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Best Brushes | Holiday 2016 Gift Guide

Best Brushes | Holiday 2016 Gift Guide

It’s that time of the year again:  holiday gift guides aplenty!  This year, I’ve broken out my gift guides into best of selections for blush, eyeshadow, highlighter, lipstick, lipgloss, palettes, and brushes.  These guides feature permanent formulas so that they can be useful anytime during the holiday season or even into next year.  For limited edition holiday products, you can check out our list of the top 50 highest-rated holiday products, which updates as I post more reviews for holiday products. Here’s a look at a few of my must-have brushes (there are so, so, so many more I wanted to include!):

Chikuhodo GSN-09 Eyeshadow Brush

Chikuhodo GSN-09 Eyeshadow Brush<

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Chikuhodo GSN-09 Eyeshadow Brush ($25.00) is a small-medium, dome-shaped eyeshadow brush made out of gray squirrel hair. The narrower width allows it to apply color more precisely, which is helpful if you’re using more than two or three colors on the lid. It packs on, sweeps, and diffuses eyeshadow beautifully. The edge also fits into the crease area well and can apply color there, too. It’s incredibly soft and silky against the skin, but it still picks up plenty of product, so you don’t sacrifice color payoff in your application. This is a brush that I have multiples of!

Availability

Beautylish

Chikuhodo Z-4 Cheek/Highlight Brush

Chikuhodo Z-4 Cheek/Highlight Brush

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Chikuhodo Z-4 Cheek/Highlight Brush ($73.00) medium-sized, blush brush with a domed edge and tapered bristles (so the lengths get shorter as you move outward from the center). It’s not a rounded brush, more flattened, but it is not really thin or flat. The brush is made out of gray squirrel. It’s excellent for applying soft, even color along the cheeks with minimal blending required.

Availability

Beautylish

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Hakuhodo B5521, G5545, B505 Face Brushes Reviews & Photos

Hakuhodo Brushes
Hakuhodo Brushes

Hakuhodo B5521BkSL Highlight Brush Tapered ($53.00) is a small-to-medium sized brush that flares out from the base and tapers to a rounded point. It is made with a mix of blue squirrel and goat hair. The brush head measured 18.00mm in width, 32.00mm in length, and 18.00mm in thickness, and the brush had a total length of 6.77 inches / 17.20 centimeters.

The shape is comparable to many highlighter brushes available, which isn’t a bad thing, as it is versatile and is a shape many may be familiar with. It does mean that there are other options available at lower price points, including in Hakuhodo’s J-series, where it is made solely of goat hair, for $38, for those who do not need the extra silkiness that blue squirrel offers. I like blue squirrel or the mix in this brush for more shimmery and frosted highlighters, as it builds them more gradually and seems to diffuse the shimmer more evenly (just by a bit). The tapered shape enabled the brush to sweep gently across the cheek bones to lay down highlighter more precisely, and the rounded tip applied highlighter nicely down the nose and on the cupid’s bow.

Hakuhodo G5545BkSL Blush Brush Round & Flat ($63.00) is a medium-sized blush brush that is flatter in shape, so it is not as round and full, with a tapering, rounded edge. It is made with a mix of blue squirrel and goat hair. The brush head measured 33.90mm in width, 38.00mm in length, and 18.7mm in thickness, and the brush had a total length of 6.85 inches / 17.40 centimeters.

The brush seemed light-to-moderate in density, so I had some flexibility and give near the edge of the brush, but it didn’t flop around or splay too readily if I used greater pressure with it against my face. The flatter shape seemed to work best for someone who likes more sweeping motions and light circular motions, but it will not buff out color as well as a more rounded brush shape or a fuller brush head overall. The bristles felt incredibly smooth and silky against the face, and I didn’t feel any of the individual bristles despite heavy pressure and trying a variety of directions and motions. It is a bit larger than your typical highlighting brush, but I liked it for subtle to moderate highlighters as well as blush and bronzer (which is what it is designed for). The brush worked well for applying initial color and blending and diffusing the edges of the color. This brush does not seem to have a goat-hair only version in Hakuhodo’s range.

Hakuhodo B505BkSL Blush Brush Round & Flat ($98.00) is a medium-to-large blush brush that is full, thick, and fairly dense with a rounded edge and tapering bristles. It is made out of blue squirrel and goat hairs. The brush head measured 34.20mm in width, 38.25mm in length, and 22.80mm in thickness, and the brush had a total length of 7.00 inches / 17.80 centimeters.

The fullness and greater density of this brush means it packs on a lot more pigment from the get-go, but it also can blend edges more readily. While it is a flatter blush brush, it is thicker and much denser compared to the G5545 (to me, it seems double the thickness, but it’s only ~5mm thicker). I can easily do sweeping and circular motions with it, so I can buff edges or diffuse color outward. The brush is, unsurprisingly, silky and smooth with nary a loose bristle or unpleasant sharpness regardless of the amount of pressure or the direction it was used in. I like it more for sheerer formulas or more powdery ones where the denser, larger surface area means I can get an even amount of color on the brush without a lot of product getting caught in the interior of the brush. It also works well when you want to apply color to a larger part of the face, like bronzer along the forehead and the like. This brush is also available in the J-series as a mix of goat and synthetic bristles for $72.

Hakuhodo   B5521BkSL Highlight Brush Tapered
A+

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15
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5
Durability
5
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100%
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Hakuhodo   G5545BkSL Blush Brush Round & Flat
A+

15
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15
Fitness
5
Durability
5
Construction
100%
Total
Hakuhodo   B505BkSL Blush Brush Round & Flat
A+

15
Product
15
Fitness
5
Durability
5
Construction
100%
Total

See more photos & swatches!

Hakuhodo G511, B512, B116, S116 Face Brushes Reviews & Photos

Hakuhodo Brushes:  B5521, G511, B512, G5545, B505
Hakuhodo Brushes: B5521, G511, B512, G5545, B505

G511 Highlighter Brush Angled

Hakuhodo G511 Highlighter Brush Angled ($44.00) is a small, angled face brush that’s lightly fluffy, moderately dense, and thick enough to blend and apply color, and it was designed to be used with highlighters. It is shaped a lot like the traditional contour powder product, but this is smaller than average. It is 29.10mm in length, 21.75mm in width, and 13.90mm in thickness with a total handle length of inches / centimeters. It is made out of blue squirrel and goat hair, and I’m a huge fan of mixing the two types of hair, because you get a lot of the softness of blue squirrel with a little more durability and blendability of goat hair. It is, of course, incredibly soft, silky, and smooth, and I could never feel any individual hairs against my skin.

I’ve always liked the more angled brush head for really good sweeping motions and applications, as it really helps to diffuse the color across the skin. I think that’s why it is great for applying a soft, gradual, and luminous highlight. The softness of the blue squirrel helps apply more pigmented products in a more gradual way, though the smaller size can give one more precision as well. I particularly like using this size when I’m layering highlighter on top of blush or bronzer.

It’s large enough that it can still be used to contour cheeks and the jaw line with ease, but it is too large to contour the nose with any sense of precision. It will enable you to get a more precise contour under the cheek bone, but the smaller size works well for subtle, more diffused blending that doesn’t blur the contour product too much. If you tend to be more heavy handed with products, though, you might prefer something with less density and a slightly larger size. It worked well with all sorts of color products–blush, bronzer, contour, highlighter, setting powder–and is versatile.

B512BkSL Highlight Brush Angled

Hakuhodo B512BkSL Highlight Brush Angled ($65.00) is a medium-to-large sized angled face brush with moderate density, a little fluffiness as the bristles taper toward the edge. The brand says that it is supposed to be used to apply makeup around the eye and to use it with light strokes. It is 35.00mm in length, 35.40mm in width, and 22.30mm in thickness with a total length of inches / centimeters. It is a mix of goat and blue squirrel hair, which gives it the silkiness of blue squirrel with more durability and resilience of goat hair. I noticed that this one had several bristles that splayed from the edges after washing, which is a rarer issue with my Hakuhodo brushes, so you might find a brush shaper necessary with this one.

This brush works well when you want to apply sheerer coverage over a larger area or for blending out products after they’ve been applied. The larger shape is harder to work with when you have a very pigmented highlighter, blush, or bronzer, as it tends to over-apply color. Similarly, it’s too large to contour the hollows of my cheeks and will likely be too large for most (it is noticeably larger than the average-sized contour angled brush), but it will work well for blending and diffusing a contour in sweeping and light buffing motions where product has already been applied. In some ways, you might think of it as an angled buffing brush, as it blends out powders exceptionally well.

B116BkSL Highlight Brush Round & Flat

Hakuhodo B116BkSL Highlight Brush Round & Flat ($59.00) is a small, flat brush with a rounded edge that comes to a very gentle point that is designed for highlighting and achieving sheerer coverage. This brush uses blue squirrel hair, which makes it incredibly soft and airy on the skin. It is 28.50mm in length, 20.48mm in width, and 9.25mm in thickness with a total handle length of inches / centimeters.

The shape works well for patting and lightly sweeping illuminating powders on the high planes of the face, like cheek bones, as well as for applying powder underneath the eye. The softness of the blue squirrel makes it so the bristles do not disturb the under eye area, which gives a better finish and minimizes the chance for the area to look dry, over-powdered, or crepe-y. It can also be used to apply blush at sheer to medium coverage (as desired), blending out edges of various cheek color products, and so forth, but as it is a smaller brush, it may lay down too much color in one spot with more pigmented products or may feel like it takes too long to apply if the area is larger.

S116Bk Highlight Brush Round & Flat

Hakuhodo S116Bk Highlight Brush Round & Flat ($67.00) is a small, flat brush with a rounded edge that comes to a very gentle point and is meant for highlighting. It is exactly the same as the B116BkSL and the J116 ($35.00). I meant to get the S113 but inadvertently managed to get the same brush twice, the only difference between the B116BkSL and the S116Bk is a gold ferrule (24-karat gold plated brass vs. nickel brass/silver). It’s a lovely brush, and lucky enough, it is versatile for me. The J116 uses goat hair instead of blue squirrel, so the J116 is more resilient and durable and has white bristles.

Choosing the Type of Hair for Your Brushes

I often get asked what type of hair is best for what. There are a lot of preferences to take into account, but here is a quick primer on common hair types:

Synthetic is best for cream and liquid products, as it doesn’t absorb them and is very easy to clean without worrying about damaging natural fibers. I often find synthetics can kick up excessive powder in the pan and do not catch the powder as well in the fibers, so the application can be heavy and/or uneven. Most synthetics are pretty soft, but they can have sharp edges if not made well.

Horse and pony are more resilient and durable, so they require less care and can be washed regularly. The softness can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but can be softer than you might expect.

Goat is the most common type of natural hair used, and it is usually white, though it can be dyed and is often dyed black when it is. There are different types of goat hair (based on where the hair was taken from), so softness can range from incredibly silky to mildly scratchy. In general, most of the Japanese brush brands I’ve used have very soft goat hair brushes, but the goat hair I find in more mainstream brands (like MAC) is noticeably less soft/silky. Goat offers good durability, moderate give and flex, and works particularly nicely with powders but can be used with liquids and creams as well. It can be washed more often and requires less babying over time.

Squirrel is very soft and silky, and it is often a little airier on the skin with more give. This type is better for sheerer applications of powder products (and manufacturers warn against using this hair with liquids and creams) or very, very sensitive skin that can’t handle the texture of even the softest goat hair. You are really not supposed to wash it more than a few times a year. (I do not adhere to that, and I accept that my brushes may need to be replaced in 10 years instead of in my next lifetime. I am okay with the cost of that decision, if it proves true!)

If you’re looking to try natural hair brushes, I would start with a quality goat hair brush to see how you like the texture and feel against the skin. Squirrel is undoubtedly soft and silky against the skin, but it is costly, higher maintenance, and is less versatile compared to goat hair. Synthetics are also a good option for more affordable brushes, particularly if you’re just getting to know your application style, size and shape preferences, and so forth.

Hakuhodo is my go-to for natural brushes, as they have a large variety of shapes and styles, but they also make shapes in different materials, so you have more choice in terms of hair type and price point–some of their natural hair eye brushes are much more affordable than you might expect but most medium and large face/cheek brushes will be pricey. If you need the comfort of a good return policy, opt for Wayne Goss or Chikuhodo, which can be purchased via Beautylish.

Hakuhodo   G511 Highlighter Brush Angled
A+

15
Product
15
Fitness
5
Durability
5
Construction
100%
Total
Hakuhodo   B512BkSL Highlight Brush Angled
A-

14
Product
13
Fitness
4.5
Durability
4.5
Construction
90%
Total
Hakuhodo   B116BkSL Highlight Brush Round & Flat
A+

15
Product
15
Fitness
5
Durability
5
Construction
100%
Total
Hakuhodo   S116Bk Highlight Brush Round & Flat
A+

15
Product
15
Fitness
5
Durability
5
Construction
100%
Total

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Hakuhodo x Sephora PRO Brush Collection Photos & First Impressions

Hakuhodo x Sephora PRO Brush Collection
Hakuhodo x Sephora PRO Brush Collection

Hakuhodo x Sephora PRO Brush Collection consists of five face brushes that are made out of synthetic fibers. All five are on the larger side and dense with a lot of spring/give (particularly the Large Teardrop brush, which seems almost floppy as the brush tapers). The edges of all five brushes was very even, and I didn’t have any issues with scratchiness or feeling an odd bristle while trying the brushes in multiple directions. The fibers don’t seem as fine as they could be–IT’s Velvet Luxe line is softer and smoother in feel against the skin. I’m uncertain about some of the shapes and how versatile/useful they will be, but that is a personal call based on my own preferences, but you may want to see them in-store if you can.

It was apt that all but one brush was specifically named as a “Powder Brush,” because these seemed to be best with powders. Their density, though, made then prone to picking up and applying quite a bit of product, so you’ll want to use a light hand or use this with your sheerer to medium coverage products. I do not recommend using this with a bright candy apple red blush, for example, which is my personal test for seeing how much powder is deposited in a pick-up as well as how well the brush blends the color out (red blush is unforgiving, it gets splotchy quite easily without good application). As a side note, all of that intense red blusher washed right off with no staining (which is as expected).

Despite being a synthetic material, which often lends itself to liquid application, the Kusabi (Wedge Sloping Powder Brush) worked poorly with liquid/cream foundation as is very streaky, while the Kusuriyubi (Angled Concealer Brush) must be used to pat concealer into place rather than any sweeping or blending motions as it will leave slight lines. I think the Kusuriyubi is rather large, so it only worked okay underneath the eye (larger area), but it doesn’t fit as well into the grooves of the nose, around the mouth, under the brow, or for concealing acne or spots.

See more photos!

Hakuhodo x Sephora PRO Brush Collection for July 2015

Hakuhodo x Sephora PRO Brush Collection
Hakuhodo x Sephora PRO Brush Collection

These beautiful brushes feature an innovative synthetic bristle material—the first to benefit from exclusive technology—that creates a softer, fluffier feel with actual bounce while retaining the benefits of synthetic bristles. As a result, these brushes are soft as cashmere, yet deposit more product onto the face due to less absorption and are more hygienic than natural hair. The result of the first ever collaboration between a beauty company and highly-skilled traditional Hakuho-do craftsmen, these brushes benefit from the expertise of the Sephora Pro team and are handmade in Japan using a traditional, 200-year-old manufacturing technique. This ensures the highest quality design, materials, and assembly for astounding results.

Concealer Brush ($30.00) (Limited Edition)

This beautiful multitasking brush can be used to apply blush, contour, or for more detailed application and can also create an ideal natural look. The innovative synthetic bristle material is the first to benefit from exclusive technology that creates a softer, fluffier feel with actual bounce while retaining the benefits of synthetic bristles. As a result, these brushes are soft as cashmere, yet deposit more product onto the face due to less absorption and are more hygienic than natural hair.

Fan Cheek Brush ($40.00) (Limited Edition)

This beautiful multitasking brush can be used to apply powder, contour, or for bronzer. The innovative synthetic bristle material is the first to benefit from exclusive technology that creates a softer, fluffier feel with actual bounce while retaining the benefits of synthetic bristles. As a result, these brushes are soft as cashmere, yet deposit more product onto the face due to less absorption and are more hygienic than natural hair.

Wedge Sloping Powder Brush ($54.00) (Limited Edition)

This large angled powder brush—a brand-new shape developed by the Sephora Pro team—can be used for the self-application of powder, bronzer, or for neck shading. The new shape is designed to sculpt and provide maximum control when applying makeup to yourself. The innovative synthetic bristle material is the first to benefit from exclusive technology that creates a softer, fluffier feel with actual bounce while retaining the benefits of synthetic bristles. As a result, these brushes are soft as cashmere, yet deposit more product due to less absorption, and are more hygienic than natural hair.

Small Teardrop Pointed Highlighter ($38.00) (Limited Edition)

This beautiful multitasking brush can be used for precision contouring and highlighting. The innovative synthetic bristle material is the first to benefit from exclusive technology that creates a softer, fluffier feel with actual bounce while retaining the benefits of synthetic bristles. As a result, these brushes are soft as cashmere, yet deposit more product onto the face due to less absorption and are more hygienic than natural hair.

Large Teardrop Pointed Powder Brush ($49.00) (Limited Edition)

A large pointed powder brush to apply powder, contour, or bronzer.

Availability: Now at Hakuhodo x Sephora PRO Brush Collection (early access for VIB Rouge/VIB)

Hakuhodo J004G & J242G Eyeshadow Brush Round & Flat Reviews & Photos

Hakuhodo J004G Eyeshadow Brush Round & Flat
Hakuhodo J004G Eyeshadow Brush Round & Flat

Hakuhodo J004G Eyeshadow Brush Round & Flat ($20.00) is a small, dome-shaped, flat eyeshadow brush made out of goat hair. The brush head is 10mm in length, 9mm in width, and 3mm in thickness. It had a total length of 145mm with a pinched, metal ferrule. It’s incredibly soft and silky–it feels like the brush moves at once, so I never felt the individual bristles–and excellent for packing and patting on eyeshadow or blending two shades together. For me, this shape and style of brush is a workhorse, because it can be used to apply, blend, and diffuse eyeshadow all on its own, so it is a true multi-tasker.

It is the most similar brush I’ve found in terms of general shape and feel to MAC 239 ($25). The 239 has a flatter edge with a bit more firmness, while the J004G has a slightly fluffier, lighter feel and is a bit bigger overall. The J242G (reviewed in the next paragraph) is narrower and flatter in comparison to the 239. The 239 is more like a mix of the J004G and J242G, but both are worth considering as alternatives to MAC’s 239. Just for reference, the measures of the 239 are as follows: is 8.5mm in length, 9.5mm in width, and 3mm in thickness. It had a total length of 170mm with a pinched, metal ferrule. The 239 is also much longer in total, as Hakuhodo’s handles run shorter.

Hakuhodo J242G Eyeshadow Brush Round & Flat ($18.00) is a small, flat eyeshadow brush with a slightly tapered edge made with a mix of goat and synthetic bristles. The brush head is 9mm in length, 7mm in width, and 2mm in thickness. It had a total length of 144mm with a pinched, metal ferrule. It’s a narrower eyeshadow brush that’s great for packing or patting on eyeshadow on the inner portion of the lid or for more precise color application if you’re applying more than two shades on the eyelid and want them to be more distinct. The brush is soft and silky, never rough or scratchy, so I also like it for patting on color along the lower lash line using the edge.

Hakuhodo   J004G Eyeshadow Brush Round & Flat
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Hakuhodo   J242G Eyeshadow Brush Round & Flat
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0
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0
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0
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0
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