I am very excited to finally show you this new Limited Edition set, the Hinoki set. It’s a combination of Japanese traditions and superior materials, with an innovative little twist.
These two brushes have been handmade in Japan by renowned Fude artisans, we used Japanese Cypress for the handles, with custom crafted brass ferrules that are paired with the softest saikoho goat bristles.
These brushes are new designs that don’t exist in my current collection. They have been designed and crafted with the Fude lover and/or collector in mind. They could be something you don’t already own but, at the same time, will work as functional and effective tools that we can all easily incorporate in our daily routines.
Before I talk about the brushes and their functionality, I need to share the details about the handles, the main theme and the ferrules, everything is closely connected!
I start with the handles since they are showcasing a very traditional wood native to Japan: Japanese Cypress – traditionally refered to as “Hinoki”. It is, and it has long been used as building material for shrines and temples, for example the Horyuji Temple, which is very well known as one of the oldest wooden structures of Japan. You can also typically see this wood inside houses, on floors, wall or furniture pieces, maybe you own a piece already or maybe you have already seen it.
Hinoki has a particular citrus scent – although it is unlikely going to be noticeable on something as small as handles! It is a highly prized material that is believed to have purifying, relaxing and calming qualities. It is lightweight but due to its durability, high resistance to humidity, water repellent and antimicrobial properties it is traditionaly used to build Japanese baths or cutting boards for example.
Hinoki products, when possible, are left uncoated and untreated to bring out their best features. In our case, we had to do something to protect these handles but it had to be in a way that you could see the hinoki grain so we kept the coating to the minimum possible- it’s not a shiny lacquer that you will be touching and feeling but a very smooth and matte wooden texture.
One of the biggest challenges for the manufacturing of these small handles is linked to the size of the hinoki grain and the wood’s softness. The wood for such small pieces can only be selected, shaped, and finished by a very skilled artisan with years of experience with this particular type of wood and using only specific tools and blades. The artisan plays a key role in the beauty of these hinoki handles, from start to finish!
To make these handles just a little bit more special, the silhouette of two little cranes flying is illustrated on each handle. I am a huge lover of cranes! They are the main theme of this Hinoki set, not directly because of their meaning, I just simply love to watch them since they make me feel calm and at peace and since this wood is supposed to be calming, this combination made perfect sense to me.
Cranes symbolize beauty, harmony and grace, they are also considered a symbol of happiness and eternal youth. In Japan, the crane is a mystical creature that symbolizes good fortune and longevity and with the years it has become associated with peace, hope and healing.
Here, the cranes are printed in a black permanent ink, as permanent as this can be on wood.
The shape of the handles is simple and straight, just like Yakusugi, Japanese Cypress is a soft -and light- wood so we need to keep them simple to avoid waste and to make them as durable as possible.
The ferrules’ slightly curvy and wavy design is inspired by little segments of the outlines that we can observe on the cranes’ wings, this design adds a little plus in terms of functionality and makes the brushes a little bit more unique and dynamic. I will address the functionality further down in more detail and explain what these ferrules add to the brushes.
To match the matte finish of the handles and the black ink color of the cranes, these custom brass ferrules have a smooth black matte finish.
The Hinoki Brushes
I wanted versatility and a fun experience with this little set of two face brushes, there is a bigger brush with an arched ferrule and a smaller brush with a round/wavy slanted ferrule, the brushes are different in size, in shape and in density. These are new designs that don’t exist in the current (or past) collections and considering the time and intense work that the crafting of these brushes have demanded, they will not be part of the permanent collection.
These brushes are bundled with a very soft selection of undyed saikoho goat. If you are familiar with saikoho grade, the quality of this saikoho is exceptionally soft, the bristles are very fine and silky.
The big arched brush
This Hinoki brush is quite dense but the arched shape of the ferrule opens the bristles to the sides, it adds airiness to the brush and provides a more calculated movement, a smoother continuity – for example it doesn’t “flick” when changing direction, it adaps easily to the face structure as it moves and the strength of the bristles is balanced and even.
It feels really heavenly soft, it’s going to flex and flow very steadily, getting its strength from its density which helps to apply and buff different products and textures effectively.
We can use just the edges when we need more precision, or we can use its full surface at the top or also the wide sides if we want to work on a larger area.
We can use this brush to apply blush, contour, bronzer, powder and to buff the finished application. As I mentioned, it does have density, but the bristles are very soft so it doesn’t feel like a mass of bristles moving tightly together but it also doesn’t have the strength and firmness of a very tightly packed brush.
|Total brush length||160 mm|
|Hair length||37 mm|
|Ferrule width||21.5 x 13 mm|
It may remind you of the Niji Pro, it’s a similar shape and idea but with different proportions. Just like the Niji Pro brush, we can either use the sides, or work at an angle for a small and more narrow contact area, or use the flatter surface at the top or just the edges of the brush for more precision.
Here are some pictures side by side with the Niji Pro, I would say that it’s between 1/2 and 3/4 of the size of the Niji.
In comparison, the Hinoki feels softer to the touch and more airy (less densely packed), the Niji will apply and buff with more strength and determination.
The Hinoki is less large but sideways it’s almost the same size as the Niji Pro.
It’s much bigger than the Cheek Pro or the Classic Cheek, it feels also less densely packed with more movement and flexibility in the bristles.
The closest brush in my collection to this Hinoki (other than the Niji Pro) is the Face Pro, in comparison the Hinoki is denser and the size and shape differs. The Face Pro is going to deliver a more lightweight application and will cover more surface at once, the Hinoki will have a more directional approach, a bit more determined and you will also have more precision and control on the placement and the buffing.
The main difference between these brushes, is that the surface of the Hinoki has a wider flat contact area with the skin. The other brushes have a more tapered shape (when you look at them sideways).
If you wish the bristles to open and reach the airiness and functionality they were designed for, it’s better to wash them before use, the brushes should get better the more they are used and even better after some washes, this helps the bristles get into their final position.
The Hakuhodo J5543 is a little bit similar in terms of shape of the surface in contact with the skin, but in comparison the J5543 is denser, firmer and smaller.
If you have any of these brushes below, you can see the difference in size or in the shapes. The Hakuhodo J110 is more tapered (more visible in the sideways pic), while the TF 06 or the WG12 also have a flat surface at the top.
The J110, the TF 06 and the WG12 are all denser, the Hinoki while still being dense, is going to feel more airy in comparison, move with more flexibility and not have as much power or strength as these three smaller brushes here.
The small slanted wavy brush
The smaller brush in this Hinoki set has a round ferrule that is round, wavy and slanted, the shape of the bristles is slightly curvy, a bit like a fingertip. The raised side of the slanted ferrule provides support to the longer bristles so that the longer bristles don’t just too easily bend back but still have some resistance and strength to them.
The brush is not floppy but it’s more airy and less dense in comparison to the bigger brush in this set. It’s going to work with more precision but it has a more feathery light approach.
We can use this brush with blush, contour, highlight or powder, and the technique varies with the product and your own preferences. We can do the placement in one way but continue with a different technique for diffusing and blending. For example, we can sweep the blush or the contour products -the shorter side places the product while the longer side diffuses it, or, we can press, tap or stipple the setting powders and highlighters. Or we can just -gently but energetically- swipe side to side.
I think that this brush feels somehow artistic, you may start using it one way and end up combining techniques, it’s really fun to use and I thought it would make sense to include it in a Limited Edition set, it’s not necessarily a brush we are used to work with but it does provide a fun experience.
|Total brush length||155 mm|
|Hair length||35 mm|
|Ferrule width||12 mm|
There is nothing in my collection similar to this little Hinoki. The Detail brush from the Lotus set is the closest in shape, size and functionality and it’s also slanted, but the Detail has a flat straight ferrule while the Hinoki’s ferrule is round, wavy and slanted. You will get a more directional and controlled application with the Detail, the Hinoki will deliver a more diffused application in comparison.
The other brushes in the picture are for reference so you can have a better idea of its size in case you own any of these other brushes.
How both brushes work together
We have the small face brush that is great for blush, highlight, powder and contour.
If you have very pigmented blushes, this little brush will be fun to use, it somehow feels artistic and stylish, we can add color and structure the application, build it gently.
If you are afraid of using contour, this is also a nice brush to use because it applies the contour softly and it’s diffused, the shape of the brush helps to guide the placement. When I use this brush I have the feeling that I naturally stop the stroke at the right moment, starting at the highest part and bringing the contour diagonaly, with a short movement of the wrist.
For powder, it fits nicely under the eyes and you can navigate it where you need to powder without touching the blush area, sometimes we like to avoid powdering the cheeks for example.
For highlight, since the brush has a longer side, we can work with that for the placement and then use the entire surface of the brush for diffusing.
Then we have the bigger face brush, this brush can also be used with blush and contour but since it’s denser and stronger, it will be more effective to buff the application or to apply bronzer or powder on the entire face or on a larger area.
It’s a little team of two that can complement each other, you have a little brush that is more feathery and a more determined bigger brush that can quickly cover the entire face.
Maintenance and Care
These brushes could technically be paired with cream products, but it’s not recommended. The pressure required for effectively blending cream products would put excessive stress on these fine silky bristles, it would weaken the bristles on the longer term and cause breakage. Also, cream products require that we wash our brushes more frequently and since these are more special and delicate, it would be more appropriate to reserve their usage to only powders. Just wipe them gently on a microfiber cloth in between uses and this will very much extend their lifespan and they also won’t need a wash as frequently.
I am often asked if sprays can be used on them, with Fude, I think it’s always best if the sprays are applied on a towel or cloth and then the brushes are wiped on the damped cloth. In general, a lot of fude have more delicate handles so it’s better in order to protect the handles, that there is no spray accidentally touching the handles repeatedly.
Please do not tap the brushes against sharp edges to remove excess product, be gentle during the washing process and do not leave them soaking in water.
In general, but it’s not always the case, Fude (handmade brushes) may use more precious materials for the ferrules that could be more delicate, glues also may need to be more safe to handle, and not having crimped ferrules -although non-crimped ferrules are usually more elegant, more challenging for the artisans and more expensive- they may not be as durable as the ferrules that are crimped.
It’s good to take all this into consideration when handling handcrafted items, it also helps to be aware of this when we need to chose the brushes that better fit our preferences, or budget or aesthetics.
Another thing worth mentioning is to always store make-up brushes away from sunlight, wood expands and contracts with changes in the surrounding humidity and temperature. To preserve them and extend their life span, store your brushes away from sunlight and where they can avoid significant changes in temperature and humidity. We often tend to think about the glue or the bristles when sunlight is mentioned, but it has also a great impact on the handles and therefore on the durability of the brushes.
I have had thousands of brushes, I even had storage issues due to humidity at some point, but 99.9% of my collection is still as strong as it was 10 years ago, I am being careful but I use and enjoy everything that I own.
The Hinoki brushes will be available on the 17th of May on Beautylish. If you are interested, the Beautylish team has a page where you can sign up for notifications available here.
This brush set is Limited Edition, the set costs USD 120. We made sure we had a good production quantity guaranteed for this launch but they will not be brought back.
I hope that these two little face brushes sound exciting, that this is something that you can see yourself enjoying and that fits your aesthetics, your love for Japanese craftsmanship and for traditional wood pieces. Please do let me know your thoughts and thank you so so much, from the bottom of my heart for sticking with me throughout the years and the projects!
Always with love,
Sonia G brushes are crafted by several manufacturers, which we select based on what they do best, their production capacities and what we are trying to achieve.
We chose a few years back to add the Kumano “K” stickers to our brushes to promote Kumano’s fude-making legacy – this was by no means an obligation but a choice we made. The serial number allows us to trace the brushes back to their original order and the batch of the hair used. Based on these serial numbers we can either track any production issues – should they arise, or should we ever have to question the origin of a brush, we can confirm if it belongs to an order we placed or not.
Kumano “K” stickers are only supplied to brushes with “tips” manufactured in Kumano Town.
As we mentioned above, we are supplied by several manufacturers and each brush batch could potentially come from a different manufacturer based on the quality of their production and the quality of the hair available to them at a given time. In the case of the Hinoki Set for example- at the moment the manufacturer is not based in Kumano Town and, because of that, is not eligible for the “K” sticker. They are however highly renowned in Japan. You’ll also notice neither the Jumbo Bronzer nor the Niji Pro come with the sticker.
We aim to produce the best quality brushes and have the honor of having many contacts and friends working in different manufacturers. To achieve our target, we will choose the best matched manufacturer for a given task in and out of Kumano.