Japanese brushes, part 1

*taps mic* Is anyone still here?? I’m sorry I haven’t posted since July.  Between settling down in a new country and starting a job, this draft post has been gathering dust for about two months. (And yet, despite my silence, my Facebook page has been steadily gaining likes week after week?? I don’t even know. Thank you, though!)

Anyway, in the midst of all the crazy bullshit happening in the world right now, let’s talk about lovely things instead.

I’ve been meaning to write about my Japanese brushes for a long time now. I first got into fude(s? What’s the plural for this?) about a year and a half ago. Since then, I have managed to build a nice little family of wonderful, handmade fluffies. Brushes are my current beauty obsession; I’m more interested in researching new shapes and bristle types with makeup releases nowadays.

First off, I very firmly believe that you DO NOT need expensive-ass brushes to apply makeup well. High quality tools are obviously very important, but do you need to splash out $100+ on a blush brush to achieve perfectly flushed cheeks? No. No one “needs” high-end makeup brushes anymore than anyone “needs” high-end designer bags. If you use and love drugstore brushes, and they work well for you, that’s great! Makeup, brushes, and application all come down to highly personal preferences.

For me, I simply enjoy the superior craftsmanship a fude offers, and I love the way they apply products. They’re a small daily indulgence, and using them makes me happy. I’m not here to tell you why you should buy a fude instead of a drugstore brush. This post is pure vanity, showing off my fluffy treasures.

Here’s a great post by Karima about why you you might want to consider Japanese makeup brushes. Additionally, Sonia’s blog, Sweet Makeup Temptations is an absolute TREASURE TROVE of information and comparison pics, if you’re interested in learning more about fudes.

Enough blabber, here are some pics!

Face brushes – synthetic and goat

Unfortunately, the pics aren’t really organized in a coherent way. They’re mostly grouped together by similar functions and shapes.

Large teardrop shaped face brushes – These are great for all over setting powder, bronzer, and maybe blush if the formula is sheer and you want to apply a wide wash. I use the Wayne Goss 00 for bronzer, and the hakuhodo + Sephora PRO for setting powder.

I may ruffle a few purist feathers by including the Sephora brushes with the Japanese fudes. There was a lot of talk about these when they first came out, and many fude enthusiasts complained that these weren’t up-to-par with their natural bristle Hakuhodo counterparts. Well, duh. They aren’t made with the same materials, so of course not. I view them as a “lower tier” of Hakuhodo, similar to the many tiers of the Marc Jacobs brand:


Anyway, in my humble, plebeian opinion, the Sephora brushes are perfectly nice brushes at their price point, especially now that they seem doomed to languish forever in the Sephora clearance section.

I actually like the Sephora brush more than the WG one. It seems softer and less scratchy to me, which is probably crazy. However, I use them for different things. While I do use setting powder every day, I don’t always use bronzer.  When I do, I don’t always use this brush. I find that it lacks precision, as it dusts color all over. I reserve it for less-pigmented bronzers.

For bronzers that need to be buffed in, I use this guy:

This lovely, dense face brush was a blind buy. I wanted to upgrade my chubby ecoTools bronzer brush. I forgot to take comparison pics between the two, and I’ve left the ecoTools one back in Hawaii, so here’s a stock pic of the one I have:

The Koyudo’s brush head is slightly smaller than the ecoTools one, and predictably much softer. It blends and buffs like no other and never aggravates my flake-prone skin.

Look at the bundling! The bristles move as one across my face and make light work of diffusing bronzer so it doesn’t look like dirt smudges.

I also love the engraving detail on the handle. Little things like this make the price tag worth it.

Chikuhodo Z series

The Chikuhodo Z-series are well-known in the fude community. They’re beautifully made with sinfully soft squirrel bristles. US retailer, Beautylish, now carries several Chikuhodo lines, so they’re much more easily accessible, too. I bought mine from CDJapan, which is cheaper than Beautylish, but with a stricter return policy and longer shipping time.

I use the Z-4 the most. It’s the perfect size and shape for blush for my preferences. In fact, I think it’s my most used blush brush, period.  It has a slightly pinched ferrule which gives it a vague paddle shape. Even though it says “highlight” on the handle, I have never used it for highlight. It covers way too big of a surface area for my control freak tendencies.

The Z-8 is a slightly bigger version of the Z-4. Really, it’s superfluous to own both, but here we are. This is a really good, in-depth post about the differences between the two. I use it exclusively for bronzer, which makes it a bit of a one-trick pony. The delicate squirrel bristles don’t kick up as much product, therefore making application easier to control. It’d probably be good with setting powder too.

I use the Z-2 the least. It has nothing to do with the quality; I just don’t get on very well with the shape. Can’t quite articulate why, though. It’s like the shape of the brush combined with the type of bristles makes it too soft and squishy to get anything done.

Surratt Artistique brushes

It was only a matter of time before I tried some Surratt brushes. During the April Sephora sale, I bought the Surratt Cheek and Highlight brushes. From what I understand, they’re newcomers to the market, but they’re rumored to be made by Chikuhodo, hence the impeccable quality.

Can we take a moment to admire the beautiful iridescent fade of the handles??


(I recognize that I’m being a total prat, fawning over my own stupidly expensive luxury tools.)

The Surratt Highlight brush vs. Chikuhodo Z-2. The Surrat has more body to it, which makes it more effective to use than the Chikuhodo. The brush heads look virtually identical in pictures, though.

Perhaps you can see the Surratt’s denser bundling in the closer up.

Surratt Cheek vs. Suqqu Cheek vs. Chikuhodo Z-4.

A trifecta of blush brush perfection. *cuddles*

Discerning eyes will see that the brush heads are all slightly different from each other. The Surratt is much rounder, the Chikuhodo is flatter, and the Suqqu is the airiest, and flared at the head.

(So, totally justified in my mind to own all three.)

I use the Surratt for most powder blushes, and I apply in a gentle bouncing and swirling motion. The Chiku I use more on its flat sides, like a paint brush. The Suqqu, the most delicate of them all, I apply in a wispy motion (does that even make sense?), and use it mainly with very pigmented blushes. Otherwise, it takes too long to build up color, I get impatient and switch to either the Chiku or the Surratt to finish the job.

This post is turning into a rambling essay, so I’m going to split it into several parts. Stay tuned!