Monday, August 25th, 2014

Chikuhodo GSN-09 Eyeshadow Brush
Chikuhodo GSN-09 Eyeshadow Brush

Chikuhodo GSN-09 Eyeshadow Brush ($25.00) is a small-medium, dome-shaped eyeshadow brush made out of gray squirrel hair. The brush head had a length of 12mm, width of 6.5mm, and thickness of 2.5mm. It had a total length of 182mm with a pinched, metal ferrule. Of all the GSN brushes I’ve tried, this is easily my favorite, and I could see getting multiples of it, because it’s a really versatile brush for eyeshadow application. It’s narrower than my go-to MAC 239, but it is softer with a more domed edge. 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, if you don’t have a go-to crease brush (or sometimes get lazy, in my case). 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.

Chikuhodo GSN-07 Eyeshadow Brush ($40.00) is a large, paddle-shaped eyeshadow brush made out of gray squirrel and fitch hair. The brush head a length of 21mm, width of 16.5mm, and thickness of 8mm. It had a total length of 190mm with a pinched, metal ferrule. As an eyeshadow brush, I think it’s very much over-sized and couldn’t incorporate it into an eyeshadow routine at all. I mostly found use for it in applying concealer underneath the eye or using it to press loose powder underneath the eye to set powder over concealer. The bristles are soft, while it had a dense, firm texture with light spring.

Chikuhodo GSN-12 Eyebrow Brush ($29.00) is a medium-sized, angled brush made out of raccoon hair. The brush head had a length of 7.5mm, width of 6mm, and thickness of 2mm. It had a total length of 177mm with a pinched, metal ferrule. The brush head is firm with a little give, and it’s a thicker brow brush so it actually gives a really soft brow color when used. You can get more precise edges, but the brow powder can be diffused and evened out throughout the brow. I like this for getting a defined but not harsh brow using powder eyeshadow. For gels and creams, it picks up too much product, but I liked it for blending out those formulas. I’ve been reaching for this over a lot of my other go-tos for brows, just because I really like how it blends out my brow powder.

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GSN-09 Eyeshadow Brush

Temptalia Recommends
Of all the GSN brushes I've tried, this is easily my favorite, and I could see getting multiples of it, because it's a really versatile brush for eyeshadow application.
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GSN-07 Eyeshadow Brush

This is going to be a brush that someone picks up because they're specifically looking for a larger, paddle-shaped brush for eyes or smaller areas of the face.
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GSN-12 Eyebrow Brush

I like this for getting a defined but not harsh brow using powder eyeshadow. For gels and creams, it picks up too much product, but I liked it for blending out those formulas. I've been reaching for this over a lot of my other go-tos for brows, just because I really like how it blends out my brow powder.
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Thursday, August 14th, 2014

NARS Yachiyo Kabuki Brush
NARS Yachiyo Kabuki Brush

NARS Yachiyo Kabuki Brush ($55.00) is described as a “multi-functional tool designed for defining cheekbones, highlighting the complexion, and blending and diffusing color on or around the eye area.” It’s a slightly smaller-than-medium-sized blush brush that flares outwards from the base and then tapers gradually to a point at the tip. It’s 1.5 inches / 4 centimeters in length, 0.75 inches / 2.5 centimeters in width (at its widest) and thickness. It has a total length of 6.25 inches / just over 16 centimeters. It has a fair amount of spring and moderate density. I liked it best with under-pigmented blushes or blushes with stiffer, drier consistencies, because the bristles aren’t as soft, so they seem to disturb the surface of tougher powder blushes better, but it’s a brush that doesn’t feel as nice on the skin at times. When I use a feathery touch, I don’t notice that it’s lacking some softness and smoothness to the bristles, but if I try to buff or really blend and diffuse color, it’s less comfortable. I remember hearing a lot of raves for this brush over the years, so when I received it, I was disappointed by the texture and feel of the brushes. It actually prompted me to try Hakuhodo’s Large Yachiyo brush ($50), which is softer but not as soft as other face brushes.

NARS Mie Kabuki Brush ($55.00) is described as a “soft, allover face powder” brush that uses goat hair bristles. 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’s nicely weighted with slightly more weight towards the brush head end, but it feels comfortable in the hand. The brush head is 1.75 inches / 5 centimeters in length, 1.25 inches / 3 centimeters in width (at its widest point) and thickness. It had a total length of 7 inches / 17.5 centimeters. The bottom half (towards the base) is dense, and as it moves up, it has more of a moderate density and moderate spring. The bristles are somewhat rough/scratchy against the skin, especially if you use any tapping or stippling motion, and it is less noticeable if you use slow, sweeping motions. It is about double the size of the Yachiyo with greater density, but it is similar in overall shape.

NARS Mizubake Kabuki Brush ($55.00) is described as a “contour and sculpt” brush with goat hair bristles that can be used with blush as well. It is a short-handled, flat-topped brush that flares out from the base. The brush head was just short of 1.25 inches / 3 centimeters in length, and 1.25 inches / 3 centimeters in width (at its widest point) and thickness. It had a total length of 4/5 inches / 11 centimeters. It could have a better cut–the bristles are a bit uneven, but it was significantly softer, smoother, and nicer to use on the skin compared to the other two brushes above. It had moderate density with light spring, so it worked well for buffing product into the skin, stippling, blending, and sweeping. Of the four, this was the only one I liked, though the shape itself isn’t one that I use in my regular routine, but it is a nice alternative to a buffer brush for someone looking for a longer handle (compared to most buffer brushes, that is!) and less density (it is easier to clean and dries faster than your typical buffer brush, since it is less dense).

NARS Kudoki Kabuki Brush ($40.00) is described as a “sable and pony hair” brush used to “contour the eye for impeccable crease definition.” It is a medium-large-sized, sharply angled eye brush. The brush head measured 0.5 inches / just over 1 centimeter in length, 0.4 inches / 9mm in width, 1/8 of an inch / 3mm in thickness. It had a total 6.5 length of inches / almost 17 centimeters. It’s a firmer, denser brush that is very precise, so if you like a soft, diffused crease, this isn’t an appropriate brush. This seems like a brush you’d use to create a cut crease look. It could be used to apply eyeliner as well, but it is a thicker angled brush, so it would be for a more specific look/application or perhaps smudging out eyeliner. The bristles were fairly soft, but the shape is “sharper” in a way, so use a light pressure when applying to find your comfort zone. The cut could be better, as the edge is noticeably uneven.

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Yachiyo Kabuki Brush

Moderate density, springy brush that is best for under-pigmented powder products as the bristles are scratchier/rougher and dislodge powder from stubborn pans of powder better, but it can be uncomfortable to use, especially when blending due to the scratchiness.
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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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Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

NARS Powder Brush #10
NARS Powder Brush #10

Last April, NARS released new Artistry Brushes. Since then, I’ve spent time using them on and off, figuring out which ones I like, don’t like, and all that. I don’t like any of the face brushes; I find them prone to shedding and at times, scratchy–the latter is hard to deal with. I had shedding with all four face brushes I tried continuously, though after a dozen or more washes, I only find a stray hair here and there now, but initially it was more than a few. The only thing I liked about these were the handles, as they were weighty and well-balanced. They are not brushes I would reach for voluntarily due to the scratchiness as well as the shedding.

NARS Powder Brush #10 ($52.00) is supposed to “blend, buff, and diffuse powder.” It’s a large, flared brush with a slightly tapered (just along the edges) top, that is almost flat. The fibers did not look to be all that well cut–they were quite jagged. It was moderately dense with good flexibility and spring, so it was able to apply a loose setting or finishing powder well without applying too much (it was just uncomfortable to apply). This brush shed quite a bit initially, and it has come down to only a few per use, but it’s still frustrating to deal with it at this price point. The brush head is 48mm in length, 40mm in width, and 40mm in thickness. It had a round, open ferrule and a total length of 7 inches or 18 centimeters. I noticed that the two brushes with all-black bristles seemed to be the roughest and least well-cut–very uneven and the bristles felt thicker, whereas the two brushes with browner bristles were softer and had a more even cut.

NARS Bronzing Powder Brush #11 ($52.00) is a densely-packed, buffer brush with a short-handle (like a regular short handle, not a squat, buffer brush type handle). It flares out slightly with a gentle dome shape. This one was softer than #10, so it is moderately soft. It only seemed slightly scratchy if you tried using it to stipple or tap product on, but if you sweep, buff, or blend, it is fairly soft and doesn’t irritate or bother my skin when used. It blends very well, whether that’s applying bronzer or to correct over-applied blush. It’s 35mm in length, 43mm in width, and 43mm in thickness. It had an open, round ferrule, and a total length of 4.5 inches or 11.5 centimeters.

NARS Blush Brush #20 ($42.00) is a dome-shaped, medium-sized blush brush. It flares out slightly from the ferrule and them rounds along the corners. The bristles are densely packed, and the brush feels soft most of the time. On mine, there’s one edge that is slightly scratchy when I pat on blush color for initial application. The density of this brush makes this pick up quite a bit of pigment and deposit it in one place, so if you’re heavy-handed, you’ll want to look for a less dense brush, but if you tend to always under-apply or have sheerer blushes, you might like how easily this will pick up color. It will soften the edges, but I recommend wiping off excess color on a paper towel or tissue to get good diffusion. The brush head is 35mm in length, 30mm in width, and 20mm in thickness. It had a slightly pinched ferrule, and a total length of 6.5 inches or just over16 centimeters.

NARS Contour Brush #21 ($42.00) is an angled, medium-sized brush designed for contouring. This brush could have been cut better–the bristles were somewhat uneven, and it was noticeably scratchy on the skin during use. When applied with light pressure and skimmed across the skin, it felt okay, but I often felt like it was scratchy when using it. I had shedding problems with this one for the first six washes, and after that, it sheds two or three bristles per use. The shape fits well in the hollows of the cheeks for a softer, more diffused contour. The brush head is 33mm in length, 35mm in width, and 20mm in thickness. It had a slightly pinched ferrule with a total length of 6.5 inches or just over 16 centimeters.

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Powder Brush #10

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Bronzing Powder Brush #11

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Blush Brush #20

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Friday, May 30th, 2014

Chikuhodo Z-8 Cheek Brush
Chikuhodo Z-8 Cheek Brush

Chikuhodo Z-8 Cheek Brush ($141.00) is a medium-sized, tapered, slightly paddle-shaped, blush brush. The brush head is 1.25 inches or 3 centimeters in width, just over 1.5 inches or 4 centimeters in length, and 0.75 inches or 2 centimeters in thickness. It has an open ferrule and a total length of 6 inches or just over 15.5 centimeters. It is made out of gray squirrel hair.

It’s an impossibly soft, dense blush brush that applies both sheer and more pigmented blushes with ease, blends them almost as you apply and lay down the color, and never, ever irritates the skin. I like how dense and full the brush is, but it still has give; it doesn’t feel stiff or heavy against the skin–you still get a lot that featheriness of a less dense brush. This brush is a real multi-tasker, if you wish it to be, because it’s large enough to apply blush, bronzer, or powder as desired, but it isn’t overly large, so it could also work for dusting on a highlighter (probably one that is sheerer) or finishing powder all-over the face. I’ve had no issues with shedding over the past two months I’ve been test-driving it. I can see why some splash out for luxury brushes like this one, though that “is it worth it” question is always going to be difficult. I couldn’t think of similar brushes to this that I have; its density and roundness at its base made it hard to dupe (most of my blush brushes are flatter).

Chikuhodo Z-2 Highlight Brush ($92.00) is a thinner, tapered brush. It is made out of gray squirrel hair. The brush head is 1.5 inches or 3.5 centimeters in length, 0.75 inches or 2 centimeters in width and thickness (it is rounded). It has an open, rounded ferrule with a total length of 6 inches or 15 centimeters.

The really tapered tip allows for highlighting with precision along the bridge of the nose particularly well, but it can easily deposit highlight onto cheek bones, forehead, or even all over (this is actually how I’ve often used it: to dust on a finishing powder like Guerlain’s Meteorites). As it is a smaller brush, it may take a few more strokes for all-over application, but it seems like the ideal size for applying a highlight to cheek bones. It’s not so large that it will overlap heavily with your blush application, but it still has a soft, feathery feel so that the highlight applies evenly, smoothly, and is diffused on the skin. The most similar brush I have to this is the Hakuhodo J5521, which is shorter and is less tapered/narrow (and it is not quite as soft, but it’s a very soft and well-made brush as well). MAC 165 is also similar, though a lot less soft and not quite as pointed at the edge. MAC’s 138 has a similar shape but is two and a half times the size.

Chikuhodo Z-3 Contour Brush ($54.00) is small, flat circular brush that almost looks like a very, very tiny flat-topped kabuki with an elongated, thinner handle. I can’t recall having a brush shaped like this for contour (or for any other purpose in this size). It’s made out of gray squirrel hair and has a glossy black handle (slightly shorter than the average brush’s handle). The brush head measures just over 0.50 inches or 1.5 centimeters in length, just over 0.5 inches or 1.8 centimeters in width/thickness (it is round). It had an open, round ferrule and a total length of just over 5 inches or 13 centimeters.

If you prefer more precise, detailed-driven brushes, you might like this option for contouring, as it is noticeably smaller in general compared to your average face brush. It fits well underneath the cheek bone and in the hollow of the cheeks for contouring. The brush is incredibly soft, never scratchy or rough, whether used in a stippling, sweeping, or buffing motion. I really liked it for contouring, as you can get a stronger, richer contour line and then buff and blend it out without over-blending. But I really loved it for buffing concealer and applying powder beneath my under eyes and around the nose. The softness is much appreciated along the under eye area. It also worked well for buffing out the edges of cream blush or adding a bit of powder to soften an over-done blush without worrying about over-correcting as you might with a larger buffer brush.

Chikuhodo brushes can be purchase at Now-e Project. Starting today, they have reduced shipping up to free shipping, depending on purchase amount ($250+ = free). They also have four sets of various Z-series brushes bundled (saves a bit!) if you’re looking to buy a few at once. Or you can save 10% with code TEMPTALIA. All valid coupons cannot be used with other coupons (one per order), discounts, or special value offers.

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Z-2 Highlight Brush

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Z-8 Cheek Brush

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Z-3 Contour Brush

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Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

MAC 127 Split Fibre Face Brush
MAC 127 Split Fibre Face Brush

MAC 127 Split Fibre Face Brush ($35.00) is a medium-sized, tapered, slightly flattened, blush brush. The brush head has a length of just shy of 1.5 inches / 3.5 centimeters, width of 1.5 inches / 3.5 centimeters, and thickness of 0.5 inches / almost 2 centimeters. It has a total length of 6.75 inches / just over 17 centimeters. The ferrule is pinched and metallic teal, while the handle is more of a satin-finished teal and made in China. It’s designed for “light pickup and sheer wash of powders, bronzers, highlighters, and blush.” It is a combination of synthetic and natural fibers, though there seem to be 60-70% of natural fibers. The brush is moderately soft, with the synthetic side feeling slightly softer. I had minor shedding after the first two washes, but I didn’t notice shedding after that. You’ll get less color applied if you use the synthetic side compared to the natural fiber side. The size lends itself best to blush/bronzer application, though angled/positioned just so, it could certainly apply highlighter as well.

MAC 233 Split Fibre Eye Brush ($25.00) is a small, almost square-shaped (there’s a very slight dome to it) brush with a blend of synthetic and natural fibers. The brush head is 10mm in length, 10mm in width, and 4mm in thickness. It had a total length of 6.75 inches / just under 17 centimeters. It has a pinched, metallic teal ferrule with a satiny teal handle and is made in China. MAC says it’s for applying eyeshadow on the lid, and that you can get either “soft and diffused” or “sheer and polished” results (which don’t sound that different to me). Both sides felt soft on the lid, though the synthetic side was slightly softer. Like the face brush, the natural fiber side seems to dominate (so it’s not split down the middle), and it picks up more eyeshadow than the synthetic side, so if you prefer a sheerer look, the synthetic side works well for it. I didn’t have any issues with shedding, dye bleeding, shape retention, etc.

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127 Split Fibre Face Brush

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233 Split Fibre Eye Brush

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Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Powder Brush (2014)
Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Powder Brush (2014)

Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Powder Brush (2014) ($42.00) is a short-handled, red-bristled brush designed to be used with Guerlain’s Terracotta Bronzing Powders. The brush head is 1.5 inches / 3.5 centimeters in length, 1.5 inches / 3.5 centimeters in width, and 1.5 inches / 3.5 centimeters in thickness. It had a total length of just over 4 inches / 10.5 centimeters with an open ferrule. The bristles are scratchy, and the brush, overall, is poorly cut–it’s just not even at all. I had shedding for the first four washes, but after that, it did seem to abate. I noticed some dye bled for the first three washes as well. At this price point, there are too many higher-quality options to consider this one (and there are more affordable options that are better, too).

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Terracotta Bronzing Powder Brush (2014)

At this price point, there are too many higher-quality options to consider this one (and there are more affordable options that are better, too).
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