In December 2020 we launched a Special Edition mini Keyaki brush set- a fun little set that features Fude craftsmanship and traditional Japanese woodworking craftsmanship. This was such a wonderful experience so we really wanted to do this again for those who love these short keyaki handles.
This Version 2 is launching on the 20th of July 2022 on Beautylish and is also Limited Edition. It showcases the same Keyaki handles but with different brush designs.
The handles are the same length as the previous mini Keyaki set. These shorter handles do not make the brushes less valuable as the making of these two Keyaki sets is a traditional process that requires time and a very high level of expertise. Patience and diligence are required continuously – the work that these mini brushes require is truly one of a kind, they are works of art, manufactured by the most incredible talented artisans.
The name of the set comes from the wood used for the handles – Keyaki Zelkova Serrata – which is native to Japan. This wood is considered strong and high-grade, used for the construction of temples, shrines, high-grade Buddhist altars and lacquer wares (Shikki). Its strength was the main reason why it was used in the past, but today, Keyaki wood is still loved for its beauty and smell. Its grain is spectacular and the fragrance coming from the oils contained in the wood is mesmerizing. The fragrance is barely noticeable on the finished handles, but on a visit to the manufacture during production the scent was so strong. It was sweet and spicy and so particular, I fell in love with Keyaki even more!
This wood is known to be very expensive and requires a longer drying period of one to two years compared to other Japanese woods. It requires a lot of work, expensive blades and tools. These tiny handles are sanded one by one, and individually coated with the different products. They demand a lot of time from the artisans.
Just like the previous V1 Keyaki set, they used the same wood filling technique with Tonoko (polishing powder) which is used for the underneath layer to make the wood grain look so beautiful. They are then finished with a thin layer of urethane paint that has been meticulously applied to achieve a beautiful smooth surface on the handle. I will share some manufacturing pics in the upcoming days on my Instagram @soniagbrushes.
The handles have a unique pattern and a soft matte finish. The keyaki grain can be linear, striped, wavy or show a mix of patterns. Even micro dents may be apparent on the wood and although it’s rare, this is natural and normal. The artisans worked with all the characteristics of this wood and adapted the techniques for us to appreciate its raw beauty.
Just like with the first Keyaki set, one of the biggest challenges with these handles was to apply the logo beautifully since the surface of the Keyaki is not smooth. The artisans wanted us to feel the texture of Keyaki, so for the application of the logo on such a small surface, the use of the Tonoko technique has been crucial- it allowed them to work with the raw beauty of the wood and yet achieve a flush application of the logo and the brush names on the handle.
I wanted to include brushes that are versatile workhorses, brushes we could use easily, if not for one task, for another, adapting their purpose to match our own needs and preferences.
It was also important that if you had the previous Keyaki release, that these new brushes were different enough to complement them.
The set comes with five brushes, four of these are new designs that did not exist in previous collections and one brush is a brush currently existing in the Fusion series – the Jumbo Base.
Two eye brushes, two face brushes, and one that can be either a huge eye brush or a tiny face brush, whatever we want it to be, but the same applies for any brush since smaller brushes can easily be used for speficic tasks on the face.
The main idea was to create a little set that regroups a team of versatile brushes we can either use at home on a daily basis or take with us on the go. Some may prefer shorter handles for everyday use, some will enjoy these little ones on the go.
I will share the specs of each brush below and if you would like to see how I use these brushes, I will detail my routine on a separate post. We all have different products and preferences, I hope these tools can adapt to yours and give you a beautiful experience.
|Brush||Total length||Hair length||Ferrule width||Material|
|Soft Face||130mm||30mm||11mm||White saikoho goat|
|Jumbo Base||132mm||27mm||28*16mm||Goat + synthetic|
|Jumbo Worker||120mm||20mm||14*8.5mm||Goat + synthetic|
|Crease||133mm||18mm||6mm||Dyed saikoho goat|
|Detail||127mm||12mm||7mm||Goat + synthetic|
THE JUMBO BASE
The Jumbo Base is the only brush from the set that exists in the current collection, in the Fusion series. Below you can see how the handle length differs.
This brush has been designed to work with creams and liquids, it’s a mix of sokoho goat combined with several type of synthetic fibers: the natural bristles bring airiness, they add grip, and help absorb or balance the excess oils, while the synthetic fibers facilitate the glide of the brush. It has medium density and feels very soft on the skin.
It’s a large brush with a slanted shape, that slanted shape is created by hand by an artisan, always and only by the same artisan. I had the opportunity to see the manufacturing in person and the shaping technique takes a lot of time, I didn’t see anything like it before. I could not film it because the technique is confidential and they wish to keep it that way, which is understandable. We would not expect this brush to require so much work and I was very surprised to see that this process was so artistic.
This is an expensive brush to manufacture, and with the Keyaki handle, it’s actually even more. You could also think that because it has a mix of bristles that this brush should cost less than a full natural brush, and yet, surprisingly, it’s the other way round. The mixing process is extremely time-consuming, it requires more time, more steps and more attention and it is way more difficult to bundle as the bristles differ in thickness and shape.
We use dyed synthetic bristles so that the brush won’t look as dirty when used and reused, and we use undyed natural bristles because the components on cream and liquid products may alter the dye that is used on natural britles. The cons of mixing different types of bristles are mainly related to the price because it adds more complexity to the manufacturing process of the brush, therefore more costs. After considering all those pros and cons, we still think it’s worth doing this, but the use of a mix of bristles with my brushes is not a means to save costs in any way.
This brush is for liquid foundation, cream bronzer, or cream blush. I find foundation brushes are the most tricky to design. It’s difficult to design a foundation brush that works with all products and for all skin types, even the weather has an impact on how our products interact with our brushes and our skin! It’s both fascinating and challenging! I tried to make a brush that could fit in many scenarios, with a density and flexibility that could allow for a smooth blending and a quick application. It’s also particularly soft for those of us who struggle with very delicate skin.
The slanted area where you can see the tips is the surface to use for the application and blending of the products.
The Mini Base is a much smaller brush in comparison- and it’s round – the Jumbo Base has a pinched ferrule and a slanted shape.
For comparison, the Lotus Base has that fan shape so that the edges can navigate a bit easier around the eyes or the nose or work in a more linear manner.
This is an example of the products that can be used with this brush: foundation, cream blush or cream bronzer, but also hybrid formulas or even some finishing or setting powders.
THE SOFT FACE
The Soft Face is bundled with very soft saikoho goat bristles and has a round ferrule. It’s such a fun little face brush! Once washed, it remains a small brush but it opens quite a lot for a working surface that is approx 23mm in diameter. The contact surface depends on the pressure you use. It can be used for blush, for powder or precision bronzer. It’s very airy but it’s not floppy, it can handle medium or highly pigmented products.
If you have been reading my blog, you may remember some very old posts where I mention how much I love small round brushes and specially this particular shape. They have a very special place in my routine and in my heart, specially with a small round ferrule and a shape that splays out with those proportions. Using this little brush in circular motions feels artistic, calming, it’s an experience.
Unlike the Classic Face brush in the previous Keyaki set, the Soft Face is round and only white saikoho bristles have been used. In comparison, this brush moves with more discipline.
The Soft Face has more firmness and control at the very top versus the Classic Face, the latter has more flexibility in the bristles and a bigger contact area.
The Face Two is very close in size at the surface but it’s a much denser brush, with more power and strength on its surface.
The Soft Face is quite similar in shape to the Soft Cheek from the Sky series. The names should be reversed here, it would make more sense but when the Soft Cheek was designed, I was clearly not planning this Keyaki set…
While their shape is quite similar, the Soft Cheek covers much more area, it is bigger and more flexible.
The Soft Face is not the best to pair with cream products because the bristles are thin, the pressure it would require for blending creams might be too high and may cause the silky bristles to break.
It can be paired with any powder product, sheer or more pigmented, with blushes or finishing powders. It doesn’t have strong buffing capabilities as it is quite airy and flexible, but it is an interesting brush that in spite of its size can navigate many products comfortably.
THE JUMBO WORKER
The Jumbo Worker is a special little brush. It is bundled with goat bristles and a special mix of synthetic fibers. Like the Fusion series, it can be safely used with powders and creams.
I have always been looking for a brush with this exact shape and density, but I could not find something that would exactly work and behave the way this one does. It is dense but the bristles have flexibility. It moves easily, whether we work around the eyes, around the nose, the mouth, the ears… It just adapts to the path and it’s very soft- this was quite important because the area around the eyes can be very delicate and this is something that many of us may struggle with.
The working surface at the top is flat and approx 13mm x 17mm depending on the pressure. I have used this brush for foundation application but it’s tiny so only if I don’t have anything else with me and in case of emergency, this brush could do the trick. It’s ideal for touchups but for the entire face, it is going to take quite a while.
For precise concealer application or for dark lines or circles, it’s better to use the Detail brush in this set, then for a larger area, this Jumbo Worker is going to be a better option and for an even wider area, the Jumbo Base would be the next option.
This Jumbo Worker is fun for concealer, sculpting, highlighting, with cream or liquid products, it can also be used with blushes that have a hybrid formula as it doesn’t apply the products heavily, it allows to build up the placement gradually. The technique is a combination of pat or stipple and swipe, it depends on the product, its intensity or how hard or thick it is- I usually place the product with the brush then pat or gently swipe the brush to diffuse the product.
The Jumbo Worker can also be used with powders, for example to apply a base powder on the lid, or on the face to set a small area, with some highlighters or even blushes, it really depends on the products and the placement you want to achieve. This brush brings me joy… it’s just a fun brush to use, probably because it allows me to use products that I don’t often reach for. It consequently allows me to be more creative, try new layering techniques or products I wouldn’t usually use.
I always have a microfiber towel with me because I know that I will be switching products and using the same brush with different products. After concealer, I will use the Jumbo Worker to set the application with powder, and after that, I will use this same brush for cream blush, then, I will also use it for highlight.
The Jumbo Worker offers more precision vs the Mini Base in the Fusion series. We can navigate along the nose, place the contour with more precision and then blend it in a smaller perimeter.
It’s bigger than the Jumbo Concealer, same shape but it’s a more fluffy and flexible version.
You may own these brushes so I wanted to show you the size in comparison, they are a bit similar in terms of shape but the size and materials differ.
This Jumbo Worker is dense but it’s progressive and easy to adapt with products that need a firm brush on the pan but a soft placement on the skin.
It’s fun with hybrid formulas, with liquids, for contouring with creams, for setting with powder in delicate areas because we can press the brush and it’s going to feel super soft and comfortable.
This Crease brush is bundled with brown dyed saikoho goat bristles and is designed for powder products.
I know that many brush lovers are constantly in the hunt for extraordinary crease brushes… I am too, and I could not count how many I have accumulated through the years. There is always room for yet another crease brush!
For this set, I wanted to create a crease brush that would be a good fit in terms of size- not too big, not too small, but also not too firm, not too floppy, not too pointy, not too flat…
I think this is the perfect balance between airiness and density as the bristles move so smoothly, so evenly, but are quite powerful. As it works, it is going to splay out just enough so that the application is diffused, but its density and shape make the tip of the brush very disciplined and easy to control. It’s really effortless to use.
The Blender Pro is about double the size, with the Keyaki Crease you’ll get a similar power and strength at the top but the Keyaki Crease offers more control and precision.
The Classic Crease is less tapered, splays out more and will deliver a more diffused application in comparision to the Keyaki Crease.
With the Mini Booster you’ll obtain more precision, but with the Keyaki Crease you’ll have a more diffused placement.
The Crease Pro is nicely tapered and more firm and precise in comparision to the Keyaki Crease.
This Keyaki Crease brush is effortless and versatile, whether you are working with a base shadow on the entire lid, or in the crease, or even for detail work on the face for example contouring the nose or highlighter.
The purpose of this Detail brush is to work with powders and creams. It’s an all-rounder that can be used for many different purposes.
The bristles are saikoho goat mixed with a combination of different synthetic fibers. The natural bristles are there to add grip, airiness and volume and give it some blending capabilities. The synthetic fibers are there to allow the brush to glide smoothly with creams.
The length of the bristles is 12mm. At about half length the layers start – these layers, where you can see the tips of the bristles, is the surface that will do the work – picking up, placing, and diffusing the product. This brush has a firm yet soft tip that has movement. It is not going to deliver a surgical sharp placement but a diffused and soft application, we can gradually build the intensity and diffuse as we go. While the bristles have flexibility, there is support in the center of the brush which gives the tip stability, the surface works evenly and it doesn’t completely loose its structure.
The brush works as a pencil, crease, laydown, or concealer brush. I use it for many different tasks, a microfiber cloth here is very useful to clean the brush and transition from one task to the other.
For example it can be used for the outer V, for the mobile lid, for precise placement in the crease, for highlighting the inner corner of the eyes, or on the browbone. It can be used with creams or powders, also with shimmer toppers. The idea is to use it with as many formulas possible and get the most use out of it.
When you press the brush against your skin and use it as a laydown brush, it creates a very convenient working surface, and that surface works effectively. I try to demonstrate the shape against a clear surface, the bristles bend but we can feel some resistance, some support, which helps quite a lot with the placement.
We can add definition along the lashline, not like the Flat Definer but we can absolutely use it to define or smoke out an application along the bottom lash line too.
It’s fantastic to cover dark lines or dark circles with corrector or concealer and I love this brush to paint those darker areas with concealer and diffuse the application just where it’s needed.
I also use the Detail as a lip brush paired with bright bold lipsticks. This may not be something that many would do but I just love it. A bright lipstick doesn’t suit me at all, however, a veil of a bright color applied with this brush has become an everyday staple.
There are so many different products that you can use with this brush, creams, powders, shimmer toppers, concealers, correctors.
This set has shorter handles in comparison to the brushes in my current collection, but they are precious brushes and works of art that have been made with passion and love, they feature analogous techniques to those on valuable art pieces.
Since the previous release of the Keyaki set, I have received so many messages requesting the return of these handles. Some had missed the previous set, and others truly enjoy these shorter handles on a daily basis, so I hope that this new Keyaki set sounds interesting, special and functional. Somebody once said about my brushes that they were functional art, I am touched beyond words. You can be assured that the people behind the scenes are also touched and so grateful. Being here, so close to you and close to them is a privilege.
The set will be available on Beautylish, starting on the 20th of July at 10am PT. It is Limited Edition and will retail for 160 USD.