I know many of you guys asked for this post on Instagram and here I am, full force and ready to talk about my number one make-up brush brand - Hakuhodo. I have 16 brushes to show you today, so I hope this article inspires you!
About the Brand
Hakuhodo is one of the World's biggest high-end make-up brush manufacturers, which is allegedly producing brushes for brands like MAC and Tom Ford to name a few. Hakuhodo is based in Japan and all of their tools are 100% handmade, using goat, horse, squirrel and occassionally synthetic bristles. Hakuhodo have a few stores in North America and Asia, as well as couple of online shops. I bought all of these brushes with my own money over the course of 2-3 years and despite the fact that most Japanese brands would cost you an asbolute fortune, Hakuhodo have relatively adequate prices with their brushes ranging all the way from 8 to 200 USD. Now, I don't know how Hakuhodo collects actual hair (it is not something I want to discuss, because I have not witnessed the process to talk openly about it) so if you feel uncomfortable with anything but synthetic brushes - perhaps this post is not for you. But if you want some new amazing quality brushes in your life, keep on scrolling!
Price Vs. Quality
Hakuhodo have some of the softest, most durable and effective brushes I have ever tried. I use mine on a daily basis, wash them, travel with them and none of my brushes have shed or lost their shape. The brand's product portfolio is quite impressive and it is safe to say that there is a brush for everyone here. I know, many people shy away from brands like this, thinking "oh, it must be crazy expensive". However, judging from my experience with various brands and their tools, most of Hakuhodo brushes here cost me around 20-30 USD. The most expensive brush in my possesion was 50 USD and that is not a crazy amount compared to what you would pay elsewhere. Also, pay attention to Hakuhodo brush "series". Something you see here (J, K or G) are very reasonably priced, while something more unique like Kokutan, Japanese Traditions or S100 would cost way, way more.
Example: MAC 217 is 25 USD. Hakuhodo's original is 19 USD. Sephora's, Morphe's, Sigma's, Zoeva's brushes are made at factories in China and while their quality is relatively good, prices are way too high for what you're paying for (especially since most of them have a generic factory quality; plus constant shedding, badly glued ferrules, scratchy bristles etc.). Sephora's generic crease brush per se would cost you around 21-24 USD, while Hakuhodo has a Rolce Royce version of it for 20 USD. So, you do the math.
This is an international blog, so I know that most of you guys come from all over the World and thankfully, Hakuhodo do have international shipping. They will also offer insurance and track number if you need one. Normally, international delivery takes up to two-three weeks and you might have to pay a certain fee at your local post office (depends on where you are from). I ordered most of my brushes directly from the American warehouse and luckily avoided Emirates Post fee (it only applies to parcels with value of 200 USD or more). Brushes are always individually wrapped and come in a small box, in order to protect bristles and handles from potential damage. Hakuhodo have a good customer service and will be sending you receipts, shipping updates all along. You can find more info here.
Taking care of your Brushes
Hakuhodo do sell a solid cleanser (aka soap), but any gentle sulfate-free baby shampoo or even organic liquid soap/shower gel will do. I personally use Lush shower gels (something like Rose Jam for example) and not only do my brushes smell amazing, they are also perfectly clean and well-conditioned. I wash every single brush with my hands only and have a soft towel ready to soak up any excess water. I then carefully reshape wet bristles back to their "original" state and let them air dry for a few hours or overnight. Now, some writing (such as brand name or brush number) might rub off over time, but other than that - there are no issues quality-wise whatsoever. I also keep my brushes in a closed flat box and never in a cup or mug somewhere on my desk; this way brushes remain new longer and don't collect any dust that might be flying in the air.
Disclaimer: Hakuhodo re-designed some of their brushes; they still have same old code names, but their "looks" might have changed a bit (that is - new type of natural/synthetic hair was used).
Hakuhodo describe K 022 as "powder brush, round and flat". This is my everyday powder brush, which I love to pieces. It is soft, has a great density and works well with both loose/pressed textures (even powder foundations). You could use it for bronzer too. The brand did re-design it a bit though; now it comes with white (not black) goat bristles. Great classic design, easy for traveling.
You guys know I love my highlighters and seeing so many girls on YouTube use fan brushes - inspired me to get one of my own. J 4004 is a delicate fan brush made of goat bristles. I use it when I want a very soft and natural highlight; it blends powders seamlessly. Great for very pigmented formulas.
Contour + Highlighter
Another great highlighting brush, which could also work really well for contouring or targeted powdering, is a "tulip" shaped B 5521. It is perhaps one of the first Hakuhodo brushes I bought and it is still as good as new. I don't contour, but I can totally see how you could easily chisel your cheekbones to perfection with it. The brand upgraded the look of this model though; it now comes as a mix of squirrel and goat (instead of just squirrel). Which probably means that it is going to be even more durable, but not as soft.
Now, I only own one blush brush from the brand, yet it is everything I could ever wish for. You guys, J 210 is the one! It has a great rounded, yet small shape, which is brilliant for precise blush application. It blends any blush (be it slightly more sturdy or powdery formula) to perfection and I use it to death. It now comes with white goat hair, as opposed to black.
All Over Shadow
B 004 is your ideal all-over-shadow colour for a few reasons: it has a perfect rounded shape and size; it is not as soft as other eye brushes, but it does pick up the right amount of pigment/eyeshadow. It is a "builder" brush; if you ever want to have a solid wash of colour through your mobile lid (and you want to pack it on) - this brush is for you. It is made with "Pine & North American squirrel" fibers and holds its flat shape perfectly.
If you have slightly drier/sensitive eyelids (I do anyways) or mature skin and you want something very delicate and soft, go with G 5523 instead.
It has blue squirrel bristles, which are the softest; so they won't scratch or irritate delicate skin around your eyes. This brush doesn't pick up as much powder as the previous one does, but it is a beautiful tool nevertheless.
Lastly, I wanted to mention a slightly unusual brush J 515. It is an angled brush, which you can easily use for an overall shadow application. It has soft white goat bristles and can be also used for face contouring (be it nose or chin).
This brush is great for a quick wash of colour all over the lid and crease; ideal for days when you don't to fuss much about your eye look. Angle is particularly nice for that "winged" out shadow effect.
If I could only have ONE blending brush, I would easily survive with G 5522. This is my number one Hakuhodo brush ever; since I am obsessed with blending, I tend to use this brush non-stop. The one I have has blue squirrel hairs; unfortunately the brand now sells a squirrel and goat version of the same brush model, which I assume is not as soft, but I would gladly buy it anyways (telling you, this is the one).
Doesn't it look like a baby version of B 5521? I am obsessed, there is no denying. If you want to experience the power of Hakuhodo blending brushes, get this one!
J 5522 on the other hand - is a sister of G 5522. The only difference is - this one has white goat bristles. It works just as good as its brother version, but is almost 10 USD cheaper. It has that same "tulip" shape and is perfect for blending. It is not as pointy as G 5522 though, but honestly speaking - this is something I don't really worry much about, because I have smaller accent brushes for that.
Now, I am sure you guys have been waiting for this. MAC 217 dupe. Except it is a winning dupe (and it costs less). I am talking about J 5523. Compared to MAC, this one has much softer bristles and holds a better shape.
I use it just as much as I do my MAC 217 (sure enough I keep both). This is a great multi-tasking brush, which every eyeshadow lover should own. Period.
If you have slightly hooded eyelids or you just want to blend that cut-crease to perfection, then these next two brushes are for you. I am relatively "hooded", so it is fair to say that my crease is not that well-defined. Sometimes when you try to blend a few different tones together to create natural "depth" [especially if you have a limited lid space], a larger crease brush might be a touch too big; hence it won't give you that perfect definition or ideal strategic placement. But Hakuhodo S 146 and S 142 will.
S 146 in particular is my second favourite eye brush from the brand. I don't use it often, but it does a stellar job at cutting that crease without the need of cleaning anything up with a concealer or extra powder; I just tilt my head back slightly and blend shadows with my eyes open. It does both things - apply colour and blend it. Make sure to build up your shadow gradually and you will get impressive results with this little brush.
S 142 is a slightly larger version of S 146 and it is great for blending smaller areas of your eye - such as inner/outer corner, especially when you do a halo eyeshadow look and want to only blend certain areas (as opposed to accidentally blending all shadows together, without you even wanting to do so). Both of these have 24-karat gold plated brass ferrules (something I did not know, but now that I do - hey that's fancy!) and blue squirrel bristles (aka the Rolce Royce of natural bristles).
There is a special category of smaller brushes, which we all need be it for under-eye area or even inner corners. I love a good, slightly dramatic under-eye shadow look and most of the pencil brushes I have tried before would not give me a desired, well-blended yet soft effect. Most of them would have scratchy bristles, so I did have to go through a ton of brands before I have found these little guys: G 5528 and B 533.
Now, you don't necessarily need both of them, because they pretty much do the same job (except one is smaller/bigger). I personally prefer G 5528. It is (again) made of blue squirrel bristles and is incredibly soft and gentle. It is a wonderful multi-tasker, because you can do pretty much any detailed eyeshadow work with it. B 533 on the other hand is not as soft, but has more precision. It's newer version has horse bristles and is a touch more skinny in shape; so you are more likely to achieve a thinner line with it.
Two of my newer brushes are J 171 and G 5512. One is a beautiful half-synthetic brush, which gives you a lot of precision (especially if you work with bold lipstick colours such as red, purple or burgundy). G 5512 is an unusually small brush; I would say it is microscopic and has tiny little bristles. I bought it because I wanted to have a tool, that would help me place darkest shadows (such as black) extremely close to my lash line, without making me look like a raccoon. You can use it to create a sharp eyeshadow-flick; so if you don't like eyeliner, but still want to define your lash line - give it a go. You could also use it with powder brow broducts; I personally don't because my brows are quite thick and would need a denser brush.
That's it for my favourite Hakuhodo brushes you guys! Which one did you like the most/would love to try? If you have any questions, feel free to mention them in the comments. If I could choose my top five, I would go with: J 210, B 5521, G 5522, G 5523 and G 5528.