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Introduction to Hakuhodo & Hakuhodo J104 Powder Brush Round Review & Photos

Hakuhodo J104 Powder Brush Round
Hakuhodo J104 Powder Brush Round

Before we get to the review, let’s talk a bit about Hakuhodo first. Hakuhodo is a prestige makeup brush line that produces brushes under its own name, but it is also an OEM (original equipment manufacturer), which means it will create brushes to another company’s specifications. For instance, it is rumored that Tom Ford’s brushes are manufactured by Hakuhodo. So if you had the cash, you could create your own brush range working with Hakuhodo. And if you don’t, you can buy directly from their own branded products. Hakuhodo’s (U.S.) customer service is really knowlegdable and helpful, so if you have any questions, I highly, highly recommend giving them a quick call to ask (or you can e-mail via their contact form). This morning, I reached out and spoke with Stephanie with a few questions.

What’s the difference between Hakuhodo’s brush series?

I know this was my first question about the brand was what was the difference between all the different series, and she happily informed me that the quality and (in general) the shapes are the same across the series, but the handles differ, which is why the S100 and Kokutan series are more expensive. I picked up the J104, but you can find the same shape in the B series ($66) and S series ($94), with the latter two having black goat hair compared to white goat hair. The S series uses wood handles colored in “rich vermilion” and the brass ferrule is plated with 24-karat gold with a clear coating; the brush handle also comes to a slanted point at the end. The Kokutan series features an ebony wood handle with slightly shorter handles. The J series primarily focuses on using white goat hair, G series on black goat hair, and the two are some of the newer series. Stephanie encouraged me to send her an email if I found a shape in one series that I liked and couldn’t find in another, as most of the shapes crossover through the different series–so I recommend you doing the same.

They’re expensive. Are they worth it?

If you start your search by looking at the S or Kokutan series, then yes, they are particularly expensive, but if you look at the B, J, K, or G series, you’ll find the pricing to be comparable to mid to high-end brush brands like MAC, Dior, Chanel, etc. Face and powder brushes range from $24 to $216 with many brushes between $40 and $80. Cheek brushes range from $22 to $156 with many brushes between $30 and $60. Eyeshadow and eyeliner brushes range from $14 to $81 with many brushes between $15 and $30. For example, the J104 is a very large powder brush made out of white goat hair (a more premium material) for $80, while MAC’s 134 Large Powder Brush is $53 and their 150 Large Powder Brush is $42; Chanel #1 Powder Brush is $65, Bobbi Brown Powder Brush is $60. Now, all of those brushes have black bristles, which would make it more comparable to the B104, which is priced at $66–more comparable in price to the others listed there. Here’s another example, using an eyeshadow brush: the J142 is a tapered crease brush that costs $18 and J5529 is another tapered crease brush that costs $16, while MAC’s 224 Tapered Blending Brush is $32, Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush is $40, Tom Ford Eyeshadow Blend Brush is $55. So long as you don’t opt for the higher-end handle, the majority of crease brushes from Hakuhodo ranged from $16 to $30. The pricing can be more than high-end brands or less than, and it will depend on the individual brush, hair used (it can be difficult to find out exactly what type of hair a brand uses), and, of course, handle chosen. 

Over the years, what I have found to determine that “is it worth it” question in regards to brushes is how often you USE the brush.  If it’s not the right shape that you want for that type of application, it will just sit there, no matter how soft or lovely it is.  If it is THE powder brush, THE blush brush, then yes, it’s worth it.  (This is really true for any beauty product or anything that is more expensive than the norm.) You have to use it, and you have to be unhappy with what you have if you’re looking to replace, but if you already love what you own, you may not find that the differential is that great. As someone who owns just about every MAC brush released in the past five years and all permanent ones, I can tell you that I don’t use the majority of them. Though I bought all more to review here on the blog, for personal use, my money would have been better spent on doubling or tripling up on brushes I used regularly.  If I was starting over, I would buy across brands with a mixture of natural, synthetic, and blend brushes with the shapes that worked best for my application style and face shape.

What type of hair should be used with what?

The general rule of thumb in makeup brushes is synthetic brushes are best for liquids and creams, while natural brushes are best for powders. Hakuhodo strongly recommends using powders only with brushes made from black goat or squirrel hair. For liquid and cream application, horse, weasel, water badger, synthetic, and white goat hair can be used, but they recommend considering a blend of synthetic and natural for best application. Part of the reason for this distinction is to minimize the degree your brushes need to be washed, as Hakuhodo recommends washing minimally (see their brush care guide). Hakuhodo has a good FAQ regarding the different types of hair here. You know, like if you’ve ever wondered what the difference was between Blue, Tree, and Pine Squirrels, you’ll find it there (a very useful read well worth the time).

If you’d like to further fall down a rabbit hole of makeup brushes, you can do some googling for brands like Chikuhodo and Suqqu (which is manufactureed by Chikuhodo). Those are both harder to obtain in the states (not impossible), so I really appreciate that you can purchase Hakuhodo direct from the company, and even better, they ship from within the U.S. so you’re not getting gouged or having to deal with exchange rates. The only downside is outside of trade shows (like IMATS), it’s tough to try before you buy, and they only accept returns of unused product (they say they may make exceptions, though). Items are shipped via USPS Priority, and I made two separate orders, both of which I received two days from when I order.

Hakuhodo J104 Powder Brush Round ($80.00) is a large brush with a very slightly domed edge with a brush head that is medium in size at the base and then flares out. It’s made out of white goat hair and has a black wood handle with a nickel-plated brass ferrule. The brush head is 50mm in length, 45mm in width (at the top) / 20mm in width (at the base), and 20mm in thickness. It is 7.4 inches/18.5cm in total length. It is also available as S104 ($94) or B104 ($66) with black bristles.

It’s moderately dense but airy enough to work well with powder application without caking powder on but more than just a fine dusting of powder. There’s some springiness to the brush that enables it to be pressed and feathered across the skin with ease. I think this brush is going to be too large for some faces–in some ways, it reminds me of the size of a buffing brush with a long handle (the shape/density/function is not comparable, just the size).

For those most familiar with MAC brushes, this is most comparable to MAC’s 150 brush. The 150 is not as full or as round (it is slightly thinner) and has more domed edges, but their purposes and applications are similar. MAC’s 150 brush only started to feel scratchy to me in the past year or two, but when I initially used it, I wouldn’t have described it as the softest brush I owned, only “not the softest.” The J104 is infinitely softer, there’s no doubt about that, so it feels better against the skin, which would be important for anyone with drier or more sensitive skin. (Softness is not the be-all, end-all of brush quality; it is just one factor to consider.) I like it better than the MAC 150 (and for that matter, the 134 and 136), but I actually prefer Make Up For Ever’s #128 for setting and finishing powders, but both are great brushes and it would come down to personal preference for shape, brush material, etc.

I can’t personally attest to how the brush holds up over years, as I’ve had this particular one for two weeks, but the brand has been around a long time, so the universe at large (from what I’ve been able to research) has not had issues with the brush holding up to prolonged use. I’ve made a note on my calendar to revise this particularly aspect in a year’s time 🙂

If you’ve tried this brush (or the equivalent S104 or B104), would you consider leaving a review here?

See more photos!

Hakuhodo J104 Powder Brush Round
Hakuhodo J104 Powder Brush Round

Hakuhodo J104 Powder Brush Round
Hakuhodo J104 Powder Brush Round

Hakuhodo J104 Powder Brush Round
Hakuhodo J104 Powder Brush Round

Hakuhodo J104 Powder Brush Round
Hakuhodo J104 Powder Brush Round

Hakuhodo J104 Powder Brush Round
Hakuhodo J104 Powder Brush Round

Hakuhodo J104 Powder Brush Round
Hakuhodo J104 Powder Brush Round

Hakuhodo J104 Powder Brush Round
Hakuhodo J104 Powder Brush Round


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Christine Avatar

Here is Hakuhodo’s answer (copied and pasted):

As you may know, some Asian counties raise goats for their food, like cattle or poultry. Our suppliers buy only hair from these butchers.

We also import squirrel and weasel (sable) hairs from suppliers in the EU and Asian countries. These suppliers have explained to us that they obtain those hairs from animals that have been exterminated for reasons other than for their hair. We do know that the squirrels and weasels were not harmed, or killed, for only the purpose of obtaining their hair: the hair is a byproduct.

All purchases of materials and supplies strictly adhere to Japan’s Welfare and Management of Animals Act, as well as any related international laws.

Donna Avatar

Given that the Japanese defend their hunting of whales in the southern oceans every year with the most cruel methods possible, I choose not to buy anything from that country that has an animal component.

Japan’s Welfare and Management of Animals Act is the epitome of an oxymoron.

I truly wish people would better inform themselves of the source of non essential items like makeup brushes before making a decision to buy.

Please consider the cruelty that animals have endured and died for so people can pay a ridiculous amount of money for triviality.

Laura Avatar

The explanation about the difference between the series was so helpful! I have the mac 217 and the Hakuhodo J5523 and I use the Hakuhodo almost exclusively for applying shadow all over the lid and blending. I find it far superior to the MAC 217. I wash my brushes quite regularly (several times per week) and the Hakuhodo brushes have held up beautifully thus far (I’ve had them about 1 year).

Luciana Avatar

Yes! I own three 217 and the newest one is the worst. Is just too scratchy and I can´t stand to put that on my lids or the under eye area … it´s pretty much useless 🙁

Nicci Avatar

I’m glad it wasn’t just me – I bought the 217 last year because everyone raves about it, but after crazy shedding and loose ferrules on two of them, I finally gave up and returned it. I second Laura on the J5523 – the uncut hair tips make it a lot softer on the skin than the 217, and it makes blending a breeze.

Sasha Avatar

I agree, I used to use Mac’s 217 for all my eyeshadow needs and now I have Hakuhodo J142, J5523 and the J220G and I find Mac’s really scratchy in comparison and not nearly as useful as having dedicated crease and blending brushes.

pockykami Avatar

What a thorough and interesting introduction. I actually studied Japanese and always loved exploring the many crafts that come from the country. As for the brushes, they are definitely at the top of my list to try for the future. For right now they just seem too precious to me, if that makes any sense. Like you said, it’s hard to justify replacing go-tos if they work so well for you now.

Astrid Avatar

The US site ships international. I’m from the Netherlands and I’ve ordered twice already. I really love these brushes and I think it’s great that Christine is doing reviews for them now!

Chelsea Pearl Avatar

I have this brush and while it feels amazing, the hairs shed like crazy! I’ve used it sparingly and haven’t deep cleaned it yet. It’s pretty disappointing for the $80 price tag, but gosh does it feel luxurious on your face! I bought mine at IMATS LA in January, and one big advantage of buying there is that the brushes are tax free, and you obviously saving money on shipping. It was an impulse splurge, but I’m curious to know if I just bought a dud or all the other J104s shed like mine does!

Eileen Avatar

HI Chelsea,

You definitely got a dud and, if you can, you should return it as defective. I’ve been using Hakuhodo brushes for years and years and have never had that problem with any of them. Every week I wash all the brushes that were used–even if only once–so I’m a lot harder on my brushes than Hakuhodo recommends and yet I still haven’t had any problems with shedding.

LU Avatar

I’m actually having the same issue, mine literally sheds like crazy. I am within the 30 days so I contacted Hakuhodo to see what I can do about it.

Mariella Avatar

I have a wide range of brushes, from higher end (MAC, Shiseido and Sephora’s Pro – that’s about as high end as I’m willing to go) and I’ve been so very pleased with some of the less expensive brushes I’ve purchased – Posh, Real Techniques – that I don’t think I would spend big bucks on brushes again unless I won a seriously sizable lottery. And it’s funny because I am quite happy to shell out on makeup (which gets used up) but not willing to do so for brushes (which last for years and years). The only pricey brush I’m even considering now is the new one from Tarte that is for applying their new mineral powder foundation (and I’m not even sure I’ll spend for that – I’ll use my RT, Sephora or IT Cosmetics buffing/flat tops first). And that Tarte brush is over 40 bucks in Canada (I’m sure it is a lot less in the US so maybe I’ll wait and buy it when I’m in the US)

tzwiggy Avatar

This review came about two hours too late, lol, I placed a Hakuhodo order earlier today. J104 was actually in my shopping bag, but then I removed because I wasn’t sure if it was the size I was looking for. Although the measurements and pictures on the site are helpful I sometimes get surprised when my order arrive. I’m sure either this one or the S104 (or maybe both, lol) will be included in my next order. I absolutely love the J series, but I think I might prefer a black brush for powder (plan on using it for my NARS Light Reflecting Setting Powder, I currently use MAC 150).

Btw, I was almost jumping up and down in my chair when I saw a Hakuhodo review, lol!

Christine Avatar

That’s actually why I placed two orders – everything I ordered the first time seemed… too small. Then the J104 was massive. I don’t think you need both this and the S104 – I’d grab one and get something else rather than two of these 🙂 You could do the B series, which is black as well!

Tori Avatar

I looooooove makeup brushes. I have so many of them and I’m still always on the lookout for new brush shapes and materials. I have to say that Chikuhodo is my favourite brush manufacturer; their powder brushes are the best I’ve ever used. But Hakuhodo has a wider range of products and they’re more experimental in their brush-making approach. Plus I don’t read Japanese and browsing and ordering from the Chikuhodo website is tricky. Good (and the right) brushes make makeup application so much easier and there have been a few times when I’ve been unable to recreate a previous look, only to think back and realise that the only difference was the brushes I used. I’m so glad that you’ve been posting a galore of brush reviews, Christine! 🙂

Christine Avatar

Here is Hakuhodo’s answer (copied and pasted):

As you may know, some Asian counties raise goats for their food, like cattle or poultry. Our suppliers buy only hair from these butchers.

We also import squirrel and weasel (sable) hairs from suppliers in the EU and Asian countries. These suppliers have explained to us that they obtain those hairs from animals that have been exterminated for reasons other than for their hair. We do know that the squirrels and weasels were not harmed, or killed, for only the purpose of obtaining their hair: the hair is a byproduct.

All purchases of materials and supplies strictly adhere to Japan’s Welfare and Management of Animals Act, as well as any related international laws.

Judith Avatar

I have a whole list of brushes I want to try from them, I just can’t justify the expense for now. The J series was really the one I wanted to try. I love white goat brushes.

SomethingRetro Avatar

I’ve been wavering on ordering these. I been disappointed by my MAC brushes of late (187, 223). Anyone know how quickly things are restocked? The J5523 is out of stock and its top of my list! I am ready to order after seeing this and the rave reviews!

tzwiggy Avatar

I was wondering the same thing. A few of the ones I want seem to always be out of stock (like the S103). Regarding the J5523 I can say for sure that it just went out of stock today (I ordered one earlier today and it is shipped).

Christina Avatar

I have quite a few Hakuhodo brushes, and I think they’re fantastic! I agree with you, Christine, when you say it doesn’t really matter how soft or great the brush is if it doesn’t fit your purposes, though! I did buy a few that I rarely touch just because I don’t really have a use for them. 😀

Amy Avatar

I personally think MAC as a whole has failed to keep up with the competition in terms of quality, but they used to be the industry standard for brushes. What a shame that they have rested on that laurel as well.

I too heard that they are making Tom Ford’s brushes. I tried to figure out what compared to what, but Hakuhodo offers so many, I just gave up and ordered the Tom Ford set one Christmas with a gift card. I still wish I knew, because I’d like to get some from Hakuhodo but my wallet doesn’t allow for duplicates.

Danielle Avatar

Great info Christine! I’ve been looking for kind of a how-to and what’s-what guide to Hakuhodo so this is perfect. One question though – have you ever considered taking one picture of the brushes you review held next to/on your face (mimicking application)? That way we can see the size in comparison to a real person’s features. Just a thought. Thanks again!

Ryou Avatar

Thank you for the review! This was very useful. I’m really glad you’ve started to review more brushes, as they could be very expensive, but when it’s good, it’s certainly a worthy investment.

Erica Avatar

I have Hakuhodo eye shadow blending brushes J 5523 (goat) blending brush, J142 (goat) crease blush and G5523 (squirrel) blending brush. They are comparable with MAC’s 217 and 224 brushes. They are actually cheaper than Mac and much softer on the lids. I use and wash them frequently every single week and use my brush protectors. They are still lovely. Best makeup brush investment I ever made. Like you mentioned Christine, instead of collecting brushes for the sake of it, I tend to buy duplicates of my favorite brushes ( esp. birthday and holiday gift time) that I use daily.

Christine Avatar

I just recently re-did my organization for brushes, and I pulled out allll the brushes I never, ever reached for except maybe when I was swatching 10 blushes in a row and had to reach for brushes I normally wouldn’t! I would do it all so differently!

Naomi Avatar

I noticed you mentioned that you have a second order coming from Hakuhodo, would you happen to have ordered any blush brushes? I plan on getting the J110, but would hold off upon hearing you have it or any another blush brush in store for a future post. I also plan to get the J5529 & J242G for eyes.

Janette Avatar

The J110 is amazing for blush you cant go wrong with it. I have both the G5545 and J110 I use both all the time. I still think you made excellent choices for the blush brushes. I am so glad you are doing reviews on these, I am looking forward to your reviews! I already have most of them but i love my hakuhodos and are worth the investment in the brushes your really do use. The introduction was great to the line, I had to do lots of research to make my purchase I am just glad its becoming more available for makeup enthusiast.

Christine Avatar

My biggest hesitation has always been 1) so many to choose from (without seeing in person and lack of a fantastic return policy), and 2) I already spent so much on my previous brushes, so… hard to spend twice as much to get more brushes that I may or may not use (and there are definitely shapes I’ve bought that I know I won’t use often and some that may replace other brushes I have). I wish I had no brushes and was starting fresh, LOL!

Janette Avatar

For blush I have the J110 and G5545 as well and they’re both amazing. For face brushes they are all equally great in quality, only thing would be great to consider is your skin type, as white goat hair like the J110 is great for oily skins and blue squirrel in the G5545 is great for sensitive skin.

Also, the squirrel hair brushes tend to be softer so they will give you a more diffused look because they pick up less product.

Malia Avatar

I suddenly feel guilty and sad and feel like I’m maybe going to switch to synthetic brushes…. That being said I do have this brush myself but haven’t used it for a while…

Min Avatar

I have quite a few of these brushes. I LOVE them. They’re superior to my mac brushes which I don’t really use anymore and the control you get for eyeshadow application is great. It might be because I have smaller asian eyes with only a part crease so it’s quite hard to get proper placement with larger brushes. I also bought several of the Yachiyo brushes for blush, so if you like the NARS equivalent these are cheaper and pretty much the same if not better.

My biggest complaint though is that the black dyed hair “bleeds”. My 210 blush brush STILL turns water this ugly grey/black even after washing several times so it’s a pain to use with any cream or liquid product. Haven’t noticed this with the eye brushes just that particular brush. I’ve read this goes away after a few washes, but it hasn’t for me yet.

Min Avatar

I prefer the Hakuhodo one, its softer imo and I like that you can see the amount of blush that you have on the brush iykwim?.

I have all the sizes and prefer the large purple for blush (dome top vs pointed) but I think even the largest one is a little on the small side, good if you want to have precise application but less if you just want one luxurious sweep (haha!).

Gemma Avatar

I got Hakuhodo Yachiyo (Pointed) for 2 sizes (Large and Medium).

Come on !! They are much softer than NARS and more dense. I feel Nars is scratchy

Hakuhodo Large size is similar to Nars Yachiyo..
When I received my Haku’s, I dumped my Nars..LOL

ally Avatar

Hmm, I don’t have this but I do have the B104 (the one with the dyed goat hair but the same shape); I love the shape because I can put loose powder on, set it, and take the excess off with just one brush.
I’ve heard that Hakuhodo has plans to open a store in New York in a few years btw.

Alexis Avatar

I really appreciate that you’ve done a review on these brushes. They’ve been mentioned here and there by the youtube gurus but it’s nice to see a comprehensive review. Cheers!

Hana Avatar

Thank you so much for this review! I’ve been looking at the hakuhodo brushes for a while but couldn’t decide what to get since their website has such a large selection. Looking forward to reviews of other brushes. 🙂

Luciana Gabry Avatar

I love Hakuhodo brushes and I´m happy to hear from them on Temptalia 🙂
I have some of them, but my fav one is G5523BkSL (blue squirrel). It does an amazing job at blending the edges of the eyeshadow – just a few swipes and you are ready to go.
The customer service is outstanding. They´re so polite and ready to help, it´s always a pleasure buying from them.

Emi Avatar

I love Hakuhodo! I use a variety of brands, but have a couple Hakuhodo brushes I reach for every time I do my makeup. My favorite blush brush of all time is the K020 (so, so soft – perfect for pigmented blush). Two of my must-have eye brushes from are the the G5515BkSL, which is the tiniest pencil brush ever, & the K005, which is great for tightlining and undereye-liner. The J110 (meant for blush) is my favorite powder brush, but it’s not quite as essential for me since other brushes also work for powder.

Karen Avatar

Agreed with the K020! I spent forever searching for the perfect blush brush, and the MAC brushes either scratched my skin and/or shed uncontrollably and it was just so embarassing if I didn’t have the time to remove all the individual hairs on my face! The K020 is super soft and excellent for applying super pigmented blushes like the ones from Nars. I am about to try some of the Hakuhodo eye brushes from the G and J series, so I will be sure to let you know how they are!

Gemma Avatar

I got around 15 brushes of them…
They are from S100 series, G series, J series and also japanese traditional series.
S100 is so soft. I bought the 8 brushes set..the canadian squirrel eyeshadow brush are incredible.

Going back to powder brush… I only got S100., the angled powder brush…It’s a little big for me but faster to get work done… it’s so soft. But I think it’s a little bit pricy.
J series is the same quality as S100 (if compare to goat hair in S100 series)
So if you don’t want squirrel hairs.. J series got all different kinds of brushes of goat hair..they are great and pick up products well.

off topic:: I am loving with Chikuhodo and Tanseido more… LOL

Gemma Avatar

I am sensitive and oily skin, I found squirrel hairs are better for me
(they are very good for dry and sensitive skin while goat hair is for oily skin, provides a better coverage)

When comparing Squirrel hairs,
Hakuhodo is so soft but Chikuhodo Z series is even softer
When the skin is being sensitive, I can feel Haku is “on my skin”.But chikuhodo feels like nearly nothing!
(For blush brush, Tanseido YAQ17 is the’s made of red squirrel, diffused look..I am searching for a red squirrel powder brush!)

The goat hairs of Chikuhodo is very good too!

But Chikuhodo doesn’t have many choice on eye brushes..
So I prefer face brushes -> Chikuhodo, others->Hakuhodo..

Oh, I love Hakuhodo’s G5555 too…Liquid/Cream/Powder Foundation Brush!…Shiseido 131 is loser.. 😛

Therese Avatar

No, artist&artisan are the OEM for the Goss brushes. He didn’t want there to be any aspect of animal cruelty in his brushes so spent a lomg time looking for a supplier that didn’t either kill animals for hair or use the ‘by product’ excuse…

Kazue Avatar

I LOVE Hakuhodo brushes. I only wish I had discovered them years ago, before I spent so many dollars on other brands, including MAC. Don’t get me wrong. I still use one Mac brush for blush, but only because I had not discovered Hakuhodo brushes before my Mac purchase. The quality is extremely good. The softness is absolutely delicious. The only complaints I have are that the website is not user-friendly, and I do wish they had the model numbers imprinted on the brush handles. However, I will happily live with these deficiencies as long as I can continue to order these brushes online. Having said that, once you do place an order online, the service is impeccable and very speedy. I use these brushes every day, and I especially love the eyeshadow and crease brushes.

Philo Avatar

Their customer service sucks. I would very much rather get mac brushes, their much better with better customer service and return policies! Hakuhodo’s packaging is crappy for the price too. Overall, I would never purchase from this brand and would be better off with mac brushes! To all who are considering hakuhodo brushes, don’t get it, you’ll be better off with mac, nars, bobbi brown etc.

Philo Avatar

As a rule, you cannot return opened, non-defective items, but we will always try to get an exception for you. If an exception is granted, within 7 days from the date of receipt and the package is opened but it has never been used, HAKUHODOUSA.COM reserves the right to refuse the return or impose a 20% restocking fee. Please note that HAKUHODOUSA.COM is strict regarding the unopened packaging for sanitary reasons. This fee is for sterilizing and repacking in Japan.

Even though they said that they reserve the right to refuse, I don’t understand why they refused the return when the package was only received that day and not even used! It doesn’t make sense…

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