Rephr Skincare Review

I call this a beauty blog, but 95% of the time my posts are about cosmetics and makeup tools, while I neglect the other categories in the realm of beauty. Today is one of the rare occasions that I will be discussing skincare, and specifically the skincare products I’ve been using from the brand known primarily for its brushes: rephr.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a rephr affiliate and I have not been paid by them in any way. I purchased all of these products with my own money. All discounts I received were as a regular customer that any customer participating in their surveys are eligible to get. All thoughts are my own. In this post, I am using normal non-affiliated links.

Right now, Rephr is in their crowdsourcing phase with the skincare. To clarify for those who aren’t familiar with this brand, this means that they started offering their first batch and future versions at discounted prices, but with the caveat that the customer will provide feedback on what they liked and disliked about it. This information helps the brand figure out which aspects they nailed, plus helps sprout ideas for other products. If a large majority of customers dislike certain attributes in the product, Rephr can make the decision to change it in version 2.0 and repeat the process until they are satisfied enough to proceed with the final version.

Everything I purchased is in the first version form. The hydration cream and rebalancing essence were available in the “pay what you want” model. So, for example, the hydration cream was listed as $26, but participants could pay anywhere from $0 to $26 for each one, plus shipping. I believe I got the cleanser in the concept store, which items in that are typically 40-50% off. I’ve never had qualms about pouring a cleanser into my hands, so I thought I’d save a little money by skipping out on the pump, but after assembling the pump (which arrives in a separate box) that came with the essence and seeing how convenient it was to use, I plan to get one for the cleanser in my next order.

This is how the bottle looks with the pump attached.

I’m not sure why two tube lengths were included, since this bottle only fits the smaller tube. Perhaps it’s an indication that larger bottle sizes are expected in the future. Or perhaps if the small size doesn’t fit properly, the longer piece can be cut down to the exact measurement.

The Gentle Cleanser is exactly what I wanted. On barefaced days, I don’t need a heavy duty soap product. This cleans the surface of my skin without going too deep and drying it out. I’m left with a fresh face. If I used heavier acids in my skincare the night before, this is something I use the following morning and don’t have to worry about over-exfoliation, adding irritation, or needing to worry about which actives are bad to use with other actives, etc. I believe this is because of the soothing and moisturizing ingredients present within the formula. On makeup days, I use a double-cleanse process anyway by starting with a Skinfood Rice Cleansing Wipe or Bioderma on a Makeup Eraser Cloth to remove my makeup before going in with a cleanser. Because I don’t rely on the cleanser itself to remove anything but leftover lingering makeup residue, I prefer to have something gentle, like the one from Rephr, as my second step. For those who just use one cleanser to remove makeup, I wouldn’t recommend this because my makeup is too tough to be broken down by it. However, for anyone else looking for a gentle face wash that’s free of fragrance and essential oils in a recyclable aluminum packaging, this is a fantastic option! At full price, it’s $35 with the pump or $26 without it. I will just reuse a pump and continue to get the refills when it’s on sale because I have a personal rule of spending $20 or less on cleansers.

My favorite type of essence is the watery milky type, and the Rebalancing Essence from Rephr fits that bill. On makeup days, I sometimes skip wearing a moisturizer and just go in with sunscreen and primer afterwards because I feel like my skin is hydrated enough from using milky essences. When it comes to non-makeup days though, I still have to follow up with at least one more step after using this essence because it sinks that fully into my skin and needs some form of protective layer to keep the surface hydrated.

Comparing this to my holy grail moisturizing toner that I use as an essence, the Laneige Cream Skin Refiner, they look the same and have essentially the same consistency, but the Rebalancing Essence is a true essence. It leaves a semi-sticky residue at first but then most of that is gone when it has time to sink into the skin. The Laneige Refiner is more emollient/oily feeling to the touch when first applied and then just feels like the barest layer of moisturizer is on the skin once it sinks in. Due to the nature of the type of product it is, the refiner is a little more moisturizing while also having the benefit of being extremely skin softening. When I experimented putting the Rephr on one half and Laneige on the other, the Laneige side was so soft to the touch. For that reason, one isn’t a replacement for the other. However, for those who want something even more lightweight on the skin than the already lightweight Cream Skin Refiner, this could be a good option. At full price, they seem comparable at $30 (refill only) versus $33, but Rephr’s bottle contains 250ml whereas the one from Laneige is 150ml. I use these so sparingly that the disparity in price per gram doesn’t make a difference for me. Something like a cleanser that I regularly use up is more of a factor when it comes to the ppg. So, I personally recommend the Laneige product for the added skin softening benefit, but the Rebalancing Essence is a good essence.

Also, I mentioned that both essentially don’t leave residue on the skin after it has time to properly sink in, but since there’s an expectation to use a serum, sunscreen, moisturizer, and potentially even a face oil or makeup products afterwards, the way it leaves the skin feeling wouldn’t make a difference underneath everything else. The fact that they both sink in is good, knowing they won’t block the other products from seeping into the skin either.

As for the Hydration Cream, I reviewed it in my February Purchases dated back in May and my opinion hasn’t changed. A quick summary is that it’s a powerful yet lightweight formula in a soft and non-sticky gel-like consistency. If applied in a smaller amount, it fully absorbs into my skin and is fully hydrated without looking shiny. It doesn’t cause issues with my makeup or other skincare, nor cause any other problems with my skin. It just does its job as described on the website. I still don’t use it consistently, because I have a bad habit of not sticking to one skincare routine, but it’s still one of the three currently in rotation.

By now, Rephr has a Light Hydration Cream version 2.0, which I have not tried. According to the website, the differences listed between version 1.0, which is no longer available, and version 2.0 are as follows:

  • Reduction in dimethicone by 1% (10,000 ppm) as requested by feedback surveys
  • Added vegan squalene (20,000 ppm) to increase hydration and act as an emollient to prevent moisture loss
  • Upgraded packaging to help with the overall storage and usage of the product
  • Added stainless steel wringer / key to help dispense the product
  • Doubled the hyaluronic acid content

They also have the Intense Hydration Cream, which sounds intriguing, but I don’t intend on buying it. Rich/Heavy products tend to clog my pores, so even though I have dry skin, I need products that let my skin breathe while still keeping it moisturized. Not every thick cream does this, but the chances are much higher, so I’d rather not spend money to find out if it will clog my pores or let it go to waste even if there’s a free option. Then again, if it doesn’t work out, I could potentially give it to someone, so I shouldn’t say never.

It’s nice to have an all-in-one product, but the complications that can arise from trying to keep AHAs from Vitamin C or Niacinimide from Vitamin C, and other active ingredients clashing can be such a pain. Sometimes it’s nice to have products that have one purpose and will do that job well. It’s also nice to have gentle options to use in-between or in conjunction with stronger actives in order to not overdo it and potentially cause more harm to the skin than good. That’s why I’ve been really impressed with the skincare from Rephr. The formulas I’ve tried are good, the recycled and reusable nature is good, plus I love the simple, clean, minimalist aesthetic of the black and white bottles in those rounded shapes.

Overall, I’m a big fan of their skincare. The skincare adds a lot more to my collection and I get more use out of it than I do with their brushes, so I like that Rephr is diversifying. I’m also a bit surprised that the skincare isn’t hyped up. In fact, it was like crickets until a month ago. Almost all mentions of it I saw in videos were like casual afterthoughts, “oh by the way, rephr has skincare now,” and I barely see posts featuring them on Instagram. The most in-depth reviews of the skincare (all still under five minutes) that I’ve seen are quite recently from The Fancy Face’s video linked here, Lexi Jong’s video linked here, and GlamGirlChelsea’s linked here. I would like for Rephr’s skincare to catch on so it would be profitable for them to continue expanding the line. If they do, I’d love to see their version of a sunscreen and a fragrance-free dupe of the SKIN HOUSE Aloe Water Mist. So, I’m continuing to keep up with Rephr to see what comes next, including filling out surveys for future product ideas that I randomly see on the website. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to say some of the things I’ve seen so far, but the last one wasn’t even in the beauty category! How curious!

That’s all for today. Considering the lack of reviews on Rephr Skincare, I hope this has been helpful. Thank you for reading!

-Lili

Note: rephr is currently having a deal at 50% off sitewide for Black Friday. I couldn’t get the pump separately, so I went ahead and just purchased another cleanser with the pump so I could have a backup refill bottle and use the pump when it comes. I also ordered a few of the newer brushes and a few more vanity components. If I did not already have backups of their soap, I would have bought that too.

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!

-Lili

FUDE COLLECTION PART 2

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

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.

Bisyodo

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

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.

ADDITIONAL COMPARISONS

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

-Lili