FUDE COLLECTION: Japanese Makeup Brushes Part 1

*LAST UPDATED APRIL 2022.

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What Makes These Brushes Special?

Kumano is called the world’s brush making capital and it is where all the brushes I’ll be talking about today were created. Chikuhodo has a detailed explanation of the process that artisans go through to handmake these brushes. For generations, the brush makers in Kumano have been honing their craft, making world-renown calligraphy brushes, paintbrushes, and then segued into makeup brushes. The finest hairs are chosen, and nothing is machine cut. The tips are left on, which adds to the silky-soft feel. These brushes are never scratchy! Although most of these companies use natural hair, especially for their elite lines, there are some brands like Hakuhodo, Chikuhodo, and Wayne Goss who have some synthetic brushes in their lineup.

BLUE vs GREY SQUIRREL and CRUELTY-FREE STATUS

Before we get into the review, I’d like to address the discrepancies that are sure to come up, such as some brushes being listed as Blue Squirrel on one website and then Grey squirrel for the same brush on another site. Red squirrels and Grey squirrels are confirmed to be different, but I’ve seen conflicting information as to whether blue and grey are the same.* It ultimately is up to the manufacturer to decide what it is and how it should be listed. I thought perhaps it came down to the location the hair came from, the color of the bristle, or the quality of the hair. The ones listed as blue that I have seen tend to be darker, almost black. Whereas those listed as grey when I bought them look dark brown. However, the tail colors of actual grey squirrels fluctuate seasonally between brown, black, and silvery gray, so I realized that couldn’t be the right answer.

I have only found one source that specifically lists a name for a blue squirrel (or at least a squirrel with blue-black tail hair) which is called Saccamina or Sacamena.

Even on Sonia G’s blog in 2012, she makes a distinction between the two types, but in her Surratt review from 2015, she calls them the same.

I contacted Beautylish asking if blue squirrel comes from a grey squirrel or if they are different, and the customer service representative told me they are not the same. That they feel the same but grey is less expensive than blue. I contacted FudeJapan and they told me the opposite information. That they are the same. So finally, I emailed Chikuhodo and the representative wrote back that blue and grey are the same. That in Japan it is usually marked as grey and that western markets tend to call it blue. This makes sense to me when I thought about how Beautylish and the US Hakuhodo website are the only ones I’ve seen with blue squirrel brushes, compared to what is available on CDJapan or Fude Beauty’s websites. So, from this point forward I will consider grey squirrel and blue squirrel to be the same.  

*UPDATE: 04/2022 According to this source, red squirrel hair is the red hair from a grey squirrel.

As for the cruelty-free status, there is this idea that has been going around for years that the fur from wild animals have been gathered from catching, brushing, and then letting them go, or that they were humanely kept in cages to be brushed. This is a concept that retailers like for us to believe because it’s a much sweeter tale than the reality of the situation. This might sound feasible for domesticated animals in abundance, such as goats and ponies which their hair can be combed, sheered, or cut, but this concept for rarer hairs like squirrel and silver fox isn’t realistic. Even with goats, the quality of hair isn’t the same across the entire animal. The chest is the coveted area, but the quality is different even within that section: Saibikoho, Saikoho, and Sokoho. If squirrels had to be brushed every day to produce a few loose strands that haven’t already fallen off while they ran around, it would take years to make just one hundred brushes and the cost would be astronomical.

While combing/brushing, sheering, and cutting hair is cruelty-free, if the animal was killed for their meat or as pest/population control in a region, the procured hairs are considered a by-product of the industry, which allows them to also be labeled cruelty-free. Meaning, if the animal was not killed specifically for its fur, it is considered cruelty free. I don’t remember all my sources, as some of my research was done in 2017, but I came across this comment from Temptalia where Hakuhodo mentions that even goat hair is obtained from “butchers.” This further supports my belief that most cruelty-free natural hair fibers are not obtained from brushing or sheering. The majority are sourced when the animal is no longer alive.

It is quite a messy topic that I don’t feel informed enough to debate the ethics of the situation. I’m just providing the information I’ve obtained over the years, though I feel my information is still just as limited.

BRUSH SPECIFICATIONS

As these are all handmade (although I’m not sure about the Hakuhodo / Sephora ones) the measurements vary slightly among the brushes. Any number I measured myself in millimeters will have an asterisk next to it. All inch numbers were calculated by me as well. Regarding the width, the numbers are based on post-wash which will typically be wider than straight out of the package. My width measurements are the widest part of the brush hair.

Also, this post took several weeks to work on. So, some of the photos of the brushes look clean (as they’ve just been washed) and in other photos there is leftover product on them because I took more pictures later on. Natural hair brushes should not be washed as often as synthetic, so to preserve the integrity of my brushes, I did not want to wash these multiple times in a month when I normally only deep clean them once a month.

As to how durable these brushes are, I’ve been using all the Hakuhodo brushes for years and they still look to be in great shape. All of my Wayne Goss brushes I’ve used for years as well, excluding the original Holiday brush (but it’s pre-owned and probably used a lot) and the Holiday 2019 brush. The Chikuhodo Z-3 is the only Chikuhodo brush I’ve had for years, although I barely used it. So, I would consider my overall Chikuhodo brush use timeline to be a few months to a few weeks. My Sonia G brushes, I’ve also only used for a few months.

And my final note is that even though I broke this post into separate sections by brand, it’s difficult to discuss these brushes without comparing them to each other. So, if you’re only interested in learning about the Chikuhodo FO series, for example, just note that additional information might be included in the comparison to the Z series or Wayne Goss brushes. And I will include additional photo comparisons at the very end.

Hakuhodo

Hakuhodo is an OEM, an original equipment manufacturer. OEMs purchase supplies from other companies (for example: fibers, wood, paint, metal, etc.) to create their own products. But generally, the product they make becomes part of another company’s unique creation.

Hakuhodo has its own series of brushes, but they also create brushes for other companies. This is not necessarily the same as private labeling, though OEMs can offer that as well. Private labeling would be keeping the brush identical with just a different label or color. The most basic of changes. Some OEMs offer even more, where their customers can request modifications to their exact specifications: handle size, weight, and width, bristle length, density, hair type, ferrule metal type, pinched or unpinched ferrules, etc. This is done in bulk to make it worth their time and effort. The further the specifications stray from an OEM’s template, the more expensive it will be. Larger companies may work out a deal to keep their unique specifications from being used by anyone else, but others might see the ones they came up with become a new template. The Lunar Beauty vs Makeup Revolution prism highlighter component comes to mind. 

Hakuhodo was my first introduction to Fude in December 2014, upon hearing rumors that they might be the ones to make Wayne Goss brushes and some of MAC’s past older brushes. It’s just a rumor I heard; I cannot confirm anything. Though, the extreme similarities between the brush heads among Hakuhodo and WG brushes is an interesting coincidence. And the additions to Hakuhodo’s synthetic line around the time that WG started offering synthetic brushes as well…

Between getting a WG brush and Hakuhodo brush, I started with Hakuhodo as I wanted to go for the brand with the longer-standing reputation. In a sense, I have them to thank for sparking my love of Japanese brushes. Although some of their brushes have gone up in price, everything Hakuhodo makes (minus the Sephora collab) is well worth it.

Hakuho-do + Sephora Pro Fan Cheek Brush (retail $40)

  • Full Length: *169mm / 6.7 in
  • Hair Length:* 35mm / 1.4 in
  • Hair Width: *33mm / 1.3 in
  • Bristle Type: Synthetic

I didn’t purchase anything from the collection until they went on sale. I didn’t want to pay full price when I was uncertain how much I would enjoy these brushes due to their unusual shapes. I love fan brushes though, so I was curious about how this would perform. It’s soft, but I’m admittedly biased against synthetic brushes for powder products. As expected, it doesn’t feel as soft as the finest goat or squirrel hair and doesn’t pick up powder as well when using this brush on a firmly pressed or baked product. The shape is such that I would only use it for cheek and jaw contour, as well as bronzer in a sweeping motion. It’s a little too floppy for my taste as I find myself holding the brush as close to the head as possible to blend out bronzer and contour. It works fine with highlighter for a more subtle and diffused application. It’s a versatile brush, but not my favorite.

Hakuho-do + Sephora Pro Small Teardrop Pointed Highlighter Brush (retail $38)

  • Full Length: *180mm / 7.1 inch
  • Hair Length: *38mm / 1.5 in
  • Hair Width: *22mm / 0.9 in
  • Bristle Type: Synthetic

I’m not sure what other uses this brush could have, besides highlighter, but the shape of the bristles makes it just okay for applying and blending highlighter on my cheeks. It’s more precise than the fan brush above, but it still applies powder sheerly. Perhaps I could try this sometime with a liquid highlighter, but this brush ranks low in my entire brush collection, not just among the Fude.

Hakuhodo B5521

  • Full Length: 172mm / 6.8 in
  • Hair Length: 32mm / 1.26 in
  • Hair Width: 13mm / 0.5 in
  • Bristle Type: Blue Squirrel and Goat
  • Handle: Wood
  • Ferrule: Nickel plated brass

This brush used to be $35 as I remember it being the same price, if not cheaper, than the WG 02 brush. I specifically purchased the one from Hakuhodo because it has similar dimensions to the WG, but I wanted to know what a goat and blue squirrel mixture of a brush felt like. I can confirm the former price from a blog post I found dated from 2014, although the current Hakuhodo brush is a little longer. Temptalia has it listed as $53 from 2016, although the hair thickness was listed as 5mm thicker. It is $63 as of 2020.

This was my favorite highlighter brush until it was surpassed by the Wayne Goss Air Brush. It is still very pleasant to use, but the reason I prefer the Air Brush is because of the paddle shape (with its wider surface area to pick up powder). It disperses more product onto my skin and picks up harder pressed powders a little better.

Hakuhodo J142

  • Full Length: 153mm / 6 in
  • Hair Length: 18mm / 0.7 in
  • Hair Width: 6mm / 0.24 in
  • Bristle Type: Goat
  • Handle: Wood
  • Ferrule: Nickel plated brass

Certain styles of Hakuhodo Brushes, like the 142, are part of multiple series’ of brushes. For example, you can get the same Basic/J version that I have with black handles made of wood, a nickel-plated brass ferrule, and goat hair bristles. There’s also the i-142 synthetic version for $6 less, but you’re getting black plastic handles and an aluminum ferrule. The S142Bk is double the price of the B/J version, even though it also has black wooden handles, but the ferrule is made of 24-karat gold plated brass and has squirrel hair instead of goat. The final version is the S142, which has everything the same as the S124BK except that the handles are painted in a gorgeous vermilion shade with the end of the brush as an angled flat surface with the blue and white Hakuhodo logo on it, that if I remember correctly is supposed to symbolize a crane. This was one of my most used eyeshadow blending brushes until I started purchasing Sonia G brushes.

Hakuhodo J146

  • Full Length: 156mm / 6.1 in
  • Hair Length: 16mm / 0.63 in
  • Hair Width: 5mm / 0.2 in
  • Bristle Type: Goat
  • Handle: Wood
  • Ferrule: Nickel plated brass

The 146 is available in multiple series’ as well. It’s slightly shorter and thinner than the 142. Deciding which version is the best depends on the customer’s preferences. The more expensive brush doesn’t automatically make it better. Squirrel hair will give a softer wash of color, softer blend, and softer application. When it comes to eyeshadow, I want a more resilient bristle such as goat hair which is soft but also less fragile. Most of the time I want the maximum color-payoff and not a sheer application that a squirrel brush will provide. That’s not to say the squirrel brush cannot build up color. It would just take longer, especially as these brushes are meant to be used gently. It’s why I prefer squirrel hair for my powder complexion products and high-quality goat hair for eyeshadows. I used to prefer the 142 over this one, but as I got older and my eyes became even more partly hooded, I began to prefer the tip shape of this one instead.

Hakuhodo J5529

  • Full Length: 153mm / 6 in
  • Hair Length: 13mm / 0.5 in
  • Hair Width: 5mm / 0.2 in
  • Bristle Type: Goat
  • Handle: Wood
  • Ferrule: Nickel plated brass

This brush, along with the other two above, are brushes I use in my crease. I love how small they are, so I can do more complicated looks with precision. I have a tendency to carry my eyeshadow too far up, so using smaller brushes helps me with that. This brush has similar dimensions with the Sonia G Mini Booster, making it tied for smallest crease brush in my collection.

Hakuhodo J5523

  • Full Length: 151mm / 5.9 in
  • Hair Length: 16mm / 0.63 in
  • Hair Width: 4.5mm / 0.18 in
  • Bristle Type: Goat
  • Handle: Wood
  • Ferrule: Nickel plated brass

This brush is available in a variety of fibers: goat, horse, goat/horse mixture, blue squirrel, and synthetic. This brush is commonly touted as the equivalent of the MAC 217, Wayne Goss 18, and Sonia G Worker Pro. I don’t use this brush that often, as I feel more comfortable using my cheaper brushes with this head shape (until the Sonia G Builder Three). Though the shape is more beneficial for packing/patting, I sometimes use this to apply a wash of color above the crease or blow out one shade.

Chikuhodo

Chikuhodo is also an OEM, having made brushes for Suquu, RMK, Lunasol, etc. Chikuhodo is my favorite brush manufacturer. The hairs they procure and their skill at bundling and shaping their brushes is top notch. If I want a classic and traditional brush shape, there’s no one better to go to than them. In addition, their specialty handles appeal to the luxury lover in me and it makes their brushes that much more special to not only use, but also display. Many Chikuhodo brushes are like works of art. Their brushes are so sought after that counterfeit brushes started being made in 2018, so purchasing from a reputable seller is important in experiencing the true quality of their products.

A timeline of the company’s history can be found here and more in-depth information on the accomplishments of Chikuhodo and how they grew into a powerhouse can be found here.

As with most of these brushes, the price differences vary greatly between Beautylish, Fude Beauty, CDJapan, and VisageUSA. Beautylish is the most expensive, but the shipping is free in the US for orders over $35. This makes it cheaper for me, than say CDJapan whose prices might be ten or more dollars cheaper in total, but because of the pandemic, the cheapest shipping option is $24. If I spend over $112, specifically on makeup brushes, then CDJapan is cheaper. CDJapan also has a points-for-cash program, which can help, but their prices are in yen which means Paypal will charge a small international conversion fee, which could make prices about the same as other retailers. Another thing to factor is the strength of the YEN versus the currency of the customer. For example, at times when the YEN is weaker than USD, a retailer like CDJapan, Fude Beauty, and Fude Japan whose websites automatically adjust prices based on the currency value would give me a better price than Beautylish or VisageUSA which have set prices. I would suggest taking your time when deciding the most cost-effective options among these retailers. One thing I wish I knew beforehand is that Visage offers $2 engravings on some of the brushes. The engravings plus occasional sale up to 25%, depending on how much you spend, make it an alluring option.

Chikuhodo MK-KO Powder Brush (Carp Design)

  • Full Length: 167mm / 6.6 in
  • Hair Length: 52mm / 2 in
  • Hair Width: *40mm / 1.58 in
  • Bristle Type: Grey Squirrel (listed as “Ash Squirrel” only on the Beautylish website)

I jokingly refer to this as the Rolls Royce of my brush collection. This brush was released at the end of April 2020 and is part of Chikuhodo’s Makie Series. It is described as a collaboration between Chikuhodo, the lacquerware brand Yamanaka-Shikki, and mural artist Hideki Kimura for his Koi design. The subtle sparkles in the paint on this brush were caused by the Maki-e process of powdered gold, silver, and/or other precious gems being dusted onto the design while the lacquer was still wet. The brush head looks huge because the bristles are extremely long while also being the standard width of a large powder brush. However, when turned, you can see that it has a flatter side. This is not a dense buffing type of brush. I find it’s more of a finishing brush to either sweep powder all over the face or dust away any excess powder.

Another thing to note is that the handle of this brush and the Z-1 are quite chubby and feel on the verge of being too big, despite the fact that I have large hands and should have no issues with large handles. I don’t mind this handle size for the MK-KO because it doesn’t need to be practical when I may just stop using it and keep it on display instead. The Z-1 could have benefited from a slimmer handle. I like that Chikuhodo gave us smaller ones in the FO series, including indentations that show the best spot to grip each brush.

This brush is 20000 YEN and available HERE.

Chikuhodo MKC-1 Makie Box

  • Material Surface Coating: Urethane Resin
  • Basis Material: Phenolic Plastic
  • External Dimensions: 215mm x 100mm x 50mm (8.5″ x 3.9″ x 2″)
  • Inside Dimensions: 200mm x 85mm x 30mm (7.9″ x 3.4″ x 1.2″)

This box is the tortoiseshell black color, but it’s also available in red and beige. I bought this originally for my MK-KO but I’ve since found a better storage method that won’t disturb the bristles from laying flat.

These are 3800 YEN and available HERE.

Chikuhodo KZ-04

  • Full Length: 150mm / 5.9 in
  • Hair Length: 35mm / 1.4 in
  • Hair Width: *30mm / 1.2 in
  • Bristle Type: Kazan Squirrel
  • Handle: Granadillo Wood

This brush head is completely round-shaped. I incorrectly assumed it would be the same width as the Z-8, but it’s much smaller. Although the shape is round and can be used in a circular buffing motion, the bristles aren’t very dense and flatten enough to feel like the kind of brush you’d use to sweep on blush instead. This makes the brush trickier to use the way I like to apply, as I have to hold it further back on the handle to have the bristles not squish flat from regular pressure, yet firm enough to still buff. I am impressed, though, with how soft the bristles are. I do find it to be slightly softer than grey squirrel hair, although I don’t know how much of a factor brush head density plays into that. At least this brush doesn’t flatten the way synthetic bristles with no substance do; I can still feel how springy the fibers are when bounced on the skin.

This brush is definitely made for just loose or lightly pressed powders. My favorite uses for this are with blush and bronzer. I like it and enjoy it, but I can name several blush brushes I prefer over this one. It doesn’t rank as high because of the size and thickness. If softness was the only factor, it would be #1.

Chikuhodo KZ-05

  • Full Length: 150mm / 5.9 in
  • Hair Length: 35mm / 1.4 in
  • Hair Width: *25mm / 1 in
  • Bristle Type: Kazan Squirrel
  • Handle: Granadillo Wood

Upon first glance, the brush head size reminded me of the Wayne Goss Air Brush. That brush is made of blue squirrel for $35 versus Kazan squirrel for $90. The Air Brush is a few millimeters smaller in length and width, but when I squished the bristles, the Air Brush is about half as dense as the KZ-05. If the Air Brush was double the density and twice the price, that would still show the large price gap between the two squirrel hair types.

Even though this is called the highlighter brush, I don’t actually like it with highlighter. However, I like a very natural contour, which this brush is perfect for creating because of that tapered tip. It’s also nice for bronzer.

Chikuhodo FO-1 Powder Brush

  • Full Length: 155mm / 6.1 in
  • Hair Length: 45mm / 1.8 in
  • Hair Width: *30-50mm / 1.2 – 2 in
  • Bristle Type: Silver Fox
  • Handle: Maple Wood
  • Ferrule: Aluminum

The head of this brush is described as a “round flat” shape. When you first receive the brush the bristles are much more compact (around 30mm), but after it is washed and dried the brush puffs out to be much wider (approximately 50mm at its widest point). This is not due to improper cleaning or care. This is a unique feature of silver fox fibers.

Also, the varnish or lacquer of the green ferrule still had a noticeable smell on all the FO series brushes for me, so I let them air out in a ventilated spot for about 3-7 days.

This brush is slightly softer than grey squirrel, yet the bristles are as resilient as goat hair. I absolutely love the feel of this on my skin! I initially purchased this to use as a large blush brush, but the shape of it made it clear it’s better suited for applying powder all over my face. If you’re a natural hair brush lover, I highly recommend getting one of the face brushes in this line to experience how amazing these are! Silver Fox hair in makeup brushes is so uncommon, or at least it was in 2020. To my knowledge, Chikuhodo did it first. I believe Koyudo was next and released theirs on May 15th, 2020 although the shapes of those didn’t appeal to me the way this FO series does. In 2022, there are several other brands including ones from China that are selling silver fox bristle brushes, but they are pricey and still not commonplace.

This brush is 13000 YEN and available HERE.

Chikuhodo FO-2

  • Full Length: 131mm / 5.2 in
  • Hair Length: 21mm / 0.8 in
  • Hair Width: *29mm/ 1.1 in
  • Bristle Type: Silver Fox
  • Handle: Maple Wood
  • Ferrule: Aluminum

Flat tops are not my favorite style of brushes, but I decided to buy this one to use as a buffing blush brush, and I’m so glad I did! It’s especially handy when I have a sheer/buildable blush that I want to quickly pack onto my cheeks. It’s also nice to blend out (not apply) powder contour. Applying it would deposit too much color at once and in too large of a surface area. The Z-3 Contour brush would be better to apply with and then use the FO-2 to blend out for a quicker and more diffused look.

Although this brush is intended for foundation, I don’t want to take the chance of ruining the bristles from my liquid foundations (I don’t use powder or cream foundations), so I will not be using it for that purpose. This is my absolute favorite brush to use with my Dior Powder-No-Powder and this is overall easily my favorite flat top brush in my collection.

This brush is 11000 YEN and available HERE.

Chikuhodo FO-3 Cheek Brush

  • Full Length: 150mm / 5.9 in
  • Hair Length: 40mm / 1.58 in
  • Hair Width: *35mm / 1.38 in
  • Bristle Type: Silver Fox
  • Handle: Maple Wood
  • Ferrule: Aluminum

After washing my Chikuhodo FO-3 and using a brush guard, it dried a bit misshapen. So, I rewet it (without cleanser) and let it dry upside down freely. I love the way it fluffed up naturally into the perfect shape for me. A brush with silver fox is the one time when I actually want my brush to be a little fluffy and rounded, especially for blush. As for brush guards, I rarely use them anyway. I prefer the aloe vera method which I describe in greater detail under the Wayne Goss 00 Original Holiday Brush section.

The FO-3 brush is very similar in size to the Chikuhodo Z-8. The bristles have incredible spring to it. When bounced on the palm, I can feel the spring back. It is not perfectly rounded, but applies as though it is. I don’t have any other blush brush that tops this, especially for use on pigmented blushes to ensure I won’t overapply the product. There are only two other blush brushes I like just as much (Chikuhodo T-4 and Sonia G Cheek Pro). I am so happy! It’s not too small and also not flat the way the majority of Japanese blush brushes are made due to the preferred technique of sweeping blush rather than patting and buffing. For about a year, this was my favorite brush in my entire collection!

This brush is 10500 YEN and available HERE.

Chikuhodo FO-5 Eye Shadow Brush

  • Full Length: 130mm / 5.1 in
  • Hair Length: 20mm / 0.8 in
  • Hair Width: *15mm / 0.6 in
  • Bristle Type: Silver Fox
  • Handle: Maple Wood
  • Ferrule: Aluminum

Because this brush doesn’t fluff out, and is more compacted, it feels differently than the others on the skin. The rounded tip is where it feels the softest, but I would have to use it in my crease to get the full enjoyment of the way it feels while applying product to my skin. Because of the size, I bought this for the purpose of setting my undereye (which works decently) or doing a one-and-done shadow application (which is nice). It works fairly well to blend out a subtle nose contour. I probably should have skipped getting this brush, but my curiosity wouldn’t rest until I could test it out for myself. There are two other eye brushes that I did not purchase because the shapes of them are the type of eye brushes I don’t use often.

This brush is 3200 YEN and available HERE.

Chikuhodo Z-1 Powder Brush

  • Full Length: 160mm / 6.3 in
  • Hair Length: 45mm / 1.77 in
  • Hair Width: 20mm / 0.8 in
  • Bristle Type: Grey Squirrel

From photos on the websites, I didn’t realize this brush was a fully round shape, as is my preference. I’m glad I watched several videos online before purchasing, as it stopped me from getting the wrong one! I learned that the difference between the Z-1 and Z-9 is that this brush is round whereas the Z-9 more closely resembles the heads on the Makie Series. 5 out of 7 of the Chikuhodo brushes in this post were purchased from CDJapan because they offer free shipping on brushes over 12000 yen and the listed price is less expensive than Beautylish, even with Paypal’s conversion rate. Fude Japan and Visage sometimes have their brushes priced the same or lower, but during the pandemic, the cost to ship was too expensive (or they didn’t ship at all). With CDJapan, I also purchased when they offered a discount code and was also able to use accrued points to make the purchases as cost-effective as possible.
This brush is great to use when you want to quickly cover a large surface area with powder products. However, because this brush is denser than the MK-KO and FO-3, I really enjoy using this for blushes that are harder pressed. It’s my second favorite brush to use for blush because of the head shape and how soft it is.

This brush is 19000 YEN and available HERE.

Chikuhodo Z-8 Cheek Brush

  • Full Length: 160mm / 6.3 in
  • Hair Length: 40mm / 1.6 in
  • Hair Width: 18mm / 0.7 in
  • Bristle Type: Grey Squirrel

I bought this brush pre-owned, and it does have a flaw (a portion of the bristles that were cut for some reason), but it surprisingly has not interfered with the integrity or performance. This brush is fairly round and not quite dense enough to be a true buffing brush, yet I do find I can buff reasonably well and I am not just restricted to sweeping blush onto my cheeks. I also really enjoy using this brush to apply bronzer. It doesn’t need saying, but as with all my grey squirrel brushes, the bristles are unbelievably soft.

I plan to purchase another one at some point, but this time from CDJapan. I want to experience the perfection that is the Z-8, but the way it was intended with whole and exquisitely shaped bristles.

This brush is 12000 YEN and available HERE.

Chikuhodo Z-3

  • Full Length: 130mm / 5.1 in
  • Hair Length: 15mm / 0.6 in
  • Hair Width: 19mm / 0.75 in
  • Bristle Type: Grey Squirrel

I specifically remember that when I bought this brush, the Z-series brushes from Chikuhodo were listed as grey squirrel on Beautylish’s website. They now say blue. From what I could find, it is only Koyudo squirrel hair brushes that are listed as grey on their website now.* I’m not sure if that was the company’s decision or if Beautylish wanted to differentiate between Chikuhodo and Koyudo, since Koyudo is generally less expensive among the comparably sized brushes. Other retailers like CDJapan and Fude Beauty still have the Z-series listed as grey squirrel as well.

*The change to “blue” was in 2020, but it’s back to “grey” as of 2022.

This is known as a contour brush, and I do exclusively use this brush for that purpose. Even though blue/grey squirrel is known for lighter applications, the fact that this brush is so dense means that I still have to be careful not to over-apply. However, the flat-top shape allows me to buff the product into my skin very well. I don’t use flat tops very often. Here are some others in my collection to compare, although there’s only one somewhat similar in head size.

It always bothered me that the ferrule of my brush was slightly misaligned and not completely flush with the handle. It didn’t impact the performance, so I just dealt with it. This was the first Chikuhodo brush I ever purchased back in January 2016, so I thought the high quality everyone mentioned about the brand’s handmade brushes was an exaggeration. It honestly kept me from wanting to purchase anymore at the time considering the expense, but now that I’ve experienced so many other brushes from them, I realized that this is absolutely not the norm and I should have emailed Beautylish since this kind of flaw is something Chikuhodo would never have wanted to end up in the hands of the consumer (unless listed as an Outlet brush). They have the reputation of being among the world’s best, and this brush did not reflect that. The flaw bothered me enough that I ended up selling this brush to someone else in 2021. I considered purchasing a new one, as I’m certain this kind of mistake from Beautylish or any other retailer would not happen again, but the Chikuhodo FO-2 is so much better suited to my style of makeup application that I’m just going to stick with using that one. In fact, the FO-2 is the reason I finally had the will to let go of the Z-3.

This brush is 5500 YEN and available HERE.

Chikuhodo E-4 Nose Contouring

  • Full Length: 133mm / 5.2 in
  • Hair Length: 18mm / 0.7 in
  • Hair Width: *18mm / 0.7 in
  • Bristle Type: Horse

CDJapan has a softness scale rated 1-10. This brush has a softness degree of 3, which surprised me when I felt the bristles because it’s not that rough. However, when I used it on my face, I could feel that the very tips where it tapers slightly inward was a bit scratchy.

This brush was made specifically for contouring the nose, but I didn’t like the results when I tried it. Something about the way this is shaped prevents it from performing evenly. The tips create a harsh line, which takes so much longer to blend in.

Because it’s scratchy, I don’t want to use this brush for any purpose other than one-and-done eyeshadow looks. The flat side picks up a lot of product and lays color on the eye beautifully, without having to feel the sharper ends.

This brush is 2200 YEN and available HERE.

Chikuhodo R-S1/RR-S1

  • Full Length: 140mm / 5.5 in
  • Hair Length: 20mm / 0.8 in
  • Hair Width: *15mm / 0.6 in
  • Bristle Type: Horse

The R stands for “Regular” series. The brushes in this series come in either red or black handles. In order to distinguish between the two when purchasing, red handle brushes have an additional R written on receipts, though not on the actual brushes.

Unlike the previous horse brush, this one was noticeably rougher on my finger before even applying to the eye. It’s rated 2 out of 10 for softness on CDJapan, so it’s even lower than the E-4. Unfortunately, I also find it to be a less useful brush. The bristles are longer than the E-4 and flop around in multiple directions when I try to blend with it. One of the things I love about squirrel, fox, and goat hair brushes from Chikuhodo is the way the bristles glide perfectly in the direction of the movement of the brush. Even though this is made from horsehair, I thought it would move the same way as the others, but it does not. This also doesn’t pick up as much product as the E-4 so it’s not even as efficient for the one-and-done eyeshadow looks.

It does make a nice precision highlighter brush on the cheekbones and under the brows. I like the way this brush picks up shimmers.

This brush is 1800 YEN and available HERE.

Koyudo

Koyudo is another OEM that has made brushes for Kihitsu and even CDJapan’s CB line. I used to be uninterested in this brand because the majority of their brushes were not my style, but as the years have gone on I’ve bought quite a few that are beloved in my collection. A fantastic article on the brand’s beginnings, dedication to their craft, and the thought process that goes into their products can be found here. The company has a long and rich history which I have grown to respect, and they are one of the brands I always eagerly await seeing what they will produce next, even if I don’t end up purchasing them myself.

Koyudo BP Series BP018 Blush Brush

  • Full Length: 162mm / 6.4 in
  • Hair Length: 37mm / 1.46 in
  • Hair Width: *25mm / 1 in
  • Bristle Type: Grey Squirrel

Unfortunately, I had to return this as it was not the shape and size I expected. It’s barely bigger than my Wayne Goss Air-Brush (yet twice the price), and at this size, I would never think to apply blush with it. The Chikuhodo Z-8 is the smallest blush brush I would enjoy and this is smaller in width and thickness than that one. The BP018 is beautiful, with a nice weighted handle and such silky soft bristles, but I know it would never get used if I kept it. It costs too much to go unused. I thought I did enough research prior to purchasing, but apparently, it was not enough. So, I photographed all the brush comparisons I could think of before returning it to Beautylish.

Koyudo BP Series BP017 Blush Brush

  • Full Length: 162mm / 6.4 in
  • Hair Length: *37mm / 1.5 in
  • Hair Width: *38mm / 1.5 in
  • Bristle Type: Pine Squirrel

This purchase was made entirely on the recommendation of TheFancyFace. I have been curious about the feel and performance of pine squirrel, but I was waiting to find the right brush first and this became the one! I purchased this from Beautylish, as I was surprised to see this brush was slightly cheaper from them than CDJapan and FudeBeauty (plus free shipping).

I’ve used this several times now and I haven’t noticed it being any better or worse than my other squirrel brushes despite the 6 out of 10 softness degree vs the typical 9 out of 10 grey squirrel brushes get. I can feel slight texture when I feel the bristles along the side but when touching the tips I don’t notice any difference. Perhaps it’s slightly less soft than the others, but it still feels extremely nice on the skin. I really like the shape and size of this and the way my blush looks when I use it. I’m very happy I bought it and I do use it exclusively for blush, as the size prevents it from being as versatile as the others.

Also, something about these bristles don’t respond as well to my aloe vera method. It’s the first time I’ve come across that being an issue, so I thought I should mention that. A brush guard works just fine.

I believe this brush has since been discontinued, along with many brushes in Koyudo’s BP line. I am happy that I ended up buying a backup brush before that happened.

Koyudo Somell Garden Bluberry x Walnut Highlighting Brush

  • Full Length: 97mm / 3.8 in
  • Hair Length: 27mm / 1.1 in
  • Hair Width: *30mm / 1.2 in
  • Bristle Type: Hakutotsuho Goat

This brush is TINY! I should have paid attention to the dimensions listed on the website. From photos alone, I assumed it would be an average size highlighter brush. Despite being so small, this brush is very useful! Once again, I don’t use it for the intended purpose. The bristles are packed densely in a round shape and the head is quite wide considering the overall size of the brush. The surface area applies a wider patch of highlighter than is my preference, but this is perfect for packing a concentrated amount of color to one area, like blush. It gives a sheer blush more impact with one application or be used as a buffing brush.

The softness degree is 6 out of 10 on the website, which is still quite nice. I would say anyone looking for a non-scratchy brush should aim for 6 and up.

This brush is 3300 YEN and available HERE.

Koyudo Saikoho Powder Brush [OUTLET]

  • Full Length: 162mm / 6.4 in
  • Hair Length: 50mm / 2 in
  • Hair Width: *48mm / 1.9 in
  • Bristle Type: Saikoho Goat Hair

Saikoho goat hair at this size for that price ($54 instead of $78) is a fantastic deal! It’s so large that the only product I’d use to apply with this is powder all over my face. My favorite use though is as an all-over finishing buffing brush because it’s fairly dense with durable enough bristles to sustain me using it a little rougher. CDJapan occasionally has outlet brushes for sale, which means there is a small flaw. I have been unable to detect any issues with this brush, which gives me confidence in purchasing more outlet brushes in the future.
Although I don’t own the Rephr 30 brush, I believe this may be identical in shape to that one. Also, although I haven’t found this brush available for sale individually, I believe it is part of a fantastically priced set.

Wayne Goss

Wayne Goss is a makeup artist, YouTuber, and has an exclusive brush line sold through Beautylish. In 2020, he released a lip collection to launch his cosmetics brand. As I mention in the Hakuhodo section, it was rumored that they make Wayne Goss brushes. If that is indeed the case, I would recommend US purchasers of Hakuhodo to buy the WG equivalents from Beautylish wherever possible because his range is either the same price or cheaper when you factor free shipping over $35. Plus, the quality of his brushes is right up there with the other Fude makeup brush brands.

WG Holiday Brush 2019

  • Full Length: *185mm / 7.3 in
  • Hair Length: *60mm / 2.4 in
  • Hair Width: *65mm / 2.6 in
  • Bristle Type: Goat

This fan brush is enormous! The closest comparison to it that I have is the BH Cosmetics All Over Fan Brush 1. Despite the BH one being soft, the bristles are so flimsy and they don’t move in the same uniform direction while being used. It’s not as dense as the BH brush, but it performs way better.

I’ve used this brush to apply bronzer and highlighter. It’s surprisingly not too large to do that, as the pan size limits how much of the surface area of the brush get covered with the product. This means I can still apply highlighter with precision. And for bronzer, by dipping the center of the brush into the powder, once I apply it to the perimeter of my face, I can brush back and forth so that the bristles simultaneously blend without adding additional powder. I’ve also used this to blend out blush and contour (though not apply with them). This also makes a great finishing brush.

The only brush in my collection that’s larger than this is my Becca The One Perfecting Brush. The Becca brush is made of goat hair too, but it is much rougher to the touch and definitely a lower grade of goat hair. I believe the Wayne Goss brush has Sokoho goat hair based on how soft it is, while also factoring the price. I would like to say I get a lot of use out of this brush nowadays, but I don’t. It’s mostly around as a collector’s item now, but I’m still happy to have it.

WG 00 Powder Brush (Original Dyed Goat Hair Holiday Brush)

I purchased mine from a Third Party Seller. My brush doesn’t completely match the specifications on the site, as is normal with older brushes when hair is more abundant than other years, so I used Temptalia’s measurements based on her original review, which does match mine. When I received this brush it was considerably puffed out, which I reshaped later. I use 99% aloe vera gel (I couldn’t get 100% at the time) to shape them after being wet. I learned the trick from Tarababyz. It’s great because brush guards are only really meant for specific brush shapes. The brush guard didn’t work well enough on this brush and I felt it needed to be reconditioned anyway (I use facial oil or almond or sunflower seed oil mixed with a good cleanser) so I rewashed it using my reconditioning method, then added a small amount of aloe vera gel just on the outsides. Then I cracked it loose of the gel the next day and it was perfect! I’ve been using this method for several years and have not had any issues with it, though I would always say use caution when trying out new tricks. If you want to test it, try it on a brush you like the least.

For example, this is how the Wayne Goss Holiday 2019 brush arrived with the outer sections bent like that. But from the other photos you see of this brush, they’re straightened out due to the aloe vera method.
  • Full Length: *175mm / 6.9 in
  • Hair Length: 44mm – *50mm / 1.7 – 1.97 in
  • Hair Width: 20mm – *25mm / 0.8 – 1 in
  • Bristle Type: Goat

WG Air-Brush

  • Full Length: 170mm /6.7 in
  • Hair Length: 37.5mm / 1.5 in
  • Hair Width: *25mm / 1 in
  • Bristle Type: Blue Squirrel

This was my absolute favorite highlighter brush for years, though I also liked to use it to lightly set concealer with powder under my eyes before discovering the Real Techniques Setting Brush. It was also my favorite brush to lightly sweep bronzer precisely around the perimeter of my face. It’s the perfect thickness and even though the bristles are very soft, they’re still able to pick up harder pressed powders such as the Nabla Skin Glazing Highlighters. I bought it for $35, but in 2021 the price was raised to $45.

WG 15 Fan Brush

  • Full Length: *166mm / 6.54 in
  • Hair Length: *35mm / 1.38 in
  • Hair Width: *55mm / 2.17 in
  • Bristle Type: Goat

This dyed goat hair version of the brush is discontinued, though they sell the white undyed version now. I got rid of many other fan brushes because they couldn’t compete with this one. I’ve discussed it before on this blog, but I love how thick it is because the top portion picks up the perfect amount of highlighter. It’s also great for dusting away excess powder if you like to bake under the eyes.

I used to consider this a big fan brush, but compared to the Wayne Goss Holiday 2019 Brush, this is so much smaller!

WG 06 Eye Shadow Blending Brush

  • Full Length: 145mm /*150mm / 5.9 in
  • Hair Length: 15mm / 0.6 in
  • Hair Width: *10mm / 0.4 in
  • Bristle Type: Blue Squirrel

I used this brush off and on throughout the years when I’ve just wanted a light wash of color on my lids. Now that I have similar shaped brushes through Sonia G, this brush gets even less love. I still do like it and it has its place, albeit limited, in my collection.

WG 19 Eye Shadow Precision Blending Brush

  • Full Length: *154mm / 6.06 in
  • Hair Length: *16mm / 0.63 in
  • Hair Width: *8mm / 0.31 in
  • Bristle Type: Goat

This brush has a similar head shape and dimensions as the Hakuhodo J146, so I use it for the same purpose of precision blending.

WG 08 Eyeliner Brush

  • Full Length: 130mm / 5.12 in
  • Hair Length: 2mm / 0.08 in
  • Hair Width: *4mm / 0.16 in
  • Bristle Type: Listed as “Natural” with no specifics. It does not feel like Water Badger, so I’m unsure which of the more water-resistant natural hairs this could be. Perhaps sable, tree squirrel, or Yano goat (tail). I’m leaning towards sable of some kind.

This brush is so useful for stamping on a super-thin line across the lid or to use in my waterline. It’s the smallest brush that I own and it affords me the most control. It is also much softer than the Wayne Goss 21 eyebrow brush, which also adds to the comfort of using this brush in such a sensitive area as the eye.

WG Brow Set $55 (Purchased discounted from someone’s Lucky Bag)

WG 21 Eyebrow Brush Out of the set, I get the most use out of this brush. It works very well, but it’s a bit bigger than I prefer. All my other angled brow/liner brushes are smaller, so I have to be careful using this. Also, water badger hair isn’t all that soft. Just forewarning, since natural hair brushes are usually associated with softness. This brush is stiff.

  • Full Length: 140mm / 5.5 in
  • Hair Length: 4mm / 0.2 in
  • Hair Width: *10mm / 0.4 in
  • Bristle Type: Water Badger

WG 22 Dual Ended Brow Brush I’ve only used this tool a few times. I like the fact that this has natural bristles when all other tools of this style that I’ve seen are made of synthetic material. Because the brush portion is also made with water badger hair, it’s stiff but not as hard as synthetic ones I’ve had in the past. It’s fantastic if you have a need for this type of brush. However, I do not.

  • Full Length: 155mm / 6.1 in
  • Hair Length: 23mm / 0.9 in
  • Hair Width: *25mm / 1 in
  • Bristle Type: Water Badger

WG 23 Spoolie Brush $12. I prefer using brow products that already have a spoolie attached. I don’t notice any difference among spoolies. They all feel the same to me, so I don’t see this as being anything special, especially for $12.

  • Full Length: 153mm / 6 in
  • Hair Length: 23mm / 0.9 in
  • Hair Width: not applicable
  • Bristle Type: Synthetic

Wayne Goss The Artist Large

  • Full Length: 7.24 in / *184mm
  • Hair Length: 1.5 in / *40mm
  • Hair Width: *28mm / 1.1 in
  • Bristle Type: Grey Squirrel and Saikoho Goat

I purchased this brush from a reseller, as I did not want to buy the full Artist Collection set. This brush is way more useful than I thought! It almost surpassed the Wayne Goss Air Brush as one of my favorite bronzer brushes.

The bristles pick up a lot of product, but the application is still sheer because the bristles don’t deposit the powder on the skin all at once. Every time I used it, I would blend until I didn’t think there was anything left, and then I’d look at the brush and see certain spots that still had colored powder on it. This can be seen as a good thing depending on your needs. It nearly guarantees that overapplying won’t be an issue. It’s amazing for bronzer and contour, both products I’d want to build up and blend for an airbrushed finish. It also deposits the perfect amount of highlighter, but it’s time-consuming with blush. The shape of this looks good for precision blush work but I’d rather use other brushes for that purpose. Three standout uses is still impressive.

I have to note, though, that there are a few strands within this brush that feel a little sharp. I can’t feel it when I touch the brush with my fingers, but I feel it on my face when I move the brush back and forth to blend. I’m guessing a few bristles of rougher goat hair was accidentally mixed into this Saikoho-Squirrel bundle. I’m not sure how else to explain it, but I still really like this brush.

Sonia G

Sonia G is an avid brush collector and is considered an authority on makeup brushes because of the wealth of knowledge she has shared on her Sweet Makeup Temptations blog. I discovered that she is a great source for comparing brush sizes while doing my own research to try and figure out which brushes from her line I wanted to purchase. Her series’ of brushes are a combination of traditional and innovative shapes. It’s astounding how the slightest tweaks between her brushes and others regarding their shape or bundling can make such a difference in performance. Her eye brushes in particular have surpassed all other brands’ brushes for the top spots in my collection. My favorite hair type in her line are actually the dyed Saikoho goat bristles. The feel of them and the product pickup ability is fantastic! Chikuhodo is my favorite brand, followed closely by Sonia G.

Sonia G Mini Booster

  • Full Length: 154mm / 6.06 in
  • Hair Length: 14mm / 0.55 in
  • Hair Width: *6mm / 0.24 in
  • Bristle Type: Brown Saikoho Goat

I use this brush as often as my Hakuhodo J5529 though I like this one more. This brush is a little softer (due to the type of goat hair), and therefore more expensive, but I don’t notice a difference in performance. I love how small this is for precision work and it is described as a miniature version of the blender pro.

Sonia G Builder Three

  • Full Length: 150mm / 5.9 in
  • Hair Length: 10mm / 0.4 in
  • Hair Width: *10mm / 0.4 in
  • Bristle Type: Dyed Saikoho Goat

I’ve never really liked this shape of packing brush until I started using this one. It’s the only one I’ve used that I noticed actually performs differently—performs better. It came from my 2020 Beautylish Lucky Bag. Loving this one so much prompted my need to buy more! I could do an entire eye look using this brush alone if I really wanted.

Sonia G Worker Three

  • Full Length: 154mm / 6.06 in
  • Hair Length: 14mm / 0.55 in
  • Hair Width: *12mm / 0.47 in
  • Bristle Type: Saikoho Goat

This reminds me of the Hakuhodo J5523, but it’s a bit fluffier. It works well to pack on eyeshadow but I sometimes use it in the crease as well to apply and blend transition shades. Among all my Sonia G eye brushes, I get the least use out of this one. I tend to just use my multi-tasking eye brushes to complete a look.

Sonia G Worker Pro

  • Full Length: 154mm / 6.06 in
  • Hair Length: 14mm / 0.55 in
  • Hair Width: *9mm / 0.35 in
  • Bristle Type: Saikoho Goat

Whenever I see this brush, I instantly think of yet another packing brush. It is a smaller and slightly thinner version of the Worker Three. Because I have so many other brushes to apply color to my lid or use in the crease, this brush ends up being used to blend my brow highlight with the transition or crease shade. When a beauty guru says to, “Take a clean brush with no additional product on it to blend,” it ends up being either this brush or a different fluffy one from my collection.

Sonia G Blender Pro

  • Full Length: 158mm / 6.22 in
  • Hair Length: 18mm / 0.7 in
  • Hair Width: *9mm / 0.35 in
  • Bristle Type: Dyed Saikoho Goat

This blending brush has a pointed tip, which prevents it from feeling as soft on the eye, even though it is soft when I touch it with my fingers. It is on the larger side of eyeshadow brushes, but the pointy tip allows for a little precision, though not as much as the other brushes I use in the crease. What this brush is great for is blending out harsh edges. The point allows concentrated pressure onto the line, without blending too much of the color away.

Sonia G Jumbo Blender

  • Full Length: 160mm / 6.3 in
  • Hair Length: 15mm / 0.6 in
  • Hair Width: *11mm / 0.4 in
  • Bristle Type: Brown Saikoho Goat Hair

This was a preowned purchase, as I was tired of waiting for the restock. The brush’s condition is in like-new state as the owner took very good care of this (unlike my Chikuhodo Z-8). The size makes it great for applying a single shade quickly, as it covers a large area of space, but I can also blend with it.

The Jumbo Blender works as well as the other Sonia G brushes of this shape; it’s just bigger. It’s everything I wanted the Chikuhodo FO-5 to be, but better.

ADDITIONAL COMPARISONS

There are so many more unique styles of brushes that I don’t own. As much as I love brushes, I thankfully don’t feel the urge to buy complete sets. Japanese brushes are truly amazing, and I don’t think any of them are bad. It all comes down to preferences of how the individual likes to apply makeup.

Thank you for reading!

-Lili

6 thoughts on “FUDE COLLECTION: Japanese Makeup Brushes Part 1

  1. Hi Lili! I just stumbled upon your blog and I want to express how thankful and grateful I am for you! Thank you so much for your super detailed pictures and reviews of the brushes! These brushes are all expensive and so many of them are only available online! You’ve really helped me in my purchasing decisions. Please continue what you do!

    Like

    • Thank you for your kind response! I’m so glad it has been helpful, as I definitely know how difficult it is trying to figure out what the brushes are like in person. As much as I try to do my research, a few days ago I still bought two more brushes that were much smaller than I expected! I intend to update this post in a few months after my back-ordered brushes arrive and I’ve thoroughly tested them. Have a great day!

      Like

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