Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Hakuhodo Brushes: My Fledgling Collection (J5523, J004G, G5512BkSL, Retractable BkA Flat PBT Lip)

Hi! Remember me? I used to write things sometimes. Then research and end of term stress happened (if it seems like I use that excuse a lot, it's because the UO operates on the quarter system and just as I've gotten over the stress of one finals season, another is upon me) and I kind of fell off the world. You may not hear from me again for another week or so, but it's a long post, so feel free to drag it out over a few days.

A couple months ago, I decided I was ready to upgrade my eye brushes. My brush collection is entirely affordable brushes, but I wanted something fancier for playing with my eyeshadow. MAC brushes are easily accessible, but they're not very cheap, and from what I've read, the quality isn't the best. Hakuhodo brushes, at least for the eyes, are relatively reasonably priced, and of very high quality, but they have to be ordered online. Fortunately, there's a number of very thorough guides online, and after I measured the brushes I already own, I was able to have an idea of what dimensions would work best for me (and will be adding size info to my complete makeup brush post once the term is over and I have more time).
Left to right: J5523, J004G, G5520BkSL, G5512BkSL, Retractable Push-up Lip Brush BkA Flat PBT
I ordered 5 brushes, four for eyes and one for lips. I wanted things I could use every day, so I opted for a variety of types: one base/laydown (J004G, second from left), one crease (G5520BkSL, center), one blender (J5523, far left), and one liner (G5512BkSL, second from right). I'll discuss them in the order I use them on a normal day.

J004G "Eye Shadow Brush Round & Flat", goat, $20
11.5 mm long, 11.5 mm wide, 4.0 mm thick
This brush allows for very fast, even application of color on the lid. The length is nice, but it's just a smidge (really, Chrome, you don't have that in your dictionary?) too big to be truly versatile. Were I to order again, I would probably opt for the J242G, K005, or J144, even though none are pure goat, which is the softest (besides squirrel, anyways). Still, I have no trouble placing shadow on my lid using this; I apply a lighter shade on the inner half of my lid, then flip it over and apply a darker shade on the outer half and blend together using whichever side has the shadow of which I need more (try and diagram that sentences, bitches!).
left to right: mark. Eye Shadow Brush, Real Techniques Shader,
Hakuhodo J004G, Sonia Kashuk Medium Eye Shadow Brush
same order, side view
I've photographed it compared to some of my other laydown brushes. The mark. and Real Techniques are both narrower, shorter, and fluffier, and the (discontinued) Sonia Kashuk is much larger. The Hakuhodo is definitely the softest of them all, though the RT is also pleasant; the mark. and SK ones are pretty scratchy and should be thrown out, but I hold on to them so that I can go an extra day or two without having to wash my brushes because I am a lazy motherfucker. The J004G works well for sweeping on color as well as patting, and does help minimize glittery fallout (when patting). It's not quite small enough to fit into my inner corner, so if I'm using a different shade there, I opt for either the RT or my little Ecotools shader, but usually the J004G is all I need.

G5520BkSL "Eye Shadow Brush pointed", horse/blue squirrel, $21
8.0 mm long, 5.0 mm thick
left to right: Ecotools Highlighting Brush, Ecotools Smudge Brush, Hakuhodo G5520BkSL,
e.l.f. Contour Brush, Sonia Kashuk Large Crease Brush
This is a rather small pencil brush, much smaller than I was expecting because I have no capability of imagining size, I guess. It took some practice for me to figure out how to use this brush, but I really like it now! I initially used it to put shadow in my outer corner and up the crease, but found that it tended to stick where I'd put it and I wasn't able to get an even gradient using the J5523 (at least, for matte shadows; shimmers are much easier to work with). The solution ended up being what Hakuhodo suggested: start lightly, blend out. Now I place whatever shadow I'm wearing as my crease shade only in the lower outer corner, and then blend it up and out using the J5523, adding more color as needed. Shimmers are the easiest to work with, but as long as I go gradually, mattes are now manageable, too. I've pretty much abandoned all my other crease brushes in favor of this plus blending, since they're all much scratchier and less pleasant to use. This one is also small enough to use for a smudgy line along the bottom lashline––it's far from precise, but sometimes that's what you want, though I do tend to opt for the slightly shorter Ecotools Smudge Brush for that particular task.

J5523 "Eye Shadow Brush Round & Flat", goat, $18
16.0 mm long, 13 mm wide, 4.5 mm thick (which, after being used for blending, expands to 9 mm thick)
Hakuhodo J5523, left, and Real Techniques Base, right
side view, same order; both are clean and unused
After placing the crease color with the G5520, I blend it out using this brush. I think the 5523 is the single most well-loved Hakuhodo brush, based on my extremely unscientific intuition after reading gobs of reviews. If you want a blending brush, this seems to be the best value. It's soft but not floppy, and the bristles are loose enough to not displace product but dense enough to still result in nice blended gradients. When freshly washed, it looks very similar to the Real Techniques Base, but after using it to blend, it is much wider and fluffier; trying to use the RT in the same fashion is less successful, as it retains its shape, making for a more concentrated blending mechanism. Having never tried another blending brush, I cannot vouch for this one's superiority, but I am perfectly happy with it and do not feel like I need to try others!

G5512BkSL "Eye Shadow Brush round flat", horse, $15
2.5 mm long, 3.5 mm wide, 1.6 mm thick
Real Techniques Detail, left, and Hakuhodo G5512BkSL, right
side view, same order
I picked this up with the sole intention of using it to tightline, because everyone's all "tightlining is the best thing since mascara!" but my smallest brush, the RT Detail, was still too big to work well. The G5512BkSL is super, super tiny, and oh so cute. It's firm and flat and works really well for getting liner (I've used black shadow and gel eyeliner) between the lashes. I wouldn't call it a necessity, but it's nice to have, and it's also good for really fine eyeliner lines––I sometimes use it to take product from an eyeliner pencil to get a thinner line. I have no idea how on earth you're supposed to wash this without getting the ferrule wet because it's so effing tiny, so I just don't even try.
Lastly, I purchased the retractable lip brush, thinking it would be nice for applying really pigmented lippies.
Hakuhodo Retractable Push-Up Lip Brush BkA PBT
I then proceeded to lose it after a mere couple of months, which is why we can't have nice things, self. It was really nice, firm yet soft, and allowed for precise lining and application, but I found that even it couldn't overcome my tremor and I sometimes "colored outside the lines" when using it. The retractable design was great, though, and if you like lip brushes, it's an excellent, high-quality choice. For me, though, goodbye, $27. *facepalm*

Keeping Them Clean
Hakuhodo recommends cleaning their brushes on microfiber cloths and washing them as infrequently as possible so as to prolong their life. I use them pretty much every day and wipe them on a microfiber glasses cloth (I've managed to accumulate a bajillion over the years, in spite of regularly losing them) before applying, which gets rid of the previous product perfectly well. I wash them using Japanese Detergent for Puff and Sponge in warm water followed by Castile bar soap about once a week, because I like them being sparkling white and pretty (or black and pretty, as the case may be), and though I try not to get cleanser or soap into the ferrules, once I've done the initial rinse I just let water get everywhere. I tried to be really good about it the first couple of weeks, then decided that the stress and care required was just too much effort. They'll probably need to be replaced sooner, but my peace of mind is worth it.

One thing to note about the Hakuhodo brushes is that they don't all have numbers printed on them, and the silver (holographic!) lettering wears off pretty easily, so if you want to remember which brush is which, it's best to affix your own label. I don't care that much, but if I expand my collection much more, I may decide it's worth doing.

Having experienced the pleasure of really good brushes, I now want more. Shipping is a flat $9, which isn't great (nor is it terrible), so I'll have to wait until I can afford to pick up a few at once. I'm looking considering the J142/146, K005, J246, J138, and J144 right now, and am also attracted to some of the face/cheek brushes, but they're so expensive that they'll probably have to wait until I have a real job.

Some links I found helpful in my research:
Sweet Makeup Temptation's reviews of her brushes, fantastic Brush Temple (I've linked only to the Hakuhodo brushes, but she has tons of other brands too), eyeshadow brush beginner's guide, and general overview of brushes
Temptalia's introduction to the brand and reviews
Diabolus in Cosmetica's overview of the brand
Shameless Fripperies' introduction and reviews
The Non-Blonde's reviews and brush guide (includes other brands)
Makeup Withdrawal's reviews
Project Swatch's reviews
Delicate Hummingbird's reviews
Drivel About Frivol's reviews
Glossed in Translation's beginner's guide and buying guide
Super fucking helpful eyeshadow, highlighter, and blush brush comparison from Hakuhodo's blog, which I did not discover until I was working on this post.

Have you tried any Hakuhodo brushes? What's your brush philosophy? 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...