**Warning – Long Post**
I recently took a 2-week trip to Japan. On the agenda was to find delicious Tempura (fried food), Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake), experience an Onsen (hot spring bath) and so some mountainous hiking. But the very top of my list (and please don’t judge me on this), was to pick up some world-class Japanese artisan brushes from makers Hakuhodo as well as Chikuhodo.
These brushes are made from natural animal hairs, which is something alot of luxe brands like MAC use,and are a gorgeously soft. Something to consider is how your skin with react to the natural animal hair bristles vs synthetic bristles. Although most will not have an issue if you have extremely sensitive skin it’s something to keep in mind. These are arranged by hand with traditional artisan techniques instead of laser-cutting brushes, which is what most high-end brush companies do, the hairs in these brushes are individually placed, leaving the ends of the hair in tact. They are heralded as the best and softest makeup brushes in the world.
My journey began in the stunning city of Kyoto. There was a Hakuhodo flagship shop a few km’s from our hotel room, and I was determined to visit. I was absolutely blown away by the brush selection on offer. One side of the shop is dedicated to artist paint brushes, the other to makeup brushes. The sales person was a bit sheepish helping a tourist out, but I was knowledgeable enough with my limited Japanese to be steered in the right direction. I was hunting for: a crease brush, a blush brush, and a pencil brush. And here they are:
The prices range from series to series, these three came from their Basic Series, which mostly comprise of shorn goat hair and horse hair. I got the B110 Blush Brush, the J142 Eye Shadow Brush (for crease work, very similar to the MAC 217, but cheaper and much softer), and the G5515 Pointed Eye Shadow Brush (more precise eye work, I use this damp more often than not). These brushes are incredible quality, they feel so soft and luxurious, and blend by makeup like a dream.
I also got the H2370 Fan Brush, which, whilst pricey, is JUST INCREDIBLE:
I use this baby for light contouring, bronzing and highlighting (!!). It’s so precise and lovely, while it applies powder products so well, I have to say I mainly use this because of how soft it feels on my face.
Then, I was off to Tokyo, where I visited the Tao Hiroshima shop in Ginza. I was searching for Chikuhodo brushes. I did plenty of research beforehand, as this brand of brushes isn’t widely available apart from online and down south at its home in Hiroshima. And I am not an online shopper. Nothing prepared me for the tiny collection they offered.
Chikuhodo is considered the cream of the crop in the industry, and are considerably more expensive than Hakuhodo brushes. They have both a basic and a more luxurious range, which was so far out of my budget I almost spewed out my ramen. I was not at all thrilled with the fact that I would be purchasing red brushes that would look so different to my nice black Hakuhodo ones….
I feel so silly now for leaving disheartened. The R-P1 Powder brush is the most used out of everything I purchased. It leaves the most diffused powder application, which is relatively undetectable on the skin. It’s a bit flat and slightly pointed, which makes it useful for getting in those difficult spots, like around the nose and under the eyes. I also use it for contouring when I’m in a hurry, by simply pinching it at its base. If you’re wanting a beautiful powder brush, this is it.
I also purchased the R-S3 Eye shadow brush, which I use for packing eyeshadow. This is probably the least used out of everything I brought back, I generally use it for more dramatic eye looks, that require intense colour.
Next on the list to purchase after I’m a millionaire and can afford such things: the Chikuhodo Z4. Because it is the softest thing I have ever touched. If you are going to purchase some high-end brushes like these, I highly recommend grabbing a brush roll to protect them. Hakuhodo have a gorgeous range of inexpensive leather rolls. I picked mine up for 1800 yen (around $18). I also purchased some hard soap from Hakuhodo ,which cleans the brushes SO WELL, and with very little effort. They say that these will last better if they are used every day, as your natural face oils will condition them, and only washed when you notice product begin to ‘ball up’ in the brush.
Obviously, brushes like these aren’t necessary for everybody. I have a fantastic range of synthetic brushes that I also love, but I did consider these as a long-term investment. I bought these with some birthday money, and saved up the rest in advance. I feel like my daily makeup experience has been enhanced because of these beauties, they just make it more of a pleasure to apply my makeup, and they actually make it faster and easier to do so.
For extra reading, I suggest taking a look at Karima Mc Kimmie’s Blog.
Personally, I recommend just heading to Japan! (Jks, but not really) Not just for brushes, but because it’s the most incredible place I’ve ever been and I just can’t wait to go back. The brushes were just a bonus.
Have you tried any brushes from Chikuhodo or Hakuhodo? What were your thoughts?
Krystelle is one of our beauty contributors who knows her way around a camera. When she’s not giving you beauty tips and tricks you’ll find her looking through the lens of her camera in her day gig as a photographer. If you’re after some serious photography inspiration - visit Krystelle’s website.