We’re Absolute Beginners: A Hakuhodo Starter Set

A lot of people feel overwhelmed when they’re about to take the plunge into Hakuhodo brushes – there are just so many of them. It’s difficult to define what’s necessary for a ‘starter set’ as everyone’s needs are different, but I decided to put together my idea of a reasonably priced Hakuhodo basics set.

Hakuhodo Essential Set

I tried to cover most bases here:

  • Powder and Blush: $30 – J5547 – Goat and Synthetic – I haven’t actually tried this brush yet, but after extensive research it seems the J range goat is super soft, and very versatile. I’ve marked this down as a powder and blush brush, but because its a goat synthetic mix, it will also lend itself to cream products, maybe even foundation.
  • Eyeshadow: $18 – J5523 – Goat – This is widely regarded as a dupe (in terms of size and shape) for the MAC 217, but apparently it is much softer and performs much better. This is a workhorse, good for applying and for blending.
  • Eyeliner: $15 – K007 – Weasel – This is a great little brush for applying eyeliner, if you prefer the ‘push’ shaped brushes, swap this one for the K005 ($18).
  • Concealer and Lips: $15 – 280 – Synthetic – This brush deposits colour nicely and does double the work as both a concealer and a lip brush (though wash it in between, don’t want to make your blemishes pinker!).

Total: $78

Go Luxe

I feel a bit iffy recommending the J5547 because I haven’t used it and there isn’t a lot of info available on it. Experience and research tells me that this brush will be a really good all-rounder, and it’s a great price. A blush and powder brush I can recommend is the B110BkSL. It’s pricier ($46) but it’s the same brush head as the S110 (which I’ve reviewed here), very soft but at the same time nice and elastic so it deposits colour and blends perfectly.B110BkSL

What’s your idea of a basic brush set? Have I missed out any brushes you think are essential?


Hakuhodo H601: 3 Brushes in 1 Pocket-sized Package

This is one of Hakuhodo’s slide-up portable powder brushes, it’s made out of Sokoho goat hair.

I love this brush; it’s a work horse.

Actually, it’s so tiny that it’s more like a work falabella. Aww.

Why I like it

  • It’s so easy to travel with:if I’m going away for a weekend or a few days, this is the only face brush I take because it’s so easy to pack and…
  • It’s versatile: at full slide, the brush is a (somewhat small) powder brush; if you don’t slide it out all the way, the brush head is smaller and denser, so it works as a blush brush; if you only slide it out a tiny bit, it’s a very dense highlight brush.
  • Um…it’s versatile: this is a different kind of versatility; even if we disregard all its transformer-esque (sans Shia Labeouf, blegh) qualities and just see it as a powder brush, it’s a very versatile one. The hairs are quite resistant against the skin so it deposits unpigmented blushes very well, but it’s still quite flexible and bendy which means it applies pigmented blush well (as opposed to stiffer brushes which can just leave two big circles of blush on your cheeks).

Let’s have a look at its special powers

Lid off

Super dense, small headed brush head for powder highlight

Still dense brush head with more flex for unpigmented blushes

Fully extended powder/pigmented blushes brush, covers a wider area and is more flexible

Using Bobbi Brown Pale Pink at varying levels of extension (l-r: slight extend, mid extend, full extend)

How it works

If you’re interested in the mechanism, here’s the brush on its side.

You can see the funny latch in the centre of the brush. Basically the lid of the brush (which is now the bottom half of the handle in the picture above), hooks on to a little sticky-outy-bit on the main brush.

The sticky-outy-bit (in the centre of the pic above) is connected to the slide that controls the movement of the brush head. Once the lid is hooked onto the sticky-out-bit, you can push the brush head up and down just by moving the lid.

Things I don’t like

  • It’s not crazy-soft: Ok, I know I’m obsessed with brush softness, and I also know that some brushes are better off being…not soft. BUT because I can have so much control over the density of the brush using the slide, I feel like the H603 (a Blue Squirrel and Sokoho mix) would be almost as effective for my needs. Emphasis on that ‘for my needs’ part because I tend to use this brush for blushes and loose powder. I don’t use it for pressed powder foundation (but it would be really good for that!) because I don’t wear it that often. I doubt the H603 would be great for applying powder foundation. Yes you could slide it down a bit so it would be firmer (and therefore be more inclined to deposit the powder on your skin), but the smaller brush head would mean it would take you twice as long to apply it all.

The bottom line:

If you want a versatile brush and you use pressed powder foundation often, get this brush. If you want a versatile brush but you don’t use pressed powder foundation a lot, then I’d say try the H603.

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My 6 Must-have Hakuhodo Brushes (for now!)

I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favourite Hakuhodo Brushes.


The Kokutan Eyeshadow SL, G5522BkSl, B505BkSl, Kokutan Finishing Brush L, 235, G515

Let’s start with the biggest!

Kokutan Finishing Brush L – Blue Squirrel & Synthetic

If you asked me which brush was the most quintessentially Hakuhodo, I’d instantly say the Kokutan Finishing Brush L. It has that gorgeous Kokutan handle, it’s unbelievably soft, it has an almost unique shape; to me, this is the Hakuhodo brand contained in one brush.

IMG_6154But let’s not gush. In terms of function, it applies a thin veil of powder; it wouldn’t be much good at applying the amount of powder you’d need for a powder foundation. It is just lovely for setting powder. It’s also good for ‘finishing’; even if you aren’t using it to apply anything, it can brush over your freshly-applied make-up and get rid of excess powder, eyeshadow fallout, random bits of fluff etc. etc.

Some people seem to worry about the addition of ‘synthetic’ in this brush – a characteristic of the Kokutan series. I wish I had the pure blue squirrel finishing brush to compare it with as I can’t say for sure, but I would assume the addition of synthetic hairs add a tiny bit of stiffness. In general though the brush is extremely yield…prone, but with such a long brush head you can’t really expect otherwise. So perhaps the synthetic hairs add an incremental difference in stiffness, but they don’t affect the softness of the brush at all.

While its function may not seem too necessary, it is useful, but I suppose it’s really the luxury, softness, and ‘heirloom’ quality of this brush that makes me love it so dearly.

B505BkSl Blush Brush – Blue Squirrel & Goat (Sokoho)


I’ve already written about this brush here, and like I said in that post, it’s my favourite blush brush partly because of its crazy softness. While I love to try out new and interesting brushes (see above and below), I can also be quite traditional in my brush needs and my devotion to the ‘fluffy’ blush brush shape is a reflection of that.

I’m particularly fond of this hair mix. I think Hakuhodo are really on to something with it: it makes a brush that’s very soft (thanks to the blue squirrel) but that has the stiffness (from the goat) to apply pigment relatively well (especially compared to pure blue squirrel).

G515 Eyeshadow Brush – Canada Squirrel

IMG_6222I won’t lie to you, I bought this brush primarily because my brain went ‘oooh what a funny shape’ and my wallet responded by spitting out some money; it practically bought itself. After using it, I realise I love it. I think the shape, while intriguing, can also be off-putting – there’s a fear that its shape might be quite limiting. The slant of the brush means it fits exactly over the eyelid, with the longest part extending into the crease, which means it’s perfect for diffusing eyeshadow over the whole eye. But just because it’s perfect for this purpose, it’s not restricted to it.

It works to blend pretty much any area of eyeshadow. It is supremely soft (Canada Squirrel) and the hairs are very densely packed together. This means that as well as feeling nice, it also has a little bit of power behind it to move eyeshadow around, making it good for shaping eyeshadow as well as blending. Its density means that in a pinch, you could also use it to apply shadow as well.P1010979P1010978

This is a great multi-tasker, I’m constantly in awe of its results.

G5522BkSl Pointed Eyeshadow Brush – Blue Squirrel & Goat (Sokoho)

Ah, here’s that lovely hair mix again. Like the G515, I like that this brush also has a bit of push behind it (from the goat). Because of its tapered point it’s useful for detail areas, but its size can be off-putting. A lot of people think it’s a little too big, but I find that its pointy end gives it a versatility in size. P1010977P1010976

235 Flat Eyeshadow Brush – Weasel & Synthetic

This is a very basic brush, but it’s special because it’s so useful. I tend to hugely favour my super soft brushes, but this one can’t be beaten in eyeshadow application. It really packs on pigment. I never really thought that there was much variation in a mere application brush; with blending brushes there are so many different shapes and styles, and to me an application brush was just an application brush. However, since experiencing this brush’s application skills I’ve cast aside all my other lay-downs. Anyway, basically it applies eyeshadow amazingly well; it doesn’t absorb it or drop it everywhere, it clings to it until the moment of contact with the eyelid.

Kokutan Eyeshadow SL – Weasel (also the K005)

IMG_6225This brush is an absolute treasure. I want twenty of them. I use it for using eyeshadow as a liner, but a lot of people use it for gel eyeliner too. It is so so easy to control, and while it looks a little bit chunky for an eyeliner brush, it actually tapers gradually towards the end, so it draws a nice thin line. I think this tapering is what sets it apart from other push eyeliner brushes, others tend to stay the same thickness from base to tip, or splay out (and get even more splayed over time). It deposits pigment wonderfully. I usually use it for a normal thin line, but because of the great control with this brush, I can easily thicken and shape the line to my liking.


(next to the ecotools eyeliner brush)

Do you have any favourite brushes? And do you find you have silly patterns like me (my penchant for the marriage of squirrel and goat, for example).

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Hakuhodo S111 (with a comparison to the S110) Picture Post

Due to the recent announcement of a Hakuhodo price increase (starting 1st of January), I thought I’d post a little flurry of Hakuhodo-related posts for those trying to get their orders in. Because time is of the essence (a lot of brushes have sold out already from the USA site), I’ll be posting picture posts first – it takes me a long a time to write posts, not such a long time to take pictures – and then I’ll post complete posts (with written descriptions and comparison tissue swatch thingies) when I can.

S111 ($69)

Front ViewP1010902Side View (had to stop it from rolling with a Shu palette)P1010905P1010903P1010904

I’ve already reviewed the S110, and some have asked if the S111 is similar. It’s not. The S110 is much fluffier than the S111, which is more flat and paddle-like.P1010909


While the S111 is made from Blue squirrel hair, it is still just as stiff as the S110 because the hair is so densely packed together.

Comparison: Hakuhodo Blush Brushes

If you’re unfamiliar with Hakuhodo, please check out my introduction to the brand here.

Let’s look at three blush brushes from Hakuhodo: the S110, B505BKSL, and Large Pointed Yachiyo.

S110 ($46)

Front View

Side View

The S110 brush is made from one of the softer varieties of goat hair. It feels very soft against the skin, but it’s not floppy. It has a bit of bounce that means it’s resistant against the skin (instead of just smooshing against it) so it deposits a fair amount of pigment.

This brush is the all-rounder of the bunch, a jack of all trades. It applies un-pigmented blushes quite well; a few swipes are needed. It diffuses pigmented blushes well, but there is a slight danger of over-application, unlike with the…

B505BKSL ($84)

Front View

Side View



The B505BKSL is made from Blue Squirrel and Sokoho Goat Hair. Because of its hair it’s ridiculously soft – I’d imagine many would find it too soft. It offers little resistance against skin, but the goat hair does give it a bit of firmness.

This means it’s a great brush for pigmented blushes that are often in danger of being over-applied. However it still performs well with un-pigmented or pale blushes because it can build up colour with some layering. While this layering would be troublesome with a lot of other brushes, the softness of the B505BKSL makes you reluctant to put it down anyway, so a few extra swipes is more of a luxury than a bother.

Large Pointed Yachiyo ($33)



The Yachiyo is made from goat hair that’s rougher than the goat hair of the S110. It’s not scratchy, but it’s not heavenly soft either. The hair is very springy; it offers a lot of resistance against skin, so it deposits a lot of pigment.

The brush is one of my ultimate favourites for un-pigmented blushes. A few dabs in the blush pan makes a pale blush show up beautifully on skin. You do have to be careful with pigmented blushes though: although the Yachiyo can blend quite well, it holds such a lot of pigment that it is very easy to go overboard on pigmented blush with just one swipe over your cheek. This can be avoided if you brush it over a tissue or your hand beforehand applying.

Comparison Swatches

Here are some comparisons with a pale blush (Shu Uemura M Soft Mauve 225) and a dark blush (MAC Loverush).

As you can see, the S110 is a nice middle-ground brush; the Yachiyo deposits a lot of pigment and leaves a more definite edge; the B505BKSL diffuses the blush the most.

My Favourite?

My favourite is the B505BKSL. I prioritise softness in my face brushes (unless it makes the brush unusable) and I love the way the brush blurs the edges of my blush – it makes blending post-application pretty much unnecessary.

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