Sunday, December 14th, 2014

SUQQU Brushes
SUQQU Brushes

SUQQU may not be the most accessible brand yet (here’s hoping they’ll expand to a good stockist in the U.S.), but they live up to the hype and are lovely brushes for those who wish to indulge. I can see why the Cheek brush is constantly out of stock at Selfridges. I know readers have recommended Ichibankao for ordering Asia-exclusive beauty brands, and they also have SUQQU brushes available (but I haven’t personally ordered from them, though I have been tempted!). I have no complaints; they’re outstanding, high-quality brushes. I’ve been putting them through testing since October, and I haven’t had any issues with shedding, smell, or re-shaping after washing. I’ve washed all of the brushes numerous times since then, and they’re still as soft and silky as they were to begin with. The shapes are well-done–more distinct from many brushes I own but they’re still useful, versatile shapes that I can easily use.

SUQQU Cheek Brush (£80.00 / ¥15,000) is a small, rounded blush brush that flares outwards from the ferrule and then tapers to a rounded edge. It is made out of gray squirrel hair, and it is supremely soft, silky, and smooth against the skin. No matter the direction or pressure, the brush never felt rough or sharp. It had moderate density with a feathery quality to it, which made it particularly suitable for use with more pigmented or very soft-textured powder products. This is useful if you’re more heavy-handed when applying your blush, even if you don’t mean to be, as it is hard to overdo your cheek color with this brush. It works well to blend and soften edges of various powder products for cheeks and face. I really liked it for highlight, though, as it gave me similar results that I get with a fan brush but with more precision–diffused, luminous, but never metallic.

  • Sizing: 34mm in length, 19mm in width, 15mm in thickness (it’s round); total length of 15.5 centimeters.
  • Most similar: Chikuhodo Z-4 is similar in its smaller size, but it is wider and flatter (thinner) with less roundedness; where the Z-4 looks more like a blush brush, SUQQU Cheek looks more like a highlighting brush

SUQQU Face Brush (£168.00 / ¥30,000) is a large, rounded powder brush that tapers slightly at the edges and rounds out at the top. It’s dense without being fully packed (it’s not a kabuki brush), so there’s a light spring and give as it is swept across the skin. It feels like silk (even when I had my husband do the blind-softness-test, he described it as such, “It feels so silky, is that even possible with a brush?”) as the bristles move together. You just don’t feel the individual fibers at all. The fullness makes it ideal for dusting finishing and setting powders all over the face. I also liked it for diffusing the edges of a trickier blush or bronzer as well. It is made out of gray squirrel hair.

  • Sizing: 50mm in length, 36mm in width, 26mm in thickness (it’s round); total length of 13 centimeters.
  • Most similar: Chikuhodo Z-1 is slightly smaller, while Chikuhodo Z-9 is wider/flatter and a bit overall–they all feel the same in regards to softness.

SUQQU Eyeshadow Brush M (£48.00 / ¥8,000) is a medium-sized, domed brush with a very rounded edge. It’s like a much larger and wider take on a pencil brush or a really squat, densely-packed crease brush. It can apply quite a bit of color even though it’s made out of gray squirrel, if desired. There’s no doubt it’s one of the softest pencil-like brushes I’ve tried, as it swirls and taps, sweeps and blends and never, ever feels pointed. The bristles move together in a way that feels silky across the skin. Though it probably will make some cringe, but this is such a good shape and brush for applying cream eyeshadow into the crease, particularly for blending out the edges (I really liked it with Laura Mercier). I tend to favor other brushes for initial application and only use this as a buffing tool, just because it makes it cleaner when I use it for blending. It’s lovely for blending out powder eyeshadows as well, and it is nice for highlighting the inner tear duct/corner of the lid. I’ve also had good luck using it to buff out creamy concealers underneath the eye or tapping brightening powder underneath the eye.

  • Sizing: 12.5mm in length, 6mm in width, 6mm in thickness (it’s round); total length of 13 centimeters.
  • Most similar: Chikuhodo Z-10 is much more tapered towards the end and comes to more of a point; IT Cosmetics No. 105 is longer, so it has more spring, but it has a similarly-sized rounded edge (it is also a synthetic option)

SUQQU Lip Brush L (£32.00 / ¥6,500) is a thin, rectangular lip brush that can line, fill, and blend with great precision. Its greatest attribute is that it never feels sharp, even when using the edge get a really crisp line of color. The bristles are extremely well-cut so that you don’t get skips and drags, and they move together for the most part. I like that it doesn’t come to a defined, tapered point, which is one of the things I like least in lip brushes, and the length is nice, as it gives you enough real estate to get product on it and cover lips without it taking an eternity. All that said, I rarely use lip brushes, so I wouldn’t consider myself a lip brush authority, so please keep that in mind!

  • Sizing: 10mm in length, 6mm in width, 0.5mm in thickness (it’s round); total length of 17 centimeters.
  • Most similar: Hakuhodo 270 (I don’t have it) appears similar based on photo/listed measurements; Tom Ford also has a more rectangular-shaped brush

The Glossover

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Cheek Brush

It had moderate density with a feathery quality to it, which made it particularly suitable for use with more pigmented or very soft-textured powder products. This is useful if you're more heavy-handed when applying your blush, even if you don't mean to be, as it is hard to overdo your cheek color with this brush.

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Face Brush

The fullness makes it ideal for dusting finishing and setting powders all over the face. I also liked it for diffusing the edges of a trickier blush or bronzer as well. It is made out of gray squirrel hair.

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Eyeshadow Brush M

It's like a much larger and wider take on a pencil brush or a really squat, densely-packed crease brush. It can apply quite a bit of color even though it's made out of gray squirrel, if desired. There's no doubt it's one of the softest pencil-like brushes I've tried, as it swirls and taps, sweeps and blends and never, ever feels pointed.

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Saturday, December 13th, 2014

Wayne Goss The Holiday Brush (Black)
Wayne Goss The Holiday Brush (Black)

Wayne Goss The Holiday Brush ($85.00) is available in black or white, with both brushes being made out of goat hair, and are, essentially, the same as far as shape, weight, and softness go. It’s a large powder brush with a full, rounded brush head that gradually tapers to a soft point. The brush head is in 50mm in length and 25mm in thickness and width (at its thickest/widest point). The brush has a total length of 7 inches / 17.5 centimeters with an open ferrule. I liked it best for applying finishing powders, particularly Guerlain’s Meteorites, as it fit in the jar well and dusted the powder all-over quickly. It’s too large for me when I’ve applied blush, except if it is a very barely-there blush where precision is unnecessary. Loose or pressed setting powder can be applied using this brush as well, and the brush is just soft enough that it feels comfortable on the skin but not so soft that it doesn’t pick up a lot of product. I also liked it for applying a soft highlight (anything metallic was easily over-applied with this brush, though) for a diffused glow. Between the two, I would go for the white brush hairs, because there was a fair amount of dye washing out of the black fibers for the first half a dozen washes. I haven’t had any issues with shedding with either brush over the three weeks I’ve been using them–a few hairs overall but nothing consistent (often none during an application).

If you’re familiar with MAC 138 ($53.00), this will look familiar. It is identical in its size and shape, with the MAC brush having a slightly longer handle. The Holiday Brush is slightly softer–it feels smoother when it is swept across the face ever-so-slightly–and seems a touch less dense (a little more feathery) with finer fibers. I used them side-by-side, and the Holiday Brush seemed to pick up product more readily, which may come down to preference. My MAC 138 is from 2009 (possibly even older than that), and I know some of my more recently-purchased MAC brushes have felt inferior to my original purchases, so I’m not sure if the 138 is still made the same today.

NARS Mie Kabuki ($55.00) comes to a more angular point towards the end (the taper isn’t as gradual), and it is ridiculously scratchy and rough against the face. Chikuhodo Z-8 Cheek ($111.00) is somewhat similar in shape but is half the size with a more rounded, less tapered edge; it is made out of blue squirrel hair, so it is noticeably softer–I think the larger powder Z-series brushes are too rounded to be similar to the Holiday Brush. I don’t have it to confirm, but I believe Hakuhodo’s 103 (from $75, available in the S, B, and J, though the J is a goat and synthetic blend) is similar as it has been compared to the MAC 138.

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The Holiday Brush

I liked it best for applying finishing powders, particularly Guerlain's Meteorites, as it fit in the jar well and dusted the powder all-over quickly. It's too large for me when I've applied blush, except if it is a very barely-there blush where precision is unnecessary. Loose or pressed setting powder can be applied using this brush as well, and the brush is just soft enough that it feels comfortable on the skin but not so soft that it doesn't pick up a lot of product.
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Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

MAC x BollyDoll Brush Kit
MAC x BollyDoll Brush Kit

MAC x BollyDoll Brush Kit ($49.50) includes five travel-sized brushes and a patterned brush rkeper. The brushes have glossy black handles with golden patterns on them and white bristles (except the 204SE Lash, which is a black mascara spoolie). The brush holder has a shiny black ribbon that ties it together, and on the interior, there are five slots so each brush has its own home. The brush holder is made out of 100% polyester with a very smooth, soft feel on the exterior and a slightly more textured fabric on the interior.

The brushes are consistent with this past holiday’s brush sets in that they seem improved over the last few years of brush set releases, but the full-sized versions will still out-perform, mostly in regards to softness, though I felt like the shapes of the eye brushes were larger, more rounded, and fluffier here than their full versions. The shapes of the brushes just seem a lot less precise with less defined shape here, particularly in the case of the 217SE. The 204SE Lash and the 168SE Large Angled Contour were the most similar to their full versions. The 219SE is longer and more rounded, so it can actually be nicer for smudging out color (less tapered/sharp). The 239SE seems fluffier and less flat, so it wasn’t as good for packing on color, but it worked well for blending.

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Friday, October 10th, 2014

NARS Kabuki Brush Set
NARS Kabuki Brush Set

NARS Kabuki Brush Set ($149.00) includes three, kabuki-style brushes: Mie Kabuki, Mizubake Kabuki, and Kabuki Eye Brush. The Mie and Mizubake brushes are both $55 each, so that is $110 value there, and then $39 for the eye brush (which seems about right–the Kudoko, an eye Kabuki brush NARS released earlier this year is priced at $40). The brushes come housed in a thick, plastic rectangular box (it feels like acrylic storage containers to me). There’s a thin, removable plastic insert that holds the brushes upright in the box.

Mie Kabuki is supposed to be used for “all-over face application of loose and pressed powders.” It’s a medium-large powder brush that flares from the bottom, rounds out in the middle, then gradually tapers to a soft point at the top. It felt exactly like the full-sized version I’ve tested previously (see my original review here, and consistency is good, but the brush is unimpressive due to the rougher, scratchier bristles.

Mizubake Kabuki is supposed to be used for “contour and sculpt[ing].” It is a short-handled, flat-topped brush that flares out from the base. It had moderate density with light spring, so it worked well for buffing product into the skin, stippling, blending, and sweeping. This felt the same as the original, full-sized brush I reviewed previously (see review here). When NARS rolled out their Kabuki series brushes earlier this year, the Mizubake was the only one I liked, as it wasn’t scratchy/rough. The cutting is slightly uneven, so that could be improved.

Kabuki Eye is supposed to be used for a “soft-focus, seamless effect” for eyeshadows. It is a limited edition brush. It is a large, tapered brush that looks like a jumbo-sized crease brush. The brush head was 0.75 inches / 2 centimeters in length and 0.5 inches / 1.2 centimeters in width/thickness. The brush had a total length of 7 inches / almost 18 centimeters. It has good spring so that it flexes and diffuses powder eyeshadow easily, while it is dense enough that it still deposits color. Most of the time, it doesn’t feel scratchy (but I wouldn’t describe it as really soft or silky), but occasionally, there’s a bristle or two that seems to be scratchy/thicker. If you can, you may want to see this brush in person, as it is quite large, and that may or may not work for you depending on your routine. If it was softer, I would have liked it for diffusing and blending out concealer, but I prefer something with a silkier feeling against the under eye area.

The Glossover

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Mie Kabuki Brush

A medium-large all-over face powder brush with rougher/scratchier bristles, which makes it more unpleasant to use as an all-over face brush. The lack of softness is more noticeable when tapping or patting the brush against the skin and slightly less apparent when doing a sweeping motion.
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Mizubake Kabuki Brush

Moderately dense, light springiness that made it work well for buffing and blending out powder products on the skin for a really diffused look. The bristles were fairly soft, and the brush is similar to how one might use a buffing brush but with a flatter edge and a longer handle (but it is a short handle compared to face brushes in general).
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Kabuki Eye Brush

If you can, you may want to see this brush in person, as it is quite large, and that may or may not work for you depending on your routine. If it was softer, I would have liked it for diffusing and blending out concealer, but I prefer something with a silkier feeling against the under eye area.
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Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

MAC Keepsakes/In Extra Dimension Brush Kit
MAC Keepsakes/In Extra Dimension Brush Kit

I thought the quality of the brushes in these sets seemed better than many of the other brush sets released over the last few years. Unlike past years’ brush sets, I didn’t instantly think, “Why bother?”  This is the first year in quite awhile where I’d say they’re worth considering if you really want MAC brushes but the cost of full-sized brushes is too high. I would, of course, also say that there are plenty of quality options to consider if your budget is $50 that may be better or more versatile, especially if you prefer or are indifferent to synthetic bristles.  I highly recommend looking at the brushes in each set and determining if those are the shapes you’ve been looking at or not.  Another aspect to consider is whether you like short handles or prefer longer ones, as these are all short.  Each comes with a glittery brush bag with “pearl” trim.  The bags use a finer glitter, so it doesn’t feel as rough, and though it does shed some glitter, I didn’t notice it much.  The Studio Brush Kit was the least comparable to their full-sized counterparts, and I don’t recommend it at all.

MAC Keepsakes/In Extra Dimension Brush Kit ($52.50) includes travel-sized versions of the 127SE, 128SE, 234SE, and 235SE brushes.  The brushes in this kit have semi-matte black handles with silver printing.  These are split brushes, so one side has black bristles and the other side has white bristles.  These felt quite comparable to the full-sized versions, but worth noting, I haven’t been overly impressed by the quality of more recently released MAC brushes, such as the In Extra Dimension Brushes.  The black side feels slightly rougher but not by much.

MAC Keepsakes/Mineralize Brush Kit ($52.50) includes travel-sized versions of the 187SE, 130SE, 286SE, and 287SE brushes.  These are all synthetic and natural fibre blends.  The 286SE was the only one that I felt had any scratchiness to it.  I think the most marked difference is that these just aren’t quite as dense as their full-sized counterparts, and they’re just not as well-made (the bristles aren’t cut as well, there are more scraggly ones hanging off the edge, and so on).  The shapes are often a little less precise as well (like the 187SE seems longer and less dense in particular).

MAC Keepsakes/Studio Brush Kit ($52.50) includes travel-sized versions of the 129SE, 190SE, 224SE, 213SE, and 209SE brushes.  These have cream-colored handles and the set comes with a cream-colored glittery bag to put them in.  Of the three sets, this one felt the most different compared to the full-sized versions.  The hair used here (presumably goat) is thicker, not as soft, and sweeping, rather than patting or stippling, motions will be best.  I don’t find that the bristles are cut well, which seems to only make them feel even scratchier.  The 129SE is the worst of the five, not that the full-sized 129 isn’t known for softness (it’s one of MAC’s scratchier face brushes).  I don’t think this one is worth the money, and I think you’re really better off getting full-sized versions or looking at another brand.

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Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Chikuhodo GSN-03 Cheek Brush
Chikuhodo GSN-03 Cheek Brush

Chikuhodo GSN-03 Cheek Brush ($96.00) is a large, dome-shaped face brush made out of gray squirrel and goat bristles. The brush head is 48mm in length, 38mm in width, and 22mm in thickness. It had a total length of 190mm with a pinched, metal ferrule. It’s such a large brush for cheek products; I couldn’t see this being useful for blush or highlighter for most, and only if you apply bronzer all-over would this be practical. It’s soft, well-cut, and hasn’t given me any problems with shedding or dye bleeding through over a dozen washes.

The brush head is dense but feathery against the skin, with the base being denser and firmer, and then as it tapers and flares outwards, it has more give. I’ve been using it primarily for applying loose setting powder and pressed finishing powders.  The brush is well-weighted with good weight distribution, and it feels comfortable in the hand. The way the ferrule and handle are shaped, the brush isn’t prone to rolling off a counter/desk.

Chikuhodo’s sizing for some of the GSN brushes seems off–several brushes are a lot larger than the average is. Brush size and shape is always going to be a combination of personal preference, application technique, and face/feature size, but just know that this is the size of your average powder brush.

Chikuhodo GSN-01 Powder Brush ($127.00) is a long-ish, extra large, dome-shaped powder brush with gray squirrel and goat bristles. The brush head is 56mm in length, 43mm in width, and 28mm in thickness. It had a total length of 193mm with a round, metal ferrule. It is similar in overall shape as the GSN-03, just a good deal larger. It is longer, so it had a little more flex, and it wasn’t as dense as the GSN-03, which makes sense for powder application. I’ve used this for applying powder foundation, loose and pressed finishing/setting powders, and for general blending of face products as a last step.

The brush feels soft against the skin and moves more as one, so it feels like silk, when you sweep it across the face. I haven’t had any issues with the overall quality of the brush after washing it over a dozen times. It does take awhile to dry, because it is a larger brush (though not as dense as the GSN-03, it’s still moderately dense).  Like the GSN-03, this brush has good weight distributed and feels balanced in the hand, so it is comfortable to hold and use.  It reminded me somewhat of Hakuhodo’s J104, which isn’t quite as soft, but is a fuller, rounder, less dense brush.

Neither are brushes that I’ve fallen in love with personally, as the GSN-03 is too large for blush but too dense for how I like to apply my loose setting/finishing powders. The GSN-01 is larger than I’d like, and I really love my Make Up For Ever #128 for a large brush and use it for loose setting powder application.

The Glossover

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GSN-03 Cheek Brush

The brush head is dense but feathery against the skin, with the base being denser and firmer, and then as it tapers and flares outwards, it has more give. I've been using it primarily for applying loose setting powder and pressed finishing powders.

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GSN-01 Powder Brush

I've used this for applying powder foundation, loose and pressed finishing/setting powders, and for general blending of face products as a last step. The brush feels soft against the skin and moves more as one, so it feels like silk, when you sweep it across the face.

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