Hakuhodo J5543 Blush Brush Round & Flat
Hakuhodo J5543 Blush Brush Round & Flat ($60.00) is a medium-sized blush brush with tapered bristles and a rounded edge that is just slightly curved but mostly flat across. It is fairly thick, dense, and delightfully soft and silky on the skin. The brush head is 31mm in length, 33mm in width, and 18mm in thickness (note: Hakuhodo lists it as 11.5mm thick, but after several uses and washes, mine is definitely thicker). It has a pinched ferrule with a total brush length of 6.5 inches or 16.5 centimeters. The weight is well-balanced with slightly more weight on the brush head end, but the handle is still balanced and nice to hold.
I loved it most with powder blush, powder bronzer, and for extra blending or diffusing of cheek color after products were initially applied. It really glides across the skin with a feather-light touch, and it can apply color with light to medium coverage easily. If you want richer color, I would just load the brush with more product, but it doesn’t take much. The thin, tapered bristles work well for blending and softening the edges of blush and bronzer without much work. I like to lightly pat the brush across the area I want to apply blush, and then I sweep it slowly upward and then lightly use short, quick passes along the edges to soften.
It is quite similar to Tom Ford Cheek Brush ($78) with the biggest difference being that Tom Ford’s is noticeably denser, so it picks up more pigment/product off the bat, while the J5543 will allow for a slightly softer/lighter application. Blush is absolutely buildable with the J5543, so the same results can be achieved, and it ultimately depends on how heavy-handed you are, how pigmented the blush you’re using is, and how much product you get on the brush. The J5543 is equally soft and sometimes almost feels softer because it is less dense. Both are fantastic brushes. MAC 116 ($35) is less dense, not as soft, and is narrower at the base and more flared towards the top.
J116 Highlighter Brush Round & Flat ($34.00) is a small, tapered brush that comes to a small flattened point with rounded, tapered edges and is made out of white goat hair. It’s fairly flat but still dense and lush, where the bristles move more as one and sweep softly across the face. This style is also available in the S-series and B-series, both made out of blue squirrel hair, at $78 and $57 respectively. The brush head is 28mm in length, 23mm in width, and 10mm in thickness with a pinched ferrule and total brush length of 6.5 inches or 16.25 centimeters. The weight is well-distributed across the brush without making the handle feel too heavy or too light.
It’s a versatile brush shape that lends itself for applying blush, highlighter, or contour. It even works to apply setting powder underneath the eye to lock concealer in place. The tapered, rounded edge and smaller size makes it ideal for smaller areas, which is why it’s most recommended for highlighting. Because of its denseness and shape, it can also fit in the hollows of the cheek. For someone with smaller features, it could work as a smaller blush brush. I did like it best for highlighting, as it does a good job of picking up and laying down highlighting powders without over-applying. The brush easily diffuses and blends out even frostier highlighters to give them a more diffused glow. It also does a nice job applying lightweight cream blushes (like Chanel’s new ones) and diffusing them with even, streak-free color.
Sephora PRO Precision Blush (73) Brush ($32) is larger and thicker with more flex/spring, and it comes to a stronger point at the top, but they are somewhat similar; it is not as soft. MAC 159 ($35) has a flatter, more straight-across edge and is a duo-fiber brush, though it has a similar density. Real Techniques Duo-Fiber Contour Brush ($19.99, part of a 3-piece set) is rounded but not as tapered with more spring, but they are similar in overall size and (to a lesser degree) shape; this brush is particularly scratchy, though, so I would not recommend it in its place.
As a note, the lettering on the J-series brushes rubs/scratches off very easily, and the brush handles do not include numbers, which are the two things I disliked most about these Hakuhodo brushes.