Makeup brushes is actually the main reason why I started this blog. I was often reading beauty blogs and the comments and suddenly I thought that having so many brushes could actually be helpful to others, the questions were often related to their size and comparison to similar ones and that’s something I thought I could provide.
I am easily tempted when it comes to brushes, I mean easily. If I can, I will. Sometimes I know I am making a huge mistake but I need to see by myself…
It’s only my opinion that I will share here, not the one of a Master in makeup brushes, but I will always give you my humble and honest opinion and experience, whatever the brand. I also want to mention that if these are my HG, they may not be HG for everyone and I haven’t tried all the brands available today – thanks God ! The prices are also often high and paying a high price for a makeup brush is not always something that everyone can or want to do, I don’t mind doing it, but it has to be worth it.
I have tried to narrow down the list to the very top favorite brushes for each usage, I clearly cannot select all of the brushes I love otherwise I will make a post a mile long, so here you will only see the ones that have seriously blown my mind.
In this first picture, I have just gathered together the very top selection of all the brushes mentioned in this post, I will very briefly cover them under each category, these few have been serious great discoveries for me, some are just insanely beautiful, others are incredibly efficient and often unique.
I have already posts on some of the brushes here :
I am very demanding when it comes to applying foundation. I try to achieve a flawless and seamless blending, I don’t want people to see that I am wearing foundation at all. I never go for full coverage, only light to medium coverage and without covering the freckles. I wear all kind of foundation textures from liquid to thicker cream.
The Real Techniques is really nice for applying Mac Mineralize foundation which is the thicker foundation I own.
The Rae Morris 23 I love it for applying liquid foundation, but, when I first ordered the set (and this brush was one of the most expected ones), instead of receiving this one, I got another 23 completely different and that was a terrible one. So I just want to emphasize that it is THIS 23 and not the other one that I love.
I already reviewed this Rae Morris Radiance brush, I used it nearly every single day and today I have two of them.
What I usually do is that I first apply my foundation with any other flat foundation brush and then blend with the Radiance.
If I apply a cream contour, I blend again with this Radiance brush.
The fact that it’s not entirely flat-sleek (or smooth if you see what I mean) makes it really interesting and the finish is absolutely flawless. It does shed sometimes but so far it’s still in very good condition.
The Hakuhodo J4001 is very multipurpose, with either cream or powder products. I actually will need two of these because I like to use this one with different textures.
The Hakuhodo J4002 is fantastic with cream blush. The quality of these two stippling brushes is totally worth their price. Before these two brushes, I was never into this kind of stippling brushes, there was something about them that did not make me want to use them, today with these mixed goat-synthetic fiber, I have definitely changed my mind.
The Hakuhodo J544 is more versatile than I thought, a must-have brush for those who use a lot of cream products.
The Hakuhodo J528 is a nice to have, I use it mostly to apply the base foundation, blend thicker cream contour or thicker cream blushes.
The Tom Ford 02 and the Chikuhodo G-10 are for applying base foundation, I don’t usually apply base all over, but only in the center of the face so smaller brushes are nice for that, also for contour, or for placing the foundation, then I use a different brush for blending. I have many similar ones because I reach for this kind of brush every day.
The Koyudo FU-PA 02 is huge and extremely dense, you can apply and then directly blend with it, the quality is perfect and you will not find any other similar brush. I still have to review the Koyudo brushes but you can see some pictures here.
Concealer and lashes
All the brushes that are in contact with the skin around my eyes have to be extremely soft otherwise I won’t use them. I often see concealer brushes that are extremely hard and not flexible, I try to stay away from that.
The J4005 is a thicker concealer brush that I use for many things, sometimes I apply a lighter foundation in the under eye area or I also use it for contouring, the other J122R and J125R are just amazing versatile brushes and that has to be said.
I like the J4006 not only because it’s looks really cute but also because it works. I can comb my lashes from the bottom to the top and it does separate them well and remove any mascara imperfections.
Powder and bronzer
The Koyudo White Mushroom is just simply to die for, perfection at the highest degree, if you think it looks soft, think again, it’s even softer than that. You don’t think goat can be as soft as squirrel, here it’s baby goat hair, it’s as soft as squirrel hair, and it’s white. I am in heaven. It’s even softer than the Tom Ford bronzer.
The Hakuhodo J501 is also soft and very dense, a great surprise.
The Chikuhodo Special G-9 is soft but what I love the most about it is the shape, there aren’t many brushes like that, this one is not only pointy but also thick and quite dense.
The Chikuhodo MK-2 is not as dense and firm than the Z-1, both are amazingly soft and of the best quality possible.
The Chikuhodo Z-1 and the Suqqu face powder are both extremely expensive, the Z-1 is cheaper and I actually prefer it.
Comparison of the MK-2, the Suqqu face powder and the Z-1
These are the sizes :
|Base of the ferrule||Hair length||Thickness at the widest point|
|Chikuhodo Z-1||2.5 cm||4.5 cm||3.5 cm|
|Suqqu Face Powder||2.3 cm||5 cm||4 cm|
|Chikuhodo MK-2||2.5,2.3 cm||5.2 cm||4 cm|
Compared to the MK-2, the Suqqu face powder is softer (but the difference is very small), it’s also more tapered, the layers of hair start closer to the base of the ferrule so I believe that if you work a little bit sideways with the brush, it will hold more product along the brush head, but you can also use the point for more precision just keep in mind that it’s really soft and flexible so precision is a big word here…
The MK-2 is more firm than the Suqqu but still has much more flexibility in the hair than the Z-1. The layers start close to the top so you would use it more in a “flatter” directional way. It’s less pointy than the Suqqu but since the hair are bit more firm, you still get “wide” but directional application.
The Z-1 is the firmer and shorter of the 3, the base of the ferrule is rounded, it’s very dense and therefore precise. The layers of hair start approx 2cm from the base, it will grab a lot of product. I like to use it with less pigmented bronzers for example.
The Suqqu and the Z-1 have rounded ferrules, the MK-2 has a slightly oval ferrule.
These 2 are pictures that Malin from Kohlindo sent me, she told me I could show them to you to see the comparison with the Z-9 (MK-2 and MK-1 are the same brushes, only the art changes) :
Blush, highlight and contour
These are the brushes that I reach for the most :
If you want a similar brush than the Tom Ford 06, the Hakuhodo J5543 is really similar, thinner but it’s a real nice alternative.
The Koyudo BP016 is soft, same softness than the Hakuhodo J110 but thinner. I have ordered a few Koyudo to have a better idea of what their collection is like, but although I am loving all their white goat brushes, the black ones I am not really a fan.
The Suqqu cheek brush is amongst my favorites because of how soft it feels, but, if I had to choose between the Chikuhodo Z-4 and the Suqqu, I would go for the Z-4. Not only because it’s cheaper, but I prefer the density and precision of the Z-4.
I use the Koyudo BP022 to blend harsh lines of contour or to apply mineral blush, it’s grey squirrel, not goat.
If you read my post on the Chikuhodo Z Series you know how much I love these series, they are soft, dense, the quality is absolutely staggering and their shape has been designed to make them stand out amongst any other similar.
I have not found better than these but I am also loving the RMK cheek brush or the J Series, and I heard that Lunasol brushes were good so I have to investigate.
Either with the Givenchy Croisière bronzers or the Chanel Soleil de Tan that are gel or creamy textures, these are just fantastic.
Cream products for eyes or cheeks
I use a lot of cream or liquid based products for the eyes of the cheeks so I need several for that purpose.
This week I haven’t had the time to wash the J Series that were used for cream products , I left them dirty for 5 days, when I washed them on Friday, some stains were not completely removed, I have to see if that’s because of my soap or if I shouldn’t be using them or leaving them dirty for a few days before I can take care of them. This is for the J242G and the J220G, not that you can see that much residue but they aren’t completely back to normal.
Finishing, blending, buffing
These are the brushes that I love to use for finishing, either for powder or Guerlain Meteorites, or for blending, if I applied creamy blush or contour, I’ll rather use the Radiance, but for powder products I tend to grab the Koyudo Deka Fu-pa or the Chikuhodo Z-1.
The fan brushes are really excellent for either removing the fallout or wipe off excess powder and I have to say that I just find them simply beautiful. If you are into body painting the J011 can be great as per Hakuhodo recommendations.
I love the Shu Uemura brush for the Guerlain Meteorites, it fits perfectly well in the box and picks a lot of powder which makes the application quick and easy.
Eyeshadow base or blending
These are the ones I love to use for base eyeshadow application or for blending :
If you love the shape of the Shu 12 but can’t or don’t want to pay that much money for a brush (which I totally understand), try the Chikuhodo BL12-6, the shape is incredibly similar and incredibly soft. A must-have and believe me, this brush is worth much more than its actual price.
Same for the Tom Ford 11, get the Hakuhodo J220G, it’s bigger but it’s also soft and efficient.
I use the the J214 for blending, I was dreaming of a J214, softer and as dense as the B214 and this is it.
All the other brushes pictured here are amazing either only for blending or for several kind of applications, it depends on your personal preferences but these are just all perfect and HG for me.
Lid eyeshadow application
When I really need to pack on color, I will go for the Mac 239.
I have just received the Chikuhodo M-5, at first I thought I wouldn’t love it but it’s actually the kind of brush that you throw in your makeup bag when you are in a hurry and that will allow you to do your look with only one brush, that’s why I love it so much today.
The Hakuhodo Kokutan wood handles are so beautiful, I use this weasel brush either for powder or cream products.
I just love the J Series, as you can see many made it to the top favorites. For more detailed pictures please have a look at the main J Series post.
The Nars ones are also efficient brushes and I am still loving them, I find them quite firm therefore nice for crease definition and great blending capabilities.
I was in a makeup training course some time ago and the makeup artist used an angled brush on me, very similar to the S122 for the crease, then I realized that with Hakuhodo, I am using extraordinary brushes and when you switch to “normal” standard brushes it can be a very painful experience. The final result was great but I was about to stop her, it was really hurting me, I have very delicate skin and I just don’t see myself using standard brushes anymore, I prefer to give up makeup completely if I didn’t had the choice.
Definition of the eyes
I need definition around the eyes, either with gel eyeliner or powder, these brushes are fantastic for that purpose :
I actually could live only with the Hakuhodo G5520 and a base eyeshadow like the Hakuhodo S121G, but I don’t want to 😉
I prefer the Hakuhodo Kokutan T than the Suqqu M, if I want a precise definition I will use the G5520 and if I want a socket definition I will use the Kokutan T, the Suqqu is great but it’s something in between, which can be good, but I find it too thick for the lower lashes definition and too thin for the socket, it’s just when I do a more dramatic smoked look that I use it.
I got a few questions about my brush organization, so I think I can show you my organization here.
I have two shelves with some cups and acrylic holders. The powder brushes are kept in there since I don’t have space inside the drawers and I don’t want to squeeze them.
The Kabukis are stored inside an acrylic box that slides open. I got most of my acrylic holders in Selfridges in the UK.
Then I have an Ikea Malm dresser with 2 thin drawers and a compartment with a mirror, you lift the top part and there is a mirror inside.
In the first drawer I keep the eyeshadow brushes. Well, that’s not really a drawer, it’s the part where you lift the mirror open.
In the second drawer I keep the Rae Morris in a pencil roll otherwise they stick to each other and it drives me insane.
Also the flat brushes are kept together.
In the third drawer I keep the foundation brushes and also some other small ones that I don’t use often.
I also have a box where I store the brushes I don’t use but that I need for brush reviews or comparisons.
I apologize if this post mentions expensive or hard to find brushes, it’s just my opinion on the best brushes I have come across so far, whatever the price.
If I didn’t have a lot of budget for brushes, I think I’d rather get one great multipurpose brush than many medium quality ones. I would certainly have saved a lot of money on brushes if I had started with Hakuhodo and Chikuhodo for example but my way to these top favorites happened to be not that straight forward.
If you want to share your favorites, please do so ! I would love to know what your HG are 🙂