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Hakuhodo J5543 Blush Brush & J116 Highlighter Brush Reviews & Photos

Hakuhodo J5543 Blush Brush Round & Flat
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.

A+

Permanent

15
Product
15
Fitness
5
Durability
5
Construction
100%
Total
A+

Permanent

15
Product
15
Fitness
5
Durability
5
Construction
100%
Total

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Bobbi Brown Baby Pink & Berry Lip Colors

Bobbi Brown Baby Pink Lip Color
Bobbi Brown Baby Pink Lip Color

Bobbi Brown Baby Pink Lip Color ($25.00 for 0.12 oz.) is a light-medium, pink beige with subtle warm undertones and a soft, pearly finish–not a satin but not a full-on frost. It had mostly opaque color coverage with a lightly creamy consistency that glided across lips without pulling or tugging. This shade lasted well for four hours. Flower Beauty Petal Kiss is pinker, more matte. Giorgio Armani Blush is pinker, less shimmery. Guerlain Mitsouko is sheerer. Chanel Gardenia is slightly pinker. Make Up For Ever #4 is darker, pinker, matte. See comparison swatches.

Bobbi Brown Berry Lip Color ($25.00 for 0.12 oz.) is a raspberry pink with cool undertones and a luminous finish. It had very nearly opaque color but was just the slightest bit translucent–it kept it from looking too heavy on the lip. The color applied evenly and smoothly without dragging across the lip as the consistency was nicely creamy. It lasted six hours well without drying my lips out. Chanel Esprit is redder. Urban Decay Catfight is brighter. Chanel Suspense is similar. Chanel Fiction is slightly redder. Revlon Sorbet is a touch pinker. See comparison swatches.

Bobbi Brown Rich Chocolate Eye Palette

Bobbi Brown Rich Chocolate Eye Palette
Bobbi Brown Rich Chocolate Eye Palette

Bobbi Brown Rich Chocolate Eye Palette ($52.00 for 0.28 oz.) contains seven eyeshadows with five matte eyeshadows, one Shimmer Wash eyeshadow, and one Sparkle eyeshadow, plus a dual-ended brush all held in a glossy black palette. The matte eyeshadows are nicely pigmented and have a soft, smooth feel to them, though all of them were so soft that they had a tendency to also be somewhat powdery. The two shimmery shades were much less pigmented and had a drier, stiffer texture that made it difficult to pick up color–I really had to jab at the pan to get anything to loosen. Luckily, despite being somewhat powdery, the matte eyeshadows still wore well on the lid–they were not prone to fading as powdery eyeshadows sometimes can be. They lasted well for eight hours with very minor fading along the edges but no creasing. Unfortunately, when two of the seven eyeshadows are disappointing, it may make the whole palette a no-go. If you really love warm neutrals, though, you may still be tempted.

Bone is described as an “off white.” It’s a light beige with a matte finish. It had good color payoff, though the texture was incredibly soft and silky, it was powdery. I highly recommend applying in layers to minimize excess powder fall out. This shade is part of the permanent range. Urban Decay Broken is warmer, more shimmery. theBalm Adagio is similar. Urban Decay Kinky is similar, slightly cooler-toned. Urban Decay Walk of Shame is more beige. MAC Vanilla is slightly warmer. L’Oreal Endless Pearl is yellower. bareMinerals Chance is cooler-toned. Inglot #355 has a slight sheen. See comparison swatches.

Stone is described as a “medium ash brown.” It’s a medium, neutral-toned brown with a matte finish. It had fairly good pigmentation though the texture was slightly powdery but very soft. LORAC Taupe is similar. bareMinerals Get Ahead is cooler-toned. Urban Decay Faint is cooler-toned, darker. MAC Moleskin is lighter. Inglot #342 is slightlyd arker. See comparison swatches.

Frappe is described as a “medium ash beige.” It’s a light-medium brown with soft, yellow-peach undertones and a matte finish. It had decent to good color payoff, but the texture was powdery. MAC Layin’ Low is a cream product, warmer. Inglot #337 is darker, more red-toned. Edward Bess Cosmic Bliss #1 is lighter. MAC Arena is shimmery. See comparison swatches.

Caramel is described as a “silvery brown sparkle.” It’s a silver-sparkled, medium-dark brown with warm, yellow undertones. The color payoff was incredibly disappointing as the product was stiff and dry, so even to get something to show up, I really had to scrape the product out of the pan. The sparkle doesn’t bind with the underlying powder at all, so the end result is a very uneven amount of sparkles. Burberry Pale Nude #1 has no sparkle. Bobbi Brown Praline is more shimmery, less sparkly. See comparison swatches.

Champagne Truffle is described as a “warm pink beige.” It’s a light-medium copper with warm, orange undertones. This was in a previous palette, and it looked much darker and was much more pigmented, so I don’t know why this iteration is so poor in comparison. It was semi-sheer, and the texture was stiff and hard to work with. Disney All Aglow is similar. Disney Wanderin’ Free is lighter. Urban Decay Moonflower is darker. bareMinerals Golden Iris is more golden. See comparison swatches.

Cocoa is described as a “warm ashy brown.” This shade is part of the permanent range. Bobbi Brown Bittersweet is a cream product and slightly shimmery. LORAC Sable is lighter. MAC Swiss Chocolate is yellower. Make Up For Ever #162 is darker, redder in tone. See comparison swatches.

Rich Chocolate is described as a “dark brown.” It’s a deep, dark, burgundy brown with a matte finish. It had really intense color payoff, but like the other mattes, though the powder was soft to the touch, it was powdery. theBalm Matt Batali is cooler-toned. MAC Set to Dance is darker. MAC Graphology is darker, cooler-toned.
MAC Embark is less red-toned. Make Up For Ever #162 is browner. See comparison swatches.

Also In This Review

B+

Bone

Permanent
Read Review
A-

Stone

Limited Edition
Read Review
B+

Frappe

Limited Edition
Read Review
F

Caramel

Limited Edition
Read Review
D-

Champagne Truffle

Limited Edition
Read Review
B+

Cocoa

Permanent
Read Review
B+

Rich Chocolate

Limited Edition
Read Review
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Make Up For Ever #106 Medium Foundation, #156 Large Flat Blush, #176 Medium Concealer Brushes Reviews & Photos

Make Up For Ever #106 Medium Foundation Brush
Make Up For Ever #106 Medium Foundation Brush

Make Up For Ever #106 Medium Foundation Brush ($36.00) isa medium-sized, flat foundation brush with a slightly rounded edge. The brush head is 29mm in length, 26mm in width, and 5mm in thickness. The ferrule is pinched towards the top (near the brush head), and the handle is fairly thick (1.5 centimeters in diameter) towards the center and then narrows as it tapers to a slanted point. The total brush length is 6.75 inches or just over 17 centimeters. The weight is distributed more towards the brush head, so the handle does feel quite light.

It’s a thinner, firmer brush that is flexible as it is pressed and swept across the face, but it is not at all fluffy. The synthetic fibers pick up liquid and cream really well, but I do see noticeable brush strokes on the skin when I use this, so some buffing/blending is required with another brush after the initial lay down of product is done with this. I also noticed that there were four or five fibers that I had to trim back, because they were a half an inch or so extended beyond the brush’s actual shape. The brush is soft, and it didn’t turn greasy after several washes, and I had no real issues with it. There are a lot of flat foundation brushes on the market, and though I don’t have any in this exact shape, they all tend to apply similarly–somewhat streaky but can lay down more coverage (like MAC 190).

#156 Flat Round Blush Brush ($55.00) is a flat, fluffy blush brush with a domed, rounded edge. It’s not too dense, but it has enough fibers to not feel sparse. The brush head is 35mm in length, 35mm in width (at its widest point), and 15mm in thickness (at its thickest point). It has an pinched ferrule and a moderately wide handle (just under 1.5 centimeters in diameter) towards the center that narrows and tapers to a slanted point.  This brush had nice weight distribution.

It’s soft enough not to feel rough or scratchy against my skin, but I noticed it was less soft compared to other Make Up For Ever brushes. It doesn’t grab onto powders particularly well, so it ends up with a very soft, light application of powder blushes and bronzers. If you prefer a lighter application, you may enjoy this brush or want to look for a synthetic blush brush as synthetic brushes tend to pick up less powder than natural fiber brushes. I noticed that this brush lost a lot of its shape after a few washes and seemed more flared with some bristles splayed oddly.  Shu Uemura’s #20 Brush is similar–a touch longer in length with less flare and is slightly denser. Hakuhodo G5545 has a more rounded edge and is just a few millimeters longer. MAC 116 is much thicker, so it’s not much of a flat brush, while Sephora PRO Precision Blush (73) is also thicker and has a more tapered edge.

#176 Medium Concealer Brush ($30.00) is a small-medium, firm, flat brush designed to be used for concealer on larger areas. The brush head is 23mm in length, 17mm in width, and 4mm in thickness. It has a pinched ferrule, and a total handle length of 7 inches or just under 18 centimeters.  The weight distribution was nice–not too heavy at the brush head.

Make Up For Ever recommends using it with liquid and creams (like concealer), which is what I would use it for. If you like firm, flat brushes for applying foundation but find many of them too large, you may prefer the smaller shape of this one. I think it performs similar–it’s nice for laying down product initially, but for spreading and blending, it leaves streaks behind that need to be fixed with another brush. MAC 192 is thicker and longer. OCC’s Concealer (003) Brush is longer and more tapered.

0
Product
0
Pigmentation
0
Texture
0
Longevity
0
Application
0%
Total
0
Product
0
Pigmentation
0
Texture
0
Longevity
0
Application
0%
Total
0
Product
0
Pigmentation
0
Texture
0
Longevity
0
Application
0%
Total

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theBalm Swiss Dot Instain Long-Wearing Powder Blush

theBalm Swiss Dot Instain Long-Wearing Staining Powder Blush
theBalm Swiss Dot Instain Long-Wearing Staining Powder Blush

theBalm Swiss Dot Instain Long-Wearing Staining Powder Blush ($22.00 for 0.20 oz.) is described as a “peach.” It’s a medium-dark orange with subtle red undertones and a matte finish. Chanel Presage is similar but a cream product. NARS Gilda is slightly pinker. MAC Early Morning is a touch more muted. MAC Out for Fun is slightly redder and brighter, also a cream product. Guerlain Peach Boy #1 is pinker/redder. Chanel Frivole is slightly lighter. See comparison swatches.

It’s intensely pigmented with rich color payoff. The texture is soft and finely-milled without being powdery. It does have a tendency to cling to the skin almost immediately, so I highly recommend applying over totally dry/set foundation (if it is liquid/cream) with a light hand and patting, then blending. You may consider lightly dusting cheeks with a finishing or setting powder and then applying the blush, because this will help it blend better. Even on bare skin, it sometimes would stick where it landed, and it would be difficult to blend out. Swiss Dot wore well, though, for eight and a half hours, and after ten hours of wear, it started looking patchy, so it lives up to its long-wearing claim.

Swiss Dot
Swiss Dot
8.5
Product
10
Pigmentation
8.5
Texture
9.5
Longevity
4
Application
90%
Total

Tom Ford Cheek (06) & Bronzer (05) Brushes Reviews & Photos

Tom Ford Cheek (06) Brush
Tom Ford Cheek (06) Brush

Tom Ford Cheek (06) Brush ($78.00) is a blush brush with a rounded square-shape, slightly domed along the top edge, with very densely-packed bristles that feel lush and thick to the touch. It is very similar in shape to Tom Ford Cream Foundation Brush, it’s just larger. The brush head is 33mm in length, 35mm in width, and 20mm in thickness. It has a metal ferrule that is pitched towards the top, and the handle is well-balanced with some heft (but it’s not heavy or awkward) with a total brush length of just over 6 inches or just under 16 centimeters. The brush handle is somewhat thick at 15mm in diameter, and it has a flat bottom, so it can stand upright (if desired). The brand’s logo and brush number are engraved and have gold lettering (neither have worn off at all so far).

Tom Ford’s brushes, from my experience, are very consistent. There is no question that they’re soft, silky, and feel great against the skin, and the Cheek Brush is no different. The brush is dense and thick, so it’s somewhat firm (but not stiff) with spring and give that’s just right for sweeping, patting, and diffusing powder products. I haven’t had any issues with this brush over the year and a half I’ve been using it–no shedding, no funny smells, and despite it being white, surprisingly easy to keep close to the way it came. The natural bristles pick up color well, and then the shape and texture of the bristles also blends out the powder well. Because it retains its shape during application, it can also work well for contouring or applying bronzer, as the edge fits well into the hollows of the cheek.

Hakuhodo J5543 ($60) is very similar and is only 2mm shorter in length and thickness (though Hakuhodo lists it as 11.5mm in thickness, mine is 18mm after washing and use)–it is not quite as dense, which results in a lighter application, though I felt realistically you can layer and apply as much/as little with either brush, it’s a matter of technique, pressure, and amount of product you initially pick-up. I also think that many will prefer a softer blush application to start than one that provides for a more pigmented application right off the bat. Generally, denser/thicker brushes will yield more color payoff and coverage, and then fluffier, sparser brushes will give you a softer, sheerer color payoff and coverage. I don’t have it to compare, but the J501 ($96) is longer (44mm) and less thick (16.8mm); J505 ($69) is also longer (38mm) and less thick (15mm). MAC 116 ($35) is much less dense, not as soft, and is narrower/more flared.

Bronzer (05) Brush ($115.00) is a massive, dense, thick brush that’s wide, flares out towards the top and has a slightly domed edge. I have to reiterate that this brush is huge, and it’s one of the larger brushes I have. The brush is 45mm in length, 50mm in width, and 30mm in thickness. The handle is quite thick at 21mm across in diameter, flat-bottomed, and the brush has a total length of 6.7 inches or 17 centimeters. It has a metal ferrule that is pinched towards the top. The overall shape is similar to both the Cheek (06) and Cream Foundation (02) brushes, which this being the largest, the Cheek falling in the middle, and the Cream Foundation being the baby of the family. The bristles are layered, so the outermost bristles are shorter than the ones in the middle. They move, feel, and act like one in many ways; you do not feel bristles or fibers against the skin, just a seamless sweep across the face.

While it’s designed for bronzer, and it certainly applies bronzing powder well and blends it out nicely, the brush is quite large and so it will depend in your application and face shape/size whether it’s really a feasible/worthwhile tool. It picks up powder products quite well, which may make products seem too pigmented if you tend to be heavy-handed. Less is more, and you’ll spend less time diffusing and blending out whatever product you may apply. I must admit that I personally like using this for applying finishing, setting, and loose/pressed powders/foundations over bronzer, as I regularly wear those and wear bronzer less, so I can get more use out of it that way. I had two to three hairs shed during the first two or three uses, but after that, I did not have any issues with it shedding. It washes easily, though be prepared for a slightly longer drying time compared to smaller brushes–it’s just so large. It dries in less than a day, though, and some of the synthetic brushes that are closer to this size, take a full day.

If you are even the slightest bit seduced by brush softness and don’t want to splurge on this product, I highly recommend never, ever touching it. Ever. It is like a combination of silk and cream against the skin. One thing I’ve learned is that brushes can be had at all price points, and like anything that’s a splurge, you have to not just love it but use it. If it just sits there, it’s never going to be worth it. If you use it every day, you get joy out of using it, then it might be just the right reward for yourself.

I gathered similar brushes to compare to this one, but its greatest difference is how dense, full, and lush it is. It is just packed with feathery, silky-smooth bristles. MAC 134 ($53) is the brush closest to this that I have, though it feels noticeably rough and scratchy in comparison, is more flared out, and is 30-40% less thick/dense (just my estimate!). OCC Powder Brush ($28) is narrower at the base with a stronger flare, and it is a thinner, less densely-packed brush. I don’t have any Hakuhodo brushes that I purchased that compare to this, but I did try to make an educated guess comparing the measurements, and the closest I could find was the J5541 ($111), which is half as thick (13mm vs. 30mm), and the J501 ($96), which is 6mm shorter in length and half as thick (16.8mm vs. 30mm). Make Up For Ever #128 ($52) is a brush that also has a very large brush head and a fairly thick/dense quality to it, but the shape is really quite different. I do prefer the #128 for loose/setting powder application (I feel like you can press better) but Tom Ford’s is better for dusting, sweeping, and feathering those products across the skin.

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