Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Chikuhodo x Beautylish Sakura Brush Set
Chikuhodo x Beautylish Sakura Brush Set

Chikuhodo x Beautylish Sakura Brush Set ($215.00) is a five-piece brush set created as a collaboration between retailer Beautylish and Japanese brush maker Chikuhodo (see reviews here). I haven’t had much time to use the brush set, so these are first impressions (and may be the only “review” I’ll write-up, as these are almost sold out). All five brushes appeared very even across the edges upon arrival, and the brushes are incredibly soft, with the exception of the Detail brush, which isn’t scratchy but comes to such a fine point that it is a firmer brush so you’ll want to use light pressure when working with it. The price point is higher than your average brush set but seems in line with the pricing of most handmade, Japanese brushes, if not a little cheaper. The handles have cherry blossoms cascading vertically, and I tried scratching at them with my nails, and none of the sheen or color flaked off. Three of the brushes (Powder, Crease, Detail) are shapes that I don’t find my collection, so that was a nice touch. I’m not sure about the usefulness of the crease brush, but I’m certainly game to give it a try. I think the best brush in the collection is the Cheek brush, with the Powder and Shade brushes right behind it.

Chikuhodo x Beautylish Powder Brush is a large powder brush with a very rounded, angled edge that is flatter than your typical, round powder brush. The angle almost made me think it wasn’t cut right, but the angle is deliberate (described as “allows you to emphasize your most flattering features”). The angled edge is new to me, but it fits well when you brush across the cheek bones, going from the nose to the outer edge of the cheeks. It is incredibly soft and airy, and you don’t feel any of the individual bristles when using it. It is made out of a mix of grey squirrel and goat hair. The brush head is 54mm in length, 42mm in width, and 23mm in thickness. It had a total length of 6.5 inches / 17 centimeters with a lightly pinched ferrule. I compared it to Chikuhodo’s GSN-03 Cheek Brush ($127), which is made out of the same type of hairs, but the Sakura Powder brush is noticeably softer with finer bristles; they are similar in general size and shape, except the Sakura Powder brush has the angled edge and is flatter overall.

Chikuhodo x Beautylish Cheek Brushis a small-to-medium-sized cheek brush with a rounded dome shape that is flatter than some blush brushes (it isn’t rounded as a whole). The shape is perfect for patting on blush and then sweeping to blend and diffuse the edges. It will pick-up less powder than a goat-haired brush will, so the effect is subtler from the get-go and often makes applying blush more foolproof. It is very soft and smooth, and no matter the direction, it never irritates the skin. It is made out of grey squirrel hair. The brush head is 37mm in length, 28mm in width, and 16mm in thickness. It had a total length of 6 inches / 15 centimeters. I compared it to Chikuhodo’s Z-4 Cheek/Highlight Brush ($73), which is wider and fluffier; and SUQQU Cheek (£80.00), which is smaller, flares from the base more, and is more rounded with an airier feel overall, while the softness of the Sakura Cheek is very comparable to both.

Chikuhodo x Beautylish Crease Brush is a very long, tapered, and pointed crease brush that has hairs that start short on the exterior and get longer and longer as they taper. While it comes to a more distinct point, it doesn’t feel sharp (likely because the bristles taper, so there are only a few that reach the very tip) and is feathery (not very dense). This one is going to take some practice to work with, and it has such a light touch that it sometimes tickles to use (for me). It is made out of grey squirrel hair. The brush head is 20mm in length, 6mm in width and thickness (at its widest). It had a total length of 5.25 inches / 13.5 centimeters. I compared to Wayne Goss #04 Crease Brush ($28), mostly for size, as the way they’re designed is quite different.

Chikuhodo x Beautylish Shader Brush is a medium-sized, flat dome-shaped eye brush. This type of brush is similar to more well-known brushes like MAC’s 239, and it is good for depositing powder product on the eyelid. The flatter shape makes it ideal for patting and packing on eyeshadow, but the domed edge and ultra-soft bristles allow maneuverability along the lid as well as into the crease and for light blending. It is made out of grey squirrel hair. The brush head was 12mm in length, 11mm in width, and 5.4mm in thickness. It had a total length of 5 inches / 12.5 centimeters. The brush is wider and flatter compared to Chikuhodo’s GSN-09 ($25), which is also made out of grey squirrel (and one of my favorite brushes).

Chikuhodo x Beautylish Detail Brush is a very tiny brush that is flat and tapers to a rounded tip–it looks almost like a triangle. It is made out of fitch and horse hairs. The brush head is 7mm in length, 4.3mm in width, and 2.2mm in thickness. It had a total length of 4.75 inches / 12 centimeters. It is a very small brush and best used with light pressure, as it is rather pointed, and so it will feel almost sharp if you use too much pressure. I could see it being useful for applying eyeshadow on the lower lash line, inner corner, pin point concealing, or concealing underneath the brow bone or along the lips.  More for reference, I showed it next to Chikuhodo’s Z-10 ($45), which is a more pointed crease brush, but it is quite a bit larger.

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Sunday, June 14th, 2015

MAC 137 Long Blending Brush
MAC 137 Long Blending Brush

MAC 137 Long Blending Brush ($42.00) is a long, tapered cheek/face brush made out of natural fibers. It’s supposed to be used for a “light dusting of any powder.” The brush head is 22mm in width, 22mm in thickness, and 49mm in length. It had a total length of 7.4 inches / 18.7 centimeters and an open, metal ferrule. This brush was manufactured in Japan. The brush has a really light, feathery feel and is perfect for dusting highlighters onto cheek bones, down the bridge of the nose, or applying a finishing powder all over with more control than a fan brush would give you. What I was most surprised by was how soft the brush is, because a lot of MAC’s recent brushes have been rougher in feel, and many of their cheek and face brushes (even from before) aren’t that soft, but this is one of the softest MAC brushes I’ve come across that has natural fibers. This is very comparable to Wayne Goss Brush 14 ($33) as far as length and purpose go, though MAC’s is significantly more tapered, longer by 8mm, a little less soft, and a bit denser (though not a dense brush by any means).

MAC 221 Mini Tapered Blending Brush ($24.00) is a small, lightly tapered crease brush made out of natural fibers. The brush head is 6.5mm in width, 6.5mm in thickness, and 16.5mm in length. It had a total length of 6.5 inches / 16.6 centimeters with an open, metal ferrule. It is also made in Japan. There’s a slight taper that comes to a rounded point, so it doesn’t create too harsh of placement into the crease, but it does give you precise placement. I liked it best for initially placing richer color into the deep crease and then using a fluffier brush to blend it out. It’s soft and never felt scratchy or poky no matter the direction or pressure I used. It is similar to Hakuhodo J5529 ($16) and Wayne Goss Brush 05 ($25).

MAC 267 Curved Angle Brush ($24.00) is a synthetic brush designed to be used with your eyeliner (like gels and creams, though MAC also suggests powder) with a curved edge that is supposed to fit the natural curve of the eye. The brush head is 11.5mm in width, 2.5mm in thickness, and 11.5mm in length. It had a total length of 6.25 inches / 15.9 centimeters with a pinched, metal ferrule. It was made in China. I found this brush to be scratchy and rough against the skin, which made it painful to drag across to apply gel eyeliner on the skin. It somewhat fits the curve of the eye, but I think it is going to depend on the size of your eye and how curved your lid/area is, as it seemed oversized for my eye shape/size. I don’t recall having a brush quite like this, so it seems to be more unique.

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137 Long Blending Brush

The brush has a really light, feathery feel and is perfect for dusting highlighters onto cheek bones, down the bridge of the nose, or applying a finishing powder all over with more control than a fan brush would give you.
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221 Long Blending Brush

I liked it best for initially placing richer color into the deep crease and then using a fluffier brush to blend it out.
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267 Curved Angle Brush

I found this brush to be scratchy and rough against the skin, which made it painful to drag across to apply gel eyeliner on the skin.
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Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Wayne Goss Brushes
Wayne Goss Brushes — 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

There are nine Wayne Goss Brushes designed for the face. It’s a good, solid range for cheek and face options, with shapes that should work for many. The most interesting brush that I tried was the #14, while the brushes I used and liked the most would be the #02, #11, and #15. I also liked #12 a lot, but I have two very similar brushes that I favor a wee bit more, so I don’t tend to reach for it on my own. The brushes feel lighter-weight than some higher-end brushes, but they don’t feel poorly balanced with what weight is there. Japanese-style natural brushes have been noticeably better to significantly better in quality over most mainstream mid- to high-end brands (think Bobbi Brown, Chanel, MAC, NARS, etc.).

Wayne Goss Brush 02 ($35.00) is a small, tapered brush that starts off narrow at the base, flares upwards to about two-thirds and then tapers towards the tip to a rounded point. The brush is incredibly soft, moderately dense, with just enough flex and give for blending and maneuvering around the cheek bones, bridge of the nose, across the forehead, or underneath the eyes. It’s small enough to work on a variety of face shapes and sizes, but it’s not so small that it feels inefficient. The brush head is 33mm in length, 19mm in width, and 19mm in thickness. It has a total length of 6.6 inches / 17 centimeters. MAC 165 ($34, discontinued) is more rounded but similar in shape and purpose. Hakuhodo J5521 ($38) is similar as well, but it is also rounder overall with less of a noticeable tapering along the edges.

Wayne Goss Brush 10 ($53.00) is a large, stippling brush with a wide, flat edge with a mix of synthetic and goat hairs. It’s designed to work with liquid and cream foundations, which it does a nice job of, but I have found that more rounded brushes tend to provide the most streak-free finish relative to stippling brushes. These days, I like stippling brushes of this size for powder products (bronzer, blush, finishing powders in particular), as well as for diffusing and blending out the overall look (similar to the function of a buffer brush, but this will move base products less, as it has an airier feel against the skin). It is extremely soft and feels feathery against the skin, despite being a fairly dense brush, except for the last fourth of the brush, where it has more spring and feels less dense. The brush head is 40mm in length, 31mm in width, and 35mm in thickness. It has a total length of 6.5 inches / 16.75 centimeters. This brush is comparable to MAC 187 ($42), which is slightly less dense and narrower with less fluffy flaring.

Wayne Goss Brush 11 ($48.00) is a medium-sized cheek brush with moderate density, a rounded, domed shape. It is fairly soft, though noticeably less-soft compared to some of my other blush brushes (of which I have some very high-end options to choose from), but it’s with this brush that I noticed a lesser softness, whereas the majority of the ranges in the line haven’t been as distinguishable. I really like this brush for most blushes, except really pigmented ones, and it is a good option for that firmer pressed blush, as the larger surface and density seem to help it lift more product off the pan’s surface than a more feathery brush. It lays down color and blends it out nicely. The brush head is 37mm in length, 33mm in width, and 22mm in thickness. It has a total length of 6.75 inches / 17.25 centimeters. It’s like a much improved version of MAC 129 ($35), which has a good shape for an all-purpose blush brush, but it is one of the scratchiest MAC brushes made.

Wayne Goss Brush 12 ($53.00) is a medium-sized, dense blush brush with a wider, rounded edge with a gentle flaring outwards. It’s soft, silky, and smooth against the skin and has never felt irritating while I’ve used it. This brush is convenient for powder cheek and face products from blush to bronzer, especially for someone who wants medium to full coverage out of their cheek color. This shape is very useful for blending out harder-to-blend powder products along the edges as the flatter edge makes shorter work of it. The brush head is 32mm in length, 41mm in width, and 24mm in thickness. It has a total length of 6.5 inches / 16.75 centimeters. This brush is similar to Hakuhodo J5543 ($60), which I find is a smidgen denser and tends to retain its shape without fluffing up as much. Tom Ford Cheek (06) ($78) is very, very similar to the J5543, as they share the same shape, though the Tom Ford is slightly denser, while it fluffs up on the edges more similarly to Brush 12. Both of these are ever-so-slightly smoother against the skin.

Wayne Goss Brush 13 ($53.00) is a small-medium, round brush with a domed edge. In some ways, it’s like a small, buffing brush attached to a long handle. The shape works well with cream and liquid foundations, powder and liquid/cream blushes, as well as powder and liquid/cream highlighters. It can even be used to contour, depending on the style of contour you’re after (it’s large enough that it won’t give you ultra-precision, but the density gives you a lot of control in the initial lay down). It’s moderately soft; soft enough that it is likely to be a decent upgrade for most, but it is less soft than the best synthetics and higher-end natural fiber hairs. The brush head is 31mm in length, 25mm in width, and 25mm in thickness. It has a total length of 6.5 inches / 16.75 centimeters. It is very similar in style to MAC 109 ($35), which is denser and less soft. Hakuhodo 210 ($36), which is less smooth/soft (there is a J-series version for $44 that is likely to be softer), but shares the same size and shape. Chikuhodo GSN-04 ($64) is a little longer but is fairly similar.

Wayne Goss Brush 14 ($33.00) is a medium-sized brush that starts off narrow at the base and significantly flares upwards to a rounded, dome edge with low-to-medium density and a very feathery, airy quality to the composition of the bristles. If you like to dust and gently sweep your cheek products on, you’ll probably enjoy this brush, as you’ll never have to worry about being heavy-handed again with this one. I liked it best for applying highlighters and very pigmented blushes, as it yields a very diffused, sheer to semi-sheer coverage level (which can always be built up, of course). It works well for contouring, too, if, like me, you like a more diffused, subtle contour and tend to use a fan brush to achieve that result, but this can do that job as-is (I’d just prefer a denser version personally). It is fairly soft and is comfortable to use on the skin. The brush head is 41mm in length, 22mm in width, and 22mm in thickness. It has a total length of 6.5 inches / 16.75 centimeters. I don’t have a brush that’s similar in shape, but the SUQQU Cheek has a similar airy, feathery quality to how it feels during application (but this is much, much softer and smoother) — for those looking to mimic the effect of SUQQU without the bank-breaking price tag, this is well worth a try.

Wayne Goss Brush 15 ($25.00) is a medium-sized fan brush. It is the least soft face brush that I tried from the range, though certainly not genuinely scratchy or rough. I regularly reach for fan brushes like this one, as it isn’t too big or too soft, dense enough to deposit color on the skin but not so dense that it leaves harsh lines. It has flex and give, feels lightly feathery during application and diffuses edges easily. I use this type of brush for contouring, highlighting, and with heavily pigmented blushes. It’s also a good option for a more shimmery finishing or setting powder that you want to dust all-over without over-applying the product. The brush head is 38mm in length, 60mm in width, and 15mm in thickness. It has a total length of 6.6 inches / 17 centimeters. It similar in shape and size to MAC 184 ($24), which is a duo-fiber brush, so the composition of bristles is quite different. Sephora Pro Fan Brush (#65) ($27) is 10mm wider, which makes it less precise. Hakuhodo J4004 ($26) is very similar in shape and size.

There is also one face brush (that I don’t have): #01 (angled, smaller foundation), which would be most likely be used with cream and liquid products (primarily foundation).

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Brush 02

The brush is incredibly soft, moderately dense, with just enough flex and give for blending and maneuvering around the cheek bones, bridge of the nose, across the forehead, or underneath the eyes.
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Brush 10

These days, I like stippling brushes of this size for powder products (bronzer, blush, finishing powders in particular), as well as for diffusing and blending out the overall look (similar to the function of a buffer brush, but this will move base products less, as it has an airier feel against the skin).
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Brush 11

It is fairly soft, though noticeably less-soft compared to some of my other blush brushes (of which I have some very high-end options to choose from), but it's with this brush that I noticed a lesser softness, whereas the majority of the ranges in the line haven't been as distinguishable.
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Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Wayne Goss Brush 03
Wayne Goss #04, #19, #03 Brushes

Wayne Goss Brushes are, by and large, a good, solid range of brushes with usable shapes and sizes. I think the eye brushes are better than the face brushes, though the cheek and face brushes are still good, but the assortment of eye brushes has been more impressive. The price point across most of the brushes is comparable to mid- to high-end brands, and some of the eye brushes are more reasonable than you’d expect (cheaper than brands like MAC). What I personally enjoyed most was not just the quality of the brushes, but the shapes and sizes of the brushes, as I found myself reaching for and using them as part of a routine, not just for testing. The line is more traditional in its types of brushes offered, but a couple of brushes are more interesting. The only brush in this review that I had quality issues with was the #18, which felt poky on the lid. The #03, #04, and #19 are brushes that have found their way into my permanent stash, while #05 and #17 are nice, they aren’t shapes I personally reach for.

Wayne Goss Brush 03 ($32.00) is a large, tapered crease brush with moderate density and fullness that comes to a more defined point where the hairs get less dense towards the tip. The hairs are soft enough to always feel comfortable on the lid, no matter the position or type of stroke or motion you use in your routine, but it still picks up a good amount of product and blend product easily. If there’s one type of brush you’ll find in the range, it’s a crease brush; there are five to choose from, this being the largest. I like using this for laying down a transition shade, blending out crease colors, highlighting the brow bone, and setting under eye concealer. The brush head is 21mm in length, 10mm in width, and 10mm in thickness. It has a total length of 6 inches / 15 centimeters with a open, round ferrule. For me, it’s very comparable in shape, size, and fullness to the Hakuhodo G5522 ($28), while the MAC 224 ($32) is less tapered.

Wayne Goss Brush 19 ($27.00) is a medium, tapered crease brush with a tapered edge. This brush is 1.5mm wider than #04 but 2mm narrower than #03, though it is very similar in nsize and shape to the #04 to a degree where it’s very hard to tell by eye. The bigger difference, to me, between this and the #04 is density; the #19 has less give and flex, which makes it better for getting a defined crease and more precision out of the brush. Between the two, I prefer the #19 as I find it more versatile. The brush head is 18mm in length, 8mm in width, and 8mm in thickness. It has a total length of 6.2 inches / 15.50 centimeters with a open, round ferrule. Tom Ford Eyeshadow Blend (13) ($55) seems denser but very comparable in shape, size, and purpose and is 1mm wider.

Wayne Goss Brush 04 ($28.00) is a medium-sized, tapered crease brush that comes to a soft, lightly rounded point. Visually, it looks to have half the fullness of the #03.
The brush is soft in all directions with more give and flex compared to #03, though I think some may find it has too much give. It works nicely for applying and blending out eyeshadow in the crease, above the crease, or on the brow bone. The brush hairs are soft, silky, and move as one. The brush head is 17mm in length, 6.5mm in width, and 6.5mm in thickness. It has a total length of 6.2 inches / 15.5 centimeters with a open, round ferrule. Hakuhodo J142 ($18) is comparable in size and shape, though it is 0.55mm narrower. I find Louise Young LY38 ($28) is fairly cmparable, though a tiny bit wider, while the LY38B ($24) is narrower.

Wayne Goss Brush 05 ($25.00) is a small, narrow crease brush with a lightly rounded, tapered edge. This is one of the smaller crease brushes offered by the range, and naturally, the shape follows #03 and #04, it’s just smaller in size across the board. It works well for depositing more defined color into the crease and smudging eyeshadow on the lower lash line. The texture of the brush was soft to feel comfortable to use but still picked up color well. The brush head is 13mm in length, 5mm in width, and 5mm in thickness. It has a total length of 6 inches / 15 centimeters. Hakuhodo J5529 ($16) comes to a less tapered point, but it has the exact same length and width/thickness.

Wayne Goss Brush 17 ($32.00) is a large, flat, dense all-over dome eyeshadow brush. For someone who applies a wash of color or a powder base on the eye lid, it would work nicely for that. The edge also works for smudging or applying color to the lash line. It’s soft, smooth, and I couldn’t feel the individual bristles moving across the skin, even on the edge. The brush head is 15mm in length, 16mm in width, and 6mm in thickness. It has a total length of 5.75 inches / 14.5 centimeters. Tom Ford Eyeshadow (11) ($55) is fluffier, not quite as firm, and comes to a more pointed (less domed) edge, but is very similar in size and purpose.

Wayne Goss Brush 18 ($26.00) is a medium, flat, dome-shaped eyeshadow brush. It is fairly dense and firm with just enough give to work around the curvature of the eye. I expected to use this brush the most, but this was the one eye brush that felt rough to me–I kept feeling individual bristles poking at the skin. If used it solely for packing on eyeshadow onto the lid, I usually didn’t feel any roughness or bristles, but I felt I had to use just right to avoid it.
The brush head is 11mm in length, 10mm in width, and 5mm in thickness. It has a total length of 5.75 inches / 14.5 centimeters. MAC 239 ($25) is less firm, slightly fluffier, especially along the edge, which makes it a better multi-tasker. Hakuhodo J004G ($20) is softer and less thick.

There are also the following eye brushes (that I don’t have): #06 (shorter crease), #07 (appears to be a short, stubby domed brush), #08 (short, flat eyeliner), #16 (rounded dome), #20 (pointed crease).

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Brush 03

The hairs are soft enough to always feel comfortable on the lid, no matter the position or type of stroke or motion you use in your routine, but it still picks up a good amount of product and blend product easily.
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Brush 19

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This brush is 1.5mm wider than #04 but 2mm narrower than #03, though it is very similar in nsize and shape to the #04 to a degree where it's very hard to tell by eye. The bigger difference, to me, between this and the #04 is density; the #19 has less give and flex, which makes it better for getting a defined crease and more precision out of the brush.
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Brush 04

It works nicely for applying and blending out eyeshadow in the crease, above the crease, or on the brow bone. The brush hairs are soft, silky, and move as one. The brush head is 17mm in length, 6.5mm in width, and 6.5mm in thickness.
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Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Real Techniques Bold Metals Brushes
Real Techniques Bold Metals Brushes

Real Techniques Bold Metals Brushes ($15.99 to $25.99) are intended to be a premium range above the standard range of brushes that made the brand so popular. I don’t know that they’re really softer or more usable than their original brushes, which are more affordable. I think that they tried to create some more unique/interesting shapes, and as a result, I find that whether the good brushes are worth picking up depends on your needs and preferences even more so than usual. The only brush that I anticipate using going forward (now that I’m done testing them) is the #202 Angled Liner brush, but if I did more contouring, I would also consider the #301 Flat Contour Brush.

Real Techniques #100 Arched Powder Brush ($25.99) is a large, dense, paddle-shaped powder brush that has a very rounded, curved edge. The brush carries a lot of its weight in the ferrule area, and I noticed with this one in particular (as it is one of the largest brushes in the collection), it wasn’t as comfortable to hold if you tend to hold it towards the tapered end, but if you tend to hold your brushes closer to the ferrule, you should be just fine. When swept across the face, the bristles feel very soft and silky, and when patted on the skin, they’re still soft but not quite as smooth. It’s a denser brush that has a longer drying time than average. The shape is flatter, less round and full compared to a traditional powder brush, which makes it ideal for those who tend to press or pat their powder into place, rather than swirl or buff it into place. I found it to work best for loose and pressed setting and finishing powders. The brush head is 50mm in length, 40mm in width, and 24mm in thickness. The brush is made out of synthetic fibers, and it has a total length of 8 inches / 21 centimeters.

Real Techniques #200 Oval Shadow Brush ($15.99) is a large, paddle-shaped eye brush with a domed edge. It is quite large, which makes it a more all-over kind of brush, whether you’re applying a layer of cream eyeshadow or a wash of powder eyeshadow. When using it flat against the lid, it works decently and feels soft enough, but the edge is poorly cut with uneven bristles noticeably felt against the skin. It does a poor job of really blending or diffusing edges, as it is quite a firm, dense brush without a lot of give. It doesn’t pick up a lot of color unless you use the edge, where it is more uneven, so it is only going to give lighter coverage. The brush head is 17mm in length, 15mm in width, and 6mm in thickness. The brush is made out of synthetic fibers, and it has a total length of just over 7 inches / 17.5 centimeters.

Real Techniques #201 Pointed Crease Brush ($15.99) is a pointed, large pencil brush. It’s very similar in concept to your traditional pencil-style eye brush, but it is three or so times larger. I would highly recommend washing the brush a few times, because initially, the point is very pronounced and sharp, but after a few washes, it shapes to a more gradual point that’s still pointed, but it is usable and much more comfortable on the skin. On that note, it is a more difficult brush to wash as there is a lot of open space between the bristles and the ferrule due to it being open. Occasionally (not every time I used it), it felt a little scratchy–like one or two bristles were out of place and therefore poked into the eye space). It’s nice for laying down color on the outer corner and slightly going into the outer V, though I prefer a more rounded crease brush for blending and diffusing that color, but this would work well for those who like a brush to apply stronger color initially and then tend to reach for a blending brush to polish the look. The brush head is 13mm in length, 9.5mm in width, and 9.5mm in thickness.The brush is made out of synthetic fibers, and it has a total length of just over 6.75 inches / 17 centimeters.

Real Techniques #202 Angled Liner Brush ($15.99) is a small, thin, angled brush. It’s very soft, smooth, and holds together nicely as it is pressed and dragged across the skin in a line, which gives you more opaque, more even eyeliner application. Despite its thinness, it doesn’t feel sharp against the skin, even along the lower lash line. The brush head is 6mm in length, 5mm in width, and 2mm in thickness. The brush is made out of synthetic fibers, and it has a total length of just over 6.5 inches / 16.5 centimeters.

Real Techniques #300 Tapered Blush Brush ($23.99) is a small, tapered, paddle-shaped blush brush. The smaller shape makes it a better brush for getting placement, but it’s not quite as effective for diffusing of bolder or more pigmented blushes. I actually felt like it was better for applying cream and liquid highlighters along the cheek bones, down the nose, or wherever you wanted to highlight. I could feel a lot of the fibers in the brush when used, and it felt like I was getting poked every other sweep or stroke across the face, which made it an uncomfortable brush to you use. The cut just didn’t feel as well-done here, and it seemed to give the bristles a rougher feel against the skin. The brush head was 30mm in length, 28mm in width, and 14mm in thickness. The brush is made out of synthetic fibers, and it has a total length of just over 7.75 inches / 19.5 centimeters.

Real Techniques #301 Flat Contour Brush ($25.99) is a medium-sized, extremely dense, stubby brush that’s mostly rectangular in shape with flat edge. From the name as well as the shape, it is ideal for placing contouring products into the hollows of the cheeks. The bristles are soft enough to allow for patting and tapping the product into place, as well as skimming, sweeping, and blending motions. It does a decent to good job blending out a contour powder, but it is better for initial placement or getting a more precise contour in place, but I liked it for blending out of cream-based products. If you prefer a very subtle contour, though, this may over-apply product for your liking as it is quite dense and flat, which makes it excellent at picking up product, but it may be more coverage than desired. The brush head was 21mm in length, 30mm in width, and 17mm in thickness. The brush is made out of synthetic fibers, and it has a total length of just over 7 inches / 18 centimeters.

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#100 Arched Powder Brush

The shape is flatter, less round and full compared to a traditional powder brush, which makes it ideal for those who tend to press or pat their powder into place, rather than swirl or buff it into place. I found it to work best for loose and pressed setting and finishing powders.
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#200 Oval Shadow Brush

When using it flat against the lid, it works decently and feels soft enough, but the edge is poorly cut with uneven bristles noticeably felt against the skin. It does a poor job of really blending or diffusing edges, as it is quite a firm, dense brush without a lot of give.
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#201 Pointed Crease Brush

Occasionally (not every time I used it), it felt a little scratchy--like one or two bristles were out of place and therefore poked into the eye space). It's nice for laying down color on the outer corner and slightly going into the outer V, though I prefer a more rounded crease brush for blending and diffusing that color, but this would work well for those who like a brush to apply stronger color initially and then tend to reach for a blending brush to polish the look.
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Monday, May 4th, 2015

Chikuhodo GSN Brushes
Chikuhodo GSN Brushes

Chikuhodo GSN-04 Highlighting Brush ($64.00) is a medium-sized, domed brush that narrows as the base and flares upwards towards the upper third of the brush before tapering and rounding at the edge. It is made out of a mix of gray squirrel and goat hairs. The brush head is 37.5mm in length, 27mm in width and thickness at its widest point. It had a total length of 7.25 inches / 18.5 centimeters with a lightly pinched, metal ferrule. I think for most people, this is going to work better as a blush brush than a highlighting one, as it is larger than the average highlighting brush. I think it is too rounded and dense to be the best highlighting brush as well, but it does work for diffusing and blending out a highlight or for applying more of a highlighting blush where the area of coverage is larger. It is a moderately dense brush with light spring so it can be swirled and swept across the skin in all directions. The hair felt fairly soft, though at this price point, it could have been a bit softer, I think. For blush, it worked well for applying color, diffusing and blending out the applied color, and it made short work of the process.

Chikuhodo GSN-08 Eyeshadow Brush ($32.00) is a large, paddle-shaped eye brush that comes to moderately pointed tip. It’s a dense brush that tapers upwards and ends at a rounded tip, so depending on the size of your eyelid, it can actually fit almost perfectly held horizontally on the inner half of the eyelid. It’s made out of weasel hair. The brush head is 18mm in length, 12.5mm in width, and 6mm in thickness. It had a total length of just under 7.5 inches / 19 centimeters with a lightly pinched, metal ferrule. For me, this brush is fairly large for my eye area, so I don’t reach for it often, but I liked it best for applying a cream eyeshadow all-over the lid or for a wash of a powder eyeshadow, since it can cover a larger area easily. It also could be used to apply or set concealer underneath the eye, as it is dense, firm, but still soft and feels very smooth against the skin.

Chikuhodo GSN-11 Shadow/Liner Brush ($19.00) is a tiny, dome-shaped, flat, firm precision-focused brush that can be used for eyeshadow or eyeliner. It is made out of weasel hair. The brush head is 6mm in length, 5mm in width, and 3mm in thickness. It had a total length of 6.75 inches / 17.5 centimeters with a pinched, metal ferrule. I personally prefer an angled brush for eyeliner, but I liked this for applying eyeshadow on top of eyeliner, especially the lower lash line. The flat, firm shape enables you to really pat on the eyeshadow without diffusing it too much, and the small size gives you a lot more control.

Chikuhodo GSN-16 Lip Brush ($25.00) is a medium-sized, rectangular lip brush made out of weasel hairs. The brush head is 10mm in length, 5.75mm in width, and 1.5mm in thickness. It comes in a concealed, metal tube, where the tube is like a “cap” of sorts, and when removed, you can connect it to the bottom to elongate the brush handle, or you can hold the as-is lip brush if you prefer shorter handles. This is an easy brush to toss into a makeup bag or purse to keep with you for touch-ups during the day, if you need to. The total length if 6 inches / 15.5 centimeters. The bristles are soft enough not to poke or irritate more sensitive lips, but it’s a firm, flat brush that provides enough density to lay down lip color well while still having enough spring to maneuver around the edges of the lips easily.

I had no issues with shedding, dye, smell, or re-shaping with any of these, and I’ve been using the Chikuhodo GSN brushes for about a year now. Of these four, the GSN-11 is the one I’ll keep with my favorites, as it worked well for what I’d like to use it for. The other brushes were good, but they’re in shapes/sizes that don’t fit as well with my personal routine. I think you can get a higher quality blush brush, though. You can read reviews for the GSN-01 Powder, GSN-03 Cheek, GSN-07 Eyeshadow, GSN-09 Eyeshadow, and The Glossover

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GSN-04 Highlighting Brush

I think it is too rounded and dense to be the best highlighting brush as well, but it does work for diffusing and blending out a highlight or for applying more of a highlighting blush where the area of coverage is larger.
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GSN-08 Eyeshadow Brush

It's a dense brush that tapers upwards and ends at a rounded tip, so depending on the size of your eyelid, it can actually fit almost perfectly held horizontally on the inner half of the eyelid.
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GSN-11 Shadow/Liner Brush

The flat, firm shape enables you to really pat on the eyeshadow without diffusing it too much, and the small size gives you a lot more control.
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