Friday, March 10, 2017

It's been a while...

I've been MIA because I've been making YouTube videos! You can check out my channel here

More blog posts to come soon :)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Chikuhodo 2016 Christmas Sets

Ugh, the day has finally come!!! I've been waiting all year for this year's Chikuhodo Christmas release.

All image credits go to Chikuhodo and Beautylish. The sets are currently available for pre-order in Japan and will go on sale on 11/21. I'm looking forward to CDJapan offering them soon for pre-order!

First up we have the Violet Set  

I translated what they refer to each set as:

「気品高く神秘的なViolet」- Violet that is highly refined and mysterious.

The set consists of:
  • powder/cheek brush made out of gray squirrel & saikoho
  • highlight brush made out of saikoho
  • eyeshadow brush made out of gray squirrel
400 sets available and priced at 15,500 yen. There is no accompanying pouch with this set unlike the Rose set from last year that had 4 brushes and a pouch. The rose set from last year was priced at 13,700 yen, so I'm feeling ripped off with this year's set, although the Rose set was predominantly goat sokoho.

There are no dupes in the regular Chikuhodo lines for this set. 

Comparisons to the main Chikuhodo Z line:
  • violet powder brush hairs are 45mm: Z-8 hair length is 40mm
  • violet highlight brush hairs are 30mm while the T-5 is 38mm
  • violet eyeshadow brush hair length is 12mm while the Z-5 is 16mm
All of the shapes from the Violet set are similar to the Z-8, T-5 and Z-5, but they the highlight and eyeshadow brushes are smaller and the powder brush hairs are longer.

I'm liking the powder/cheek brush head in this set, but I could do without the highlight brush and eyeshadow brush.

Next is the jewel of the release: Azur

「宝石のようにきらめく鮮やかなAzur」- Azur glistening vividly like a jewel.

The set consists of:
  • powder brush made out of gray squirrel
  • cheek brush made out of gray squirrel & sokoho
  • eyeshadow brush made out of tea squirrel & weasel (it says 茶リス which is literally tea squirrel, but I'm guessing it's just brown squirrel. Usually pine squirrel and Canadian squirrel are written differently)
  • eyeshadow brush (smaller one): canadian squirrel
  • eyebrow brush: water badger
  • lip brush: weasel
  • blue case
200 sets available priced at 32,500 yen each. This set is very reminiscent of the Etoile set from 2014 and Lumiere set from 2015. The Lumiere set was 34,600 yen last year.

I would say the powder brush is the most similar to the Etoile set.
  • azur powder has the same hair length as the Z-9 
  • cheek brush has the same hair length and shape as the Z-4, although the azur cheek is a mix of squirrel and goat
  • Lip brush is the same as the Z-7
  • Not sure about the eyeshadow brushes, but I'm guessing you can find similar ones from their regular line

I personally love the Azur handles, but would only want the Violet powder/cheek head and the Azur cheek with blue handles. Don't need the rest... but FOMO is making me want to buy both... decisions =0=.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Chikuhodo MK-1 & MK-2 Comparisons

Ever wonder if the gorgeous Chikuhodo Makie brushes really have the same measurements? If the MK-1 is actually way better looking in person than on photos online? Your questions shall be answered here!

MK-2, MK-1

Let me preface this by saying that no, it's not due to the handmade variation for once that they are not identical. I have compared the MK-1 to two MK-2's and both MK-2's have the same head, while the MK-1 is different.

They both retail around $155-157 at CDJapan and $178 at Beautylish.

I was first drawn to the MK-2 after falling into the fude rabbit hole due to the exquisite design of the cherry blossoms, which embody Japanese spring and culture itself. The MK-2 is a brush that people yearn for when they first get into fude because the head, made out of squirrel hair, and handle itself screams luxury. Although if you're like me and have ever taken Classical Japanese, cherry blossoms don't exactly exude cheerfulness, new life, and love. If this were a brush made in the Heian era of Japan, it would be a very sad brush. Yea, my brush is dirty :D.

When I got finally got my hands on the MK-2 and saw it in person, I was a little disappointed. The cherry blossoms are beautiful, but I actually prefer the peonies on the MK-1. Art is subjective!

When I got the MK-1, I was awestruck at the beauty of the handle. It looks so much better in person than from the photos online. Legit thought the floral design on the MK-1 were roses, but hey, peonies are actually my favorite flowers!

Let's get down to the differences:

The MK-1 head is thicker, fluffier, and splays out a little more widely than the MK-2

MK-2, MK-1

MK-1, MK-2

As you can see in the photos above, the head of the MK-1 is larger overall in terms of density/thickness. This will be an important factor for those of you who have been deciding between the two. The softness is the same since they use the same hair. I personally prefer the MK-1 not only due to the handle's design, but the thickness of the head. I love fluffy powder brushes, the fluffier the better!

I've compared them with two other brushes below:

MK-2, MK-1, Lumiere 2015 Powder, Z-1

The Lumiere 2015 powder brush is very close to the Z-9, which I do not own. The head is more similar to the MK-1 than the MK-2, although the Lumiere does taper out even more than the MK-1. I love the Lumiere brush. The Christmas set from last year was worth it just for this brush and the cheek brush. The Z-1 is a completely different shape from the rest, but I wanted to include it for fun. It's one of my favorite finishing brushes because it has a round head and is very dense. It can fit into a pressed powder compact at a perpendicular angle just fine, whereas with the other three brushes I'd have to put them side down at a lower angle to use the side of the face and not the top like with the Z-1.

MK-1, MK-2, Lumiere Powder

The MK-1 still has the thickest head amongst the three above. Love the Z-1, Lumiere, and MK-1. The MK-2 I will keep for collector's sake.

Hakuhodo J531

I've never really been one to like angled blushes, be it cheek, face, or eye brushes. One day during my mad-fude buying, I came across this brush and didn't really know what to use it for. First thing I noticed was that it was super soft. Next, I decided to try it out with my Tom Ford Gold Dust Bronzer and it applied it very naturally and effortlessly. Gives a nice diffused bronzer look and doesn't pick up too much product. I found the perfect match for this brush. 

This brush is made out of high grade goat hair: saikoho. Hakuhodo does saikoho excellently out of all the fude brands that I've tried. They are great value for the money *cough, don't want to spend $400+ for a Koyomo saikoho brush*. I would rate the softness a 9 from 1-10 for saikoho. You can also use this for pressed powder and finishing! One of my favorite brushes from Hakuhodo. 

The brush retails for $90 in the US and comes with the standard long handle. Mine is the short handle that is sold in Japan and sets. I personally prefer shorter handles due to my near sightedness. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Highlighter Brushes

There's nothing I love more than tapered and poofy brushes for highlighting. I may or may not have a strange fixation with tapered brushes in general, be it for the eyes or face. Fluffy round brushes are also a favorite, but today we're going to focus on these ones. One thing to note is that although most of these are labeled as highlight brushes, they are multipurpose and can be used for many other things like setting under eye concealer, contouring, blush, and powdering small areas of the face. 

Tanseido YWC 14, Wayne Goss 02, Hakuhodo G5521, Hakuhodo J5521, Mac 165 (LE), Chikuhodo Z-2, Pat McGrath 03 Buffer Brush

Excuse the dirty white bristles, you'll see those frequently on my blog as I'm too lazy to wash them before taking photos :P 
I also didn't include the Chikuhodo GSN-4 because that is way too big for a highlight brush. I use it as a blush brush.

Let's take a closer look.

Tanseido YWC 14, Wayne Goss 02, Hakuhodo J5521, Hakuhodo G5521, Mac 165 (LE), Chikuhodo Z-2, Pat McGrath 03 Buffer Brush

Chikuhodo Z-2, Mac 165, Hakuhodo J5521, Hakuhodo G5521, Wayne Goss 02, Tanseido YWC 14 (PM 03 Buffer Brush not shown)

Pat McGrath 03 Buffer Brush, Chikuhodo Z-2, Mac 165, Hakuhodo J5521, Hakuhodo G5521, Wayne Goss 02, Tanseido YWC 14 

These are all goat and squirrel hair. My favorite? Keep reading and you'll see :)

The Tanseido YWC 14 (3000 yen) is labeled as an eyeshadow brush, but as you've seen above next to all the other brushes, it is nearly the same size as them and is way too large for the eyes unless you have freakishly large anime eyes. This brush is made out of silky smooth sokoho hair, which is typically nowhere as soft and smooth as the highest grade that is frequently used in Kumano fude: saikoho (there's also saibikoho but that's too expensive and brands don't typically release it), however, it feels like saikoho. No joke, if I was given this and didn't know what it was made out of, I would've guessed saikoho. Since the hairs are so silky, they don't pick up product as well as a coarser goat brush like the Mac 165 below. I would reserve this and the squirrel brushes in this post for soft products. This is the least dense out of all the brushes in the post, has some airiness to it yet still has a good snap to it. There are no wavy hairs on the outer layer, a common trait of sokoho hairs and the taper is perfectly arranged all the way to the tip. It is medium in density and not floppy either. As a highlight brush, I'm inclined to say that it applies precisely where you want it and no more. It will not go outside of the lines or area you want to highlight at all, so if you're into precise highlighting, I highly recommend it. Lots of highs in this post. Personally, it is a little too small for me as a highlight brush so I've tried to use it to set my under eye concealer on several occasions. I'm not sure how I like it as an under eye setting powder brush, so I'll have to play with it some more to see. All I know is that I love the feel and handle. This handle is also the longest of all the Kumano fude I own. The only thing that drives me insane is the names are so weird and hard to remember. Fude companies don't typically label their brushes, so I had to put that blue tape over it and write the name down to remember it. 

Wayne Goss 02 ($35) is made out of blue squirrel, although to me it feels like a mix of goat and blue squirrel. This particular one is from the anniversary set which was limited edition and sold out, which is why it has the pink lettering as opposed to the regular gray lettering. When compared to his recently released Air-Brush, it is nowhere as soft. On a level of 1-10 and the Air-Brush is a 8, the 02 is a 6.5-7. A quick note to mention is that his 03 brush feels exactly the same as the 02, except it's for your eyes (I use it to blend). It's like a mini-me of the 02. It is a nicely packed brush, which makes it dense and there is little flexibility (in a good way). The taper is near perfect and definitely better than the Hakuhodo G5521 I compare it to below. Since the 02 is made out of blue squirrel, it will not apply products as pigmented as goat hairs will. Goat hairs naturally pick up more product and apply a heavier layer. This is a brush you could use to tone down those in-your-face highlighters like Becca's Champagne Pop or Anastasia Beverly Hills Illuminators. It works excellently for setting under eye concealer as well. I would not use this or any one of the other squirrel brushes for hard pressed products like Tarte Amazonian Clay Blushes. I like it enough to keep it, but I was expecting it to be softer since so many blogs and reviews were talking about how soft it was. My skin is extremely sensitive though and my definition of soft will vary from others. Picky picky.

Wayne Goss 02, Hakuhodo G5521

I was certain I would love the G5521 ($35), since I got the J5521 first and love it to bits, but I was a little disappointed. Do note that this dyed version is discontinued and has been replaced with an undyed version that costs $53. This brush is made out of blue squirrel and goat and feels exactly the same as the Wayne Goss 02. The head is a little shorter and stubbier, with the taper not being as sharp and perfect. It is medium in density and has a floppier head than the WG 02. Definitely airier than the WG 02 too. I admit I was disappointed with the brush because I was expecting it to apply highlight just like my J5521, but this brush has squirrel in it and therefore will not apply as pigmented. This can be used just like the Wayne Goss 02. I haven't felt the undyed version of it yet, but based on the other undyed versions with squirrel and goat hair mixes, I don't think it will be any softer than the dyed one I have. I would actually recommend the Wayne Goss 02 over this brush. The sleek black handle  and higher taper of the WG is a lot nicer in my eyes.

Wayne Goss 02, Hakuhodo G5521, J5521

Can you tell this J5521 ($38) is well-loved? The lettering has completely faded away, something I didn't know about Hakuhodo brushes when I first got them. They fade away within the first two weeks of usage. After that I started putting clear nail polish over the letterings of all of my new Hakuhodo acquisitions. This is my all time favorite brush for highlight. The bristles are super soft and if I'm not mistaken, it's goat saikoho. Undyed goat is the best and I recommend it to all skin types, but if you have sensitive skin like I do, stick with undyed saikoho and sokoho. The shape used to look like the WG 02 and G5521, but for some reason, it doesn't keep its shape after use which is the only flaw of this brush. Looks more like a pom pom now anyway. It applies product perfectly and pigmented. It is medium in density and has an airy feeling to it when being used. I love myself some in-yo-face highlight so I frequently to pair this with ABH Hollywood and Becca's Champagne Pop. While the hairs are pillowy soft, they still manage to pick up a good amount of product unlike the Tanseido YWC 14. I considered getting a backup, but haha, I have too many brushes to have backups of anything. Holy grail status, ladies and gentlemen! If there's any brush you should get after reading this post, it's this one!!!

The Mac 165 ($34) was a limited edition highlight brush released in 2009. Sorry for being a dick and including it in this post. This was my favorite highlight brush before I got into expensive ass fude and there's a good reason. Once upon a time Hakuhodo was the original equipment manufacturer for Mac Cosmetics and their brushes were good, but not as good as Hakuhodo's brushes themselves. My brush says Japan on the handle, which means Hakuhodo was still producing brushes for Mac back in 2009. A few years after that, Mac decided to change companies and their brushes are now mainly produced in China, Europe, and a small amount are still made in Japan. The quality went way down. Back to the 165, it is made out of dyed goat hair and is soft enough for me to use on my face. I'm guessing it is dyed sokoho. I'd say it's around a 5 in terms of softness. Rather than call it a pom pom shape, it looks more like a fat onion bulb. It's the densest out of all the previously mentioned brushes and has the coarsest hair. This allows picking up the most product yet still managing to blend nicely. Although the head is dense, it still have some airiness to it. When washed, it doesn't bleed dye which is a huge plus. It applies product just like the J5521, except it's less soft. Mine has been with me for many years and I wish Mac would release this brush again permanently (made in Japan)! I've read online that they re-release it a few times a year and is now labeled as a contour brush, scoffs.

Wayne Goss 02, Chikuhodo Z-2

Chikuhodo Z-2 ($65.91 or $78, depending where you purchase it) is made out of gray squirrel and has a completely tapered head. It is the most tapered out of all the brushes in this post. The hairs are also a lot longer than the rest, which means it will apply product more sheerly. When compared to the Wayne Goss 02, it makes the 02 look like the baby. The Z-2 is softer than than the WG 02 and the densest of all the brushes. This has some flexibility to it, I'd say about 5 from a scale of 1-10. It definitely isn't flop city. While I wouldn't use the other brushes for blush due to how small they are in comparison to my cheeks, I would probably use the Z-2 for blush once in awhile. The handle is more luxurious feeling than the rest of the other brushes since it's lacquered wood. It is also the most expensive out of all the brushes, go figure. I like it, but if you're starting out and don't have $66 to blow on a brush, I'd suggest the J5521 or Wayne Goss 02 instead.

The Pat McGrath 03 Buffer Brush only comes in the limited edition Skin Fetish 003 set ($72) and is the equivalent to the Hakuhodo J4002BkSL ($33). I'm pretty sure Hakuhodo is the OEM for this brush, as the ferrule and handle look identical to Hakuhodo's as well as the feel of the bristles. Hakuhodo labels the J4002 as a foundation, highlight, and blush brush. No way in hell would I ever use this for foundation since the bristles are too long and head too small, which would result in taking forever to put my face on, but I wouldn't mind testing it out for blush one day. Apparently the fibers on the top are great for glittery highlights as it won't apply the glittery chunks onto your face (sheer application). One thing to note is that instead of having her name and brush number engraved or lasered into the handle, it is merely a sticker. Cheaped out I guess. This is by no means a "buffer brush" as it cannot buff product into the face like a domed and dense brush head can like the Hakuhodo J210. The bristles are 32mm/1.26 inches long with the duo fiber part making up about 30% of that space. The top is more floppy than anything, but not as bad as I imagined it to be. This is also not a dense brush, being the least dense amongst all the ones mentioned today. That being said, it still handles highlight quite well. Another one of those toning-down brushes where it won't pick up a large amount due to the synthetic fibers on the top, yet still disperses and blends product nicely. From the feel of it, it seems like sokoho on the part that has goat. Was expecting to be disappointed by it considering how floppy it looks but I am pleasantly surprised! 

Fude/Brush Maintenance

An essential part of brushes is taking care of them. Natural hair brushes, especially squirrel must be handled more delicately than synthetic ones.

Brush tree for storing and drying
There are many ways to dry brushes, but the best way I've found is through a brush tree with the brushes upside down in a shady place. Please note that I don't actually dry or store my brushes in the bathroom. You don't want to do that as bathrooms are moist.
You can also use the tree to store your brushes for use like I did with the Hakuhodo S104. This is just an example, I don't actually do both at the same time.
I love this brush tree so much I bought a rectangular version as a backup :) You can purchase them from the Benjabelle website, but I just bought mine from Aliexpress for around $5-$6. I recommend the brand Ovonni, although it looks like the price went up recently so feel free to search and purchase the one within your budget. Amazon is now selling the Ovonni brush tree for $10.99 and offers prime if you don't like waiting for it to be delivered from China.

I am using generic mildly scented baby shampoo for most of my brushes and it has worked fine. You want something gentle and not too scented (unscented is the best). When baby shampoo doesn't make my white goat brushes completely white or if I want to do some bacterial cleaning (if I was sick and I used a brush or whatnot), I would go in with the Dr. Bronner's Hemp & Tea Tree bar soap first, then do a second cleanse with baby shampoo to soften it. The Dr. Bronner's soap is drying, so I don't recommend it and wouldn't repurchase. For those times when you want to kill germs off, put tea tree oil drops in the baby shampoo. 
I just tried my olive oil savon de marseille soap on two undyed goat brushes: Koyudo fu-pa07p and Koyomo Nadeshiko powder. It indeed made them very white and the fupa feels the same as before, however, it made the Koyomo feel squeaky clean, which was a bad indicator for me. Squeaky clean = drier. It does feel drier when used on the face ): It also broke me out so I definitely do not recommend it!
Hakuhodo also sells their own soap, but really, any glycerin-based soap will do.

How long until I have to wash them?
According to Hakuhodo and Chikuhodo, powder and foundation brushes are to be washed 1-2x a month. Once a month for powder and up to twice a month for liquid foundation. This applies for goat hair only as it is resilient and can handle the numerous washings. Horse, weasel and badger hair can also take the numerous washings. You can wash the eyeshadow brushes made out of all four types of hair 1-2x a month as well. Squirrel hair on the other hand is very delicate and fragile, so you will want to avoid washing them as often as possible. Think the exact opposite for washing squirrel hair: 1-2x a year. I know, this sounds crazy and gross, but the more you wash the hair, the more prone they are to breaking and splitting. Also, they won't get gross if you properly wipe them off after each use onto a kleenex or microfiber cloth.
As for the actual washing process, I use lukewarm-warm water under the faucet while trying to avoid the ferrule. After it's been properly washed, I gently squeeze the bristles and try to reshape them into the original shape and then hang on the brush tree.

Brush guards
After drying, I put brush guards over the fude to reshape into its original shape if it dried weirdly. You can leave the brush guards over the fude for a day and it'll reshape nicely. Doing this after it has been dried is better since the bristles are completely dry before being covered by the guard. I don't recommend using napkins/tissue to cover the fude while it's drying as that will extend the drying time and can cause the glue in the ferrule to loosen over time.

Daily maintenance
For daily maintenance after using the brushes, I wipe them on a microfiber cloth. It will get pretty dirty, but to me it's better than wiping on a kleenex and wasting paper continuously :P

Friday, July 22, 2016

Koyudo Kumamon Brush

Just wanted to do a quick fun post on the Koyudo Kumamon brush! Honestly, Kumamon’s regular face actually kind of scares me (like big pedo bear, anyone?) but I fell in love immediately when I saw the kabuki brush. He’s the mascot of Kumamoto prefecture in Japan too!

The hair length is 23mm or 0.9 inches, so it’s taller than the Koyudo macaron and works very nicely for loose, mineral, pressed, and finishing powders. I have never experienced cake face with any Kumano fude. The hairs are sokoho, but feel extremely silky soft for sokoho and nearly as soft as saikoho. They are also almost completely straight except for some rebellious ones on the outer layer of the brush (this may be my fault as I tried to put it back in the box after it dried). There was no bleeding of dye when washed and “Koyudo Collection” is engraved into the handle. I also own the Koyudo Pink Macaron and if I had to choose between the two, I’d go with the Kumamon brush. The pink macaron is more densely packed which makes it better for liquid and creme foundation. It does a great job at powder too, but I prefer the less densely packed hairs of the Kumamon brush.

I am oogling at the Capbyara-san brush now!

In terms of purchasing, you cannot purchase this from CDJapan due to licensing, so the only ways would either be through a personal shopper like Toshiya (fudejapan) or purchasing in Japan. It retails 4680 yen including tax on the Koyudo website. I’ve seen it marked up on eBay too.