My February Purchases Reviewed: KVD, Essence, Tarte, etc.

I wish it was possible to have reviews for my February purchases up quicker, but two of the orders were from international brands, which took nearly a month to arrive. I then needed adequate time to test out the makeup, but I was away from home quite a lot in the month of April. So, here we are now!

Some of these items have already been reviewed by now, so in order to give the unreviewed products their time to shine and not be repetitive, I will just add links that open a new tab to the locations of the previously discussed products.

KVD Beauty Good Apple Lightweight Full-Coverage Concealer in 167

This feels like old news by now since so many reviews have been released about this super hyped up concealer, but I may as well give my take on it too. This product, in terms of performance, has surpassed the identically priced and beloved Tarte Shape Tape Concealer! I have to use it in specific ways though in order to get it to last all day.

This product is full coverage but spreads very easily within the first half minute or so. The applicator feels lovely on the skin, but the amount it picks up is too much for my entire face, even when I scrape the excess product off the tip. With the scraped off amount, if I try to blend in the same spot, it still spreads outside of the brush zone, so I have to continue blending out the edges to get it to seamlessly fuse with my foundation, which can lead to it moving too far. How I minimize this is by applying a thin layer of concealer to the areas I need coverage, but I leave a little room on the edges and try to avoid my under eye lines. Then I wait at least 45 seconds to let it start to dry. Then I start blending and tap my brush onto the wettest parts that haven’t settled yet and use that to spread and cover all the blank spots. If I’ve lost some of the coverage by then, I dot the tiniest bit of extra product to those areas and smooth it out. This technique allows me to use the least amount of product, but prior to this, I learned it’s better to apply the concealer in two light layers rather than one heavy one. It also helps that I use the Sonia G Jumbo Concealer brush which doesn’t trap the product in its bristles or pick it back up off the face.

I don’t follow the inner and outer corner concealer application spots, the concealer triangle, or other shapes beauty gurus show because my dark circles and discoloration are unique and must be applied in the way that suits my face. I was in a bit of a rush when I took this picture, but that initial application doesn’t have to be perfect. The key is to cover most, but not all, of the undereye darkness and discoloration so that even less product will be able to settle into those lines later when I blend in the rest of the concealer. This is the method I use exclusively with the KVD Good Apple Concealer.

I’ve also been content with leaving my concealer as is and not setting it with powder, though without powder, I’d need a decent amount of product in order to keep it lasting all day. Denatured Alcohol is fairly high in this concealer, as the fifth ingredient. This probably helps with the quick dry down/partial self setting aspect, but it does concern me as someone with dry skin to have a drying ingredient in it. However, I decided I will continue using this concealer, at least until I’ve used it up because I like it so much. I love that it’s so lightweight but builds up to full coverage and looks a little more hydrating under my eyes than Shape Tape, even with the alcohol. It’s also longer lasting than Shape Tape. I think it’s important to prep my under eyes, but if I use a moisturizer (I don’t use eye creams anymore) with too many oils, it will break down my concealer quicker than usual. I’ve had better success using my primers/priming moisturizers like the Bobbi Brown Face Base, Tatcha Silk Canvas, Touch in Sol Pretty Filter Glassy Skin Balm, MILK Hydro Grip Eye Primer, etc. If I use something under my concealer, that’s when I make sure to set it with powder.

Regarding the color options, I recommend paying close attention to the swatches because some of the shades are randomly darker than the swatch above and below. Several shades are also essentially the same depth, but just have different undertones. When I was trying to figure out which one to get, it was quite confusing. If KVD created something between 173 and 177, that would be my ideal color provided it’s actually darker than 167 but lighter than 177. My current shade works under my eyes, but it’s too light for the hyperpigmentation around my mouth and gives a grey look when I cover it up. And for those who don’t know, I prefer having a concealer shade that matches my face, rather than being a few shades lighter. The dollops of product depicted for each shade are also much deeper than in reality, so I recommend going by the swatches or seeing these in store to be safe. My nearest Sephora never has anything new but both malls closest to me are closing, so I know that’s not possible for everyone to do.

For those curious, here are some swatches and shade comparisons. I only have a mini of the Deep Shape Tape right now, which I suspect is lighter than the full size, so I would say take that with a grain of salt, along with the Pat Mcgrath concealers which are nearly used up and also changing in consistency and should probably be tossed out. I typically mix PML’s 22 and 24 to get a better match and Lancome’s 460 and 495 to get a better match as well.

One thing to watch out for though is that after using it for a month, the color seemed a little darker than when I first got it. I think it’s due to repeated exposure to air. I will continue to monitor what happens with this concealer as time goes on and update this post if necessary.

Nyx Marshmellow Smoothing Primer (Mini)

I was always intrigued by the idea of this primer, but I held off buying it until I tried a sample of it and loved how it gave me what I wanted out of the Touch in Sol Pretty Filter Glassy Skin Balm, but with more of a shine to my skin. The sample I got was perfectly blended and mixed, but in my $8 mini, the oil and rest of the product is partly separated so much that it leaks out of the tube every time I open it. I know this is common in some products, but it’s quite the annoyance trying to apply it evenly to my face and not get too much oil in one spot. Before every use, I rotate between shaking the tube and massaging the packaging a few times to try and get them to mix back together.

This has a light marshmallow scent to it. There are quite a few claims on Ulta’s website like, “This primer smooths, softens, extends makeup wear for 16 hours, hydrates, soothes, evens tone, minimizes texture, blurs lines, adds a soft focus finish AND keeps makeup fresh.” After several wear tests, the longest being ten hours, I can only confirm the skin softening, minuscule amount of line blurring, and keeping makeup fresh. I hoped that the initial shine I got on my skin when first applied would continue throughout the day, which it does sometimes, but at other times this primer actually partially mattifies my skin. I would not have noticed if I hadn’t done several wear tests using the NYX primer only on one side of the face. Sometimes it goes on perfectly clear and at other times it leaves a slight white cast, which at least is undetectable once foundation is on top, but still it’s quite the strange phenomenon. The only explanation I have is the separation of the formula and me being unable to consistently mix it back together in the tube. So, on those matte days, I don’t know if my skin is actually being hydrated. It at least feels hydrated, so that’s a good thing for me.

I don’t wear makeup for long enough to know if it would last 16 hours and I have no idea what a “soft focus finish” from makeup would look like in real life, so I can’t confirm or disprove those claims either.
I still like this primer, but not enough to repurchase it unless I somehow start noticing the other supposed benefits like a more even tone, minimized texture, and an increase in the blurring power.

Essence Coffee to Glow Highlighter Beans

Calling this subtle wouldn’t be the right wording, but it gives more of a sheen or glow than a blinding reflect. It lasted a full eleven hours without fading during my longest wear test and with my best primer. The worst performance of it when combined with different base products left me with a very subtle sheen by the nine hour point. I’m quite shocked at how similar it actually is to the Guerlain meteorites in terms of performance, though it’s a little more toned down than those and the Guerlain is a little more friendly to texture.

It smelled like coffee when I first bought it, but a month later it smelled faintly like coffee but mostly like pencils. It’s the type of smell that is detectable when I put it on, but I can’t smell it after I finish blending it. According to Ulta and Essence’s websites though, these are somehow fragrance free. I skimmed several videos to see what others had to say about the beans, and theirs had a smell too, so I don’t know why this is the case if they aren’t supposed to be scented. Maybe it’s the foam or packaging itself that’s scented and not the makeup.

There are way less beans in the cup than I expected because there’s a foam layer that fills most of the space, as can be seen in my product photo far above. I don’t mind this since I’ve never gotten even a quarter of the way through a highlighter.

It is easier to get powder from the lid rather than trying to pick up product off the beans because I have occasionally gotten crumb size pieces between the bristles of the brush and when those fall to the floor it makes a mess. The beans stay mostly intact if I rub my brush over them, but they are not difficult to break. One shattered between my fingers when I tried to swatch each of the three colors against my arm and it got everywhere!

Considering I did not enjoy the Essence Pure Nude Highlighter Palette, I’m shocked how much better these are and how much more I like them. For those who like subtle highlighters and don’t mind scented makeup, I’d recommend trying these out if they’re still available. Also, those of a lighter skin tone can remove the darkest beans if there is a concern of this leaving a dark cast on the face. Conversely, those with a darker skin tone can remove the golden yellow beans if there is a concern of it being too stark, but I think it may be less of an issue for those on the deeper skin tone spectrum as can be seen here in this YouTuber’s video.

Essence Coffee to Glow Eyeshadow Palette

I should note that these two Essence products and the Nyx primer are all allowed in my low buy under the stipulation of “products that I intended to get last year but was prevented from doing so for one reason or another.” I tend to prefer colorful eyeshadow palettes, so the only reasons I wanted this palette were for the glossy and swirl shadows. I felt like it would somehow give me a taste of Huda Beauty’s Naughty Palette which has those types of shadows in it.

The #5 gloss shadow has a hard gel layer with all the pigment pearls at the very bottom, so I had to crush it down to the pan in order to get any color out of it. I expected it to just be a gimmick and it would certainly have been pointless wearing it on its own on my eyes if I hadn’t mixed it. It’s supposed to be a “universal eye shadow topper,” but that isn’t my makeup preference. Instead, I use this as a base primer and it greatly increases the longevity of the shimmers I apply on top, as I saw in an eleven hour wear test. I almost always get creasing on my eyes, and using the gel as a base does deepen the creases, but it also keeps my shimmers in place and prevents the transfer that I get from my lid to my crease when I use a regular eyeshadow primer.

With regular primers like the MAC Paint Pot and Gerard Cosmetics Clean Canvas, my eye looks using this palette are still fine past ten hours but the shimmers aren’t as intense. As for the mattes, I was impressed with the color payoff. They blend sufficiently. I just wish Essence included a deeper shade because I can’t get much depth out of shades #1 and #8 which are the two darkest colors in this palette.

I always use #3 to blend out the edges of the other mattes in the crease. For the inner corner, I use #2 or #6 but my favorite thing is to use them together for the inner corner highlight because #2 has the best reflect but it can be a bit dark depending on how much of the darker swirl is used, whereas #6 is lighter but not shinier. Those two shades don’t last as long on my eyes because I do touch my eyes frequently throughout the day and these are easily removed by touch, no matter what primer I use.

#4 is a nice metallic shade and both #4 and #6 feel like normal shimmers with some slip, but the #2 “bouncy swirl” shadow is quite creamy/wet feeling.

This palette is only $8 and is unscented. It was definitely worth me purchasing, even if it was purely for the fun of playing with some of these uncommon textures and formulas. The lightweight packaging feels like recycled cardboard and the palette is tiny and fits in the palm of my hand, but what it lacks in packaging quality, it makes up for with the eyeshadow formula.

Rephr Hydration Cream 1.0

I purchased this when rephr was offering a “set your own price” option where one could pay even as low as $0 to get it, plus the shipping cost. When I first used it, I applied way too much to my face and continued to get dewier throughout the day. In many subsequent uses, I learned that if I applied a smaller amount, it fully absorbs into my skin and is fully hydrated without leaving a trace of shine, which is fantastic for non-makeup days! I only like a little dew to my skin when I have a full face on; I don’t want to look shiny when I’m barefaced.
I’m also impressed by this formulation because it meets the requirements of my dry skin as a powerful moisturizer that is also lightweight. Rich/Heavy products tend to clog my skin. It’s not the easiest to find something that lets my skin breathe while also lasting all day.

Some highlights about the benefits of this moisturizer are that it’s fragrance and essential oil free, it’s made in Korea, it’s made of recyclable lightweight aluminum packaging, and it contains:

  • Niacinamide (5%)
  • Dimethicone (3%)
  • Glycerin (3%)
  • Centella Asiatica Complex (2%)
  • Meadowfoam Seed Oil (1%)
  • Panthenol (0.5%)
  • Algae Complex (2.0%)
  • Soybean Complex (1.5%)

Other lightweight moisturizers for my face that can do the job are the Innisfree Jeju Cherry Blossom Jelly Cream ($25 for 50ml), Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Cream ($15-36 for 80ml), Laneige Water Bank Hydro Gel ($38 for 50ml), Saturday Skin Waterfall Glacier Water Cream ($39 for 50ml), etc. So, rephr is offering quite the deal at $26 (listed price) for 100ml. The only one of those I mentioned that I like better than this one is from Round Lab, though I believe the rephr cream may be more occlusive.

I’m terrible about keeping to a consistent skincare routine, so I can’t say how this product performs on a regular daily basis, but I’ve used it enough these past few months to be able to say that it’s great and hasn’t caused me any issues.

Colourpop Pressed Powder Blush in 4ever Yours – That review is here.

This is was the first official breech of my low buy this month. I’m not supposed to buy blushes unless it’s one of the brands on the exceptions list, which this is not. Considering how similar it is to the heart shaped blush I bought from Colourpop last year, I should have stuck to my guns and not gotten it.

Colourpop Super Shock Highlighter in Champagne BB

According to the rules of my low buy, I should not have gotten this either. It’s the classic case of wanting it because I like the formula, but I don’t need anymore, especially when I have them in shades I already like. My only defense was that I at least removed the other highlighter and three blushes I had out of my shopping cart, but I just ended up buying those anyway in March. Oops!

This shade looks a bit too dark for me in swatches, but when it’s diffused onto the skin, it looks like the perfect depth and still brightens the area due to the sparkle. It lasts on my cheeks all day and I can’t even regret this purchase because it’s great! Unfortunately, this particular Super Shock has already been discontinued.

Oden’s Eye x Angelica Hela Palette – The review is Here.

This fits in line with my two eye shadow palettes per month rule. I’m doing quite well with that so far!

Kaleidos Lip Clays (plus Smokey Nostalgia Tin Box) in Skinship, Cognac, and Bare – The review is Here for both the Lip Clays and Blush listed below.

I purchased the custom bundle which requires 4 lip products, but the fourth was a gift for a friend. So, I’m not counting that last one as part of my lip no-buy and my total is currently 3 lip products out of the allowed 5.

Kaleidos Smokey Nostalgia Blush in P03 Sanguine – The review is linked above.

This is another purchase that technically goes against my low-buy. Kaleidos isn’t on the exceptions list for blushes, but I have always wanted to try one from them and couldn’t due to the shades not being suited for my skin tone.

MAKE UP FOR EVER Electric Brushes Set

This set with tax came to $36 from Nordstrom. The original price was $69 and has a retail value of $150. It includes :

  • 106 Foundation Brush: a brush for applying and blending all kinds of foundation for an even result.
  • 124 Powder Kabuki Brush: a brush with a short and slender handle for ensuring smooth and even application of all powders to create a lightweight, flawless result.
  • 152 Highlighter Brush: a brush for easily and delicately highlighting your face and body with its soft fibers.
  • 228 Precision Shader Brush: a paddle-shaped, flexible brush for applying, blending and smudging all types of eye products quickly.
  • Brush case

Today’s review will be about the foundation, powder, and highlighter brushes, but I’m going to give someone the shader brush. I rarely like synthetic eye brushes, so it would be a waste for me to even bother trying it. In general, I prefer natural hair brushes, but I’ve always wanted to try these, just not at full price. It was still very early in my exploration of makeup when MUFE decided to make their brushes fully synthetic. Regarding my no buy/low buy, I’m unofficially on a makeup tool low buy. However, I didn’t set any restrictions in writing.

The Foundation brush, I had seen in action during a Rouge event many years ago when a MUFE representative did my makeup and I wanted it ever since. I typically don’t like paddle style brushes, but this one works just as well as I remembered. I get zero streaks using this brush. I’m able to apply and spread foundation easily and get around edges and small corners with ease as well. I have a background with painting ceramics, and painting on canvas is an occasional hobby, so I can’t be sure if that plays into why this brush is so easy for me to use, but it is.

This brush can also apply a crisp line for cream sculpting products, though the shape of the tip isn’t the best for blending, but I can still do it with this brush.
It costs $36 which ended up being the price I paid for the entire set. I personally think it’s worth $25 at most, but having this brush made the whole set worth it.

I find it so strange that this is listed as a Highlighter brush considering it’s bigger than my Smashbox Cream Cheek brush and many other blush brushes.

It applies far too much highlighter for my preference, so I consider this a blush brush instead. That being said, I’m not the biggest fan of this brush for that purpose either. There’s so much bristle for such a flimsy floppy splay that doesn’t feel like I have much control of the blend. It’s like it smears blush across the skin like a mop rather than buffing in the blush. When I use easy to blend and pigmented blushes, this brush works perfectly fine. However, with a sheerer blush or lower quality one, it takes forever since it’s lacking firmness and makes things look patchier. I figured if this is problematic with powders then maybe cream blushes will be better for this brush, but that’s not the case. It doesn’t allow me to fully work the cream products into my skin and it just sits on top of it. With even more emollient creams, it has the issue of spreading product too far out.

This retails for $37, which I don’t think it’s anywhere near worth that. If I had bought this #152 brush individually, I would have returned it. I don’t recommend this one.

The retail price for this one is $52! I can’t recall if I ever paid over $40 for a synthetic fiber brush, so it’s no surprise that I wouldn’t normally buy a brush like this. The handle on this one feels even sturdier than the others in the line.

It’s the most dense at the very center and looser packed around the edges. When I put this brush handle side up against my palm, it sinks in at like a centimeter before it forms what feels like a wall. It’s so solid that I can’t get the bristles to splay, it just stiffens. This does the same thing when I apply a powder to my face. If I grip the handle and use a normal amount of pressure to spread powder on my face, it feels incredibly firm to point that it offers very little movement and the bristles drag heavily across my skin.

The way I like to use it is holding it in a looser grip and just blending with the tips without applying pressure. This method still gives me a strong blend without feeling like I’m using the world’s densest brush or attempting to exfoliate my face. I’m not saying that these brushes are scratchy. The bristles on all of them are soft, just not the softest synthetic I’ve felt, especially when pressure is applied and it drags on the skin. These fibers actually remind me a bit of pony hair, but softer. Now that I know the trick to using this brush, I do like it and I’m happy it’s part of the set. It can’t compare to my natural hair powder brushes, but I use those for an airier and more blended finish. This brush is one that I’d use when I want to actually load on a thin solid layer, like with face powder, before blending it out.

Even though I’m not planning to use this brush, I wanted to show how it looks through the plastic. The retail price is $25.

I feel like I got an absolute steal on this brush set! Even though I don’t want to purchase anymore synthetic fiber brushes, I can’t regret buying these.

MAC Glow Play Cherry Blossom Blush in HD Cherry Tree – The review is Here.

Considering how many MAC blushes I own, this shouldn’t be on the exceptions list, but it is because I don’t have the willpower to cut off the brand that ranks number one with blushes for me. So this purchase is still allowed according to my Beauty Resolutions.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Best of Cheek Set (Holiday 2021)

This set went on sale for $22 on 2/22/22, so with tax it came to just under $24. I always wanted to try this formula of Tarte blushes because people have been raving about them since I started getting into makeup and they always said that despite the holiday items being notoriously lower quality, this formula from Tarte was always great. After trying these minis out for myself, I can understand why these are such beloved blushes! The longevity is insane. I’ve done several wear tests with the longest being eleven hours and by that point the blush still looked freshly applied!

I used the maximum amount of Exposed, a moderate to heavy application of Charmed, a heavy application of Captivating, a moderate amount of Delight, and a light to moderate amount of Fantasy on the cheeks. Charmed and Delight had more room for building up.

I bought this expecting to only be able to wear the darkest blush in the set and just test out the formula of the highlighter, so I was pleasantly surprised to see everything show up on me! Exposed is described as a “nude pink” and admittedly barely shows because the brown tones blend into my skin. The pink is what makes it visible, though it’s on that cusp of being too light for me, so I will probably find a new home for that shade.
Charmed is a limited edition “bright pink” that I consider a light-medium tone that works for me if I spend a little time really blending it into my skin. The one that I’m actually shocked that I can wear because it’s even lighter than Charmed is the “bright peach” shade called Captivating. It looks crazy at first, but it warms up as I blend it in. I love the look of peach blushes, but they are usually ashy on me, which is why I go for corals as my closest equivalent of peach. It excites me to no end to have found one of the rare peach shades that I can pull off!
The last blush is another limited edition shade called Delight. It’s a “deep rose” that’s a cross between Exposed and Charmed, but darker. It’s the most natural looking of the shades on my cheeks and it’s the only one I don’t have to build up for depth of tone reasons and not pigmentation reasons. All of these blushes have a good amount of pigment.
As for the highlighter, the limited edition “rose gold” shade Fantasy is too light for me. Beyond the shade match, the way it reflects in the light emphasizes texture in a way that other highlighters I’ve used that are even lighter than this one don’t do. I don’t have enough experience with Tarte Highlighters to be able to say if this is indicative of their formulas, but I have an upcoming review where I tried another one that I liked much better and did not have the reflect and textural problem. That one went on smoothly, whereas this one sticks in places and takes a bit of blending in, so I think it’s just an issue with this particular highlighter.

So, in this set of five travel size products, I intend to continue using three of them. That makes the usable items worth $8 each in my eyes based on what I paid, plus the knowledge I gained in learning that I really like the Amazonian Clay blush formula! Each compact contains 1.5 grams of product, so the three I’m keeping equals 4.5 grams that I paid $24 to have. A full size blush from tarte is 5.6 grams for $29.
For these reasons, it made the set worth it, but I wouldn’t have felt the same way if I paid the $39 full price. Tarte lists this as being a $75 value, but there’s a combined product weight of 7.5 grams, which means the set should actually cost $38.84.

This is why I always recommend waiting for Tarte’s holiday items to go on sale. Then it has a chance of actually being worth buying if the products are not 100% suited for someone.

We’ve now reached the end of the post! I had so many products to review, which I expected would slow down my purchases for March, but it did not! It worked in the beginning of March but halfway through the month things got a bit crazy. I would estimate that post won’t be ready until August. I hope you’ll visit my blog again soon! And if you missed January’s purchases, they can be found here.


Synthetic Brush Discoveries From 2021

I love discussing natural hair brushes, and I use them almost exclusively for most makeup tasks. However, 2021 was the year that I dipped my toe back into the pool of synthetic brushes. I wanted to know if some of the positive buzz I heard was well warranted, or if I was right to ignore them. These brushes are in the mid-range to high-end category. Not included today, but I will post in the future, will be a comparison between my old original Real Techniques brushes to the current version today.

Smashbox Synthetic Brushes

I’ve always been a fan of Smashbox’s original line of brushes before they revamped them to be entirely synthetic. It’s my opinion that the majority of expensive ($30+) synthetic brushes aren’t worth the price, so it took many years of waiting before the sale prices on these brushes compelled me to finally try a few. The brushes aren’t very versatile. Most of them serve one singular purpose, but I would rather have a brush that does one task superbly than to have a brush do multiple things at just an adequate level.

Smashbox Buildable Cheek Brush

This brush is very loosely packed, floppy, and the bristles aren’t luxuriously soft, so my first instinct was to write off this brush. However, after using it, I understood why it needed to be this way. Even though the brush head shape looks cool yet gimmicky at best or poorly made at worst, the combination of everything leads to getting a very sheer blush application with my overly-pigmented blushes (like the ones from Wayne Goss). It’s a somewhat large brush, but the sharp angles allow me to still get a controlled and precise application while still being soft and buildable the way it was intended. I also love the grip hold spots on the handle, which intuitively direct the user where to hold the brush in order to get the desired results. I had to put my thoughts on what makes a good brush aside, in order to appreciate the results I got. It’s a lot more thought out and functional than it appears. It does the job very well, so I do recommend it. I purchased mine when it was half off on Smashbox’s website.

Smashbox Precise Highlighting Brush

This is another brush I almost wrote off because the angled side resembles a stippling brush that is grouped together in thicker clumps. I was certain this would lead to patchy results, but I was shocked to see it worked so well to actually create a smooth application. The angle really hugs the top of my cheekbone and other areas I apply highlighter. I still wish it was a little softer, but I can’t knock the results. Because I already have amazing highlighter brushes, I personally don’t feel like this brush filled a void in my collection, but I do use it quite regularly. For someone who doesn’t have, for instance, the Wayne Goss Air Brush or Bisyodo CH-HC Brush*, I recommend giving this Smashbox brush a try when it’s on sale. The full price is still overpriced in my opinion, especially compared to the Bisyodo brush being softer, cheaper, and natural hair. The Smashbox brush has the advantage of being able to work with all mediums, like cream and liquid products, but I only use powder highlighters, so that isn’t a selling point for me. 40% off would be a fair price for this brush, but I got mine at an even better discount at 50% off. Smashbox offers that semi-regularly now, so I suggest signing up to their email notifications.

*Disclaimer: The link for the Bisyodo brush is the only affiliate link in this post. Clicking it will open a new browser tab to the product page and I would get a commission (at no extra cost to the customer) if someone makes a purchase via the link. All brushes in this post, including the Bisyodo brush, were purchased by me with my own money. If you choose to make a purchase via the link, I thank you, but also know I am just happy you chose to read this post today!

Smashbox Cream Cheek Brush

Before Sonia G released the long handle size of the Mini Base brush, I bought this one in the hopes that it would be a nice dupe for it. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I may have liked this brush more if I didn’t have the one from Sonia G. This brush isn’t as dense as I wanted and the bristles are floppy. It gets the job done, but it has a wider splay than I prefer (because it’s so floppy and flattens with too much pressure). It’s not a bad brush, but it’s made for someone who likes to apply creams lightly at first and build it up. This is because it has the quality of being able to pick product back off the face the way a damp Beautyblender can soak up excess cream and liquid off the skin. I prefer to deposit more of the cream blush onto the skin in the first go and blend it out. The Smashbox brush at full price is $32 whereas Sonia G’s mini base is $40. I highly recommend getting the Sonia G brush instead for those who don’t mind that there are still some natural hairs in that one. I do somewhat regret buying this Smashbox brush, even at the discount of 30% off. For how little I end up reaching for this brush, I wouldn’t have regretted it if it was 50% off instead.

Overall, I’m happy to be able to say Smashbox brushes as still worth checking out, even though they’re all synthetic now. I’m still using my original brushes from the brand though, so I don’t think I’ll be purchasing anything else from their current line unless they create a new shape.

Scott Barnes 65 Flawless Face Brush

I keep hearing there’s some kind of controversy about Scott Barnes, but I haven’t been able to find reputable sources explaining it. So, I’ve decided to lift the break I had on the brand and buy the last brush from his line that I’ve always wanted. I purchased it during Black Friday.
Like Smashbox, the bristles of Scott Barnes brushes don’t feel particularly special (though they are at least a lot more dense and softer than Smashbox brushes), but it’s the innovative shapes that make the difference compared to other brands. This brush works quite well to apply bronzer and contour products in both cream and powder forms to my face without leaving any harsh edges and without applying too much at one time either, since all the tips don’t get coated with the first initial tap of the brush into the makeup. A section of the brush applies what was picked up while the rest of the bristles blend the product. I do wish this had a slightly thinner surface area though to make over-applying even rarer of an occurrence.

Because I do have more of a void in my collection when it comes to sculpting brushes, I’m more willing to say a synthetic brush at this price is worth it, specifically for me, though I did get it at 40% off. I’m not totally in love with this brush, but I’m strongly “in like” with it and am happy I bought it. It also says quite a bit that having this brush has suppressed my yearning for the Sonia G Lotus Base, Sonia G Niji Pro, and Patrick Ta Major Sculpt Brush.

Urban Decay Pro The Finger Brush F110

This is by far the most disappointing brush purchase I made in 2021, and that’s because I have been wanting this for years, so I am that much more upset that it did not live up to the claims of essentially giving the same results as my finger, without the mess. The only nice thing is that I got it on sale for half off, minus shipping from Nordstrom Rack.
This brush is so dense that it just drags on the eye. There’s no give or flexibility. The head forms a half circle, but the tip is flat and intended to stipple on product. I’ve tried to use it with matte and shimmer eyeshadows, to spread on eye primer, and to apply my concealer. I hate it in every task. The best result I had was using it to apply a transition matte eyeshadow to the crease, but I had to clean up the edges because of how round it is. It initially worked nicely with some of my loosely packed shimmer eyeshadows, but not the kind that need more of a smoothing/spreading application like my Devinah Cosmetics metallic shadows. I do not recommend this brush and I have no intention of using it anymore. I give Urban Decay kudos for the recycled aluminum ferrules and recycled plastic fiber bristles, but if I buy a brush I won’t use, it’s still a waste of a brush anyway. I will try to find this brush a home with someone else.

Sigma Beauty Soft Blend Brush 60 (from the Berry Glow Cheek Duo)

This tapered candle flame shape of highlighter brush is extremely common, so I had high expectations that this brush would be well made. The shiny gold colored ferrule and handle certainly make a positive impression, though the fibers in the brush head weren’t uniformly put together and it isn’t completely symmetrical even post-wash. The head length is also much longer than I’d expect for a highlighting brush, which makes me think that it’s also meant to be used with blush along the side. When flattened against the skin, the splay is wide enough for the cheeks. This makes sense for it to be included in a blush and highlighting duo considering this feature.

My main issue is the way product is deposited on the skin. Blushes that usually take only 2 passes on my cheek to finish the look take at least double that amount because the blush just sweeps off the cheek and into the air or gets pushed further into the brush. It works fine with loosely pressed highlighters, but it has trouble with some formulas, such as the Lethal Cosmetics and Hatice Schmidt Labs highlighters, in failing to deposit all the product I pick up onto my cheekbones. This can be a good thing since I like subtle highlighting anyway, but that also sometimes leads to an uneven application that I have to smooth over repeatedly. As I mentioned in the Smashbox section, I have too many amazing highlighting brushes to want to reach for this one on a regular basis, though it is very pleasing to look at. Ironically, I have even more amazing blush brushes, but I do use this brush more often to sweep on blush rather than highlighter. I intend to keep this brush and I’m glad it came free with my Sigma blush duo. I don’t believe it’s sold individually. I’ve seen a black handle version of it though as part of another Sigma set.

Patrick Ta Monochrome Moment Blush Brush #1

This brush also goes by the name, “Complexion Brush #1” on Patrick Ta’s website. It’s described as, “a fluffy, tulip-shaped brush that applies and diffuses powder for the most natural application.” On multiple websites, it’s listed as being great for diffusing blush, bronzer, and highlighters in a loose or pressed powder formula, which is interesting considering Patrick’s most popular products are his cream and powder duos. The main reason I wanted this brush was after viewing Tara Lynn’s video when she used it with a cream blush. I assumed it could be amazing with Patrick’s own duos or at least other cream blushes. However, any cream blush that is on the stiffer side, like the one in the duo and the LYS cream blushes, are very difficult to pick up product without me having to apply a lot of pressure and wiggle the brush in the pan or even go as far as to squeeze the base of the brush hairs to make the bristles more compact in order to pick up the product. So, ironically, I don’t like using it with the Patrick Ta Blush Duos. Smoother textured blushes, like the MAC Glow Play ones, I had an easier time picking up. The overall downside to using this brush with creams is that it causes the bristles to gunk up in random spots. I definitely have to clean off my brush with a microfiber cloth after each use.

Essentially, the best way I found to use this product with a cream or liquid is to apply those to the cheek first and then blend it out with the brush. This is how I had an easier time using the Makeup by Mario Blush Stick and Glossier Cloud Paint while also keeping the bristle bunching to a minimum. However, an excess of product still gets between the bristles when it comes to creams and liquids. All the non-powder blushes I used ended up looking sheer on my cheeks every time. I essentially had to either apply a lot more product than usual or keep the blending to the minimum. I did enjoy how nice and smooth it always looked in the end. So, I wouldn’t say only use this brush with powders; just be aware that creams can be troublesome with it.

The fibers of this brush are crimped in order to mimic the product pickup of natural hair, and it even feels different than the other synthetic brushes I reviewed today. This is the only one that actually feels luxurious. Of course, synthetic hair doesn’t have cuticles like natural hair to help grab onto product, but the crimping helps. I am able to pick up a lot of product on the brush, however, it doesn’t always want to let it go and deposit it onto my face. So, the result is that this brush is best for those who like to build up blush rather than deposit a lot before buffing out the excess. I wish there were more of the bristles overall though, as this brush is not as dense as it looks. It’s not tightly packed and it is a bit floppy. With more bristles, this would have been perfect with powders (and maybe this would make it better with creams too), but considering the quality of the brush head, the weighty well made handle, and overall look, this was worth me buying at the 20% off discounted price at Sephora. It’s still a hard sell to get me to love a synthetic brush when it’s for blush, but for those who don’t like natural hair, I do recommend this one.

When it comes to using this with the other complexion products listed, highlighting is where I draw the line. No matter how tiny of a spot I try to tap into the highlighter with the brush, it deposits the product onto too wide of an area, covering up too much of my cheeks. I have a similar issue when using this brush for bronzing, but the diffused look it gives me makes me not mind it so much. It’s my preference to keep my bronzed areas on the thinner side, but if I’m randomly in the mood for a wider area of warmth to my skin, I’ll remember to use this brush. As for face powder, I was not surprised to discover this brush works quite well for that.

Final Thoughts

I wanted to know if synthetic brushes were worth buying again, especially at the higher end price tag. After really thinking it over, what I’ve concluded is that the answer is no for me personally. The current synthetic brushes I have are all that I need and even when I find ones I like, the majority are a bit overpriced. I would be more likely to purchase additional brushes from brands like Smashbox and Patrick Ta if the prices were decreased, but the fact that I can always think of a natural hair brush I prefer over the synthetic one, it doesn’t make sense for me to continue buying them. I can say that I was impressed by some of the advancements though regarding synthetics and mimicking natural hair, so perhaps in another five years after the technology gets even better, I’ll have a new opinion on the subject.

Thank you for reading!

– Lili

Beautylish Presents The Year of the Tiger Brush and other January Purchases

I’m still playing catch up on things I purchased in 2021 and wish to post about, but today is an update on all my beauty purchases from January 2022. I’d like to show how well (or not) I’ve been sticking to my Beauty Resolutions for the year.

Beautylish Presents the Year of the Tiger Lunar New Year Powder Brush

  • Full Length: *170mm / 6.69 in
  • Hair Length: 47.6mm / 1.87 in
  • Hair Width: *40mm / 1.57 in
  • Bristle Type: Blue Squirrel

In my Beauty Resolutions post, I mentioned that I should only purchase Lunar New Year items that had personal significance to me (ex: Year of the Dragon). This brush depicts the most adorable chubby kitty with tiger stripes, which does make it significant to me in my interpretation of this design (it’s an inside joke). In addition, for half of my life the Tiger was my favorite animal. This is why I succumbed to the temptation and finally bought one of Beautylish’s collaborative Lunar New Year brushes. They did not announce which brush-maker created this year’s brush, but in the past is was Chikuhodo. Even if another Fude company created this brush, I’m still happy that it has the Chikuhodo aesthetic with the large round shiny handle similar to the Z-series. As long as the brush is high quality, which it is, it doesn’t matter to me which Japanese company created it. This brush is still hand bundled with an exquisitely detailed lacquered handle using the maki-e process.

This brush is unbelievably silky soft and of course perfect for those who want a very sheer application of powder. I can use this for highlighter (when applied just on the very tips), blush (when I use sweeping motions across the cheek), and bronzer, but in my eyes this is a dedicated all over face powder brush. Although it picks up a small amount of product, when that product is very pigmented it takes more effort than I like to buff it out because it’s not dense enough for that. If I use a squirrel hair brush for blush, I prefer one that’s thicker and more round like the Z-1. Anything looser packed than that, I consider to be more ideal for setting/finishing powders. Honestly, this is more of a collector item for me and not one I intend to use a lot. When I do use it, it’s heaven though. It’s so soft and light that I barely feel any pressure on my skin. This is a beautiful powder brush, but if you already own one with grey/blue/ash squirrel hair, you’re not missing out by not having it. For those who don’t and would like a light/medium density powder brush, this might be a good place to start since comparable brushes to this would be a little more expensive. I still recommend this for collectors, but for someone looking for a more functional or versatile brush, I would direct them to Chikuhodo’s Z series and FO series.

At launch, Beautylish also restocked the previous Lunar New Year brushes as well: Pig, Rat, and Ox. As cute as those designs are, those three have nearly identical brush heads which is already practically the same as the Tiger brush, so I didn’t feel any pressure to add those to my cart. Since I already have three close enough brushes as the Tiger, Koi/Carp, and the Z-1 (the Z-9 is a better dupe but I don’t own it), I don’t feel a need to get a backup brush. However, trying to steer clear of a Rabbit next year will be difficult, and I suspect trying to ignore the Dragon will be impossible.

Sonia G Builder Pro Eye Shadow Brush

  • Full Length: 152mm / 5.98 in
  • Hair Length: 12mm / 0.47 in
  • Hair Width: *9mm / 0.35 in
  • Bristle Type: Dyed Saikoho Goat Hair

The Builder Pro and Builder Three are both brushes that lay product down well but can also be used for blending. I’ve discovered that the Builder Three leans better on the blending aspect because of the flatter top, so I prefer that one for crease work. The Builder Pro leans better on the lay down and building aspect because it’s perfect for applying shadows to the section of my eye between the eyelid and inner corner. I always struggled with that spot, but this brush gets in there easily. It’s also more precise for application to the outer V. I’ve actually been able to do entire eye looks using this brush alone. I’m very happy I decided to finally buy this!
The tapered tip that makes the Builder Pro so great for applying shadows also prevents it from blending large areas as quickly as the Builder Three, so I will probably use that one more often when I’m in a rush. However, for when I have more time and want to create a detailed and more skillfully done eyeshadow look, I will definitely grab the Builder Pro instead. They perform differently enough that I feel justified having them both in my collection.

Before we move onto the next topic, I have to acknowledge that I bought a backup of the Builder Three at the same time that I ordered the Builder Pro, which is a breech of my beauty resolutions. Then Sonia G/Beautylish restocked many brushes I wanted, including the Cheek Pro which would have been yet another backup purchase, but I was able to stop myself.

Lethal Cosmetics Charity Eyeshadow in Meekha

This is one of four limited edition charity eyeshadows released from Lethal Cosmetics. I mentioned liking tigers earlier in this post, but I am dog person and I have a soft spot for pitbulls. It was very lucky that the only eyeshadow that caught my attention happened to be the one named after the sweet rescue pitbull named Meekha. In addition to the animal charities being supported by the purchase, Lethal also committed to planting a tree for each January order. My sister had a pitbull named Radja, so that’s the name I chose for the planted tree in her memory.

This is the second indie brand that I’m aware of who has created limited edition shadows for charity, and I am here for it! For some reason, when larger brands do it, it feels like it’s just for press. Somehow, this kind of thing coming from a smaller brand seems more heartfelt. In any case, I like to see this.

The combination of the colors in the Meekha pan turn into an icy lavender shade on me. I’m not sure how often I will use this shadow, but I was able to create a look that I liked. It even makes for a nice bright inner corner highlight shade for other eyeshadow looks! The eyeshadow texture and performance feels just like other shimmers from the brand. The formula is a bit thick, but they smooth out nicely on the lids and fallout is about what one would expect from a shimmer shadow (present but not too bad especially if applied wet or on top of a glitter primer).

And as a follow-up to the charity aspect, post-January purchases will continue to go to charity. It’s just the tree part that is over now.

Lethal Cosmetics Highlighter in Fusion

I wanted this highlighter shade for a long time, but it was initially exclusive to the Equilux face palette, which I did not get because the blush and bronzer in the trio were too deep for my skin tone. Since it’s now available as an individual item, and I wasn’t completely satisfied with the highlighter selection I brought with me on my trip to Germany, I figured this was the best time to get it (especially with the lower shipping cost). I am supposed to be on a highlighter No-Buy, but this purchase was allowed as it falls under the category of something I would have bought last year if it was available to me, and in this case, available as a single product.

Unlike Gamma and Gravity, my two other Lethal Cosmetics highlighters, I find Fusion to be quite subtle. Fusion is close to my skin tone, and that could add to how subtle it is, but even the texture feels a bit different than the other two, and not just because of the lack of ridges. Fusion was difficult to show in swatches, even when built up. It feels a bit hard pressed*, and when the highlighter was delivered, it was messy around the pan edges as well as within the packaging. My brushes are able to grab product easily (despite the fact that it looks a bit hard-panned** now too) but perhaps the hard pressing is preventing more of the actual shimmer particles from being picked up. That would be ironic considering if I have an issue with a highlighter it’s usually that my brush is picking up too much of the shimmer.

*NOTE**: I have a few wonderful friends and family members who read my blog sometimes and may not be aware of some of the terms I’ve used. For anyone who needs clarification, the press of a product refers to the force in which a product is physically pressed into the pan (usually with a pressing machine). Makeup that is “Hard Pressed” has powder so compacted together that it becomes difficult to get the product out of the pan and onto the brush. “Hardpan” is when a powder product gets a hard or filmy top layer that also prevents someone from being able to pick up product onto a brush, but it is usually due to oils from the skin getting into the powder and creating that tough layer. Certain formulas of powder products are more prone to hardpanning than others.

Fusion has an orange tinge to it. Although the shine level is a bit low, when it hits the light, the golden-orange sheen is apparent at that point. It’s not what I was going for but mixing it with some of Gamma puts the look back in my comfort zone. I will likely declutter Gravity and Fusion at some point, but testing out these shades reminded how much I enjoyed wearing Gamma, and I will have to remember to use it more often. Anyone interested in seeing those shades on me can check out my previous Lethal Cosmetics post here.

Chanel JOUES CONTRASTE Powder Blush in 320 Rouge Profond

I considered buying a Chanel blush for a long time, although I always expected it to be from one of their limited edition collections. My interest in buying one re-sparked when Ulta started carrying Chanel Beauty products in January (although the brand will probably be excluded from all coupons including prestige). I also really wanted the Blush Lumiere Brun Roussi shade from the Spring 2022 collection, but I wasn’t willing to spend Hermes prices for it. So, when I was browsing the Duty Free section at the Frankfurt Airport, I had an impulsive moment to buy shade 320 Rouge Profond, a shade that is not available at Ulta and is part of their older blush formulation. Chanel changed to the new formula in March 2021, and according to reviews I’ve seen, the new formula is less smooth, less sheen-like, and less pigmented, so I decided to go ahead and get this one in the old formula while it was still available.

The Houkodou Nagi Powder N-F1 Brush fits perfectly around the dome of this blush and applies it perfectly as well. The blush swatch needed to be built up on my arm, but color goes onto the cheek nicely. The perfume scent is very noticeable. The color and performance reminds me of the MAC Mineralize Blush in the Flirting With Danger shade. In fact, as much as I like this blush, it didn’t “Wow” me more than the MAC blush and that one is significantly less expensive. My curiosity is satisfied knowing Chanel’s permanent blushes aren’t superior to products I already have, but there’s still that troublesome part of me wondering if Chanel’s even pricier blushes are better. Either way, at twice the price, I doubt it would be two times better, so it’s best I leave that topic alone.

That’s everything I bought in the month of January! I did not include products I ordered in December that arrived in January. Those items will show up in future posts.

Thank you for joining me today! I hope this has been helpful!


*UPDATE: For those on the email list, I apologize for the accidental early release of this post. I’ve been consistently posting at the same time for a reason, but I’m not sure how or when the scheduled time for this one was changed and it completely escaped my notice. Considering we just entered Daylight Savings time in the US, this could be especially early for some people. I plan to resume our regular schedule of Mondays at 11:30 am EST.

Holiday 2021 Fude Purchases (Fude Part 3)

In helping two loved ones find some new brushes, it sent me into my own spiral of wanting to try even more natural hair brushes from Japan. I brought them with me on my trip to Germany, as I figured that would give me ample time to test them out. While on vacation, I ended up buying two more*!

*Note: I learned the hard way via CDJapan that shipping from Japan to the US does not incur additional charges, but the 10500 YEN/ 82 Euro/ $97 USD (paypal conversion fee added) order I had shipped from Japan to Germany resulted in me having to pay an extra 35 Euros/ $42 USD (paypal conversion fee added again) between Customs and DHL Express for VAT, Freight, and service fees even though CDJapan only mentions the 19% VAT on their website. There went my $35 savings between coupons, points earned, and “free shipping” discount! Had I known, I would have had it shipped to the US instead or I would not have placed an order at all. The “Express” DHL is the reason for such high additional charges in Germany.

If this is your first time visiting my blog, I’d like to welcome you and also direct you to other fude posts you might enjoy which can be found linked from this page.

Regarding my measurements, “hair width” is measured from the widest part, regardless of the overall brush shape. I don’t measure thickness. Anything with an asterisk indicates that I had to measure that one myself as those numbers were not listed on the website. All figures listed in inches are converted estimates.

*DISCLAIMER: All products in this post were purchased by me with my own money and prior to me being part of any affiliate program. Non-highlighted links in bold blue font (Example) are non-affiliate links that will not generate commission. The vast majority of links on this blog are traditional non-affiliate ones. Links marked in bold black font with a light blue background (Example) are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to get a commission if purchases are made directly using my links. The price of the product is not affected by these links, and anyone who uses them would be supporting this blog. Whether you click to shop through them or not, I appreciate you visiting and I hope you find the information I’ve provided helpful!

Chikuhodo Kirameki Purple (Murasaki) Set

It has become a tradition for Chikuhodo to release holiday sets each year. I did not purchase the larger Blue (Ao) Kirameki set, nor have I purchased any of the previous collections. I believe the Purple trio had quite a high value for a great price. Considering the handles are Yamanaka lacquerware in Maki-e style and the largest brush in the set comprises of Saikoho goat hair, I expected the powder/blush brush alone to cost what all three did together. This may be the reason this set sold out within hours at every retailer, though it’s my understanding that only 300 Purple Sets were made. At the time that I am working on this post, a restock has yet to happen. Toshiya from Fude Japan mentioned that Chikuhodo was considering restocking it, but the current listing descriptions on CDJapan and Beautylish’s websites lead me to believe it may not happen anymore. However, Visage USA still has a waitlist on the product page so perhaps it will. I personally wouldn’t hold out hope considering the supply shortage going on and Chikuhodo raising prices on all but a few products, which would mean raising the price of this set too.

What I like about the 2021 holiday offerings over last year’s is the star pattern, which makes the design even more festive. I believe “kirameki” means sparkle, which is why it was named this way. In addition, purple is my favorite color and I have been wishing for so long to have brushes with handles in the shades of purple I like. So, I absolutely had to get this set! The most similar release to this one was Chikuhodo’s 2016 Violet Noel Collection, which is the only set that would have been even more perfect for me. Since I missed out on that one, I’m glad I was able to get this one.

I’ve purchased from CDJapan, Beautylish, and Visage USA, but this was my first time ordering with Fude Japan (not to be confused with Fude Beauty). Toshiya of Fude Japan lives in Japan and offers a personal shopping experience. You can order via a form/email or directly from the website. I did not get a confirmation email after my purchase, so if you’re ordering from the website, just be prepared for that. I was able to see my order status via my website account though. I also didn’t get communication about my order until the time it was going to ship, which took nearly two weeks. In this case, the Purple Set had delayed shipping at other retailers, so this may be the reason it took a while. I’m not certain if this is the norm. Once it did ship via my choice of FedEx or DHL (I chose DHL), it was delivered within a few days. I spent $20 for shipping, but it arrived to me before my trip, so I could bring the brushes with me. Ordering from Beautylish would have been free, but I would have had to wait til I returned home six weeks later in order to finally get my hands on them. So, it was still worth buying via Fude Japan for me. Also, Toshiya included a snack from Japan, which was a nice touch, and secured the package in a Suqqu bag with the pretty Chikuhodo box that the set comes in.

Powder/Blush Brush

  • Full Length: 157mm / 6.18 in
  • Hair Length: 42mm / 1.65 in
  • Hair Width: *42mm / 1.65 in
  • Bristle Type: Saikoho Goat

This brush is quite large for blush, but I pick up the product from the tips to the belly of the brush and swipe it onto my cheeks as if it was a paddle brush, and that gives me the precision I desire. It’s quite thick and dense for a sweeping style of brush, but I really like that! It feels more unique to my collection when used in this way. Of course, this also makes for a nice finishing powder brush. Because of its large size, I don’t use it for other purposes. And because mine is still somewhat flat even post-wash, I don’t apply products in a circular motion or use this for buffing either. I usually don’t care for sweeping brushes, but this is now in my top favorites for that category. The special handle, hair quality, and performance makes it a favorite brush overall.

Other things to note is that this brush is quite similar to the Bisyodo B-C-01 Highlight / Cheek Brush, just larger.

The handles in this set are lightweight, and although the bottoms have a flat edge, they’re too top heavy to stay in an upright position if placed on a flat surface. Lastly, although I’ve been using my brush on and off for months, mine hasn’t become more rounded in shape or even fully ovular. The ferrule shape indicates that it is supposed to be an oval shaped brush, so it’s possible with even more time that my brush may bloom into a shape that I would switch from a sweeping to a swirling application in the future. I think I would still love this brush either way.

Eyeshadow Brush (Packing)

  • Full Length: 133mm / 5.24 in
  • Hair Length: 18mm / 0.71 in
  • Hair Width: *16mm / 0.63 in
  • Bristle Type: Sokoho Goat

The head of this brush is a common shape among many of Chikuhodo’s lines like the FO-5 and R-S1/RR-S1. It’s a bit big for my preference unless I’m just using it in the crease and sticking to an uncomplicated eye look. I can both pack and blend a single shadow in the crease. Other than the aesthetic, there isn’t anything particularly special about the brush. It’s nice and works just fine, but I likely would only reach for this one if my favorite eye brushes were dirty.

Eyeshadow Brush (Pencil)

  • Full Length: 127mm / 1.06 in
  • Hair Length: 12mm / 0.47 in
  • Hair Width: *7mm / 0.28 in
  • Bristle Type: Saikoho Goat

I don’t have the best luck with pencil brushes, but this is made of very soft bristles, grips color well, is fairly flexible and isn’t too dense. I do like this brush for use on the lower lash line and outer corner work, but for the inner corner, the tapered tip is a bit too large for my eye shape. So, if I’m applying an inner corner of the eye highlight, I switch to my long time favorite (and unfortunately discontinued) Smashbox Double Ended Smudger Brush #20. I do see myself continuing to use this and I consider it to be my new favorite pencil brush! I certainly like it a lot more than the Sonia G Lotus Soft Definer that’s intended for a similar purpose!

This set, for my brush preferences, was definitely worth the purchase!

rephr brushes number 17, 19, 24, and 32

The only one of these I actually bought during the holidays was brush 32, along with the brush soap and component D. The rest I purchased during a sale many months prior, so I have a lot more experience with them. However, rather than make a dedicated post, I figured I would include them here.

Brush 17

  • Full Length: *147mm/ 5.79 in
  • Hair Length: 17mm / 0.67 in
  • Hair Width: *22mm / 0.87 in
  • Bristle Type: Goat

I bought this brush during my cream blush phase, trying to find something as amazing as the Sonia G Mini Base. I should have taken my preferences into account. I tend to not like using natural hair brushes with creams, even though undyed goat hair brushes are supposed to be fine for that task. It’s the same way that I generally don’t like the performance of synthetic bristle brushes with powders. Brush 17 blends cream products in a way that is okay, but not perfect. I tend to not like the finish. If I do use it with blushes, they tend to be powder formulas that I can buff onto the cheeks.
Considering this flat top shape, it makes sense that it works well as a bronzer and contour brush. I tend to use this brush mostly for those purposes. It’s very tiny in surface area, so I don’t use it as an all-over face brush.
The hairs are fairly short and not all that dense, so it has a wider splay that doesn’t make for as precise of a bronzer and contour brush. It can be fine most of the time, but if I’m working with a sculpting product that’s a bit dark for me, I have to be careful how I blend with #17 so that it doesn’t spread too widely of a stripe on my face.

Brush 19

  • Full Length: *170mm / 6.7 in
  • Hair Length: 38mm / 1.5 in
  • Hair Width: *24mm / 0.95 in
  • Bristle Type: Goat

I was definitely unprepared for a highlighting brush of this size, especially in thickness. I only use it with highlighters that are subtle or buildable. If I use it with a blinding one or a shade that’s a bit light for me, even taking a tiny amount will lead to overapplying. I still like this brush though, and I’ve even been able to use it to softly apply bronzers, though it’s a bit too sheer of an application for my current contour products. Fans of the Wayne Goss Air Brush might like this one because of the wide but flat width of the brush. #19 is just thicker. The Air Brush has a tapered tip but this one is even sharper in a candle flame shaped tip.

Brush 24

  • Full Length: *160mm / 6.3 in
  • Hair Length: 33mm / 1.3 in
  • Hair Width: *31mm / 1.22 in
  • Bristle Type: Goat

This is easily the favorite rephr brush in my collection. It’s perfect for buffing on bronzer, but I have been enjoying using blushes with it, along with pressed finishing powders. Whenever I wash the brush, I make sure to keep it in a brush guard or do the aloe vera trick to keep the shape compact and dense. I don’t like the performance of the brush in the intended bloom post-wash state, so my methods of drying keeps it the way it originally comes in all its densely packed glory. I believe the head shape on this one is supposed to be a dupe for the famous Tom Ford 06 Cheek brush, although today’s Tom Ford brushes are fully synthetic. Those who missed out on buying the original goat hair Tom Ford brushes may be interested in this alternative.

Rephr’s 05 brush is my second favorite from the brand. The main differences between the 05 and 24 (considering the fact that I keep both in a state that doesn’t allow for blooming) is that the 05 is less dense, picks up less product, and is shaped with the intention of being used specifically for blush. The 24 is more versatile, but I would only use sheer to the heavy side of medium pigmented products with this. Although the brush buffs nicely, I don’t use it with heavily pigmented products.

Brush 32

  • Full Length: *144mm / 5.67 in
  • Hair Length: 13mm / 0.5 in
  • Hair Width: *10mm / 0.4 in
  • Bristle Type: Goat

This is one of only three brushes that were launched from rephr in 2021 and part of their holiday collection. I was curious to see how it applies concealer, spreads eyeshadow primer, and blends eyeshadows in the crease. I hate it with my concealers because it doesn’t spread it evenly. I switched right back to my Sonia G Jumbo Concealer brush to finish the job. Brush 32 works okay to spread MAC Paint Pot, but when I wanted to blend out the MAC Foundation Stick, which I sometimes use as primer, it didn’t work as well. That product is too thick for the bristles and is tough to blend across my eyes. So, the only use I have for this brush is for eyeshadows, particularly in the crease when I’m doing a more blown out look, and it’s just okay. I find myself still reaching for other brushes to smooth out the edges and blend over what I just did with that brush. It’s one of those brushes that are fine with good quality eyeshadows, but certainly will not help the situation if the eyeshadow quality isn’t the smoothest. I already have brushes that can do this job, plus more, so this feels like a fail purchase and just solidifies for me that I am never a fan of rephr’s eye brushes. They aren’t the styles, thickness and density, or softness that ever suits what I want from an eye brush.

While I do recommend rephr’s face brushes if their shapes and sizes are appealing, I can’t ever recommend them at full price; and I don’t believe, based on their business structure, that they’re ever expected to be sold to customers at full price. However, even at 40% off or more, whether I think the brushes are worth it depends on each particular one. In terms of quality, the face brushes are well constructed with soft enough goat hair to keep me still interested in the brand. Their hair is never softer than other fude brands I’ve purchased from though, which is why I always struggle with saying they’re worth buying or not. There tends to be cases where even if it’s worth the price, I personally recommend spending a few extra dollars to get a softer brush with an even more luxurious handle from Sonia G, Chikuhodo, etc. The best of rephr is great. For $4-$20 more than rephr charges, one could easily find fude elsewhere that’s phenomenal. But great is still great, which is why I somehow keep making rephr orders.

Bisyodo Cheri Series CH-P-03 Powder Brush (Round)

  • Full Length: 173mm / 6.8 in
  • Hair Length: 50mm / 1.97 in
  • Hair Width: 36mm / 1.4 in
  • Bristle Type: Sokoho Goat
  • Handle: Wood
  • Ferrule: Silver Plated

According to the description on CDJapan, the ferrules in the Cheri series are silver plated (without saying what it’s plated on), which I hadn’t realized was the case until now. The bristles on this brush are perfectly round and very long without a pinched ferrule, which means the application of product will be light to medium depending on the amount of pressure used. I initially thought I would only be able to use this brush for buffing in face powders because with added pressure it has a very large splay of the bristles. However, if I apply less pressure, dab the tips into a blush, and use a sweeping motion, I can happily use this to apply my blush. The bristles feel very nice to the touch with my fingers, as one of the softest hairs of this goat grade I’ve felt. It’s really not far off from some of my Saikoho brushes, but I can tell that it’s Sokoho hair if I buff it into the skin too fast. There are a few strands in the bundle that are slightly rougher than the rest. I think the price for this brush is fantastic and I will definitely get use out of it, even if it’s not the absolute softest in my collection.

This brush is 3800 YEN and available here.

Houkodou Brilliant Gold Series Domed Blush Brush G-C6

  • Full Length: 130mm / 5.12 in
  • Hair Length: 33mm / 1.3 in
  • Hair Width: 20mm / 0.79 in
  • Bristle Type: Gray Squirrel

The brush head shown on CDJapan’s website looks much larger/wider than what I received. I was quite surprised it was so small, but it is made entirely of grey squirrel hair, so I should have expected this considering the $56 price. Then again, even after I washed mine (which the photo above is post wash), it still didn’t look anywhere near as full as it does in CDJapan’s product photos. This brush is on the firmer side of medium regarding how tightly the hair is packed. Since most of the squirrel hair brushes I have are intended for sheer applications, it is a bit nice to have a brush with hair that’s bundled a little tight so I can get the soft feel of squirrel on my skin with the bonus of having some blending power.

The G-C6 looks more like a highlighting brush than a blush brush, but those tips aren’t as precise as I prefer, so I actually apply the highlighter to my cheekbones first before blush. I have to blend by the tips with highlighter and contour, but for blush and bronzer that takes too long for my patience, so I pick up the product on the side of the brush so the product covers more surface area and sweep it across my cheeks. Because this brush is intended to be a multi-tasker, it’s rounder and larger than a highlighter brush, while being smaller than all my other blush brushes. This sacrifices the highlighter precision in favor of specific blush placement, which is something I don’t need. I have a large face, so I like medium to large head sizes for blush brushes. Because of the tiny size, I don’t see myself seeking out this specific brush when I want to apply makeup, though I would grab it whenever it was easily within view.

I already have highlighter brushes I can apply with a more precise tip and I’d rather reach for a long handle brush over a short one. So, this wasn’t the best purchase for me purely because of the size and my preferences. I should have paid more attention to the specifications on CDJapan’s website because the measurements are exactly as listed. Perhaps someone with a smaller face would appreciate the versatility specifically because of its size. A brush like this is also ideal for traveling for the compact size and multi-tasking abilities, though I’d rather bring my favorite brushes on a trip regardless of how big they may be (as long as they aren’t too heavy). I personally still think it’s overpriced, even with the (I believe) gold plated ferrule and 100% grey squirrel hair. Fude Beauty just calls it, “a luminous gold hue,” which if it’s not plated then it’s definitely overpriced.

This brush is 6500 YEN and available here.

Houkodou Nagi Series Powder Brush N-F1

  • Full Length: 150mm / 5.9 in
  • Hair Length: 40mm / 1.57 in
  • Hair Width: *34mm / 1.34 in
  • Bristle Type: Gray Squirrel and Sokoho Goat

This is the size I assumed the Houkodou G-C6 brush would be. This brush is slightly less soft than that one due to the Sokoho part of the mixture, but it feels like full squirrel hair to the touch. The N-F1 is packed at close to the same density as the G-C6, but because it has longer bristles it gets wispier towards the tips for medium firmness. It feels like a Goldilocks sort of brush where it picks up just the right amount of blush that I like in order to build up the product in 1-2 layers without taking a long time. It fits perfectly along my cheeks in both sweeping and buffing motions. Although this is listed as a powder brush and not a cheek brush, I’d only use it with blush since it’s so perfectly shaped to my preferences for that task. For someone who wants versatility, I recommend the G-C6, but for anyone who would like a dedicated blush brush at a medium range price ($60) for a Japanese made brush, I recommend the N-F1.

This brush is 7000 YEN and available here.

Muragishi Sangyo HS-1 Hana Sakura Powder Brush

  • Full Length: 160mm / 6.3 in
  • Hair Length: 55mm / 2.16 in
  • Hair Width: *47mm / 1.85 in
  • Bristle Type: Sokoho Goat

I wasn’t initially interested in this brush shape until I saw a photo someone posted of it on Instagram and I noted how full and fluffy (for a round-flat/oval shaped brush) it looked. In this case, how it appears in person is even nicer than CDJapan’s photos, especially post wash when it blooms even more. The HS-2 is a mix of gray squirrel and sokoho goat and is very soft. The HS-1 is supposed to be full Sokoho, but because the hairs are so long and in abundance, the brush has an overall softer feel to it than the typical Sokoho. It would be soft enough for most people, but perhaps not for those with sensitive skin.
I know many people like big brushes like this for bronzer, but I ordered this to use exclusively as a sweeping and buffing finishing powder brush and love it for this task between the soft airy medium dense bristles and its large size to cover most of my face very quickly. This brush is perfect for loose powders, but I need several passes to pick up enough product in pressed powder forms. This brush is a winner for anyone wanting a sheer to light application of powder and those who love big powder brushes. I’ve had the Koyudo BP003 Finishing Brush from the High Class series on my wishlist since August 2020, but now that I have this one, I no longer feel the need to get another goat hair finishing brush in this style.

If Muragishi Sangyo had more long handle options, I would look into getting even more of their brushes because I like what I have from them and I think they are nicely priced.

This brush is 5800 YEN and available here.

That’s all for today! Thank you for reading!


Sonia G Fusion Series and Lotus Set

Of all the brushes in my collection, the ones from Sonia G get the most use. So, whenever she has a new launch, I know there will be something within the collection that I’m going to love and will help elevate my makeup skills. I have two main Fude posts which include some of the Pro and Sky Series here and the Keyaki set here, for those interested in my previous Sonia G reviews.

I skipped getting the Mini Base brush from the Fusion series because it’s the same as the one included in the Keyaki set, just with a different handle. The Mini Base became the number one product I had for blending cream blushes and I wanted a bigger version so badly that I purchased similar shaped ones from other brands. However, they were not the same as my Mini Base. The combination of the sokoho goat, PBT and PTT synthetic bristles in Sonia G Fusion brushes is just utter perfection between the softness and blend. Synthetic bristle brushes are known to be soft, but the quality of the type of synthetic material is not the same across the board. ELF brushes about eight years ago used to come in the essential basic line with white handles and bristles that poked, a somewhat better middle range with silver handles, and their pro line with black handles and much softer bristles even though the entire line was synthetic. There is a fantastic detailed article that explains the differences among synthetic fibers, here, and the distinction between them sheds light on why the combination Sonia G wanted in her Fusion brushes is a step above other synthetic and natural mix brushes other brands have created.

The Fusion Series

Other than the Mini Base, which I already reviewed, I have three of the four remaining brushes in the line. I chose not to buy the Soft Concealer brush because my dark under eye circles require maximum coverage, which fits the task of the Jumbo Concealer. The Soft Concealer is intended for the gradual building of creams and liquids for those who don’t want as much product on the skin. Thankfully the Fusion Series brushes are available individually, so I didn’t have to buy a brush I didn’t need.

  • Full Length: 151mm / 5.95 in
  • Hair Length: 16mm / 0.63 in
  • Hair Width: 8.5-14.5mm / 0.33- 0.57 in

I use the Jumbo Concealer to quickly spread on eye primer, as well as concealing under my eyes. My previous favorite brush for this task was the Rare Beauty Concealer Brush, which is still a good brush and great for getting into the corners of my eye. The Rare Beauty brush is slightly less densely packed and therefore softer and more flexible. My only gripe with it is that I don’t wash my concealer brushes daily, so after about three uses, the Rare Beauty brush contains so much product that it’s not as pleasant to use or as efficient unless I wash it every few days. With the Jumbo Concealer, most of the product comes out of the bristles quickly when wiped on a microfiber towel. In fact, all of the Fusion series brushes are wiped clean with little effort, unlike my other brushes when it comes to removing liquids and creams regardless if it’s natural hair or synthetic. I can use it to easily and evenly apply eyeshadow primer, wipe my brush, and then use it again for concealer. It successfully gives me maximum coverage, as intended.

  • Full Length: 167mm / 6.58 in
  • Hair Length: 27mm / 1.06 in
  • Hair Width: 18mm / 0.71 in

The Classic Base is the larger version of the Mini Base and the brush of my dreams! I can use it for foundation and cream blush, though building up a subtle cream blush like the Armani Neo Nude Color Melting Balm is my preference. Technically, if I turn the brush on its side, I could still use it with sculpting products, but I realistically just use it with blush. Even with foundation, I can only blend it smoothly on top of the skin, but not really press it in because there are plenty of bristles but they aren’t packed tightly enough to use hard pressure. Hard pressure causes too much splay of the bristles. However, because of the amazingly soft feel on the skin and the way it moves across the surface, I’m content to use this brush for a sole purpose. I don’t need this one to be versatile. Also, the surface area is quite large, so I would recommend the mini base over this one for cream blush for anyone with small cheeks.

  • Full Length: 167mm / 6.58 in
  • Hair Length: 27mm / 1.06 in
  • Hair Width: 18-28mm / 0.71 – 1.1 in

The Jumbo Base is the last brush of the Fusion series I purchased. When I was initially interested, I thought it would be flat, like a gigantic version of the Jumbo Concealer, so when I realized it had a slanted edge, I skipped it at launch day and on the first restock. However, I kept seeing reviews about how that slant helped it hug all the curves of the face, and I recalled how many of Sonia’s brushes I theoretically doubted would suit me, but actually trying them out opened my eyes and they became some of my absolute favorite brushes. So, I ordered it the next time it was available.
If the Classic Base is a dream, the Jumbo Base is heaven. It literally feels like a massage when I use it. I hadn’t been so excited for a foundation product since the Tati Blendiful, and prior to that, I hadn’t been that excited since the Tarte Buffer Airbrush Finish brush.

While it feels like heaven on the skin, I’m not quite as impressed with the results. If I use a heavy cream-like primer or moisturizer, I have a harder time spreading the foundation with this brush as the bristles drag on the skin too much and makes the foundation sit on my skin. So, I have to apply a lot more pressure to really press it in. I feel the strain on my hand because the brush is a bit heavy to hold, especially as the density of the slanted tip is less firm than I hoped so I need the extra pressure to make up for it in pressing the product and smoothing it out. Extra blending time is required to get the foundation off the bristles and onto my face. I realized foundation was staying in the brush when I had to use 3 times more product than usual, which resulted in a caked look. I still use twice the product with the Jumbo Base than my Blendiful, if it’s a thicker foundation like the Nars Soft Matte or Beautyblender Bounce foundation. I can get it down to 1.5 with a more liquid foundation such as the Estée Lauder Futurist Hydra Rescue. When I use a lightweight primer such as the Tatcha Liquid Silk Canvas with those same foundations I mentioned above, the blend is a lot quicker, I don’t have to use as much pressure, and because I have an easier time spreading the product across my face without the foundation getting stuck in the bristles. I don’t have to use as much product either. So, the combination of the primer and foundation majorly affects the capabilities of this brush.

I’ve used this brush for several months and have a better understanding of which products I should skip using this brush with, but even on the best of days my foundation looks fine but not flawless. It hasn’t surpassed the Tati Blendiful. I thought the Jumbo Base shape was completely unique to my collection, but I realized I have a very similar brush from the (discontinued) limited edition Sonia Kashuk Starstruck line. The multipurpose angled brush has synthetic bristles, but it feels like a natural hair brush. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually prefer how my foundation looks when I use the Sonia Kashuk brush over the Sonia G one. The bristles are a little taller, with a wider splay, and even though the Jumbo Base is softer, the Sonia Kashuk brush is soft enough for my liking. I get a much better blend with the Sonia Kashuk brush regardless of the primer and/or foundation in a quicker amount of time. I can’t stress enough how amazing the Jumbo Base feels on the skin, but that doesn’t mean anything if I’m dissatisfied with the performance. I want to love this brush, but it doesn’t fit my needs. I’m keeping it for now, but I will likely sell it sometime in the future.

I am obsessed with the Fusion line, as it still contains two of my favorite brushes for cream products. The bristle combination is fantastic, but it doesn’t guarantee I’ll like all of them if the shapes don’t work for me. So, I hope more fusion-bristle brushes will be made, but not everything will be for me. Also, these brushes can be used with powder products too, but I prefer the performance of my 100% natural hair brushes over the Fusion series bristles when it comes to using powders.

The Lotus Series

I had to get creative in order to have the brushes I wanted from this series. It was stated repeatedly by Sonia herself that the Lotus series would only be available as a full set. I couldn’t afford that expensive of a purchase, so I sold the brushes I didn’t think I would get as much use from in order to help pay for the brushes I was keeping. However, I can’t say I was shocked by the switch from the initial, “It’s not possible to sell this individually,” statement on Sonia’s blog on July 11th to the, “I’ll have to see if we can,” on August 20th on her Instagram.

Then it was confirmed on November 23rd, 2021. Sometimes it annoys me when a brand says something is limited edition, especially if it’s only available in a set, and then there’s a restock or it’s sold individually either from them or at another retailer. In this case, I don’t mind because I think it should have been available as singles from the beginning since three of the six brushes have existing counterparts: the Cheek to the Cheek Pro, the Builder to the Builder Three, and the Worker to the Worker Two. Plus, I’m undecided if I made the right decision to sell the Detail brush, so having them available individually would give me a second chance. I did not take the Base, Detail, and Worker brushes out of their sleeves when I sold them, so I couldn’t make as informed of a decision. I could only estimate that the Base appeared too thick for my preference. It has the same fibers as the Fusion series, so I really hope it’s possible for a slightly smaller and less thick version to be made that’s geared more for sculpting and less for foundation. The Detail looked too loosely packed, too small in width, and appeared thinner than the Keyaki Classic Face, which is a brush I hardly use. As for the Worker, I prefer the Builders over the Workers and decluttered mine. It didn’t make sense to keep this one when I was likely not going to use it over the builder anyway.

On to the brushes I did keep!

  • Full Length: 165mm / 6.5 in
  • Hair Length: 30mm / 1.18 in
  • Hair Width: 10-16mm / 0.4 – 0.63 in
  • Bristle Type: Saikoho Goat

The Cheek Pro is among my top favorite blush brushes of all time. I needed to get this special handle version of the brush. I wanted a backup brush anyway, so I thought this would be the perfect purchase. However, beyond the fact that The Cheek has undyed goat hair and the Cheek Pro hairs are dyed, this one is less dense which is something I don’t like. The difference is very noticeable and the density is partly why I love the Cheek Pro so much. The Cheek brush was purposely made to be fluffier than the Cheek Pro, but I keep it in a brush guard because I don’t want it to be airier than it already is. It’s a well crafted brush, but it doesn’t rank in my favorites. Because I was hoping this would be the equivalent to the Cheek Pro, I couldn’t help but be disappointed. If I can eventually stop wishing for it to be something it’s not, I may grow to appreciate it more. Only time will tell.

  • Full Length: 150mm / 5.9 in
  • Hair Length: 10mm / 0.4 in
  • Hair Width: 5-10mm / 0.2 – 0.4 in
  • Bristle Type: Saikoho Goat

These two are definitely more comparable and if you like one, you will probably enjoy the other. I’m always using the Builder Three with creams and primers even though I’m not supposed to with a dyed bristle brush. It’s nice to have The Builder to use with those instead, especially since I wanted a backup brush anyway, but I can’t let go of my old habits. I keep using the Builder Three for those jobs and I somehow always reach for The Builder with intense red pigments that are such a pain to get out of the white undyed bristles.

  • Full Length: 152mm / 5.3 in
  • Hair Length: 12mm / 0.8 in
  • Hair Width: 5mm / 0.2 in
  • Bristle Type: Saikoho Goat

The Mini Booster is one of my favorite eye brushes, but I wanted something even smaller. That’s why I was drawn to the Soft Definer, but the Soft Definer is more of a pencil brush than a crease brush because of the way the tips come together to form a rounded point. This is one of those brushes that is really good, but I don’t like purely because it doesn’t fit what I hoped it would be. It isn’t a smaller version of the Mini Booster, so it doesn’t deposit the color in a soft blended way. The placement is very defined like the kind of brush that would be perfect to use in cut crease looks and adding depth to the crease, outer corner, and for lining. I don’t have as steady of a hand as I used to, so if I want to do actual lining, I prefer to use smaller brushes. I was also hoping I could use this brush on the lower lash line as a softer alternative because my other pencil brushes tend to be firm and pokey, but the way I use the brush, the shadow I’m trying to deposit on the lash line always flicks the powder off my brush and back into the air, so I get the shadows in my eyes. It’s like using a feather duster. When sweeping, the dust doesn’t just settle into the feathers, some of it gets dispersed back into the air. Perhaps this is just a hassle I have to deal with because of my eye shape, but I don’t have this issue when I use brushes like the Builder Three, Smashbox Double Ended Smudger Brush, and angled liner brushes that I can just stamp onto the lower lash line instead of sweeping across or rubbing back and forth. If I apply side to side, I need something smaller and flatter than the Soft Definer.

That’s all I’ve got for today! It was quite difficult to admit to myself that most of the brushes I reviewed today weren’t the best fits for me, since I love Sonia G brushes. However, I can’t regret having those beautiful Lotus handles and the special Fusion fiber mix. Brushes that are considered “standard” shapes are the brushes that work for the most people. So, it’s not surprising that innovative unique shapes and styles are likely to appeal to people with a certain face shape or specific preferences (which is why I’m skipping the newest Niji Pro brush). The fact that only a few of these brushes I reviewed today were useful for me doesn’t take away from the quality of the brushes. So, I very much recommend continuing to look into Sonia G’s line beyond my review.

I’m holding out hope that some day Sonia will release a collection of the standard type of handles in the red and blue, but in a deep purple version. That’s my ultimate dream handle!

Thank you for reading!


Indie Brand Spotlight: Oden’s Eye Review

As a lover of mythology, and of course makeup, I’ve been drawn to this company from the moment I heard about it. When the Swedish brand first established themselves, they stated, “Oden’s Eye is inspired by ancient Nordic mythology, and our products and collections will also be built around this theme.” Their initial collections were very light and whimsical with eyeshadow palettes that reflected a too-light color story for my taste. I was so happy to see the release of the Norn’s Collection in their most beautiful palette artwork to date and color stories that have a better range of light, medium, and deep tones. I decided this was the time to place my first order. And second. And third. Then they released Mystery Boxes. I intended for this post to come out in March, but each new order required that I push this back to do further testing, reviewing, and rewriting. Now, it’s finally complete!

Before I get to the few products I bought out of the Norn’s Collection, I will start with their older products in my possession.

Oden’s Eye Blushes

Alva Flower Blushers in Sweet Tulip, Water Lily, and Little Jasmine

Oden’s Eye currently has three shimmer shades in the Alva Flower Blusher series. Most of the visible glitter specks is on that top layer and they disappears after a few uses. What remains is more of a satin finish with a natural looking sheen. However, the more I try to build up the color, the more radiant and reflective it becomes from the actual shimmer building up on my cheek. So for me, it’s best to stop at a medium amount of blush as building to the maximum payoff results in it looking lighter than before! For example, the shimmer in Sweet Tulip is a bit silvery and looks icier when I’ve packed it on.

I purchased Sweet Tulip first because it’s the deepest blush out of the original six and I wasn’t certain if that shade would even be dark enough to show on my cheeks. Sweet Peach is the darkest of the mattes, but I couldn’t tell if it was more on the mauve or cool toned side. If a shade is a little too light for me, I can sometimes pull it off if it’s mauve, but the cooler it is the less I like it. It was hard to tell the difference between the shades on their website versus Instagram.

Have I mentioned I have a very bad habit of doing 1-3 am shopping? The majority of my excessive spending happens during that time while I think I’m still capable of making rational spending decisions. Then, after I fall back asleep and wake up later, I realize that it wasn’t the smartest thing to do. This is how I ended up making a third order and then a fourth when they released Easter mystery boxes with free shipping. I purchased the 25 Euro box and was still able to use a discount code on top of that, but more on the mystery boxes later.

I love these blushes so much! In the Sweet Tulip photo on the left, I do have the tiniest amount of highlighter on my cheekbone, but I could have almost skipped it because I love the gentle glowy sheen that the shimmer in this blush provides. It’s long lasting, pigmented, and the tone is quite flattering! The blending is so quick that I can finish applying color to both cheeks in under a minute! I see the potential for this to be in my top favorite blush formulas. The Little Jasmine shade shocked me that it still showed on my skin tone despite how much brown there is to that shade. It’s my second favorite of the four, and maybe even tied with Sweet Tulip. Little Jasmine is the warmest one I bought and the shimmer shows more golden when built up. Water Lily is darker, yet it took a ridiculous amount of building up to make it visible on my skin. I don’t think it is an issue of the color match or hard pan. I can see the powder getting picked up on the different brushes I’ve tried. I believe there’s just less pigment in the formula of this specific shade. The blushes are good for 36 months after opening, but my Water Lily package was the only one with an actual expiration date printed on it (November 21st 2022). Because I have 18 months instead of 36, I wonder if the Water Lily shade is already performing differently. Regardless of the reason, I appreciate that there’s an actual date on that one so I know not to keep it around as long as the others.

Alva Fruit Blusher in Sweet Peach

There are three matte blushes in the Alva Fruit Blusher line but I purchased only one of them. The Sweet Peach shade looks much more mauve than peach on me. I was pleased to see it show up, but it looks a little ashy. I think this shade is a bit too light for my skin tone. This is the darkest of the Fruit Blushes, so the other two shades in the matte formula would not work for me either. I can at least say the matte formula is nice and if the brand releases dark colors, I would be interested in trying them.

Small Mystery Box

Oden’s Eye released a small (25 euro) and large (55 euro) mystery box in celebration of Easter and the company’s anniversary. Affiliate/Influencer codes worked on the deal, so I was able to get my small box for 22.50 euros with free shipping. The Norn’s collection was excluded, but nearly everything else was a possibility. I anticipated I would get a palette, lip product, and brush. I only hoped the shades would work for me and that I would not get a product I already own, so I was happy that all expectations were met. The brush that came with my order will be discussed in the brush section.

Solmåne Highlighter Palette

Ljus (light in Swedish) is a pale gold and has the smooth shimmer formula I like, but it’s too icy looking on me. Stjärna (star) is a beautiful iridescent shade that looks white in the pan but is blue with a tinge of purple. These two would make beautiful inner corner eyeshadow highlight shades. Sol (sun) and Måne (moon) remind me of the Kaleidos Space Age Highlighters, but with sparser glitter particles, which is not a feature I like in highlighters. I could use them as eyeshadow toppers, but I don’t know if this palette will survive an end of the year declutter. I’m still happy I received it because my curiosity about the formula would have led me to buy it eventually anyway.

Alva Matte Lip Stain in Ripe Papaya

The first thing I noticed about this lip stain was the strong but pleasant fruit candy smell. Then I realized the formula was not the typical watery texture of a stain that I was used to. The consistency is more similar to a liquid lipstick. I can get nearly opaque results with one layer, but I need a little more to cover the dark patches on my lips. One time I made the mistake of applying too many coats, which turned the smell from nice and fruity to an unpleasant cherry cough syrup smell. On the bright side, I discovered it layers up well. It’s definitely matte and makes my lips look and feel uncomfortably dry. I cannot wear this by itself, but it looks amazing under a thick shiny gloss. In matte form, it’s transfer-proof but comes off with an oil based remover or just some oil. If it’s under a gloss, it will last on the lips if left alone, but it’s easy to transfer at that point. Considering how much I loved the color but needed a more hydrating formula, I wonder if I would prefer Oden Eye’s Cream Lip Stain formula. One day, I will find out!

Oden’s Eye Brushes

Double-Ended Highlighter Brush

This brush is made of synthetic bristles. The fluffier end is very floppy and loosely packed, but it makes a fairly nice blush brush. The stiffer and tighter packed end is slightly angled. I can use it on its widest side to brush the highlighter in small sections of my cheekbone. With this one, the bristles can rub harshly when I do that. A smooth and soft application occurs when I turn the brush to the side and use one long sweep with the tips of the bristles to spread highlighter across my cheekbones. I don’t foresee myself continuing to use the stiff side, but I will probably use the soft side for blush every now and then.

Eyeshadow Blending Brush

This brush was a surprise addition to one of my earlier orders. I’m not sure if there was a deal going on at the time, if it was a mistake or intentionally gifted for free, but I appreciate having it all the same. The bristles are synthetic and balance softness with medium-packed tightness so that I can get a decent blend with this brush in a light to medium application. The bristles are too long to get a really intense blend. It also becomes looser packed with continued use.

Norn’s Series

Norn’s Eyeshadow Palette

This palette’s eyeshadows are a wild mixture of different textures, finishes, and levels of opacity. Swatching each shade was like unraveling a mystery; I got quite a few surprises! I instinctively switched between using my brushes of various shapes and fibers and density versus my fingers, when to use a glitter glue, when to spray it, etc. to create the looks I wanted. Although it was fun and not too time consuming to discover the ins and outs of this palette, this is technically not beginner-friendly. The very fact of having a palette with so many different textures lends to the challenge. I think it would be easy for anyone to create a pretty look because the mattes are pigmented while still being super blendable and the shimmers make an impact (by mainstream standards) without extra effort. In that sense it’s beginner-friendly, but maximizing the full potential of this palette takes intermediate level and above. There were certainly times I had to restart an eye look or do swatches on my arm to test how some of the shades paired with each other, since the effects were sometimes unexpected.

There are four mattes in this palette. Dazed is a cool grey. I was impressed with the level of pigmentation and how a shade like this didn’t look patchy or ashy on me. I think it’s because there is a little green to the tone of that shade which goes well on my warm yellow-toned skin. Mist is a cool light purple. This is another shade that would usually appear a little ashy or patchy on me, but I have zero issues with this one! Pragmatism is a medium brown that deepens up the more it is applied. I prefer to use it in the crease to create depth there, but it’s not quite enough for my tastes to deepen the outer corner. Outsider is a gorgeous peacock blue or ocean blue or medium blue leaning teal. I’m not sure what the best name for this shade is, but I don’t think the description from Oden’s Eye as a, “retro green” is that much better.
Sometimes mattes swatch beautifully, but don’t perform as well on the eyes. I’m happy to report that these mattes do both!

Pink Chameleon is a multichrome! The brand only describes this as having a pink, yellow, and green shift, but I swear it also looks a bit more orange or red or peachy depending on the light and angle. On my finger, this multichrome had clear and obvious shifts. On my eye, this color looked very different depending on which shades I put it next to or on top of. For instance, sometimes it would only pull peachy-pink or yellow-gold, or yellow-pink. In rare occasions I could see pink-green. The green element being the least visible on my skin and especially on camera. I had to do a lot of experimenting with Pink Chameleon to figure out which combos would give me the effect I wanted.

There’s another shade called Green Chameleon in this palette. The website has this listed as an, “Olive green chameleon eyeshadow, multichrome shift,” without describing what what the other colors are. Honestly, I don’t see any shift. The texture of Pink Chameleon is that slick recognizable multichrome texture like Clionadh’s Jewelled formula, Devinah’s Aurorae Flares, the shade called Fake from the Juvia’s Place Wahala 2 palette, etc. Green Chameleon feels like the other four diamond shimmers in the bottom row of the Norn’s palette. The two best ways I’ve been able to detect multichromes is to swatch them on the palm of my hand and rotate my hand around, or to apply them to my fingers and hold them vertically and raise my fingers up and down so that it moves closer then further from the light. All I can see is it going from an olive green to a slightly lighter olive green or a greenish yellow. Its not a difference anyone will notice if you put this on your eyes. It’s still a pretty shade, but I don’t count it as a multichrome or duochrome.

There are two easily recognizable satin shades in this palette, or as Oden’s eye says, “metallic eyeshadows that look like satin.” Metallic shades are different from my perspective, so I’ll just refer to them as satins. One is Realism, a gorgeous medium-dark brown. Realism has visible copper reflects, but I prefer to have more of a contrast in my eyeshadow looks. I don’t mind doing a neutral eye from time to time, but if I’m going neutral I want a bit more sparkle. So, what I love to do is combine this shade with pretty much any of the more sparkly shades in this palette. There are so many options to choose from that are so pretty. The outcomes are different enough that I wanted to demonstrate several of them.

The other satin is a “red velvet” shade called Passion. Although pretty, I don’t think this particular tone of red goes that well with any of the other colorful shades. Even though reds and purples or reds and oranges are usually a match made in heaven, I find that this shade clashes with anything other than the neutrals or surprisingly the Pink Chameleon shadow.

Amber Palace looks marbled in the pan and I’m happy to report that it’s not an over-spray and the pattern doesn’t disappear once you’ve used it a few times. This “sparkling diamond shimmer shadow” is a mixture of gold and silver that runs throughout the entire pan. I consider this a topper shadow because the amber orange-brown base matches my skin tone so much that I just see the sparkle. It doesn’t look like there’s a base at all until I swatch it on my palm.

There are five other diamond shimmers listed in this palette. In fact, all the sparkly-glittery shadows in this palette are referred to as diamond shimmers. The first is Optimism, which looks similar in swatches to Amber Palace except the base color is purple. It’s another shade I consider a topper because the base is so sheer. I prefer to use this shade with cooler toned looks and Amber Palace for warmer ones. Next is Hallucination, a blue-green shade that’s like a medium toned turquoise with pink and purple shimmer. The texture of this shade is wetter than the others and doesn’t feel as well bound to the sparkles as the others. It feels like it was intended to be a shimmer version of a cream to powder formula. It leaves a residue behind on the finger, the way cream products do, and takes a bit of smoothing to give it less of a chunky appearance. The color is beautiful but I’m not a fan of this particular formula. It reminds me of the texture my homemade eyeshadows feel like when I use slightly too much liquid binder. Self is a stunning purple with teal, silver, and perhaps green sparkles. It’s very much my kind of eyeshadow shade. Glamour is an orange and gold shadow that reminds me of the pressed glitter shade I wanted from the Juvia’s Place Nubian Glow palette (but depotted and thew away). I’m so glad to have this version as a regular non-pressed-glitter shadow! The eyeshadow palettes from Oden’s Eye’s previous collections had some pressed glitters in them but there are none in the Norn’s Collection.
Lasly, Charming is like a blue-purple duochrome with teal, purple, and pink shimmer.

Then there are two other textures that stand out. Obsessed, the “violet with pink and purple diamond shimmers,” feels is like a cream to powder shadow. It feels wetter than the two satin shades in this palette, but not as full on creamy as the cream shadow shades Natasha Denona has in the Metropolis palette. Obsessed takes several dips with a brush to get an opaque layer on the eye. It’s slightly easier with a finger, but the product sticks a bit more to the finger than the eye, so it tugs on my skin more than I’d like. Colourful Black felt like Obsessed in the beginning, but after a week it felt a lot more dry, like a typical shimmer eyeshadow. This goes on the skin very easily with a brush, so there’s no need to use a finger to apply it. It’s very pigmented straight out of the gate, but it can be blended to appear in a lighter and sheerer layer. According to Oden’s Eye, this shade, “…contains all colors of shimmers. Different usage will create different effects.” It makes for an excellent deepening shade, liner, and base. Although I can see the sparkles in the pan, the effect is satin-like with more sheen than a matte but without seeing the glitter particles. Usually all I require for black shadows is for them to be dark enough and blendable. This is one of the few times I can say I actually like the shade for its color and not just about its depth.

In Look #8 I forgot to mention that Colourful Black was also applied all over the lid before Charming was added on top. This is what caused the stronger blue tone to the shade.

URD Mini Eyeshadow Palette

This palette is gorgeous but all the minis, in my opinion, are overpriced compared to the larger palette prices. You get 6 shades for $21 versus 16 for $36. $3.50 per shadow compared to $2.25 per shadow. For that reason, I had to decide between the Urd palette and Skuld palette. As much as my eyes were drawn to the colorful nature of the all shimmer Skuld palette, I knew I could get a complete look with Urd and that green was irresistible!

This has the same great shadow quality as the Norn’s palette and it was so easy to create a look. I used the same shades for both of the eyes, but the change in technique and color placement made them look surprisingly more different than I expected! The Luxury shade on the lid is gorgeous! It’s mostly green with yellow gold reflects of diamond shimmer. Luxury has a black base which I noticed darkened the crease shade on the eye that I used the MAC Foundation Stick as a primer (look #2). In Look #1, I used a MAC Paint Pot and this did not happen. I also used the Nyx Glitter Primer on both lids.

Memory is definitely a bright “light gray-green matte” but just as it was the case with the shade Dazed, it’s somehow not too stark for me. That green tinge works! Oden’s Eye describes Nostalgia as a “matte grey olive green,” and those grey tones come out on the eye to create more of a khaki green tone. I wish it was a little less grey, but it goes well with the other shades in the palette.

Gloden Year & Time are the split pan shadows. I believe ‘gloden’ was a printing error because the website description says, “Golden year: Silver metallic color, the golden year is just a silver memory in the past” and “Time: Colorful shift of multiple colors against a semi-transparent base.” Golden Year is much smoother and the shimmer particles are much closer together than the shade Time. Time is a chunky flaky topper formula that I can clearly see as gold toned in person, but my camera only picks up a silvery hue.

Lastly, Past is a dark coffee brown matte. It’s a perfect addition to add a bit of smokiness to the look. This color story was well thought out and even though I think $15 would have been a fairer price (more than the $2.25 but less than $3.50 per shadow), I’m happy I bought this.

Norn’s Silk Scarf in Pink and Purple

There were pink, purple, and blue versions of this scarf available and Oden’s Eye was adding one for free to any Norn’s Collection order above 50 euros. At the time I bought them, they were on sale for 50% off.

I just purchased these because of the design. The print is so pretty to me and I wanted another item that had it, even though I have zero use for scarves and I never wear them.

Also, I could have sworn there was nothing written about the scarf being “artificial silk” until I made my last order because I remember being surprised at the low cost and wondered why silk would be used by a cruelty-free brand, but perhaps I just missed it.

Additional Information

All of the powder products have a slight powdery talc-like smell. In 2014, I owned a Coastal Scents palette that smelled incredibly chalky. Nothing I’ve purchased since then has ever been that bad, but I try to keep track of that kind of thing and share that information with others.

When ordering from the website, the default prices are listed in euros, but they have a tab at the top where you can change the currency. Although Oden’s Eye is based in Sweden, their products are made and shipped from China. My favorite independently owned brands to support are the ones who make their own formulas like Lethal Cosmetics, Terra Moons, Devinah, Clionadh, (or on the larger side Ofra and Colourpop), etc. For some reason, I was under the impression that these were created-in house, so I was a little disappointed. However, I know this is the norm. Juvia’s Place and Kaleidos palettes are made in China. Even indie brands whose products are formulated in the US don’t necessarily make them themselves. A separate cosmetics lab is usually responsible. With this thought in mind, it bothers me a little less. It’s also pretty neat that some products in their line are still handmade, like the Amber Palace shade within the Norn’s palette and the Norn’s Mesmerizer Highlighters. Oden’s Eye posted a fascinating video showing the Highlighter process on Instagram that can be viewed here.

I’m not sure what the shipping fees are for other countries, but I paid six euros (a bit over $7 USD) the first two times I ordered. They do offer free shipping over 50 euros. My initial order shipped within 24 hours but took exactly 3 weeks to arrive. Oden’s Eye emailed that my package would be delayed due to Chinese Lunar New Year and then there was a delay at customs. They ship through DHL and transfer to USPS and state that 7-14 business days is typical. My second order took 17 days (14 business days). The transition between DHL to USPS is where it was held up quite a bit. The third order only took 8 days of the 8-12 business days if you choose the upgraded USPS first class option for eight euros. Two extra euros for the package to arrive 2 weeks before regular mail is quite a good deal. The Mystery Box took 13 days.

I appreciate that for a small brand, they still make an effort to try and feature a variety of skin tones in their promotional photos and their Instagram. Of course I wish there were more swatches on deeper skin and in a variety of lighting settings, as well as clear pictures of what the products look like on the face, but they put in more effort than some other brands I’ve seen. The Fancy Face has received PR from them, so I recommend viewing her channel for extra swatches with her take on this collection. At the time I started working on this post, she was the only WOC on Youtube with a review of Oden’s Eye beyond reviewing a single palette, and her video was made after I had already placed all three orders. In fact, at the time I started my first draft of this post, she just had this video available with sneak peeks of the review to come. I wish I had this video as a resource before placing my order, but I’m still happy with the items I chose. Sometimes I get lucky and my guesses work out. Tina is close to my skin tone, but a little lighter than me. There’s one other youtube channel I found by someone a little darker than me with several more Oden’s eye products, which can be found here. For anyone wanting to see swatches on a tan skin tone can click here, and for pale to medium skin tones there are a plethora of options to choose from on Youtube like from Amy Loves Makeup, Morgan Turner, and Angelica Nyqvist.

Lastly, about the palettes, the eyeshadow pans are smaller than the standard 26mm. There is slightly more than 1 gram of product per pan, which is what I always like to see. I do wish the pans were slightly larger because most of these shades apply better with a finger and I have limited space to rub and pick up the shadow on the pads of my fingers.

That’s all for today! I hope this was helpful if you were considering placing an order with Oden’s Eye. If you do, don’t forget to use an affiliate code for an additional 10% off! FANCYFACE, MORGANTURNER, AMYLOVES, and ANGESCHKA are a few of them.



This is my third post about Japanese brushes, but the first two were combined into part one, which can be viewed here. Unlike my past posts, this one includes brands that are not strictly from Kumano.
I’d also like to note that now that I’m familiar with the different sales and discounts offered among the retailers, I didn’t pay full price for any of these brushes from VisageUSA or CDJapan. Even though I think they’re priced fairly for their rarity of bristles and the craftsmanship, I still recommend signing up for those sites’ email lists to be notified of sale events and promo codes to get the most for your money!

As a reminder, when I have “width” listed in the brush specifications, I’m referring to the widest part of the brush when laid flat.

*DISCLAIMER: All products in this post were purchased by me with my own money and prior to me being part of any affiliate program. Unhighlighted links in bold blue font (Example) are non-affiliate links that will not generate commission. The vast majority of links on this blog are traditional non-affiliate ones. Links marked in bold black font with a light blue background (Example) are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to get a commission if purchases are made directly using my links. The price of the product is not affected by these links, and anyone who uses them would be supporting this blog. Whether you click to shop through them or not, I appreciate you visiting and I hope you find the information I’ve provided helpful!


Chikuhodo FO-4 Cheek/Highlight Brush

  • Full Length: 145mm / 5.7 in
  • Hair Length: 35mm / 1.4 in
  • Hair Width: *35mm / 1.4 in
  • Bristle Type: Silver Fox
  • Handle: Maple Wood
  • Ferrule: Aluminum

Certain brush styles, like angled cheek brushes, are shaped in a way that doesn’t suit how I like to apply my face products. However, the width, thickness, and density of this brush allows me to easily and quickly sweep the perfect amount of blush onto my cheeks. The soft bristles make this such a joy to use that I don’t mind the fact that I have to change how I typically apply blush and bronzer. The way the bristles splay is in a smaller area than the FO-3 Cheek, so it can feel like you’re getting a smaller brush for the same price. However, I get the added ability to use this with bronzer, which I wouldn’t use with the FO-3. I know many people that like to use a large fluffy blush with their bronzers, but I prefer something small and precise with light to medium density so I can build up the color to the intensity I desire.

This brush is 10500 YEN and available here.

Chikuhodo Z-11

  • Full Length: 135mm / 5.3 in
  • Hair Length: 20mm / 0.8 in
  • Hair Width: *10mm / 0.4 in
  • Bristle Type: Gray Squirrel

This performs exactly the way I expected. It’s a soft brush between light and medium density. I would only use this with eyeshadows I know are easy to blend or with pigments I want deposited as a light wash of color. Since it’s a squirrel hair brush, the bristles are too soft for serious blending, but the slightly pointed tip helps to blend edges better than it would with a more rounded top.

This brush is 3600 YEN and available here.

Chikuhodo T-4

  • Full Length: 150mm / 5.9 in
  • Hair Length: 35mm / 1.4 in
  • Hair Width: 16mm / 0.6 in
  • Bristle Type: Saikoho Goat

This brush, part of the Takumi series, feels like I’m applying blush with a bunny tail! It’s so soft and springy! It’s also larger than I expected, considering the price, which was a nice surprise! It’s fully round, which makes this excellent for buffing. Although goat hair is the better of the animal hairs to use with harder pressed powder products, I don’t like to use this one for that. This works amazingly with regular pressed products and picks up a ton of powder from baked blushes. I love it so much that I even bought a second one as a backup brush. It knocked my Koyudo Pine Squirrel brush back out of my top three favorite blush brushes!

This brush is 5400 YEN and available here.

Sonia G

Sonia G Cheek Pro

  • Full Length: 165mm / 6.5 in
  • Hair Length: 30mm / 1.2 in
  • Hair Width: *21mm / 0.8 in
  • Bristle Type: Saikoho Goat

This is very small, but at least I knew that prior to purchasing. It’s slightly smaller in width to the KZ-04 and much shorter in height. The pinched ferrule creates more pressure in the center of the bristles and lighter pressure on the outer rim, which makes this great for concentrating color precisely to a given area. This helps to create an airbrushed look. This is also a workhorse type of brush I use for blushes that are harder to blend on the skin or harder pressed in the pan. I can still get a very light airy look with this brush, but I prefer to use it in tougher circumstances since it can do what many other brushes in my collection cannot. As time went on, this brush also became part of my top 3 favorite blush brushes and rank either #1 or #2 for me.

Sonia G Keyaki Brush Set

This limited edition brush set is special because of the Japanese Keyaki wood, which is “prized for its durability and beautiful grain” and has been used to build temples, shrines, and altars. It’s not common for an entire house to be made of that wood, but it’s more popular in smaller forms like countertops and lacquerware. I had been debating getting another Jumbo Blender and Mini Booster, plus I wanted the Flat Definer, so I reasoned that getting a set like this made sense for me. There’s no denying that these brushes are tiny (all 5 fit easily in the palm of my hand) but they aren’t so small as to make me question if this purchase was worth it.

Classic Face Brush

  • Full Length: 128mm / 5 in
  • Hair Length: 33mm / 1.3 in
  • Hair Width: *30mm / 1.2 in
  • Bristle Type: White and Dyed Saikoho Goat

The bristles are loosely packed and will give a sheer finish. It’s meant to be an all over face powder brush when traveling, but for everyday use, the head width is about the size of a small blush brush, so I use it as one sometimes. This brush is best suited for picking up loose or very lightly pressed powders.

Mini Base Brush

  • Full Length: 123mm / 4.8 in
  • Hair Length: 23mm / 0.9 in
  • Hair Width: *19mm / 0.7 in
  • Bristle Type: White Sokoho Goat and Synthetic Hair Mix

This is intended for applying foundation. The addition of synthetic fibers makes it especially suited for liquids and creams. The bristles are soft but I can feel a slight drag/resistance when I’m gliding this over my skin using a liquid. I have a big face, so I thought it would take an extraordinarily long time to use this all over, but it only takes an extra minute or two because of how well it blends. Besides foundation, I’ve used this as a large concealer brush to quickly cover a bigger area, though a little imprecisely. It works with all cream blushes, but with the Lys Cream Blush it’s a match made in heaven! With most other creams I rub the product in, but with the Lys, I actually stipple the product on and it looks so incredibly natural! This brush is also great with cream bronzer, cream contour, and even with cream highlighter (though it covers a wider area so I put the highlighter first before the blush). If I took this on a trip, I would still want to bring my Blendiful because that product gives me a blended base so quickly, but I would use this for all other cream products.

I’m normally not interested in angled brushes, but I would love to buy an angled brush or fan brush with this exact density and bristle combination for sharper contouring and bronzing. I also wanted a larger version, so I bought the Smashbox Cream Cheek Brush. I was surprised to find out it wasn’t that much larger than the Mini Base. The Smashbox brush isn’t as densely packed and has more of a domed top, so I have to swirl my brush around to coat all the tips in product. The Sonia G Mini Base applies more product to the cheek. The Smashbox bristles actually picked the product back off my face the way a damp Beautyblender can soak up excess cream and liquid off the skin. For my preferences, the Sonia G is superior because it gives me the maximum color payoff which I can blend down. The Smashbox brush is better for applying lightly as first and building up.

Jumbo Blender Brush

  • Full Length: 125mm / 4.9 in
  • Hair Length: 12mm / 0.5 in
  • Hair Width: *12mm / 0.5 in
  • Bristle Type: White Saikoho Goat

I’ve already reviewed the Jumbo blender so I’ll keep this brief. Despite the smaller handle, I don’t notice any differences between the full size and this one because the brush heads are the same size. These bristles are undyed whereas the original has dyed goat hair, but I don’t notice a difference in the feel of them either. You’re just better able to use cream and liquid eyeshadows with this one.

Mini Booster Brush

  • Full Length: 129mm / 5.1 in
  • Hair Length: 14mm / 0.55 in
  • Hair Width: *8mm / 0.3 in
  • Bristle Type: White Saikoho Goat

Once again, I reviewed this previously and notice no difference in performance between the Keyaki version and original version despite the shorter handle and undyed bristles. The brush heads are the same size. If you have hooded eyes, small lid space, or like precision brushes, I highly recommend getting some form of this brush!

Flat Definer Brush

  • Full Length: 123mm / 4.8 in
  • Hair Length: 8mm / 0.3 in
  • Hair Width: *7mm / 0.27 in
  • Bristle Type: White Saikoho Goat

This brush is available with a larger handle in the original line, but I do not own it. It’s great for applying shadows to my lower lash line, lining the eyelid, and applying shadow to anywhere small like the inner corner and highlighting the brow.

Koyudo Brushes

I mentioned in my “Updated Fude Post” that I was unable to get Kolinsky brushes from CDJapan. Somehow, one month later, I was able to process the order! Koyudo has discontinued many of their brushes and the ones still available will have a price increase, so I bought these at the perfect time. In fact, I bought the last available BP031 from CDJapan.

Koyudo BP027 Large Eye Shadow Brush

  • Full Length: 142mm / 5.6 in
  • Hair Length: 17mm / 0.6 in
  • Hair Width: *14mm / 0.5 in
  • Bristle Type: Kolinsky

Koyudo BP031 Medium Eyeshadow

  • Full Length: 140mm / 5.5 in
  • Hair Length: 15mm / 0.6 in
  • Hair Width: *10mm / 0.4 in
  • Bristle Type: Kolinsky

These two brushes perform the same way, they’re just different sizes. I was under the impression that these would be very soft, but I didn’t realize that it was “very soft” comparatively speaking to weasel and sable hair. These are firm brushes, but not scratchy. They’re stiff, but still have some give as to make them more comfortable to use than other brushes of a similar nature and purpose. What I like about these is the immediate color payoff deposited to my eyes. These are fantastic for cut crease work and creating defined lines, even with the large shadow brush because it is wide but nearly as thin as the medium brush. I also like using these to pack multichromes onto the lid because the bristles can handle being patted onto a layer of glitter glue/primer that I use to keep the shimmer on my eyes.

These brushes are not restricted to just eyeshadows, as the bristle type is fantastic to use with highlighter or creams and liquids like applying concealers and contours and cleaning up edges, but I have only used them for the purpose of applying powder eyeshadow. These would be great with liquid shadows as well.

Koyudo Kakishibuzome Series KSZ-03 Cheek Brush

What makes this brush special and the meaning behind the name is that “Kakishibuzome” is the technique used to dye the tips of the bristles. Kakishibu dye is created from the oxidation of two or more year old fermented unripe persimmons. It supposedly has antibacterial properties from the dye and the color will naturally fade with continued washing of the bristles over time. According to FudeJapan, the handles are made of “mizume-zakura” (cherry blossom wood).

  • Full Length: 155mm / 6.1 in
  • Hair Length: 45mm / 1.8 in
  • Hair Width: *38mm / 1.5 in
  • Bristle Type: Sokoho Goat (Beautylish), Saikoho Goat (CD Japan and Fude Japan)
  • Handle: Cherry Blossom Wood

This is one of those brushes I prefer for the aesthetic over function. The bristles just feel a bit fragile to me. It’s light to medium density. It’s sturdy enough, thanks to the pinched ferrule, but with the amount of pressure I use with my blush, the tips of the bristles don’t all move in a uniform direction. It has a wide splay, but I’m not used to a sweeping style of brush at this size to only be great for blending in one direction. At this size, I can usually buff a little in a circular motion or at least back and forth. I can only get even blending using my normal style if I use light pressure, which would require me to switch up my application techniques, but I would rather just keep this to display. I’ve used this brush for a few months and washed it twice. Despite feeling fragile, it’s still holding up perfectly fine with hardly any shedding. I’m not saying this is a bad brush or not worth the price. It just isn’t as suited to my style as I hoped.

Also, Beautylish has this listed as Sokoho hair but CD Japan and Fude Beauty list it as Saikoho. I’m not sure if it’s just a typo on the part of Beautylish or if Beautylish was given a lower grade batch. There are a few brushes I’ve seen from Beautylish by now that have different hair type (for example the Koyudo y-8 made of tanuki versus squirrel), so I do believe Beautylish sometimes gets their own versions of brushes. The prices among the websites are still fairly similar.

This brush is 6600 YEN and available here.

Koyudo Yoshiki Series Yoshiki-005 Lip & Eyeliner Brush S

  • Full Length: 130mm / 5.1 in
  • Hair Length: 8mm / 0.31 in
  • Hair Width: *4mm / 0.16 in
  • Bristle Type: Saikoho Goat (Beautylish and Fude Beauty)
  • Handle: Wood

At the time of purchase, this brush was also listed as Sokoho on the Beautylish website, but the last time I checked it was updated to Saikoho. Interestingly, CDJapan just has this listed as “Goat” but describes it as a high quality goat. Usually retailers would want to highlight if their product is Saikoho. To my knowledge, “Goat” is used to describe Sokoho at best, but it tends to be lower grades.
The brush isn’t clean in the photo above (sorry! I misplaced my original photos when I had to get my laptop repaired). I rinsed it (but didn’t wash with soap) prior to using it, but the bristles look the same as when I first got this brush. You can see the tip doesn’t come to an insanely fine point the way it appears on some retailer websites. It’s much too thick for me to use as a lip brush, but it’s perfect for what I really wanted: to gently apply shadow to my inner corner and lower lash line, as well as smoking out darker shadows and liners.

This brush is 1500 YEN and is available here.

Kihitsu Brushes

I purchased the Kihitsu Brushes from a seller on Mercari. My curiosity was piqued because the ferrule and handles looked identical to Koyudo’s BP series. Finding information on this brand was difficult, but it’s my understanding Kihitsu brushes are in fact manufactured by Koyudo. This line of Kihitsu is also called the BP series, but I have no idea what the names of these particular brushes are called.

Kihitsu Brush (Cheek? BP018?)

  • Full Length:*160mm / 6.3 in
  • Hair Length:*36mm / 1.4 in
  • Hair Width:*33mm / 1.3 in
  • Bristle Type: Squirrel (exact type unknown)

Kihitsu Brush (Eye? BP028 but not a pine squirrel version?)

  • Full Length: *140mm / 5.5 in
  • Hair Length: *14mm / 0.5 in
  • Hair Width: *10mm / 0.4 in
  • Bristle Type: Squirrel (exact type unknown)

The condition of these brushes are questionable. I’ve seen some hairs on the edges that look snapped off on the larger brush and it feels unusually thin as though it lost quite a bit of hair. I still use these brushes occasionally and I enjoy their softness, but for these reasons, I can’t comment on the quality of what these brushes would have been like if they were brand new and not pre-owned. I can only guess that if I think the quality is decent in this state, the new ones are probably amazing. In the case of the BP018, the Koyudo version was not dense at all, so perhaps that part is the same. I cannot find a retailer than sells Kihitsu to the US. In fact, it’s difficult to find any information about them at all. The only way I’ve seen to obtain brushes like these is through a personal shopper, like buying through Fude Japan’s website, or buying pre-owned like I did.

Muragishi Sangyo

All I know about this brand is what CDJapan states, “MURAGISHI SANGYO is a makeup brush producer with 90 years of history. MURAGISHI’s makeup brushes are created using the traditional techniques of artisans from Kumano and completed with a touch of Kyoto culture.” I was unable to find much else besides their Instagram page.

HS-2 Hana Sakura Blush Brush

  • Full Length: 145mm / 5.7 in
  • Hair Length: 35mm / 1.4 in
  • Hair Width: *30mm / 1.2 in
  • Bristle Type: Gray Squirrel and Sokoho Goat Mix

This is from the Hana Sakura Series. I love this brush! I purchased it in August of 2020, and for several weeks straight I exclusively used this for my blush and bronzer. Even though this is a sweeping style brush, I can use my regular buffing techniques with it. This is one of the main brushes that changed my opinion about the practicality of small blush brushes to the point where I almost favor them! I am admittedly pretty rough with this brush and have used this on some of my harder pressed powders like the Nabla Skin Glazing and Skin Bronzing line. I should treat it gentler because it still has some squirrel in it, but it is holding up very well. The Cherry Blossom design and mix of luxurious hair makes this brush well worth the price and is both effective as a brush and beautiful to display. It is one of my favorite brushes in my entire collection and I’ve purchased these to give as gifts before.

This brush is 3700 YEN and available here.

Rephr Brushes

Rephr is a brand that I was a bit hesitant to purchase from at first. Part of what makes Kumanofude so special are the artisans who have learned the brushmaking techniques that have been passed on for generations. The founders of Rephr don’t have that same experience. It is a relatively new company and although they produce their brushes in Kumano and have hired artisans of their own, the company itself doesn’t have a long-standing history to aid in their credibility. In August, I decided to get two brushes from their concept store in order to test the quality.
The concept store is where they put the brushes on sale for half off*, with the condition of getting feedback about the brushes. That feedback is supposed to be used in order to tailor and tweak future brushes to meet the demands of the customers and create brushes that the majority of people want most. I expected to get an email asking for feedback, as I couldn’t find where I was supposed to input that information on the site, but I never received a message after buying them in August 2020.

*As of March 2021, Rephr has reintroduced the concept store (with the feedback section linked in the account). Also, the concept store brushes are not automatically 50% off anymore.

Rephr 15

  • Full Length: *171mm / 6.7 in
  • Hair Length: *17mm / 0.7 in
  • Hair Width: *12mm / 0.47 in
  • Bristle Type: Goat

Rephr 16

  • Full Length: *175mm / 6.9 in
  • Hair Length: *20mm / 0.8 in
  • Hair Width: *12mm / 0.47 in
  • Bristle Type: Goat

Regarding the goat hair quality, it is only on the FAQ page that Rephr explains that each brush is a mix of Sokoho and Saikoho goat hair. The brushes intended to deposit more pigment lean more on the side of Sokoho and the brushes they want to be airier and give a sheerer application have more of the Saikhoho hair.

I honestly didn’t like these brushes at first. They were listed as “large” but I wasn’t expecting them to be this big for blending brushes, and I wish Rephr posted the brush stats at the time I purchased them. I tend to prefer a fluffy brush to blow out one shade in the crease, like the #15, but the tapered tip of the #16 is great for blending out a harsh edge. I would have liked them even more if they were a bit denser and sturdier so I could apply more pressure when blending. I know that many people love Rephr brushes, and while it’s a good introduction to Fude at a lower price via the concept store, I have brushes I like better and I recommend skipping the introduction and jumping straight into Sonia G for both traditional and innovative versatile styles. I still use the #15 and #16, but they’re never my first choice. I prefer the Sonia G Blender Pro to the nearly identical brush head size of the #15.

In addition, while the concept store prices make the brushes more affordable, their regular prices are not automatically cheaper. For example, Rephr’s number 23 brush for $24 is similar in size to the $14 Saikoho goat hair Koyudo Yoshiki Series Yoshiki-005 Lip & Eyeliner Brush. Rephr’s $28 #20 fan brush is pricier than the Wayne Goss #15 fan brush for $25. All the eye brushes are the same $24 regardless of how large or how tiny the brushes are, which makes it feel like it’s absolutely not worth buying a smaller brush. I’m guessing that by charging more for a small brush (leaving it to be overpriced) it offsets the cost of the larger brushes (presumably underpriced). The Sonia G Blender Pro is $10 more expensive than the #15. If the #15 was really meant to be, for example $4-10 more expensive, I would easily say the Blender Pro is more worth the money. Even with the larger brushes being underpriced, I feel like the quality somewhat matches, so it still doesn’t feel like a savings at $24. In Rephr’s own words, the cost difference is “minimal,” between the goat hair grades they use, so the bristle quality isn’t a factor. Other brushmakers charge lower prices for smaller brushes because they use less materials to make them. I prefer that model and wish Rephr gave each eye brush its own unique price.

**I completed this post in March 2021, but when Rephr reintroduced the concept store and started a point program, then scrapped it in favor of offering an outright automatic coupon of 40% off the customers’ next orders, I decided to give the brand a second try and purchased three more brushes. I also pushed back the release of this post so that I would have adequate time to test them out fairly. On the website, I was pleased to see they added better photos of the brushes and closeups of the brush heads from multiple angles, plus videos, in addition to at least listing the hair lengths of each brush.

Upon receiving my new order, it seemed to me that the bristles felt a little nicer. I was also surprised by how much tighter packed the bristles felt. Then I realized that these brushes were all matte black as opposed to the previous brushes I had with shiny metal ferrules and glossy black handles. This made me curious, so I watched a few videos on youtube to discover that some of my same brushes existed in both the matte and shiny handle forms and although I could not find an explanation, I suspect this is to differentiate between Rephr’s brushes in the concept store (that they get feedback on) from the brushes in their regular store that are usually listed at full price. I don’t know if these three brushes happen to be more of the “type 3” Saikoho hair or if the quality of the concept brushes are a tad lower than the regular store brushes. All I know is that these three brushes are more of the Fude quality I’m used to, which has caused my opinion of Rephr to improve. However, at full price they’re still more expensive than some of the prestigious brands I use, so I don’t know what the make of the situation. I would love to love them, but whether their brushes are worth buying depends on the situation. I know most brands factor future discounts/sale events into their pricing, so maybe this is why Rephr’s brushes are not that affordable at full price. It has to be working for them because businesses will do whatever works best for their company. If it doesn’t work, they’ll change it. As a consumer, I enjoy researching what else is on the market so I can feel confident that I got the best price that’s worth the money.

Rephr 05

  • Full Length: *170mm / 6.7 in
  • Hair Length: 38mm / 1.5 in
  • Hair Width: *30mm / 1.2 in
  • Bristle Type: Goat

This brush is ideal for sweeping, but I can easily use circular motions to swirl on the product. It works surprisingly well for that considering its oval shape and pinched ferrule. After washing it for the first time, I discovered that this brush blooms to a dramatically different shape, though I noticed it while it was half dried and was able to return it to the shape I wanted by putting a brush guard on it. The belly of the brush is still puffed out more than before, making this brush less oval and more of a round shape on the top. This explains how I was able to use circular motions so easily with a paddle shaped brush.

I thought using the brush on its toes would be great to chisel on bronzer and/or contour, but the tips come to a taper, so it doesn’t distribute as much pigment per swipe as it would if it had a flatter top. I can still use the brush on its side to apply bronzer, but I prefer to just use this as a blush brush. It picks up a decent amount of blush and distributes a soft, but not too sheer, wash of color to the cheeks. It also works to dust on a light layer of powder all over the face. For $34, I have no regrets getting this. I don’t want to keep harping on Rephr’s prices but rather than spending $57 for the #5, I would say the Chikuhodo T-4 for $52 is so worth it. It has more bristles and is softer and similar in size, though the brush head shape is fully round. The T-4 is in my top favorite blush brushes and is such a joy to use. Rephr’s #5 is nice, and I would definitely recommend it at the price I paid, but I wouldn’t recommend it if it was priced above $45 when I can list several other brushes I prefer for blush that’s under $57. I’m still curious about brush #24 from Rephr, but I’ve never caught that one in stock.

Rephr 12

  • Full Length: *145mm / 5.7 in
  • Hair Length: 11mm / 0.4 in
  • Hair Width: *7mm / 0.3 in
  • Bristle Type: Goat

This brush reminded me of a smaller version of a Real Techniques brush I used to love for crease work. That brush could apply and blend almost at the same time, but with continued use it eventually lost some of its shape and became less effective at blending. Because the Rephr 12 is smaller than that one and has a pointed tip, I can use it like a regular pencil brush to apply shadow below my lower lash line with precision despite how wide it looks. I also turn it slightly to the side to use the side of the bristles to blend out the edges of shadows. It also does what the #13 can do in terms of being great for precise crease work, and more precise than my Real Techniques brush was capable of doing. So far, I’m impressed with this brush and will continue to use it. This is the only brush I’ve tried from Rephr that I think is actually worth purchasing at full price.

Rephr 13

  • Full Length: *152mm / 6 in
  • Hair Length: 13mm / 0.5 in
  • Hair Width: *7mm / 0.3 in
  • Bristle Type: Goat

This brush is a hair smaller than the Sonia G Mini Booster. I have photos comparing the shape of this to several other similar brushes at the end of this post. This is the kind of shape that is my favorite for doing any precise crease work and deepening the outer corner of the eye by building up and blending out. The brush is dense enough to blend stubborn shadows, yet still soft enough to avoid tugging the skin in the process. While I do like this brush and find it useful, the Sonia G Mini Booster can do the same while being even softer on the eye. For this reason, I consider this more of a backup brush, useful but not my first choice. The Sonia G brush is $26 and has never gone on sale. Since this is regularly $24, if you don’t have the one from Sonia G and can get this on sale, it may be worth purchasing.

After both orders, I’ve come to believe that Rephr would not be getting this much hype without the concept store/deep discounts. Customers get decent to nice quality handmade uncut brushes from Kumano, but the sale price is the only reason I’d recommend looking into Rephr. The customer feedback aspect is where Rephr has potential. If their future releases are innovative shapes and styles of brushes, I think that would really make them a company to keep your eye on. On their “About us” page, they mentioned expanding to “products related to makeup, skincare & home,” which would also help them to really stand out as a company. I know that would certainly excite me! My experience with them is mixed, but I’m still keeping tabs on their future releases.

Tsubokawa Mouhitsu

Koyomo Nadeshiko Pearl Pink Shadow Brush

Tsubokawa Mohitsu is the actual brush manufacturer. I’m going to splice together what CDJapan has to say about this particular brush and the line overall because there is extra information depending on which page of the site you’re reading:

“Haku-ototsuho Yomo is hair from around the shoulder area of goats, which has a moderate firmness. The highest-quality hair for brushes, known as “Koyomo,” is hair that has been taken from goats living in the Yangtze region of China, in the 1970s or before, and is precious due to its rarity. Brushes using “Koyomo” confirmed as being from this period, are coated in cuticles up to the hair tip and have delicate tips, which means that they feel smooth on the skin and have no friction. The brushes also last a long time, becoming more adapted the more they are used, and as make-up brushes they are unparalleled.”

The fact that “Koyomo” is continually used in quotation marks on the website leads me to believe that this is somewhat of an umbrella term, especially when it just has goat next to it on the distributor page (shown in the screenshot below).
The main takeaway of Koyomo is that it’s intended to signify the source of the hair (specific goats from a specific region and period of time). The term alone does not distinguish the grade.
A Koyomo version of Saikoho is supposed to be better than Saikoho from a goat today. Sokoho grade Koyomo is said to be stronger and softer than modern Sokoho hair, and so on. So, if you have an opportunity to get a Hakuototsuho Koyomo brush or a modern Saikoho hair brush, you can expect the modern Saikoho brush to be softer because it’s still a higher grade.

Also, “highest quality” could mean strength of the bristle relative to its softness and doesn’t always mean it will be the softest brush, like the way Kolinsky is highly prized but they don’t all feel the same. I mention this because I made this assumption and I wouldn’t want someone to be disappointed with what they get. Even though this brush is technically a lower grade than most of my other natural hair brushes, it’s surprisingly soft considering the firmness of the bristles. On the softness scale it’s perhaps on par with modern Sokoho. All of the pink series are made of Hakuototsuho Koyomo, but the company also produces higher grade Koyomo in their Tsuki and Hana lines. However, those are naturally more expensive.

I don’t mind using small brushes, but because this is so tiny it gets lost in the sea of my brushes. However, I continually seek this out because the bristles are so resilient and densely packed, yet small enough to use with hooded eyes that I absolutely love using this brush to blend the outer corners of my eyeshadow. I didn’t think it was worth buying at first, but after the first few uses I started to appreciate it a lot more and it’s one of my favorite brushes now.

  • Full Length: *110mm / 4.3 in
  • Hair Length: *15mm / 0.6 in
  • Hair Width: *10mm / 0.4 in
  • Bristle Type: Haku-ototsuho Yomo Goat

This brush is 2500 YEN and available here.


Uyeda Bisyodo is an OEM like Koyudo, Chikuhodo, and Hakuhodo but I don’t know which brands they create brushes for. While the other 3 OEMs I’m familiar with are located in Kumano, Bisyodo is based in Osaka. I’ve always been curious about this brand, but after The Fancy Face on Youtube raved about them, I couldn’t resist them any longer! I love the feel of whatever conditioning or treating agent they use on the bristles. I can’t definitively say which Fude company is my third favorite, but this one is definitely in the running for that spot!

BISYODO alba Series Powder Brush

  • Full Length: 180mm / 7.1 in
  • Hair Length: 50mm / 2 in
  • Hair Width: *38mm / 1.5 in
  • Bristle Type: Saikoho Goat
  • Handle: Wood
  • Ferrule: Aluminum

I love the way this gently glides across my skin. The size and shape allows me to quickly and evenly apply a light dusting of power all over my face. I believe it is the softest goat brush in my collection, more than the Chikuhodo T-4, Koyudo Saikoho Powder Brush, and Sonia G Cheek Pro. I don’t use powder all over my face as much anymore, but whenever I do with this brush, it is an absolute pleasure to use. I was surprised to discover such mixed reviews about this brush and the Alba series as a whole. I don’t know if i just got lucky or others received some defective ones, but the quality of mine is phenomenal. It’s a great tool with a beautiful wood handle that appears to have some kind of coating to make it feel like it’s ceramic. The aluminum ferrule isn’t pinched, but it has an oval shape, yet the width and splay of the bristles allow me to both sweep the powder and buff in a circular motion if I want.

This brush is 7200 YEN and available here.

B-C-01 Highlight / Cheek Brush

  • Full Length: 167mm / 6.8 in
  • Hair Length: 38mm / 1.5 in
  • Hair Width: *32mm / 1.26 in
  • Bristle Type: Saikoho Goat
  • Handle: African Rose Wood
  • Ferrule: 24 Karat Gold plated Brass

Most of my points with CDJapan were going to expire, but I waited for the Valentine’s Day coupon before making this purchase. This also makes it one of the three newest brushes to my collection. Besides loving Saikoho goat hair, the biggest lure of this brush to me is the beautiful polished African Rose Wood handle (from a legume tree) with the brass ferrule plated in 24KG. I was able to get the last one before it went on backorder. The bristles are so soft that it doesn’t even feel natural to me. It reminds me of my softest, silkiest, smoothest synthetic brushes. The way it’s shaped, especially with a very pinched ferrule, makes this brush a definitely intended for sweeping applications of blush or turned on the side to use with bronzers and contours. It’s lighter at the top and a bit more dense in the middle, but I still find it to be a floppy brush. It has such a wide splay area that adds to my statement about it working best as a sweeping cheek brush.

This brush is 6400 YEN and available here.

CH-HC Highlight Cheek Brush (Round)

  • Full Length: 163mm / 6.4 in
  • Hair Length: 35mm / 1.4 in
  • Hair Width: 21mm / 0.8 in
  • Bristle Type: Saikoho Goat* (Sokoho)
  • Handle: Wood
  • Ferrule: Silver Plated

This brush is pretty, but I honestly just bought it to reach the free shipping minimum with CDJapan. This was part of my Valentine’s day order in 2021, and since then it became my number one favorite highlighter brush! I love the size of the tip and that point allows me to precisely place highlighter in a quantity that rare overdoes it. I can softly blend it out as well. The head is very similar to the Hakuhodo B5521, so essentially I have a duplicate of an amazing brush for a fraction of the cost. The Hakuhodo brush is $63 today but in Dec 2014 it used to be $35. While the squirrel-goat mix makes the Hakuhodo brush softer, I would say someone is much better off buying the Bisyodo brush instead at the current pricing. As soft as the Hakuhodo brush is, I like this brush better because of the resilience of the bristle for blending in highlighter formulas that might need a little help in getting them to look smooth on the face!

The handle of this brush doesn’t have the same coated finish as the African Rose Wood or Alba brush line. The bristles are most important to me, so I don’t mind. I love that I can get Saikoho goat at this price.

*At the time that I bought this brush, it was listed as Saikoho Goat. At the time I am updating, it is now listed as Sokoho Goat. I’m not sure if this is to correct an original mistake or if certain batches are made of different types of goat hair depending on what is available. Perhaps there was a shortage of Saikoho or rather than increasing the price of this brush for this shape, they decided to switch to Sokoho from now on. I’m not certain which one is the case, but after learning that another Bisyodo brush had been mislabeled on CDJapan (in 2022), it is quite possible that the brush was incorrectly listed as Saikoho. I am also inclined to believe this after I purchased a second one of these and the quality was quite similar to the one I bought at the time that it was supposed to be Saikoho. So, I do believe it was always supposed to be listed as Sokoho. In any case, this is a great reminder to always check the seller’s descriptions and the descriptions at other retail websites for the most up-to-date information about each brush before purchasing.

This brush is 2500 YEN and available here.


Houkodou is another Kumanofude company. Although they have been in business since 1900, I don’t know much about them other than what I’ve read here. I’ve been waiting for years for my go-to Fude brands to have an affordable Canadian Squirrel brush for sale to try. I grew tired of waiting, which is why I finally bought this brush from CDJapan. The two brushes are labeled GS-1 and GS-2 but these are different from the identically named brushes from Eihodo that are also available from CDJapan. Also, I could have sworn I read that these were gold plated, but I cannot find that information any longer. It’s possible the gold plated ones were a limited edition release or they used to be but no longer are. I think mine are beautiful regardless.

Houkodou Brilliant Gold Series Flat Eye Shadow Brush G-S1

  • Full Length: 148mm / 5.8 in
  • Hair Length: 20mm / 0.78 in
  • Hair Width: *15mm / 0.6 in
  • Bristle Type: Canadian Squirrel

This brush brings out the best in the eyeshadows I use with it. Whenever I’m doing a blown out look, this blends my shadows so well! It’s a positive experience every time! The bristles are nearly as soft as grey squirrel, yet they deposit significantly more color with one dip onto the eyes. This brush reignited my curiosity and interest in Canadian Squirrel so much that I had to buy the G-S2 later on as well.

This brush is 3700 YEN and available here.

Houkodou Brilliant Gold Series Flat Eye Shadow Brush G-S2

  • Full Length: 148mm / 5.8 in
  • Hair Length: 14mm / 0.55 in
  • Hair Width: *10mm / 0.4 in
  • Bristle Type: Canadian Squirrel

This was another Valentine’s day purchase. It’s significantly smaller than the G-S1, but it allows me to do more detailed work. If you like the G-S1, I see no reason why someone would not like this as well.

This brush is 3200 YEN and available here.


That’s all! Thank you as always for reading!


Best of Rare Beauty Lip and Cheek Set

When Rare Beauty first launched, I couldn’t decide between Joy and Love blush shades and I didn’t want to have so many cream and liquid products all being opened at once. So, I held off buying them and I’m glad I did because this 4 piece set is perfect for me! At these sizes, I don’t feel as guilty about how often I’d get the chance to use them. Plus they’re in the shades I wanted, so I didn’t have to choose one over the other!

When the holiday sets launched, I noticed a discrepancy in the descriptions on Sephora’s website.

In the “What Else You Need to Know” section, one blush is listed as Bliss, but in the “This Set Contains” portion, the blush is listed as Love. Those are two very different shades and was the determining factor for whether I was going to make my purchase or not. When I checked the official Rare Beauty website, that particular set only had Bliss and Joy listed, yet it was clear to see in the product photos that neither blush was light enough to be the Bliss shade. I figured since Rare Beauty was most likely to have the answer, I contacted their customer service phone number and the person I spoke with was very surprised by this. She thanked me profusely for letting them know, took my information, and said she would get back to me with the correct shades as soon as possible. True to her word, I did get an email a few hours later letting me know the blush shades were indeed Joy and Love. She gave me a free shipping code as a thank you, but I purchased the set via Sephora since I already get free shipping and had a Friends and Family sale code to use.

During that sale, I also purchased the Liquid Touch Concealer Brush, which I will talk about now before we move to the set.

The bristles are soft and densely packed. The unique shape and design of the brush allow me to really get into the contours of my face. Although synthetic bristles aren’t supposed to absorb product, I still find myself using more concealer than usual, but the trade-off is worth it considering how quickly I finish applying and blending. When the brush is freshly washed, it glides effortlessly under my eyes and in the corners between my eyes and nose.

After a few uses when there is a little more product buildup on the brush, it doesn’t glide as smoothly, so I switch to a tapping motion to apply my concealer, which works just as well! I thought that because the head size is very large for a concealer brush that it would be too big to apply product precisely, but the head and ferrule shape causes it to squish into the contours of my face. The large surface area also ensures the application process goes quickly. At the $12 discounted sale price, I am quite happy with this purchase! I’ve only washed the brush twice so far, so I don’t have any news to report on the longevity of the brush. Perhaps in a year I will update this post if there is anything to report about how it has held up so far, considering this is now my new favorite concealer brush and I foresee myself using it at least 4 times a week.

Joy on the cheeks and Support on the lips.

Joy is one of the four dewy blushes currently in the line. In the swatch photo, I had Joy on my arm for about five minutes and it remained wet looking. Essentially, the more product that’s packed on, the dewier it will look. Realistically, you wouldn’t apply that much product in one spot onto the cheeks. So, it ends up more matte than one would expect.

Something about this shade appeals to me so much! Despite being such a bright coral shade, I was surprised to see how wearable it is when used sparingly. These liquid blushes are extremely pigmented. A single drop could be the difference between looking flushed and looking clownish.

Both blushes are long-wearing (I stopped testing after 8 hours). Neither moved my foundation underneath. I could still blend them out after leaving them untouched on my cheek for a minute, though I would recommend working one cheek at a time. They do set to the point of being dry to the touch and no product transferred onto my finger or when I pressed a napkin to my face. Using my finger is my preferred application method, but using a brush or sponge works just as well to create a non-streaky perfectly blended look. A brush will give the most color payoff though, not that it’s necessary considering the amount of pigment these already have.

Love on the cheeks and Support on the lips.

The shade Love is also very beautiful and is one of the four blushes in the matte formula. You can tell Love and Joy are completely different shades in swatches, but once blended on the cheeks, Joy just looks like a lighter and slightly brighter version of Love. This is the case in both photos and in person and it might have to do with being warm-toned shades on my warm tone complexion.

I thought it would be fun to see how Joy and Love look together. In an effort to apply the same amount of product, I used 4 dots instead of my usual 3, which was blush overkill. So, I used what was left of my foundation on my Blendiful and patted that on top of the blushes to tone it down a little. I really liked the end result! It created a nice in-between shade that looked fully matte.

Support is surprisingly pigmented for a “balm.” It’s almost enough to fully cover the dark pigmented patches on my lower lip! It’s more like a sheer lipstick, as the first thought that came to my mind was how similar it felt to Urban Decay’s Vice sheer lipsticks. It’s comfortable on the lips, and although super creamy, it’s not emollient enough to give me that true balm feeling. Regardless of what it is by definition, I love it and will continue to use it! It’s so natural looking on me, which is definitely my preference with lip colors! There is only about half an inch of product in this mini, so when I run out, I might actually buy the full size. It has been a long time since I’ve been excited by a lip product, but this one managed to impress me!

Edit: I forgot to mention this has a scent, but I can’t pinpoint what it smells like. It’s not the same as the lip cream. It’s a mix of sweet and floral. I don’t smell it once the product is on my lips but I don’t know if the fragrance is stronger in the full size.

The lip cream is indeed creamy and comfortable to wear. Although Transform is supposed to be a matte shade, it stays dewy looking if too much product is applied. And if you want it to be more opaque, multiple layers are required. After removing the excess product, it still doesn’t dry down to the point of being transfer-proof. It will remain creamy and transferable on the lips. The flat paddle applicator was also too difficult for me to get to the inner corners of my mouth precisely, so I had to switch to a lip pencil brush. If you like lip creams, you will probably like this product. However, I’m extremely picky about red lippies and although it’s a pretty color, I don’t like it on myself. So, I will not get use out of this product. Even if this was a more natural shade, the balm texture is more of my preference than the lip cream. This has a scent that reminds me of cocoa butter.

Overall, I’m very happy with this purchase! It’s exciting to find a set where all 4 shades are wearable on me and to love 3 of the 4 products. This brand has exceeded my expectations, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else they have in store for us!

Thank you for reading!

– Lili

ELF Cosmetics Bite Size Face Duos and More

2014 was the year my obsession with makeup really started, but my history with E.L.F. began in 2011 at the latest. My Aunt bought me one of their Smoky Eye books that had a step-by-step diagram of how to achieve a smokey eye. I don’t believe I used it that often but compared to the chalky eyeshadows I’d been experiencing at the time, I thought it was amazing. This was the period when I was still using sponge tip applicators and I’d never heard of actually blending eyeshadows!  

Elf Cosmetics, and myself, have come a long way since then. They managed to produce some nice quality products at very affordable prices long before Colourpop. Despite having incredible Japanese brushes of the highest quality, I still use some of my ELF brushes that have lasted me years!

But I’ll try to keep this post on the short side for once. I have 4 out of the 8 Bite-Size Face Duos, the newest additions to their line of minis. I also recently purchased another Bite-Size eyeshadow quad, making my total of those 4 out of 8 as well.

At the cost of $3, they’re definitely worth checking out. I recently did a massive MAC blush and highlighter post, so the quality of these duos don’t blow me away when compared to MAC’s formula. However, the color combinations are pretty; they’re lightweight but still decently pigmented, and they blend into the skin nicely without being patchy. I can’t ask for more at this price point. An odd bonus point for me is that I’ll finally have the satisfaction of hitting pan on a blush because the pans are thin and I could definitely get through one eventually.

I will be posting cheek swatches, but because some of the shades are so light, I wanted to show what my bare cheek looks like with just foundation for comparison purposes. I’m wearing the Shiseido Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing foundation with SPF in 440 Amber. In the grey shirt, I have the original ELF poreless primer. In the pink shirt, I’m using the MILK Hydro Grip primer.

Watermelon – This shade is too light for me, and it’s emphasized by the white/silver shimmer in the blush. It looks matte based on website photos, but it’s far from it. I was also disappointed by the highlighter shade, which is a beautiful salmon color in the pan but just comes off icy on my cheeks. I don’t see myself reaching for this one anymore, or even repurposing the blush because of the shimmer. Even though it doesn’t work for me, it would look beautiful on someone of a lighter complexion (especially neutral to pink undertone).

Guava – This is the only matte blush out of the four duos I have. It’s just dark enough for me to be able to wear this, but I think the buildable nature also helps me to pull it off. It looks brighter and more coral in the pan, but that doesn’t translate to my cheeks. In swatches, it looks very similar to Watermelon, but thankfully without the frosty shimmer.

The highlighter in this duo is the most flattering of the four for my complexion. The Guava duo is one I will keep using.

Pomegranate – This is the one duo made for darker complexions. On the day I wore the pink shirt, I wanted to show how sheer the blush could be applied, because I knew it was pigmented enough that I could actually overdo it. In the grey shirt, I used a denser brush for stronger impact with just a few swipes.

Even though this one is better suited for my skintone, it still comes off a little darker than I prefer. So, I’ll continue to use this with either a very light application or by combining it with a lighter blush nearer to/on the apples of my cheeks.

Coconut – This shade is a little harder to blend than the others, but the formula feels slightly creamier and less powdery (satin finish). I believe this shade was actually intended to be more of a bronzer shade for light-medium skin tones, rather than a blush for tan, dark, or deep complexions, but I decided to try it as a blush anyway. It reminds me a bit of the Format shade from MAC. I like this one, but I’d love it if it had a slightly reddish tone. I’ve worn this shade the most so far, but since I already own a similar shade that I like better (Format), if I continue to use it, I would use it as a blush topper over blushes with some red in it. For example, I’ve worn it with MAC’s Burnt Pepper shade to tone it down a bit, and it looked pretty nice once I was able to blend it in properly, which took a while. I haven’t decided if it’s really worth it trying to use up or not. TBD.

For some reason, the highlighter formula in this duo is different from the others. The glitter is much chunkier, and I’ve never liked sparkly highlighters. It’s a shame because gold is my most loved shade of highlighter among any brand. I was really looking forward to this one until I saw the texture in person.

Berry Bad – In my pictures wearing a grey shirt, I wore the lightest and darkest shades in this palette. The lightest one doesn’t show up on me. It’s a buildable shade but still not opaque enough. The second shade is a more metallic formula compared to the rosy shimmer in the third pan. When I put the two next to each other on my lids in the photo below, I could barely see a difference in person, let alone on camera. And the combination of textures when I applied both shades with a wet brush looked odd and did not blend together seamlessly, so I reapplied the rosy third shade with my finger all over the lid to get that original dull dry texture back. Then I applied the metallic shade wet to the lower lash line so I could still show it in this look, although dampening that shade made it look reddish copper instead of orange copper. In my crease, I have the darkest shade. Basically, the last two in the quad are the most pigmented, but still look very light.

For now, I like it enough to keep using the last three shades. It’s still better than the Acai palette, but not as good as the Jalapeño or Truffle. I’ve discussed the other three mini palettes in this post if you’re interested in seeing more about them.

ELF’s Instant Lift Brow Pencil was in my favorite products from 2019 post, and I still love it and have continued to use it consistently since then. I recently bought the Ultra Precise Brow Pencil with my ELF website order because Ulta only sells the 4 lightest shades.

The Instant Lift Brow is 0.006 oz. Not only is the Ultra Precise Brow Pencil much smaller in packaging size, it actually contains a third of the product at 0.002 oz. What I love about the Instant Lift is how creamy it is, though that also means it only stays put as long as you don’t accidentally rub your brows. The Ultra Precise Brow is a bit stiffer, as is necessary to maintain the precision, but it’s not as stiff as all the other brow pencils I’ve used. It’s also not quite as easy to remove.

Both shades are in Dark Brown. The Instant Lift is $2 whereas the Ultra Precise is $5. Despite the Ultra Brow being more expensive for less product, I never go through my brow products before having to toss them, so I think I will continue purchasing the Ultra Brow in the future because I really enjoy how sharp I can make my brows look! That being said, I still love the Instant Lift and will continue to use it up until it’s finished or it’s time to throw it out.

The original Poreless Putty Primer has been touted as the dupe for Tatcha’s Silk Canvas primer, but I can tell the difference. The ELF primer is more emollient and actually easier to blend into the skin than the Tatcha primer. On the smooth areas of my face, they perform similarly. However, my favorite place to put the Tatcha primer is under my eyes, because I noticed it helps my Tarte Shape Tape to look a little less dry and minimizes the look of creases under my eyes. They’re still obviously there, but when I tried to ELF primer under my eyes, within hours they drew attention to them in the worst way. It made the concealer slide away in some spots and gather up in the creases instead. It basically looked worse than if I’d used no primer at all with Shape Tape. I can still recommend this primer (and I will still use it) on the rest of my face, as it worked nicely everywhere except the under eyes.

I think the original is a great option, but I absolutely hate the Luminous Putty Primer. At the time I bought it, I didn’t realize the luminosity was due to shimmer particles; that it would leave visible glitter specks randomly dotted all over my face, even under the foundation, and look like I had glitter fallout from eyeshadow before even doing my eye makeup.

The Putty Eye Primer that I own is in the shade Sand. These eye primers are often compared to the MAC paint pots. It does feel similar straight from the eyeshadow pot, but as it’s applied to the eyes and dries down, it takes on a very stiff texture that is similar to the feel of the ABH eye primer. MAC paint pots stay a little more creamy on the skin.

I enjoyed the Putty Eye primer for about four months until my eyeshadows were no longer sticking to my lids as well when I used this product. The formula became drier over time and a week after I started writing this, I checked again and it’s even drier than before. I no longer have the original box to confirm, but I believe it has a 6 month or less period after opening suggestion. Some products perform well for much longer than the PAO number, but this one didn’t. There are youtubers I admire who like this product (though the videos were first impressions while the pots were still fresh), but I don’t think it’s worth getting when there are other brands who make affordable eye primers too which last longer.

Lastly, I have the Deep Chestnut shade of the 16HR and Hydrating Camo concealers, yet they look like different shades. The original camo concealer has an olive undertone, but the hydrating version is lighter with a very yellow undertone. This difference in color was also noted by Samantha March who wears a very different shade than me, yet still encountered this issue. When you look at the consistency of both concealers, the hydrating one does look more fluid and has a creamier feel under my eyes when it’s freshly applied. After it sets, it continues to look dewy but it feels just as dry as the original. This doesn’t seem to be the case for everyone, but it is for me. I was hoping at least one of them could be an inexpensive replacement for my Tarte Shape Tape, but I can’t find a color to suit me.

In addition, these concealers also have the problem of not lasting as long. Granted, they lasted longer than the PAO date, but still quicker than any other concealer I’ve purchased. The 16HR Camo concealer has spots where the color is starting to separate in the tube. The Hydrating Camo concealer, which I’ve had an even shorter time, is definitely separating. I only used it perhaps five times in the seven months I’ve owned it, so I can’t even say it’s due to overexposure of oxygen from opening and closing the tube. Even if they did last longer, I don’t like the formula of the hydrating one anyway. I do prefer the original, but the shades and undertones in the range are a bit strange to me. I will be tossing them both out, but I at least showed swatches in the gallery further up in the post, even though I didn’t demonstrate them under my eyes.

That concludes this post! I hope it has been helpful. Thank you for reading!


Updated: Fude Brushes

I have made so many changes to my brush collection since my previous Fude discussion that I felt the need to create a second post. And for consistency, the barebones information presented here has been updated to that post as well, so it can continue to be a single resource for all things Fude related from my end!

I’ll start with the most exciting update: Chikuhodo’s Homare “Honor” Kazan Squirrel series!

According to VisageUSA, “Not only is Kazan squirrel hair the rarest and softest of cosmetic brush materials, its slight wave in texture allows for greater efficiency in picking up and distributing powder products.” The Grandillo wood handles are exquisite! I absolutely love the way they look and feel but Visage does not offer an engraving option on them. Perhaps this is because the brush is already engraved with the brand name on the front and brush name on the back.  

This series is extremely popular, as it has gone back and forth between being in-stock and back-ordered from CDJapan and VisageUSA. This isn’t a limited edition collection, but quantities do appear to be in limited stock.

Chikuhodo KZ-04 $100

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

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 the FO-3 is still my favorite blush brush in my collection. This brush is 5th place based on size and thickness. If softness was the only factor, it would be #1.

I have a photo of the KZ-05 and KZ-04 while wet after being washed. It shows a better idea of the amount of hair in each brush, and I was shocked to see how much thinner and more tapered the blush brush got than even the highlighter brush!

Chikuhodo KZ-05 $90

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

I debated between getting the candle-shaped KZ-03 or this less strongly tapered KZ-05. Because I have the Wayne Goss 00 brush, and already know it’s not a “must-have” in my collection, I decided to go with the KZ-05 instead. There’s also a $50 difference between the two. I don’t have the width stats, but the KZ-03 is 10mm longer than the KZ-05.

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, it 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-2 $100

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

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.

The VisageUSA summer sale was the perfect time to get an engraved FO-2, and while I was at it, I purchased engraved FO-1 and FO-3 brushes. I have since sold the ones I originally had, in addition to the FO-5 which I didn’t like enough to keep.

I don’t know if I ever mention this but my given name is Lian (Lee-Ann) but Lili is my nickname. I had a difficult time deciding which one I wanted to use for the engraving, but I decided for the FO-series to use Lian and any other series in the future, I’ll probably go with Lili.

Chikuhodo E-4 Nose Contouring $20

  • 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 so 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.

Chikuhodo R-S1/RR-S1 $16

  • 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.

Koyudo BP Series BP017 Blush Brush $65

  • 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).

My curiosity was always about how pine squirrel performs, and was never about the looks, as I think the bristles are quite ugly. I’m guessing this will be an unpopular opinion, but I just prefer dark sleek mostly solid-colored bristles.

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 on its 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.

Koyudo Somell Garden Bluberry x Walnut Highlighting Brush $30

  • 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 it can be used as a buffing brush.

The softness degree is 6 out of 10 on the website, which is still quite nice. I have some goat hair brushes that are so rough I use them to dust off my figurines and other products. I’m not even joking. Since I know what a 2 out of 10 brush feels like, I think some of the roughest brushes in my collection would place in the negatives, if that was possible. And now that I know what a 6 out of 10 feels like, I would say anyone looking for a non-scratchy brush should aim for 6 and up.

Before I move onto the next brush, I have to show the concept (as sited on FudeJapan and CDJapan) behind the Somell Garden series because it’s pretty fascinating.

Koyudo Saikoho Powder Brush [OUTLET] $54 ($78)

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

This brush was released June 16th at the discounted price. I assume outlet means it just wasn’t able to sell well, so CDJapan got ahold of some stock at a cheaper price the way some mid to high-end makeup brands end up at TJMaxx? The alternative meaning is if “outlet” products have a cosmetic flaw, but something like that would normally be noted on the website, so I believe it’s the former.

Saikoho goat hair at this size for that price 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.

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. I figured if the brushes were sold individually, it might be priced at $80-$85 for the large, $60-65 for the medium, and $30-$35 for the small. The large brush was the one I knew I’d get the most use from, as I despise brushes that are too pointy (like the medium and small), but I wanted to have at least one of them for collector purposes. Even though I predict the brushes will be sold individually in the future, I didn’t want to wait for that. So, I purchased the first one of the three that happened to fall into what I considered a fair price range.

This brush is way more useful than I thought! It might have actually surpassed the Wayne Goss Air brush as my #1 favorite bronzer brush.

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 and worthy of being called a multi-tasker brush. I can even set concealer with powder under my eyes, though it’s a smidge too large to get into the very inner corners.

I have to note, though, that there are a few strands within this brush that feels 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. I’m guessing the goat blend is the portion responsible in this goat-squirrel combined brush. Saikoho isn’t meant to feel anything but soft, but maybe a few other types of goat strands were mixed in. I’m not sure, but I still really like this brush.

Sonia G Jumbo Blender $38

  • 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.


Chikuhodo MKC-1 Makie Box $30-40

  • 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 also available in red and beige.

I realized that my brush holders, although beautiful, weren’t very good for my large brushes, as they leaned on one another and the bristles kept getting misshapen. I bought this box to at least house my most expensive brush, the MK-KO, but laying it flat was encouraging the flattened shape that I don’t particularly like. It houses my Wayne Goss Large Artist brush instead. For my other brushes, the item below was necessary.

Brush Stand $8.88

I watch some of Jaybirdwalking’s videos and I’ve always admired her brush stand. I assumed it was something created by one of the Fude brands, which how I discovered the Makie Box in the first place. Later, I realized it’s called a BRUSHBAR from Kit + Hooks but Amazon sells a similar item for significantly cheaper. This finally provided me with the solution of keeping my brushes in a position that wouldn’t cause any disturbances to the hair shape. These brushes are quite the investment, and I want them to last as long as possible (but not pay for a $25 stand).

I’m really happy I was able to provide this same discovery with The Fancy Face! I hope she finds them useful!

EDIT: After prepping this post to publish, I realized she mentioned liking it in her Melt She’s in Parties palette review! I’m so glad!


A month ago I tried to get this Koyudo Kolinsky brush. Because of COVID-19, the only shipping option available to me is DHL. What I learned, after speaking with customer service when I was unable to check out, is that this brush is unable to ship by DHL or FedEx because it’s prohibited by the Washington Convention. So, I looked into it and found an article that explains it far better than I can.

The best I can summarize the situation is that both the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Convention on Intentional Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora had a hand in the decision to ban Mustela sibirica. Even though the Siberian Weasel is nowhere near an endangered animal, the proper documentation and guidelines must be adhered to for importing and exporting.

A supply of kolinsky hair was improperly documented when imported to China, and because it’s impossible to know which brushes were then made using that particular supply of hair, all Siberian weasel brushes were banned from being imported to the US.

This probably accounts for why Beautylish doesn’t have the BP031 on their website with the other brushes in that series, but I don’t understand why it would have been okay for Japan Post and the other international options from CDJapan to send it here.

I’m also not sure why, a month later, I’m suddenly able to check out with this brush in my cart using DHL as the shipping method. Has the ban finally been lifted? The article I cited was from 2014, and CDJapan specifically told me it was the “Washington Convention” and not the C.I.T.I.E.S. So, perhaps it was a different issue entirely.

Even though this brush says Weasel, not Kolinsky, I was unable to get this brush shipped to me a month ago either. Between the two brushes, I’d rather get the BP031, so if it’s in stock during my next CDJapan order, I’ll definitely be adding one and updating my original Fude post with a mini review!

That concludes this update on all things Fude related! Thank you for reading!