I have been away for so long, feels like an eternity. My absence wasn’t due to lack of interest or laziness but I have a full time job and there are moments in life when you can’t do it all, specially when other events eat up all your free time, hopefully I am back now, with my passion for brushes still very well anchored, how could it be otherwise.
Today’s review, or more a “first-impressions”, is about a brush set that will be released in the upcoming days as a result of a collaboration between Chikuhodo and Beautylish.
- Beautylish started as a beauty community in 2010 and created their own online boutique in 2012, they aim to provide to their members and customers with a more special selection of products and a more personal service.
- Chikuhodo is a Japanese legendary brushmaker, responsible for Suqqu, Three, Lunasol, Rmk, Chicca, Artisan&Artist, etc and also the very extraordinary Limited Edition Kiwami set from the Tesshu Takemori collection, I don’t know why I mention it since it’s sold out today but its acquisition was a milestone for me, it left an imprint not only in my wallet but also in my every day routine.
Their collaboration gave birth to the Sakura collection, a five piece brush set constructed with a makie handle featuring a cherry blossom design inspired by the Japanese tradition of sakura:
This limited edition brush set will officially launch on July, 2nd exclusively on Beautylish.com. Due to significant interest, Beautylish is also providing the opportunity to waitlist for early access at this link and the price for the set will be 215 USD, I believe you can register and then preorder if you wish.
The Sakura set
The set contains:
- a powder brush (50% blue squirrel – 50% goat)
- a cheek brush (squirrel)
- a crease brush (squirrel)
- a flat eyeshadow brush (squirrel)
- a detail brush (fitch)
- a brush pouch (sized for approx 7 brushes)
It comes in this black Chikuhodo cardboard box, if you are familiar with Chikuhodo packaging you may already have seen it:
Speaking on behalf of my total brush freak self, I prefer pouches that don’t have a plastic cover directly over the bristles, squeezing those when closed. I explain: you place the brushes in the pouch, you cover them with the plastic layer and close the pouch. If you have packed it with brushes, the bristles are squeezed in place when you close it… Unfortunately, nowadays nearly all brush pouches are build this way. However, these type of pouches have several benefits, they don’t take too much space in your bag, they are easy to clean and sanitize, in spite of what I said previously they still do protect the brushes and it’s a necessity to travel with your brushes inside a pouch!
Here is the Sakura set inside its pouch, it’s the same type of pouch as the past Christmas sets from Chikuhodo:
A close up of the Sakura makie print:
There are several techniques to emboss a makie drawing onto an object, I heard of at least 4 different techniques. More details on those techniques will be revealed in the upcoming posts. Today I don’t exactly know the complexity of each technique and the amount of work each one requires so we will see later on what we can learn about those Japanese “makiefying” techniques.
Only thing I can say today is that the Sakura flower size is identical on all the brushes of this set but the amount of Sakura branches is greater depending on the width of the handle. The big powder has more Sakura “branches” than the smaller brushes if you follow me… The colours of the flowers appear to me like rose gold, gold and silver. The Chikuhodo MK-2 makie technique or the Sakura technique are not the most expensive techniques otherwise just one single brush could easily reach 500$, if this was the most expensive of the makiefying techniques I would have difficulties using it on a regular basis or even worst, travelling with them!
There are other Makie painted brushes within the Chikuhodo collections, the handle below is of the MK-2, these handles have the same shiny black finish with identical domed shaped bottoms and are similarly attached to the ferrule (no crimps on the ferrule/handle jointures).
The top part of the Sakura ferrules are all oval shaped (flattered). In comparison, the Z series from Chikuhodo have a variation of round ferrules (Z-1, Z-2) and slightly oval ones like Z-4 or Z-8, the ferrules are very similar but are not exactly the same as the top part of the Sakura ones are pressed where the arrow points, unlike the Z ones.
- Full length: 16.5cm
- Hair length: 5cm
- Width: 5cm
- Sideways width: 3cm
- Ferrule base: 2.2cm
It’s a mix of goat and squirrel hair. That mix allows for a more affordable pricing but also for an easier application, picks and blends the products more efficiently. For my personal use this brush is a God send, specially in summer time. When it’s hot, my skin is less dry and the foundation or any other products I wear as a base tend to take longer to dry, this excess will transfer onto the surface of the bristles when I apply bronzer or powder making the application a bit more messy or disgusting… The finer the bristles the stickier the brush… with a goat or a mixed brush, this is less likely to happen or less quickly, that’s a nice benefit for me, although you can totally wipe your squirrel brushes or freshly sticky brushes onto a cloth and you are ready to go again…
I love soft brushes, I am the first to jump on a soft brush but I also adore functional brushes and my collection was lacking a beautiful brush -shaped that way- that allows a day to day use, requiring less maintenance on the bristles and less effort in the rush of the morning.
This brush reminds me of a visit to Tanseido two years ago, they invited me for an afternoon tea at the Director’s house, they took out all their special crafted brushes to show me, they were of course not in my budget so I couldn’t even consider them but they have a common point: the handles were drop dead gorgeous, the bristles were often “ordinary”, either goat or a mix but never 100% squirrel or never super duper soft goat. So I asked them why such extreme beautiful handles and such an “ordinary” combination of bristles – I did not use those exact words but my question meant the same – My feeling was that customers would be paying for a gorgeous handle with a non-matching head… Their reply was that, in their opinion, the most important was that the brush delivered the best results and was efficient, they also said that upgrading the bristles would even increase the price more -we know that, but if you pay 1000$ for a handle.. you could maybe afford 200$ more for the bristles and get a total stunner 😀
Same happened with Kashoen, if you are familiar with the Royal Series (one blush brush costs approx 1300$), their heads are a mix of squirrel and goat, so they aren’t 100% squirrel. They told me that this mix was also due to the required functionality of the brush because at that steep price it doesn’t really matter if it’s 1300$ or 1500$… it’s hell expensive either way. Their “normal” Kashoen face series (WA) are mostly only made with goat bristles and when we addressed the topic they told me that unlike other brands like Chikuhodo or Koyudo, they believe goat remains the best for brush functionality and for better results, hence they aim to craft great quality handles and result oriented bristles. Btw, I know of some brush lover nuts who did not want to buy the Kashoen goat brushes at first but then ended loving them and getting a backup 😀
Coming back to this shape, to me it’s unique, well, I don’t have that exact type of rounded-angled brush (it doesn’t look angled at first but it is)… I have quite a few and certainly don’t need more but still continue hunting for more angled brushes! I am hopeless.
If you place this brush against your skin your arm is naturally in the right position for following your face features offering a bit more strength on the shorter side and diffusing with the longer, it has “pleasant ergonomics”, medium density, doesn’t feel floppy and is very controllable, very adequate brush for those who just want one brush for all: bronzer-finishing powder-setting-blush-healthy summer powders, etc, anything that doesn’t require extreme precision though.
I have similar ones but they are either smaller or white. White looks beautiful and I admit those two on the right are gems to me, absolute must have brushes. The Hakuhodo is more delicate as the handle is very fragile but the Chikuhodo T-2 could theoretically be its white counterpart.
- Full length: 15.2cm
- Hair length: 3.6cm
- Width: 2.8cm
- Sideways width: 2.2cm
- Ferrule base: 1.7cm
I didn’t know Kyureido and Suqqu had a baby (girl?) But also the Z-4 DNA in it, is seriously suspicious… it’s an exact mix between these other 3 in the pic!
The size, density, shape of the C/B cheek is just a combination of the other 3:
- The C/B is less dense than the Z-4 but more dense than the Suqqu or Kyureido
- More domed and rounded than the Suqqu or the Kyureido
- Softer than the Kyureido, equaly soft as the Z-4 (if not softer) but less soft than the Suqqu
- More firm than the Suqqu but less firm than the Kyureido or Z-4
- Bigger than the Suqqu and Kyureido but smaller than the Z-4
Since the Kyureido is not available at this moment, this C/B cheek is the best alternative to the Suqqu cheek. It’s even closer to the Suqqu cheek than the Kyureido.
The bundling of the bristles is actually better, more regular and prettier to look at than the (my) Suqqu and the Kyureido. At times I have the feeling my Suqqu is different from the other batches in terms of shape (as per pics I see on other blogs).
Where the Z-4 feels sometimes too directional and dense for some extremely pigmented blushes, this C/B cheek seems to be the best compromise and it’s less directional than the Z-4 or even the Kyureido but still has more blending capabilities than the Suqqu, it is actually a very well balanced brush. If it wasn’t because the Suqqu will always be the Suqqu (and will always be a collector item and have the most extreme softness), I would value more this C/B cheek. That said.. with my eyes closed, I trust more the results of the C/B than the Suqqu and I will certainly reach more for the C/B than the Suqqu or any other from that pic.
The smaller brushes
Now we get to the smaller brushes in the Sakura collection. I will do my best to be as helpful as possible but I have only used them a couple of times, ok maybe 10 😀 (in a day) that is not enough to allow the best judgement.
- Full length: 13.6cm
- Hair length: 2cm
- Width: 0.7cm
- Sideways width: 0.7cm
- Ferrule base: 0.6cm
When I saw the shape of this brush I wasn’t excited, it is very thin at the tip and weirdly shaped. I am already familiar with Chicca and Surratt, I own almost all of the Surratt brushes today except for the similar pointy crease ones and some liners that I do not really need.
While in Japan I was intrigued by the Chicca brushes for other reasons, I wanted to use these brushes to either set the foundation (only on tiny zones) or to apply highlighter. I have highlighter powders that are the size of an eyeshadow pan and that require very light application, they do work well for that indeed. Then I started to use the big Chicca for blending and applying a light wash above the eye area… Then one day, after receiving some questions, I finally tested the medium Chicca on my crease with a dark brown shadow and the result was looking good, it concentrates the intensity in the hollow of the crease and brings the shadow lightly to the lid and above the crease, the smokey effect is natural, I thought it would be all over the place but not that much 😀
In comparison to the medium crease brush from Chicca, the smaller C/B crease works nearly the same way, the application is not as diffused on the eye area but I did one eye with the medium Chicca and the other with the C/B and I couldn’t see much difference in the result between them. If you have already used the similar Surratt or Chicca, I would love that you comment below and share your experience, it will help balance opinions on that pointy wild thing.
Today, the way I use these pointy crease brushes is as follows: I use the medium Chicca to apply a dark(ish) matte shadow on the crease until the lid gets also covered and the color is taken slightly above the crease (a few swipes do all that) then once done I take the small C/B crease and I apply a wash of a sparkly layer or some enhancing complex shadow on the lid, placing it with the point in the crease but avoiding to go too far above (just keeping it at an angle). Then I blend with the very big Chicca (but that step is not required). I wouldn’t say it’s a surgical application but it does work surprisingly well, specially when you don’t expect it to 😀
Or I can only use the small pointy wild thing on its own with one single shadow and get out like that, the blending is fine and the application appears even.
So you can think of it this way, if you believe these similar shaped brushes (Surratt, Chicca) do not deserve an individual purchase, try the one from this set (if you are getting the set anyway) and if you are convinced then you can eventually upgrade sizes with the Surratt or the Chicca 😀
I am more a Paula Dorf or Wayne Goss crease fanatic, it’s a different way of working. On the bottom pic, my 3 go-to crease brushes for daily use, very different indeed:
Update 27th June 2015
I have now used this crease brush over and over, several times per day just for fun and for the purpose of this update.
I do enjoy it, yes it’s floppy and not dense but it works, and well. I swirl it onto the pan, tap off excess and directly place it in the crease and move along a few times, since I want the placement to cover also the lid, I keep my eyes open and my lid is automatically covered but more lightly. As opposed to other crease brushes that allow a cut crease application, or a very intense application, this just smokes out the shadow with a natural gradualness. I am using Addiction or Surratt shadows by the way.
I think that one of the reasons why I wasn’t that blown away by the Chicca similar brushes is because the Chicca shadows have a harder texture, much more difficult to pick, and much more difficult to layer and build up so I could not understand why Chicca had those brushes in their collection. Now with different shadows it’s better for me, makes more sense and if you are getting the set, try it asap and see how it works for you!
Update 5th July 2015
I have been using the crease floppy brush over and over, I wanted to see if this crease brush would:
- work on different eye shapes than mine
I tried it on Skye, a 16 years old friend with the perfect eye shape, not hooded lids like mine are today 🙂 There is “less” of a crease on her eyes and I was afraid it would therefore be less manageable. Actually it went on perfectly well, I did the application of the crease colour and the blending in just a few swipes, both the lower and upper part of the lid were evenly applied with the winged application of the shadow not needing any correction at all.
- easily work with a beginner
Skye does not usually wear crease shadow at all, basically she is just the type of person who applies some nice shadow but only on the mobile part of the lid. Once I used this brush on one of her eyes, I asked her to repeat what I did on the other eye. She did and as she did, I think I nearly saw her jaw hit the table, big surprised eyes “Ohhh that looks nice”. Surprised she could even do that on her own and so quickly. She was totally blown away by the final application.
As a result of these little experiments, not only can I admit today that I love this brush, but I am definitely going to get a couple of backups (for myself and for my pro make-up kit). If you bought the set and do not want or need this crease brush, please contact me and we may find an arrangement 🙂 It may not be for all audiences but if you have it, try it a couple of times before giving up, if it works like it works today for me you will adore it.
- Full length: 12.7cm
- Hair length: 1.2cm
- Width: 1.1cm
- Sideways width: 0.5cm
- Ferrule base: 1cm
This one is so similar to the Suqqu F but it’s not quite a dupe, can be better depending on what you are looking for. The C/B bristles are 1mm longer so it’s less firm at the top. I prefer the C/B because it follows better the shape of the eyes and has less of a dragging effect, very appropriate for more mature lids for example, applies colour to the lid in a more gentle way but still as efficient as the Suqqu.
It’s much smaller than the Z-5 from Chikuhodo but just as soft.
I don’t have much more to say about it so far, I enjoy it, I love it and find it well bundled. In a nutshell, you get more precision and sharpness with the Suqqu, but the C/B lid requires less attention (“attention” meaning effort or care) and less blending during the process, as the final application with the C/B appears slightly more diffused in the borders.
- Full length: 12.2cm
- Hair length: 0.7cm
- Width: 0.4cm
- Sideways width: 0.3cm
- Ferrule base: 0.5cm
This is a detail brush that could do many tasks.., it depends on 1) your sensibility 2) your habits.
I have very difficult skin that started to be a serious problem a few years ago, using anything else than kolinsky, synthetic or a very soft weasel brush for eyeliner is today nearly impossible without causing irritation.
This brush is made with fitch, it feels on my skin like a combination of weasel and goat (or pony), there are things that I can do brilliantly with this brush, others I cannot because of the extreme condition of my skin.
I can use it as lip brush, as an eyebrow brush and a spot concealer brush. The only thing I can’t really do is use it as an eyeliner on a day to day basis. I tried with cream liner and smudged for the purpose of this post and it worked, I just prefer not to. I have been to counters where they have applied liner onto my eyes with brushes a thousand times more rough than this so I know that this is soft in comparison to those used on most make up counters. I will have to reserve it for other uses where I can more easily enjoy it.
I love that it has some thickness to the head, that it isn’t entirely flat and thin, it helps with many applications, specially brows and concealer and the stiffness but flexible bristles make it versatile.
This is a pic with other brushes that I cannot use as eyeliners or smudgers on my lids, it’s just to give you a more precise idea (Tom Ford and Hakuhodo):
For brows, I tend to go for thicker brushes like the two below as I don’t need much precision, just need to roughly fill in the spaces, to darken or even them out just a little bit. The C/B detail brush does a great job in my case.
My current eyebrow brushes with the C/B detail:
Nils (Beautylish CEO) hosted a conf call where they explained several things about these brushes and replied to a question mentioning these brushes where only for powder, so far I don’t see why you should not use this detail fitch brush with liquids or creams so they were probably speaking at that moment just about the squirrel ones.
UPDATE 27 June 2015
I had a quick chat with Nils yesterday and he confirms that at that point of the conversation, they were talking about the squirrel or the mix/goat brushes, this fitch brush is totally fine paired with liquids.
The idea behind this little review is to hopefully give you as many details as I could today so that you can decide for yourself if this set could work for you, or for a friend, family or partner. I try to write keeping all type of audiences in mind but if you have any question, do not hesitate to leave it below in the comments.
If you think there isn’t enough reasons for you to get this set but you still want to slowly build up an extraordinary Japanese Fude collection, then start looking at the MK series from Chikuhodo, the Takumi series, the Wayne Goss, the Z series -just to mention a few- and build it slowly with brushes you know for sure you will use. Often, in order to get “la creme de la creme” you will have to pick one brush from here, another from there… drives me crazy because then the handles don’t match so I feel the need to complete each series even if I don’t use them all so that my collection doesn’t look like a bunch of intruders partying together, not that it matters, the most important thing is to have brushes that we love and use. Sometimes I travel only with brushes from the same series just because they look better together… I try to overcome this “issue” and as you may have seen on Instagram, I took many different brushes with me on holiday 😀 Sometimes sets are just a pleasure to look at, sometimes the selection of the brushes is spot on, that really depends on each one’s preferences and we are all different.
I know I will be using all of Sakura, some more than others, I did not pay for this set as it was gifted to me by Beautylish but I would have splurged for these beauties no matter what. The powder, cheek and lid brushes will definitely become daily go-tos, the detail brush also for the brows and spot concealing. Regarding the crease I am using it this weekend even more and will update you soon but I think it has even started to convince me that I should also get the similar Surratt 😀 I am just hopeless …
Thank you for reading me, I know I can be long and painful sometimes 😀
I wish you a wonderful weekend!