very high-end brushes, and after using and dwelling on the 3 that I’ve purchased for the past months, I must say that each brush has been very thoughtfully and precisely designed for their functions. Once you have used these brushes, they become an extension of the hands, and makeup application is elevated to a whole different level.
Each of Surratt’s Artistique Brush comes in a beautiful French-made cardboard box with a sliding lid and velvet lined interior. A completely luxurious and bespoke touch that I’ve never seen before (most Japanese high end brushes come in clear plastic wrap). The brushes come with black metal ferrules and wooden handles that have been coated with a shiny iridescent finish. Under different lighting, the tips show up as purple – green – black. Very chic, and consistent with the rest of the Surratt line.
After much deliberation, I selected the Cheek brush, Classic Eyeshadow Medium and Smoky Eye Petite brushes.
The Surratt Artistique Cheek Brush is the one I had set my sights on from the very moment I laid eyes on the collection. It is the most perfectly rounded cheek brush that I own, and it is a shape that I’ve been trying to add to my stash for a very long time. Most cheek brushes in the market are slightly flattened at the ferrule, and the few rounded cheek brushes that I own – Chikuhodo T-4, Wayne Goss 13, Hakuhodo J210 – all lack that perfect balance between resilience and softness.
Surratt Artistique Cheek Brush Specifications:
Total brush length : 15.3cm
Length of hair : 1.0 – 3.3cm
Widest part of ferrule : 1.5cm
Widest part of bristles : 3.0cm (after washing)
As you can see from the comparison above, the Surratt Cheek has the most rounded shape of all (in fact it is looking slightly pointy from this angle) whilst the others are slightly flattened at the very top. This shape and size is perfect for picking up blushers, applying directly onto the cheeks and blending out as you work. Since acquiring the Hakuhodo J210 on a whim 2 years back, I have never been able to use it for blush as it is far too dense and stiff for blending. The Wayne Goss 13 is the closest in shape but still flatter on the top and being of goat hair it is stiffer and not as enjoyable overall. The Chikuhodo T4 is a finer goat and being undyed is almost as soft as the Surratt Cheek, but it is much bigger, less dense and floppier so it is not quite as handy for laying down color on the cheeks.
My collection of eyeshadow brushes has grown so much that I had to grapple with the decision to pick up yet another one. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made as this Surratt Artistique Classic Eyeshadow Brush in Medium is hands-down the best eyeshadow brush I have used. As my eye area is rather small, the Medium sized one is perfect for laying down color either all over my lids or in sections. The tip is simply the perfect flattened U-shape which allows for quite some precise work, e.g. defining the outer “v” of the lids, smudging eyeshadow around the rims of the eyes, etc. Even though I can use up as many as 4-5 different brushes to complete an eye look sometimes, I have been able to get everything done with just this 1 Classic Eyeshadow brush!
Surratt Artistique Classic Eyeshadow Brush Medium Specifications:
Total brush length : 13.3cm
Length of hair : 0.7 – 1.2cm
Widest part of ferrule : 0.9cm
Widest part of bristles : 1.0cm (after washing)
What makes this particular brush even more precious is the material it is made of – Canadian Pine Squirrel. Whilst Grey / Blue squirrel and goat hairs are fairly common for eye brushes, Canadian Pine Squirrel is much less often seen. They have the silkiness of grey / blue squirrel hairs, but are almost as firm and resilient as goat. Consequently, they tend to pick up and lay down color very well, yet gentle on the most sensitive eyes.
This last brush has me giving the greatest respect to Surratt for incorporating such a design in the collection – the Surratt Smoky Eye Brush in Small has an unusually long and tapered shape that until now has only been seen in Japanese makeup lines. It is meant for 1 very specific function only, lay down color and blend along the crease, and it does that beautifully. To use, swirl the tip of the brush a few times in the eyeshadow of your choice, then apply straight into the crease. The decreasing length of the bristles along the sides helps to blend out the color as you work.
Surratt Artistique Smoky Eye Brush Small Specifications:
Total brush length : 14.0cm
Length of hair : 0.8 – 1.9cm
Widest part of ferrule : 0.6cm
Widest part of bristles : 0.8cm (after washing)
The brush itself is not terribly dense, and given how long the tip is, it is quite hopeless for doing anything other than the crease. For someone like me who has no crease, the Surratt Smoky Eye Brush seemed like a frivolous waste of money. However, after a few tries, I realized that if I ever wanted to fake a crease, this is the brush to do it with! Anybody who is not a pro and who has attempted to cut crease (where there is none) will know what an uphill battle that is. Instead, I dip this little fluffy grey squirrel into where my eye socket is without fear of poking my eyeballs out, give it a few backwards and forwards wiggle, and voila!
Final parting comments…
At these price levels, the Surratt Artistique Brush series are certainly on the upper end of the scales. Unlike Tom Ford brushes, these do not have the heft nor gold to give that super luxe appearance, but I generally prefer squirrel hairs (majority of the Surratt brushes are squirrel) over goat (used in all Tom Ford brushes). Every brush I have tried from the line (and I had the pleasure of fondling all of them when I met Troy Surratt in person last year), are designed to a precise specification that makes the brush the most useful brush for its purpose. If you invest in one of these brushes, you really wouldn’t need any other brushes in your life!