I’ve had this blog post idea lurking in the shadows for quite some time now and I kept putting it off because I recently added a number of Japanese made makeup brushes into my collection and while many of them have replaced my previous favourites, a lot of them were also quite a similar shape and I wanted to get a better feel of them before I labelled any of them as a favourite. Now that I’ve finally got my brush buying obsession under control, I’ve finally reviewed my favourites including both old staples and new additions.
Bobbi Brown Full Coverage Face Brush: Synthetic
This is one of my oldest makeup brushes and one that’s also held up exceptionally well so there is really no competition here. Admittedly I haven’t tried many foundation brushes because I only really use brushes with light coverage foundations since my skin will only accept fuller coverage if I blend it in with my fingers but the density of this blends in light bases extremely quickly. It’s also a short handle which gives me more control and speeds up the process as well.
Bobbi Brown Full Coverage Touch Up Brush: Synthetic
This is the same idea as the face brush except it gives maximum precision when it comes to blending out concealer around the eyes and other contours of the face. Personally I prefer it for a liquid based concealer.
This one is significantly larger and could be used for foundation application as well but because it’s so tapered in gets around the contours equally as well as the Bobbi Brown except it’s much denser and I prefer to use it with cream based products.
Hakuhodo B5521: Blue Squirrel/Goat
I enjoy a smaller powder brush and 5521 is one I primally pick to set under the eyes and then end up using it all over the face because I can’t be bothered to switch. It does take some effort if you use as all over powder but I love the taper of it and like the precision it grants you. This shape goes in different hair types but I love the squirrel/goat blend because it will a harder pressed powder well. I hoped for this to be an upgrade from the Charlotte Tilbury Powder & Sculpt Brush (mine has a lot of broken hairs now) and while it is smaller, it is the closest I’ve found so far.
This one is flat paddle type brush and while the goat hairs are not as silky, I find it to be soft on the skin and a lot better at picking up product without overloading the brush. The shorter bristles fit well under the eyes while the flat side covers a fair portion of the face. I also prefer the slightly thicker and shorter handle on this one as I find it more comfortable to hold.
Hourglass No. 2 Brush: Synthetic
Now, this one is more within the size of standard powder brushes although it is marketed as foundation/blush brush. Who would use it for that purpose, I don’t know. As you might expect this works exceptionally well with the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders which can be quite a challenge to pick up with a soft brush but it’s not so dense that it overloads the face with powder. For a synthetic brush, it’s also fairly soft but nowhere as gentle on the skin as the Hakuhodo.
This one is such a staple in my collection that I own two because it fits perfectly in the contours of the face and simply blends the contour powder as you apply it, pretty effortless. This is a very dense brush but personally I don’t find it to be scratchy at all when I’m blending the product. This will pick harder pressed powder perfectly and can work with softer ones if used lightly.
For the likes of softer powders, I do like the Wayne Goss with silky soft hair and a small round shape that fits well in the contours of the face. It’s not nearly as dense as the KA brush but it gives a softer look if you like a natural contour.
Tom Ford Cheek Brush: Goat (now only available Synthetic)
Back in the day, I never wore bronzer and I pretty much applied all my neutral blushes with the Bobbi Brown Blush brush for a blush bronze two in one look. The Tom Ford Cheek is actually a similar version of the Bobbi Brown brush and gives off a much more controlled application while still being large enough to diffuse colour and create a semi believable bronze. The brush is quite dense but the bristles are ultra soft meaning it picks it up a good amount of product and is a joy to sweep over your cheeks.
Sonia G Sculpt Two: Goat
This is an honourable mention because I purchased this brush specifically to use with the Nars Sun Diffusing Bronzer. This does of course work with all over bronzers and it’s not my preferred method of application as it can result in quite heavy application. The Nars bronzer is that plastic looking formula that swatches brilliantly but won’t pick up on the brush and this is the only non-scratchy brush that I’ve found to use with it. On that note, I would definitely look into the Sonia G brushes because this is a shape I would never go for but actually enjoy using and the quality of the brush is immaculate.
Nars Yachiyo Brush: Goat
Compared to all the brushes I’m mentioning here, this is by no means a soft brush and yet I absolutely swear by it for blush application because it works exceptionally with my favourite blush formula that tend to be quite hardly pressed or baked. I’ve had it for years and while it’s shed a few hairs here and there, the shape has seen no change and it’s the perfect one to fit my cheek. It’s not one I would recommend for anyone with sensitive skin and some days I don’t like using it that much but I’m yet to find a brush picks up and deposits the product so well.
Surratt Cheek Brush: Blue Squirrel
When I first delved into squirrel brushes and Surratt brushes to be exact, I had no idea of the difference between the various types of hairs used and so I ended up with a lightly packed brush that didn’t pick most of my powders. Back then I thought the Cheek Brush was way too dense but actually I do like density in squirrel brushes because it mimics the resistance of goat hair. Now, the Cheek Brush is in fact the perfect shape for my cheeks seeing I’m a fan of small face brushes. It places the product exactly where I need it and creates zero kick back in the pan. Do I think everyone needs to run and get a Surratt brush? Not necessarily, although I personally find the hair of the Surratt brushes to be more velvety than silky and thus superior to the others.
Chikuhodo Z4 Brush: Grey Squirrel
I’ve tried a number of brushes in my quest for a brush to use with my softer blushes and this one leads the way. The bristles are longer and less dense with a pinched ferrule when compared to the Surratt Cheek Brush and so this provides a lighter application but still gives enough precision. Admittedly, I don’t use this one nearly use much because I prefer that Nars and Surratt pick up more product when face with a harder pressed formula but this is my go-to when I decide to use some of my softer pressed powders.
I generally like a very precise highlighter application and this brush fits perfectly on the high points of my cheekbones or down the bridge of my nose. It’s also soft but has enough resistance to pick up a jelly like formula although I wouldn’t use it with a very powdery highlight.
Hakuhodo G511: Blue Squirrel/Goat
This one is one is go to for applying highlighter less precisely. Both brushes are comparable as far as the amount of product they pick up but this one covers a wider area of the face and in turn will offer a lighter application so I like to use it with more impactful highlighters.
There’s my list of my favourite face brushes. It was obviously way too long to fit in eye brushes so I will follow up on those in a couple of weeks. Now, admittedly I have become quite partial to artisan handmade brushes and some days, Nars Yachiyo starts feeling just a bit too rough but it still deposits colour the best so it’s all about finding the middle ground but if your skin is on the sensitive side, I would definitely consider looking into these. Let me know if what your favourites are, especially when it comes to foundation and blush application because that’s the hardest category for me.