More Hakuhodo brushes, several of which were birthday gifts from my birthday a few months ago ^.^ I have already explained my pros and cons for these brushes so I won't repeat again.
The black is actually the Soft Case MM (Po900Bk), which has 17 pocket slots. I paid $22 when I bought it but I see now its price has gone down to $19. To be honest, I hate to say anything bad about Hakuhodo but this soft case is a POS, so I'm not going to even bother posting pictures of it. It's plastic, I understand that, so I wasn't expecting super nice genuine leather, but still I was appalled to see how poorly made mine is. The stitchings are all crooked and warped, and overall it looks and feel cheaper than many of my Japanese magazine freebies :( May be mine is from a bad batch? This is not to mention its pockets are too deep for the brushes they're supposed to carry, and Hakuhodo's brushes have longer handles than most Japanese-made brushes! Among all the brushes I own, only the Stila long-handled brushes like the #34 Jewel Eye Shadow Brush fit in it. Since I don't have many long-handled brushes, the case is mostly empty. Come on, Hakuhodo, I know you can do better than this!
Just a few more notes before we move on to the brushes themselves:
1. All brushes were photographed pre-wash. My brush heads don't feel like they have been starched, nonetheless after washing, most certainly sizes and shapes will change, with some hair types fluffier than others.
2. I bothered with measurements because sizes do matter, and it's my pet peeve that Hakuhodo only pictures the hair length and lists the rest in numbers. It's a lot of work to take all those damn pictures, but for visual folks like me a string of numbers doesn't say much. I need to see the measurements.
3. Cameras don't have the same depth-perception as our eyes. So despite my best effort, measurements are only estimates and not so much engineer-precise. They should still give you a pretty good idea though, which is the whole point.
4. Brushes are listed by the model number, irrespective of collection, hair, or handle.
5. I'm not a collector. All my brushes are of the standard black handles, because I don't want to have to think about care and maintenance for the handles too, jeesus crisp! For "beautiful" brushes, please consult the google instead.
6. I prefer versatility over luxury, I use a whole lot of liquid formulas, and despite the dryness my skin isn't super sensitive. But I did break my own rule and got a couple of squirrel hair brushes xD
Brushes in this batch, in order as pictured from left to right: J104, J122R, B/G522, J531, J533, J544, G5514, B/G5520, J5521, G5526, and G5528.
- J104 Goat Saikoho, $83: Hakuhodo has a dizzying variety of brushes, and I was really confused on which to buy. So before buying I picked out 5 with the approximate size and shape I wanted and emailed Hakuhodo with questions about them. This is one thing I really love about Hakuhodo - their customer service is very knowledgeable! I think it's actually just one person who has been replying to all email inquiries to their USA online shop, which is pretty darn amazing if you ask me! Not only she manages to answer all my questions, she usually goes above and beyond, sending me comparison pictures so I can see what she's talking about! (And it's my sexist guess that it's a she, so my apologies to all the guy makeup enthusiasts out there!)
Among those I picked were this J104 Goat Saikoho, J531 Goat Saikoho (below), B/G531 Goat Sokoho, J5541 Goat & Synthetic, and B206 Goat Sokoho.
Here are what Hakuhodo has to say, with their comments on J531 Goat Saikoho versus B/G531 Goat Sokoho below in its own entry.
- Hakuhodo, paraphrasing: the J104 is softest of all 5 because of the hair grade and its round ferrule and relatively flat brush crown. It also gives the most natural and sheer finish.
- Me: agree hands down, this brush is amazingly soft! At the same time, it's decently dense with enough hair not to be all floppy if I were to wave it around like a wand. And don't underestimate that wimpy appearance. Remember, photos were taken pre-wash, and post wash this brush became a poof ball on a stick LOL!
Since it gives the most natural and sheer finish I use it as a finishing brush, for that final touch of powder that sets everything in. So far, it's been perfect and I love it to death! The only thing that concerned me was that the brush shed for the first few months of use, about half a dozen to a dozen hair each time I pick it up, regardless whether I use it or not. Turns out those were "floating hair" as they were about the same length as the brush. And as per the same article from Sonia's Sweet Makeup Temptations, if hair were coming out of the ferrule they'd be double the length we see, and if shed hair were shorter it's usually a sign of breakage.
And it's not as if I abused my precious. I've washed all my fragile/semi-fragile hair brushes (squirrel and/or goat) only once since I bought them around early summer. It's recommended that you only wash once or twice a year, and if it's fragile squirrel hair then wash only once a year, and I used unscented Marseille soap as Sonia recommended. Anyway, it stopped shedding now so I'm not so worried.
- J122R Goat & Synthetic, $29: this is the slightly bigger version of the J125R reviewed previously - its diameter is about 3mm bigger than J125R. Like the J125R which also comes in a full goat saikoho version B/J125, this J122R has a full goat saikoho version also, the J122.
I use the J125R mainly to dust on sparkly top washes, because it's smaller diameter perfectly cover the top half of my lids and blurs all harsh lines well. Whereas this J122R covers more than half of my lids and is therefore better for base washes, powder, cream, or liquid! Love! I might have to pick up the full goat version too!
- B522/G522 Weasel, $19: a super fine brush for super fine detail work like tight lining or drawing, although I've used it for neither. Instead, I fill in my brows with it and for this purpose it's excellent also! There is a J522 Horse version, but note that brush is actually slightly longer in hair length and is definitely wider, unlike the mere 3mm this B/G522 is!
- J531 Goat Saikoho, $90: this was among the 5 brushes I wrote to Hakuhodo about, and below is what they had to say.
- Hakuhodo, paraphrasing: the J531 and B/G531 produce the most coloring because of their angle, which also allows them to be used for shading and contouring. The difference between J531 versus B/G531 is that B/G531 has its hair dyed black, and the goat hair is Sokoho which is less soft than J531 which has Saikoho goat hair.
- Me: well, between J531 and B/G531, it's obvious which I chose, more so because I prefer my brush hair un-dyed rather than choosing Saikoho goat hair over Sokoho goat hair. Again, these photos are pre-wash, and after washing this is another poof-ball on a stick, albeit an angled poof-ball LOL! This brush is even denser than the J104 above although it shed much less during the first couple months of use. It doesn't shed anymore now. I use it to apply translucent powder all over, both to set my sunscreen as well as to set the bb cream applied around the mouth, nose, and under eye areas. It does a superb job and distributes the powder very evenly. Fabulous and super soft brush! I love it!
The other 2 brushes I asked about were J5541 Goat & Synthetic and B206 Goat Sokoho. Hakuhodo did not mention the B206 at all in their reply, so I take it that it's "none of the above" sort of thing. As for the J5541,
- Hakuhodo, paraphrasing: Of all 5 brushes picked, the J5541 is the densest. This density allows it to provide the most coverage. The density plus the synthetic hair also make it the firmest brush.
- Me: Sold. It is going on my wish list ^.^!
- J533 Horse, $19: I adore pencil brushes. Their shape makes them versatile, as in I can angle them and get a wide stroke, or tip them straight up and get a thin stroke with their tip, or tilt them just slightly to smudge.
This J533 baby right here is a masterpiece, expertly shaped. Yes, it's horse hair and is rather densely packed, being quite firm as a result, but firm doesn't mean scratchy or pokey. It's neither scratchy or pokey for me, although admittedly I don't have super sensitive skin that require super soft squirrel brushes, lucky me ^.^ Anyway, the firmness makes it a really nice smudging tool and useful to apply on the outer V. Granted, after washing its tip rounds out a bit and no longer the nice point as you see below, whereas the Koyudo C010 stays pointy, but the rounder tip makes J533 softer than C010, not that it matters so much with me.
- J544 Goat & Synthetic, $43: Hakuhodo's website calls this a Blush and Foundation Brush, but I'm going to contend that it's pretty much just blush. It's goat and synthetic and is firm enough for liquid, gel, and cream blushes but it's nowhere dense enough for a foundation of any formulation. I've tried it with my bb creams of various thickness, and it just doesn't deal well at all with either the really thin and runny ones or the really thick and creamy ones. I don't have any powder foundation to try this with so I can't comment on that.
For liquid, gel, or cream blushes though, it does a really nice job. The synthetic hair works especially well sheering out more pigmented blushes like Stila Convertible Colors, Visee Mineral Liquid Cheeks Baby Finish, Majolica Majorca Cream de Cheek, Canmake Cream Cheek as well as the first 4 releases of the Clear Series, and Canmake Whip Mousse Lip. I've also tried it with pigmented powder blushes like Stila Make Me Blush Cheek Color and Shiseido the Makeup Camellia Compact and it does a great job with them also. Again, the synthetic hair is great at controlling the pigment as well as shimmers in super sparkly blushes like Visee Mineral Cheeks Baby Finish, which technically means you can also use this brush to highlight. After washing, it fans out a bit wider on the two sides and is not as narrow as in the pictures below.
- G5514 Horse, $17: I really can't believe this is horse hair! It's so soft I can't distinguish it from the Koyudo C011 which is made of goat! Wow!
This brush is bigger than the G5515 but is more tapered at the crown, thus has a pointier tip. Because it's also horse and so it's nice and firm, allowing me to be precise. Did I tell you I adore pencil brushes? I do ^.^
- B/G5520 Blue Squirrel/Horse, $22: yet another super soft pencil brush that's about the same size as the G5514 above, although this one has blue squirrel in it so it's not as firm and has more "give." And I didn't really break my no-squirrel rule for this brush as it's a mix :P
- J5521 Goat Saikoho, $38: there are 2 versions of this brush, the J5521 with goat saikoho and the B/G5521 with blue squirrel and goat sokoho. I went for the J5521 because it's undyed, is fully goat which means less fragile than blue squirrel, but it's the softer Saikoho goat hair ^.^ And boy oh boy is it soft. Like the J104 and J531 above, despite appearing like a furry bullet this one also turned into a mini poof ball on a stick after washing, so it's a lot rounder and not as tapered as it appear online as well as in the pictures below.
I don't use this brush for highlighting. I can, but I use it for powder blush instead. Because of the round but tapered crown it offers a lot of control and picks up just the perfect amount of color for my cheeks.
- G5526 Horse, $20: another pencil brush! This one turns out to be much less firm than I expected, probably because longer hair length means more give. So I can't smudge with it so much but it does pack on colors just fine, being horse. It also stays tapered and pointy after washing, just as pictured.
- G5528 Blue Squirrel, $30: this is the brush I broke my no-squirrel rule for, being full squirrel. This brush is densely packed and is firm despite the blue squirrel hair. And of course it's super soft!
But believe it or not I'm actually disappointed with it! I broke my no-squirrel rule for this brush solely because of the picture online - I wanted a round tip, but it turns out to be slightly tapered instead :( It still blends beautifully but my search for a round tip pencil brush continues. Oh well...