Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chikuhodo Brushes

Among the big names of the Japanese artisan makeup brush world, Chikuhodo (竹宝堂) has two decades over Hakuhoho, having been established in 1952 (Hakuhodo was founded 1974). Chikuhodo started with calligraphy brushes, and makeup brushes didn't come along until 1960's. Still, the later venture proved quite successful as they are now the brush maker for high end brands such as Suqqu, Lunasol, RMK, etc. Check out this New York Times feature on Chikuhodo last April!

Anyway, when I was preparing for my first foray into Japanese makeup brushes, I skipped over Chikuhodo as I thought their prices were exorbitant. In general, between 2 similar brushes the Chikuhodo one will cost roughly 20-25% more than the Hakuhodo one. And honestly, I think the two brands are on par when it comes to quality and craftsmanship, so Chikuhodo's markup put me off somewhat. Then fast forward just this past August, distribution for Chikuhodo outside of Japan switched from Now-Eproject to Visage USA, and along with this switch is a roughly 20-25% reduction in price. To further sweeten the deal, the Visage USA ran a 3-months long promotion for an extra 18% off to celebrate new management! So yup, I finally got my hands on some Chikuhodo brushes, and at a fantastic price too! xD

A few notes for this batch and we'll move on to the goodies: 
1. As usual, all brushes were photographed pre-wash. Like Koyudo, the smallest Chikuhodo brush is starched, and the measurements are off for that brush. I did take post-wash pictures though. 
2. Again, cameras don't have the same depth-perception as our eyes. Measurements are only estimates and not so much engineer-precise, plus the starching.
3. Brushes are listed by collection, then model number. 
4. I totally smashed through my no-squirrel rule again ^.^"

Brushes in this batch, from left to right: Artist 12-2, G-03, G-04, G-05, G-10, Passion Eye Shadow, and R-S1. I've noted both the before and after prices, to give you an idea how significant the reduction was.

- Artist 12-2 Pine Squirrel - Weasel, was $35, now $27: at the time I placed this order, I was looking for big fluffy eye shadow brushes for lay-down purposes, and so you'll see a few those brushes in this post. The Artist Series is Chikuhodo's "standard" line, and it comes in a longer black handle, or a short red handle. I'm so glad I went with the shorter red handle, because it's just gorgeous! A couple of years ago, there were talks of Chikuhodo discontinuing this line and replacing it with the R Series below. And for a while the line did gradually disappear from Now-Eproject's online shop. But then Visage USA took over, and this line started to restock! I watched this restocking happened, because when I placed this order there was only about 10 brushes available. Then a couple of weeks after that, I saw 24 brushes, and now there are 30 brushes in total!

Anyway, despite being not too keen on the pine squirrel hair, I bought this brush for the shape. I like that it has longer hair length, has a very slightly tapered crown but is flat on the sides. As I bought it for shadow lay-down, the hair length makes the job a fast one, covering more areas. I'd say this brush picks up a decent amount of color due to the weasel mix. 

- G-03 Gray Squirrel, was $42, now $33: there is an "updated" version of this G Series, which they called the GSN Series, which pearly white handles that are longer and pointed at the bottom. I much prefer these shorter and rounded handles, so I'm super glad to have these few brushes ^.^ But otherwise both series have the same brush heads it seems.

From the magic that was Koyudo BP033 which was also made of gray squirrel, I was emboldened enough to pick up this brush. And my oh my I'm so glad I did. Yes, it's also insanely soft, with a rounded crown and thicker ferrule, which means washing will get me a nice poof of a brush. Basically, I'm getting this brush to speed up Koyudo BP033's job, but I also bought the bigger sister BP029 for comparison with this Chikuhodo G-03. So it'll be super interesting when that BP029 arrives ^.^

- G-04 Gray Squirrel, was $34, now $26: this is a smaller version of the G-04 above, and I use it to apply medium and/or crease colors. 

- G-05 Weasel, was $25, now $20: a nice little brush I use for smudging pencil liners, to line with powder shadows, as well as to fill in and draw my brows. 

Post wash

- G-10 Goat Jyohitsu Yamahitsuji, was $35, now $29: my most anticipated brush in this batch, not only because it looked so adorable online but also because I was curious with the jyohitsu yamahitsuji hair. Well, the verdict's in and yes, it's heavenly soft ^.^ I would say this is a miniature version of the Koyudo fu-pa02, being similar in shape, hair density, and firmness, only this G-10 is slightly softer, believe it or not. Crazy, huh? I love using this with my bb creams. It just feels soooo nice on my skin. Given that I don't have sensitive skin, I'm guessing it would probably make an even bigger difference for those whose skin are sensitive. That said, this brush is small, so it's mostly for targeted areas. 

- Passion Eye Shadow Goat, was $31, now $24: the Visage USA website makes a distinction between Goat and Capra hairs (capra is wild goat), but they didn't really explain that difference itself. I find that kind of annoying, so I'm just going to leave it as "goat." I was iffy about this metallic berry pink handle that looked a bit, umm, flashy in the online pictures. Thankfully, in real life it's a darker color and the metallicity makes it sophisticated rather than flashy.

Like the Artist 12-2 above, I bought this brush for its shape, pointed at the crown and flat on the sides. Ironically enough, after washing this brush crown rounds out a lot. So in the end, the Artist 12-2 turns out to be more tapered and pointed than this Passion Eye Shadow, and the Artist 12-2 remains flatter on the sides as well, whereas this Passion Eye Shadow poofs out somewhat. I still like it though, because the Passion's shorter hair length makes it a tad firmer.

- R-S1 Horse, was $20, now $15: supposedly this R Series is now the "new" Chikuhodo standard line. I do like that the handle is pointy at the end, which makes the black color a little more interesting. This is definitely a lay-down brush and the horse hair is meant to pack on color. So I use it for the powder highlighting and base wash all over the lids, and it's especially good with sheerer shadows. 

More to come for sure!

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