About three months ago I exclaimed how after purchasing a Surratt brush I finally understood artisan brushes but also how I wouldn’t be shopping for any in the near future. I have had my eye on Wayne Goss brushes for ages but somehow I wasn’t keen on ordering from Beautylish and actually found that Rae Morris was a much easier option to get in Europe or Australia given that Rae Morris is an Australian brand. I was still tempted by the Hakuhodo offering and thanks to Hailey’s buying guide, I finally managed to put an order together.
A pretty obvious thing to mention, Hakuhodo USA have a lot of brushes on their website and I can only assume the Japanese website has an even greater offering. You can shop the brushes by series or type but I’d say if you have no preferences in what brushes you like using, it can be a bit of a challenge. I would also highly recommend checking out comparison images because I found myself (pleasantly) surprised with the size of the brushes. Because the brushes are quite short compared to say the MAC standard, they can look bigger in the image than you might think. There are measurements on the site and detailed information about the hair and shape but there is only one angle you can see the brush in so reading that information is crucial. I kind of coped out as far as research goes and three out of seven brushes I picked are meant to be replacement or alternatives to MAC staples.
Hakuhodo J5523 Eye Shadow Brush – Hair: Goat
Let’s start with the least exciting brush on the planet. The MAC 217 alternative. I have had my 217 for about five years and it’s gotten to the point where it’s pretty much unusable and given the since then MAC have switched to synthetic bristles, I don’t imagine purchasing the 217S. 5523 is a pure goat, significantly smoother in cut and feel, ever so slightly longer and flatter meaning more precision as far all over colour application goes. This is similar in quality to Rae Morris 8.5 Creme Shadow Brush but slimmer shape wise.
Hakuhodo B004G Eye Shadow Brush – Hair: Goat
B004G is naturally a shorter and flatter version of J5523 and also a MAC 239 doppelganger. I actually only own 239S and use it endlessly but surprisingly these flat shaders are hard to find within other brands. This shape is fantastic for packing colour all over the lid for ultimate impact. B004G is ever so slightly longer than my 239S and silky smooth but still has that incomparable density.
Hakuhodo J142 Eye Shadow Brush – Hair: Goat
Now for an eyeshadow lover it’s strange than I never had what you might refer to as a standard size blending brush. Somehow the MAC 224 never appealed to me so I don’t have a direct comparison but this one falls right between my Rae Morris 7 Deluxe Point Shader and 8 Medium Point Shader brushes except it’s goat hair and has more resistance than squirrel. There is nothing revolutionary about this brush and it is on par with the two previous brushes but the size and the density really are ideal to sculpt your crease.
Hakuhodo G5514 Pencil Brush – Hair: Horse
I will use a pencil brush to smudge a dark brown shadow along my lash lines most days and pencil brushes have become a bit of a staple. I initially thought this would be a MAC 219 alternative but quickly found that the website slightly deceived my eyes. It is about half size of the 219, about ten times softer and quite pointy. This is definitely a precision brush and I will be happy to use it for my top lash line but do prefer a larger pencil for the lower lash line. I have no experience with horse brushes but going by this brush they appear to be very soft but hold their shape extremely well.
This is where things get a little bit more exciting but very unexpectedly. I have been hesitant about using angled brushes for a while now but figured it could work if the brush was small enough. Let me say, this brush is small. The handle is short and the bristles are short so this is definitely not what I expected when I opened the box. I initially got it to use for blush but because it is flatter than I thought, I can use it for as a a larger highlight or precise blush brush. I enjoy the combination of squirrel and goat for a silky feel but also picking up a good amount of product.
Hakuhodo B5521 Highlight Tapered Brush – Hair: Blue Squirrel/Goat
I love small face brushes and this one is already a big favourite. The bristles are exactly the same as the previous brush and of course, this is my pick for a powder brush which picks up the product perfectly, deposits enough to set the makeup and fits under my eyes. Move over, Charlotte Tilbury Powder & Sculpt Brush. This is one is slightly smaller but less tapered. I did like that about the CT brush which is why I used it for powder for years but despite also being a squirrel/goat blend (and synthetic in the current range), it is nowhere near the bristle quality of the Hakuhodo B5521.
Hakuhodo Kokutan Eye Shadow L Brush – Hair: Blue Squirrel
Now for the big winner of this haul. Hakuhodo have varying price points within their ranges including the extravagance of the gold plated orange handled S100 range but since I hate gold and orange and love black, I was obviously drawn to the Kokutan range. Looks wise the ferrule on this range is matte black, the handle is ebony wood and the bristles used are higher quality than the rest of the range. My pick is blue squirrel. I only own one other blue squirrel, the fore-mentioned Surratt Highlight Brush and this type of hair is beyond superior to grey squirrel or squirrel goat blend. It has a velvety feel to it unlike any other hair and is essentially one of those you just want to stroke your face with and what if it applies some product along the way. Being a small brush advocate, of course I would use an eyeshadow brush to apply blusher and does it work exceptionally for highly pigmented blushes. The size of this fits exactly between my lashline and my brows so I won’t be using this one my eyes but you could it if you set your primer with a skin tone colour though.
Quick note of the shipping to the UK. I placed my order Thursday morning and my brushes arrived at my local post office the following Wednesday. I technically only got the customs charge note on Friday though but because of the tracking I managed to collect my brushes on Wednesday right when they arrived. I would say this was one of the better US shipping experiences. The brushes came in plastic slips in the signature Hakuhodo box and orange wrapping paper. They are then double boxed and put in a padded envelope. A big reason why I hate online shopping is packaging but as far as security and presentation you would expect from a premium retailer, this ranks high.
I might be a Hakuhodo convert now given that excluding their premium ranges, these brushes fall below the price point of most higher ends brush and definitely below the price point of Surratt while also offering an immense range where you can find virtually any brush you desire. Have you tried Hakuhodo? What are your recommendations?