Home Brushes Introduction to make up brushes

Introduction to make up brushes

by Sonia G.

Hi there brush lovers !!

Before you try to read this long post on brushes, please keep in mind that I am not a makeup artist, I am just passionate about beauty and makeup brushes. My little knowledge on makeup brushes comes from my own experience, from reading other blogs, from friends or also from information I receive from brush companies like Hakuhodo.
I am getting so many questions on brushes that I though I might write something that would look like an overview on the topic, I hope I am covering some of your questions here and that this is a bit helpful for you although it is far from covering all aspects and variables of makeup brushes !

Depending on where you live you may not be able to get deep information on this topic so like me you will need to rely on the internet to answer your questions, but there are so many different makeup brushes that we are easily overwhelmed by all the details. I have tried to summarize the most common specifications, I cannot cover everything mainly because I simply won’t have the knowledge but I will do my best, you are very welcome to leave any comments to share your own knowledge, your thoughts and own experience.

Brush anatomy

This is not a mystery for most of you but in case you did not know :

How to choose a makeup brush

Today I own so many beautiful brushes but to get here I spent a lot of  money trying to find the right ones for me and it didn’t happen without many mistakes.

You don’t need thousands of them, “just” the right ones.  It is not an easy process to find them and it will cost you time and money, I have so many of them because I am a brush fiend and if you are reasonable you shouldn’t be doing this at home.

A good brush will last you ages if you take care of it. It should have a solid handle and a ferrule that is firmly attached, it should not rattle or feel unbalanced, if you struggle holding it properly you will end by being upset and not using it, been there many times.
The head should have a shape that applies and blends makeup smoothly and evenly, it shouldn’t been scratchy or hurt your eyes or face in the process.  The bristles should transfer makeup effectively and cause none or only very little fallout,  sometimes fallout cannot be avoided but the head should give you enough control for a neat application.

Sometimes the crimps are badly done, they are discolored or somehow look rusted, avoid these brushes because it will only get worst. If the head sheds, it’s normal to a certain point, when a brush is assembled, it needs to be combed to remove the hair that did not attach, this process is more or less completed carefully depending on the company, but if after a few washes it carries on shedding, that’s not normal.
If there is a heavy smell in the bristles and you can still smell it after a few washes, that’s not normal either.
If you wash a brush, and then put it on a white towel to dry, the hair should not loose color (dye).
Be careful when choosing your brushes, if you are sensitive to dye or to natural hair, check with the company directly, some counters are not even aware of the whole manufacturing process or material and you should do some work to get that information  if it’s relevant for you.

Your choice must be based on the :

  • material : see below for more details on some materials you can find.
  • size : size does matter, it’s important how it fits the face or eye area of the face in which you are using it.
  • quality : a well-balanced and well-finished brush will be more pleasant to use.
  • shape : square, angled, tapered, dome, blunt, point, slant, round, flat, etc…
  • hair length and density : this is important depending on the result you want to achieve.
  • functionality : powder or cream, sheer, medium or heavy coverage,  etc…
  • and also your skin : some brushes are more adapted for dry and others for oily skin, but you should always use brushes that don’t irritate your skin.

Your brushes don’t need to be expensive, there are many brands that make fantastic brushes for a very fair price. Today the best value for money I found are the white goat brushes from the Hakuhodo J Series, they deliver the best results and the quality is excellent.

The material

First of all you have to choose between natural or synthetic brushes, many people don’t want to use natural (animal) hair, it’s a personal choice. I always try to get information on how the brushes are made and how the hair is collected.

A natural brush will last you much longer than a synthetic one, they will get better and better the more you use them, where synthetic brushes are less durable and tend to get stiffer with use.

Since synthetic brushes don’t have a cuticle, they can’t trap makeup like natural ones do, this makes synthetic bristles great with liquid or cream products but less efficient when you want to layer powder products.

Synthetic brushes

If you prefer to stick to synthetic materials, there are many brands that make fantastic synthetic brushes, Real Techniques, Illamasqua, OCC, Hourglass, Sigma, etc.. just to mention a few.

Often synthetic fibers are blended with natural hair brushes to help maintain the brush shape or to serve a special purpose like for example some mixed goat-synthetic foundation brushes that will deliver a more airbrushed application.

Synthetic brushes are usually made of nylon (PBT) or taklon (PET) and are less absorbent than natural hair fibers, which is great with cream and liquid but not fantastic with powder. They are less prone to be damaged from solvents and easier to keep clean since the bristles don’t trap or absorb pigment.

Taklon is usually softer than nylon.

Illamasqua are really soft brushes, hypoallergenic, I use this big brush mostly in summer or for an evening event to apply bronzer or highlight powder on my shoulders or legs, you can use all the Illamasqua brushes with cream or powder products.
I am also loving all the brushes from Real Techniques, I find that the feeling they have on my skin is quite similar to natural brushes, what I mean is that I don’t have that “plastic” feeling when I apply makeup with them.

I will mainly use synthetic brushes with liquid and cream products, concealer, liner and foundation.

Natural brushes

I will not cover all the materials available in the market but remember that natural brushes are not only intended for makeup, but also for writing, painting, restoring art, etc.

The quality of a natural makeup brush depends on a lot of variables, on the material but also on the cut, the cut refers to how the hair is harvested. If the material comes from first-cut (virgin) hair it will be cruelty-free since it’s sheared from the tips of the fur and will be soft and pointed.  If the hair comes from blunt-cut (or lower-cut) hair, the point will be flatter and the hair will be much coarser and prickly on the skin and of course, not as pleasant to use. Lower-cut hair are usually for machine-made brushes.

Squirrel hair

You will find many different type of squirrel hair, blue, grey, canadian, kazakhstan, brown (kazan), tree, pine, wood and you will also see squirrel blends with goat, pony, synthetic, etc. The blends with other materials are made for many reasons, it could be for maintaining the brush shape, stabilizing quality, allow more resilience, or simply to offer a more affordable option.

They are not supposed to be used with liquid/cream products since they absorb a lot of product and are delicate, a frequent cleaning process may be too aggressive and damage the hair.
Squirrel hair brushes provide a natural and sheer finishing, unlike goat brushes which usually pack more product and give a more polished finishing.
The hair are thin with a pointed tip and a more or less uniform body. Little or no spring (spring is the ability of the hair to return quickly to its original shape).
Squirrel hair brushes are good for dry skin or sensitive skin, they deliver soft coverage with natural result.

Blue squirrel
The hairs are blue-black with a grey root, very soft, thin at the tip, little spring.
They give a natural and sheer finishing.
Used for any type of brush, finishing, powder, blush, highlighter and eyeshadow (specially blending and crease brushes).

Grey squirrel
Grey squirrel is also very soft. Expensive but less expensive than blue squirrel.
I read that grey squirrel had low tolerance for static electricity and ultraviolet rays. If static electricity develops near the brush head it may temporarily alter the brush shape but I really don’t think this can happen easily, it did happen to me but this is because I was taking pictures on a special support that had static electricity and you could see the hair being drawn towards the support …. from time to time I also use conditioner which helps anyway so I don’t worry about that.
And about the ultraviolet rays, well, I don’t think you are storing your brushes from direct sunlight, if you do, just don’t !

In this picture you can see the Hakuhodo K002 and the Chikuhodo Z-9. Hakuhodo works more with blue squirrel material and Chikuhodo with grey squirrel, to me they are both equally soft. It looks like the grey squirrel hair has even less spring than the blue one but honestly there isn’t much difference between the two. The color is slightly different but I am not even sure I could tell the difference if you show me two brushes that I have never seen before.

Some examples of squirrel mixed with other materials :

When I was at the RMK counter, they told me the RMK brush pictured here was goat in the outside, squirrel in the inside. This way it could pack on color, add durability to the head, blend evenly and still feel incredibly soft on the skin.

If a brush is only made of horse hair it will feel a bit too coarse against my sensitive skin, if it’s mixed with blue squirrel, although it will be slightly less soft than a 100% squirrel, it will be soft enough for me and it will pack on and blend the powder really well.

The Hakuhodo B501 that contains goat and blue squirrel feels way softer than a 100% goat, a mix here does really make a difference.

Whenever I can, I will prefer to use a full squirrel brush. I will only choose a mixed brush when a 100% squirrel cannot do the job, when I know that the product I will be using is not very pigmented or the powder is hard to pick with a softer brush or when I want a slightly heavier application.  If I really want a glossy finish or a more blended application I will directly jump to a goat brush.

I really could not tell the difference between these two brushes, the softness seems very similar to me, just the density makes a difference in the application :

Kazakhstan squirrel
Softer than the blue squirrel. Rare and expensive.
Highlight and eyeshadow brushes only due to its price.

Tree squirrel
Similar to weasel. Rather rough and elastic.
The hair has elasticity and work well with powder and liquid-based products.
Mainly used for eyeshadow brushes.

Pine squirrel
The hair is soft and thin at the hair tip but has a less uniform body and is difficult to bundle. Suitable for shorter brushes. Good for eyeshadow and smudging and excellent for eyeshadow gradation.

Canadian squirrel
The hair is shorter and thicker than the other Soviet varieties, the belly of the hair resembles sable hair in appearance and in handling. The tip of the hair is soft, delicate, easy to shape and has little spring.  The hair a variegated gold and black toned. Expensive but popular since it has an excellent control and the brushes are easy to handle. It’s a reasonable alternative to sable.
Great for eyeshadow and highlight brushes.

Kazan squirrel
Named after its origins in the Soviet Union. The hair is highly prized for the great tip elasticity and it’s considered to be the best of the squirrel hairs. Similar to blue squirrel but even softer and more expensive.
Offers easy control, delivers a natural and sheer finish.
Mainly for eyeshadow and highlighting brushes.

Here are some kazan, canadian, pine and a few blends :

I was never drawn towards pine squirrel hair, it looks a bit weird. I though I would order some Chikuhodo because I trust their quality and if I had to try pine squirrel, it had to be Chikuhodo’s.

Can I use Chikuhodo’s pine brushes ? Yes I can. Although it feels a bit weird. It’s difficult to explain but it has some kind of  “grip” on the skin, maybe that’s why it is known to be so good for gradation and that would explain.  They are just not the most beautiful brushes to look at and I prefer grey or blue squirrel brushes but they are more expensive.

The Canadian squirrel brushes are fantastic, the control you have with the S122 is amazing, try to go back to any other similar shaped brush afterwards and you will see what I mean.

The Kazan brush is incredibly soft and also incredibly expensive, if this brush shape existed in.. let’s say… white goat J Series I would love it even more. Please Hakuhodo…
The G5524 is pointy but big, you may have control, but more or less precision depending on where you’ll use it. The application will be quite sheer and soft.

The pine and sable mix feels slightly softer and a bit firmer than both the pine and north american or the pine and canadian mix.

The pine and north american blends really well but even though it doesn’t hurt at all, I very much prefer a blue or grey squirrel brush.

Wood squirrel
Similar to weasel, a bit coarser but has resilience.
Meant for eyeshadow brushes. Suitable for liquid-based products.

Goat brushes

Goat is the most common type of fiber used in makeup brushes. Not as soft as some other types but extremely good at packing and applying powder makeup.

Meant to be good for more oily skin, but I have very dry skin and I have no problems using goat brushes if they are of very good quality.
The result with goat brushes can be more even and flawless and you may conceal pores more efficiently or deliver a more radiant and glowy finish.

There are several types of goat hair (different goats and different regions on the goat itself)  but there are also several types of cut, and depending on where the hair comes from – neck, shoulder, tail, etc – the difference in quality and finish can really be striking.  It will be difficult to get any precise information when you are buying your brushes, just try to ask at the counters, unless you are in a very specialized shop, you won’t be able to get an answer.

Sometimes goat is simply called “capra”. I have been told that Capra defines the softest goat hair, the first-cut with the tips still intact. This hair quality is also sometimes called “Squirrel substitute”. In the Inglot brush catalog, you can read “Squirrel substitute” on some brush descriptions, I remember asking at the shop but I had no explanation at that time, reading brush articles for this post is how I came across the actual meaning of squirrel substitute.
The lower-cut (or blunt-cut) is the lower quality hair, intended for machine-made brushes.

From left to right, the brushes are categorized from the softest to the less soft. Unfortunately I was not able to know all the specifications of the hair of these brushes but clearly the baby goat chest hair wins !

My friend Carol who is also a brush lover, contacted Hakuhodo about the different goat hair of the J Series. Hakuhodo said that some of  their J Series are made with highest quality hair, like the J110, J4003, J5543, J116, J532 and J122 for example. They are indeed incredibly soft !

Today I cannot use my Mac brushes anymore (the black goat ones), my skin has become very sensitive and they feel too scratchy, I just can’t stand them anymore, that’s why one day, a looong time ago, I had to start looking for softer brushes.

Goat is often mixed with synthetic. Sometimes the synthetic fibers extend slightly further than the goat hair in order to deliver a more flawless finish or to pick less amount of product and don’t overcharge the brush.

I had the Mac 187 and the Hakuhodo G544 but I didn’t use them, when I got the new J4001 and it’s little sister J4002 and the cousin J544, I fell in love with “stippling” again !! Sometimes it’s the same material, but not the same quality and that makes a huge difference !

The J501 and J220G are also mixes goat-synthetic and they are insanely soft ! You can’t feel synthetic fibers in them, to me they feel like very soft goat brushes.

Other types of goat hair

Soikoho
Softer and more delicate hair than that of Sokoho. It is hard to find and quite rare and expensive.

Sokoho
Long, thin, and soft. It is ideal for various brushes such as a powder brush, a finishing brush, a blush brush, a highlight brush, and an eye shadow brush.

Jotsumeho
Rather rough and elastic, suitable for firm brushing.

Ototsuho
Nice texture, elasticity and coloration and is short and thin. Particularly good for a blush brush.

Saichoho
Similar to Sokoho but slightly rougher. Easy to form a full shape and excels at coloration.

Yano
Water-resistant and suitable for liquid-based products.

Region or type of hair

It’s very unlikely that you will be able to get this information when buying your brushes, but if you come across the description it might give you a hint on the quality and finishing you will be getting. The softest goat hair I have encountered is baby chest goat hair. Usually, they are categorized as follows :

  • Neck : Long, soft and thin. Powder and blush brushes.
  • Backbone region : slightly coarser and denser. Powder brushes.
  • Shoulder : Short and thin, firmer, good for color and highlighting. Blush and highlighting brushes.
  • Thigh : Coarser but has resilience. Blush brushes.
  • Chin and jaw : Long with no resilience.
  • Abdominal : shorter hair.
  • Lower back : long and coarse.
  • Tail : long with resilience.

Sable

Sable is the name trappers use when they refer to martens, but sable hair comes basically from the same animal family which is weasel (Mustelidae). Sable actually has to be seen like an investment since it will last you a lifetime if you take proper care of it, but there are several types of sable brushes, in the same weasel family you will find plain sable, red sable and kolinsky.  I will try to keep the description simple because it can get reeeally complex and confusing.

Kolinsky
The best sable hair  is the Kolinsky, it comes from the western part of Russia, it’s very rare and very expensive, the finest comes from the male winter coat of the kolinsky. Today “kolinsky” denotes hair either from the Asian minks of Siberia, Northern China or Korea.
The color of Siberian kolinsky hair is brown with a distinctive yellowish-red tint, the Chinese is slightly darker with less red.
The tips are thinner and longer and the brushes have the best porosity for the application of the most intense color, the best layering of color and also for creation of gradations thanks to its strength and ability to retain its shape.

Weasel
Like kolinsky, weasel hair comes from the Mustela family, the hair is similar to Kolinsky but slightly of inferior quality, shorter and with less thickness.
The hair is usually more reddish compared to the golden brown color of kolinsky sable, not as long as kolinsky, it’s soft, elastic, resilient and durable.
Great for producing great coloring and can be used not only with powder but also with liquid or cream makeup.
Multipurpose : lip, eyeliner, concealer, eyeshadow brushes…

Plain or brown sable
Usually obtained from varieties of the marten, or also left overs from other sable brushes. The quality varies greatly and depending on the quality, it might be equivalent to go for a synthetic sable brush.

White or Gold sable
These are synthetic filaments developed and manufactured in Japan. Created By the Simmons Brush Company.
The synthetic hair are not very absorbent so it makes the control more difficult. The main advantage is the price and also that a good synthetic filament can be better than a bad red sable.

Pahmi
The brushes are made from a weasel-like animal but smaller and thinner. The hair is a little tougher and shorter than that of the weasel. It is usually used together with weasel and horse hair.
Pahmi hair is relatively inexpensive and when dyed can resemble sable or red sable.

I am adding a little drawing to have a quick idea of how they are related together :

I only started using sable and kolinsky brushes recently so I don’t have much experience with them.

When I saw the price of the Shu Uemura 12, I just couldn’t get it. But one day, I found one at half-price and I went for it. I don’t regret it at all, it’s sooo good. The Chikuhodo 12-3 is also a nice brush but not the same shape and perfection as the Shu, but of course also not the same price tag.

I thought I would reach more for the two Addiction brushes but not really, with the recent J Series invasion it’s hard to share the love…

But since the Addiction P is weasel, I do use it with soft cream shadows or concealer, I can’t use it with paintpots for example since it’s too soft and flexible.

I use the weasel brushes, like the Kokutan WS for paintpots since it’s more firm it’s a fantastic brush to apply it close to the lash line and blend towards the crease.

Pony
The hair has a cylindrical shape, equal thickness from root to tip, the tips are not as pointy as squirrel hair, it’s durable and strong.
Usually less expensive than squirrel but more expensive than goat.
They are often used blended with squirrel or goat.
Blush, powder, eyeshadow, excellent for contouring due to the strong snap. Can be used damp to deliver a more opaque coverage.

They are not of bad quality but my eyes are extremely sensitive and I can’t use these brushes on a regular basis. Same for the blush brush, they are not soft enough for me but they do blend well.

Horse
The most common used in the production of makeup brushes, but like goat hair can vary in quality.
Harsh texture and difficult to bundle. Inexpensive. Often used blended with other natural hairs to deliver more elasticity and enduring, it has the ability to adapt to your skin the more you use it.
Blush or eyeshadow brushes, produces great coloring.

I use the G5520 on a daily basis because I find the shape to be the perfect definer for my eyes , the others I don’t use them very often,  but these are actually softer than the pony ones.

Camel
The term “camel” describes makeup brushes made with a mix of goat, squirrel, or pony hair.

Water badger
The hairs have rough, thick and elastic roots white the tip is very thin. Ideal for eyebrow brushes

Ox
Ox has the springness similar to that of sable but does not  have a fine tip. Still in use because sable are very expensive and synthetic fibers are not absorbant enough so customers may turn towards ox.

Raccoon
The hair has natural spring and is very pointed at the tip, highly prized as it’s strong enough to be used with sticky pigments.

This must be the biggest disappointment of 2011. I haven’t found a single way to use it… too much fallout, too firm, too thin.

Brush shapes and functionalities

Another subject of discussion, you may be overwhelmed by all the different shapes: square, angled, tapered, dome, blunt, point, slant, round, flat, etc…

Most of the time it’s common sense and it is easy to find out which brush is for what purpose, but sometimes it can get a bit more confusing,  just a few examples :

  • A flexible and soft brush will deliver a sheer finish and more diffused result.
  • A coarser brush will deliver a heavier result.
  • A denser brush will deliver a stronger coloring and more coverage.
  • A round brush will create a softer and diffused result.
  • A flatter brush will be more adapted to deliver a glossy finish.
  • An angled brush will be good for creating a more defined blush or contour application.
  • A pointier brush will allow more precision or gradation depending on the density.

And when you think you are done with the theory, here comes “technique“…

With the right technique you can go even further, I was often wondering why I couldn’t get the same result as somebody else while using the same products and the same brushes. There is a reason, the technique. I am not a makeup artist but thanks to some friends of mine who are, I got a few interesting tips that totally blew my mind. I can share a few of them that I am thinking of :

Tip 1
Take any flat (or round) synthetic foundation brush, damp it in warm water and remove the excess water, then apply your foundation, you will notice that the foundation is applied more evenly and the brush is not sucking so much product into the bristles.
Tip 2
When applying liquid or cream blushes after you applied the foundation, mix some product with a little foundation and blend together. The result is amazing and flawless. – thanks Dena for the tip  🙂 –
Tip 3
When applying your foundation with a round and flat synthetic or goat brush, instead of swirling, start applying it with a stippling motion, the product will have a more flawless finish and this technique will really help with the redness and the pores. Well, again, thanks Dena 😀
Tip 4
The finishing. There is nothing better than a good blending and finishing, it can also totally change the appearance of a blush or a powder, I mean, don’t burn your face with the buffing but just adapt the work with the sensibility of your skin and the products you are applying.

I could carry on for a while, but I just want you to understand here that depending on how you use your brushes and your products, you can slightly change, or sometimes totally change, your finished look.

Since I am getting older using the right technique can really make a difference, I don’t want to appear cakey or overly made up since it will age me dramatically. On the other hand, I still want to play with smokey eyes or brighter lipsticks and in order to be able to do that, I need flawless skin and a bit more coverage, this is why having the right brushes and the right technique can be so important.

Brush care

First of all, as I said, the more you use your natural brushes, the better they get, so use them 🙂

The storage should be done in cups when you use your brushes in a regular basis, if you don’t, put them away from the dust and lay them flat inside their packaging.
If I store my powder brushes flat, the shape is altered until I wash them, then they will revert to their original shape, if I store them in cups and don’t use them in a regular basis, dust is accumulated in the hair and bacteria develops… this is why we shouldn’t have thousands of brushes but I just can’t help it 😛
The maintenance takes me a while but it’s a relaxing process so I don’t mind.

You can clean your delicate brushes gently with a tissue to remove the powder residue daily but once in a while they need to be washed. If they are very delicate (squirrel for example), I use mild shampoo and sometimes also conditioner. Absolutely no aggressive soaps. It’s better to prepare a little “bath” and only wash the head of the brush very gently (don’t let them soak with the ferrule inside), rinse them carefully, remove the excess water, shape them and lay them flat to dry, away from heat and away from direct sunlight.

For the slightly tougher brushes that can stand easier maintenance, like goat, sable, synthetic, I only use mild soap. I have just order the “Masters brush cleaner and preserver” based on some recommendations I received. After a few days I noticed that some white brushes were stained very lightly with some cream color residue on the bristles this is why I will be trying this soap… as soon as I receive it… it must be somewhere over the Atlantic right now.

Conclusion

Whenever you can, go try the brushes, choose quality over quantity and take good care of them because you will keep them for many years.

I hope this has brought some light to those who were a bit lost in this big brush world…

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105 comments

DEN 20 October, 2012 - 9:33 pm

You are the guru of makeup brushes! I have used your blog on Hakuhodo brushes consistently, prior to ordering, to get your take on the individual brushes. Thank you for all your comments on the J series! I have just ordered a set of brushes from that series-were you aware that they now have the J210? I haven’t seen your review of this brush, but since I have the black 210, which I love but don’t use for liquids since it bleeds dye, I was so excited about the white goat haired version. Please review if you have this brush…….Thank you!!

Reply
Sweet Make Up Temptations 20 October, 2012 - 9:41 pm

Thank you Den 🙂
and also thanks for the info about Hakuhodo, yes I already ordered and received the J210 and J212… If I have time I will upload some pics and a brief review tomorrow since they are very new. The J210 is so much softer than the black version, totally worth it and same for the J212 !

Reply
Kay 20 October, 2012 - 9:36 pm

Wow!!!! What an amazing post! I have been into brushes for 2 years and read up on them but this is the BEST compendium I have ever read. Thank you so much for sharing, Sonia. I must say, you are really smart and talented, Sonia, not to mention kind and generous. <3

Just wanted to add to this post a couple of my experiences.

Re: handle length. I started off with regular sized brushes but found that shorter ones 120-150 mm were much easier to use as I have smaller hands and am nearsighted. I replaced most of my collection with Japanese brushes which tend to be shorter. It would have been more economical had I paid attention to some basic ergonomics.

Re: feel and appearance. Pine squirrel is really good because it holds and distributes color well. But I did not like my all Pine squirrel blush brush as it felt a bit scratchy and is not pretty. But I do continue to use my K004 which is Pine and Canadian squirrel as it works so well. Ditto horse and pahmi. That is not to say these brushes are not good, just that paying attention to tactile and visual appeal, not just function, makes a difference in how often you use a brush, and thus its utility to you.

BTW, Sonia, I see you have the Chikuhodo 12-2. I was looking at that one. How do you use it and what's your opinion on it?

Reply
Sweet Make Up Temptations 20 October, 2012 - 10:36 pm

Thanks Kay, I really appreciate your kind comment, so sweet <3

I have been using the 12-2 only for a few days, so far, I noticed that it does apply a nice base of color and the result is natural and even, I used a few different textures, from glittery to powdery. The powdery finish of the eyeshadow was toned down by the blending with this brush and the glitter application (I used an Armani eyes to kill) was very sheerly but evenly applied, it just gave some shine to the overall application without giving an opaque or metallic result which was what I wanted to achieve. I also used it to see if I could blend a patchy application and it also worked. It's a nice brush for that but the appearance to me is quite important so I will be more tempted to reach for a 12-6 or the G-3.

And also thanks for your input on using your brushes, that's right, ergonomics really do matter ! I have a few brushes that I am not even able to hold (too thin and too light), completely useless..

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Kay 21 October, 2012 - 2:16 am

Thanks, Sonia for your feedback on the 12-2. You are right about looks and given the great closeup you posted, I’m inclined to let this one pass as there are others that can do the same job. BTW, I got the Hakuhodo J125R in Japan per your recommendation and love it!

There is another combination brush at Chikuhodo that I’m curious about — the Artist 10-1, a pointed grey squirrel and sable. I was wondering if you purchased this brush and your take on it in comparison to the Z10 pointed squirrel brush.

Speaking again about ergonomics, I’m wondering if I am the only one who doesn’t like straight up and down brushes like the S series Hakuhodo. I find the traditional brushes with a little belly in the center of the handle gently tapering to the top so easy to maneuver. Maybe I am a klutz or it’s just an idiosyncrasy of mine…

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 21 October, 2012 - 2:20 pm

I got the 10-1 because I love pencil brushes, it packs the color really nicely and blends well, but I don’t see a difference with a horse pencil brush for example. The Z-10 is much softer so it will not work well with less pigmented products, since the point is too soft and flexible you cannot really define very precisely but I use it with more pigmented products in the outer V. I will reach more often for the 10-1 than for the Z-10.
I think it’s normal you find the handles that are tapered easier to maneuver, that’s why they are designed like that I guess so it’s understandable, I find the S series also easy to handle for me because they are well-balanced and I have big hands 🙂

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Stacy 20 October, 2012 - 10:24 pm

This post is an amazing resource! Thank you for all of the time and knowledge you put into this comprehensive report!
You are very much appreciated!!

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 20 October, 2012 - 10:39 pm

Thank you Stacy !! gosh I am lucky with you all 🙂

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Dena 20 October, 2012 - 10:30 pm

Wow, Sonia, this is amazing! You put so much work into your blog! What a fantastic resource. I think this is going to be a reference bible for a lot of people!

I have the Hakuhodo K004 and K006 which are a blend of pine squirrel and Canadian squirrel. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with them. I bought them because I was curious about the hair. They are meant to be good for smudging, but you can’t really use the K006 (the larger of the two) for smudging; a Mac 217 or a Hakuhodo G5523 would work better for blending on the lid. I was hoping the K006 would be like the Suqqu L, but it isn’t. They are not bad brushes; they are quite versatile, but not brilliant in any way. You can use them to lay down colour and to blend, but they are not the best brushes for either of these purposes.

Thanks for sharing my tips! I swear by both of them. If I use the stippling method (which you can use with a dry sponge as well, by the way), I don’t always need to use concealer over areas of redness or blemishes.

I think you are now officially everyone’s favourite Brush Guru 😉

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 20 October, 2012 - 10:47 pm

Hi Dena 🙂
Absolutely right, the Mac 217 or Hak. G5523 would be so much better anyway. I also was curious about the hair, I haven’t finished experiencing but at least I have an idea now. I always try to find new ideas to get the most out of them, but you have summarized their functionality very well !
Your tips are great, each time I use them I get compliments on my skin !
I wish I were 😉 but you guys make the most wonderful and rich comments of the whole beauty community 🙂

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Buggsiebee 20 October, 2012 - 11:39 pm

Holy Mother!!
A++++++++++++++ !!!! ALL the way!!!!
Break out the wine & chocolates!! You soooooo deserve a reward!
BIIIIIIG hug for all the love you put into your posts. Not to mention the research & knowledge!! I have to go place my Haku order now because I imagine there will be a run on ALL your recommendations and I HATE to see ‘sold out’ when I’m ready to pull my card:)

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 21 October, 2012 - 1:55 pm

I had too much wine yesterday, I still feel a bit dizzy 😛
Thank you 🙂 sooo sweet as always !!

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Rosy 21 October, 2012 - 12:29 am

This is such a wonderfully informative and helpful post — thank you so much, it must have taken a lot of work :).

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 21 October, 2012 - 1:57 pm

Hi Rosy, it was indeed a bit long to write but I am really happy and if it helps then it was worth it 🙂

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Nikoleta 21 October, 2012 - 7:55 am

What a great post, Sonia, thank you for all the tips and iformations on different types of hair.

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Jo 21 October, 2012 - 10:25 am

I would like to echo all the other comments and thank you for your hard work in putting together this post. It is so helpful to read the detailed notes on everything, which makes purchasing for ourselves a lot easier.

I would just like to say that I really enjoyed reading the make-up tips and would really welcome more posts like this if you would be willing to share. You are right – as you get older, you have to apply things differently and use different techniques.

Thanks Sonia – your blog is definitely a wonderful informative resource.

🙂

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 21 October, 2012 - 2:24 pm

Thank you Jo, I will start to gather tips and I might create a page like the “Shopping links” in the menu but just for “tips and advice”… I am not sure I have so many of them right now but I would love to do that 🙂

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CC 21 October, 2012 - 10:41 am

Great posting, Sonia!

Coincidentally, I was doing the same thing in the past few weeks.. reading up all the different materials used in makeup brushes, jotting down the brushes according to their categories and now I have gotten even more intoxicated! I am in the HUNT for anything brown squirrel.. If I am able to get something I will give you a buzz. 🙂

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 21 October, 2012 - 2:26 pm

It’s sometimes so difficult to understand the differences, please kindly share, that would be fantastic !

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Bonnie 21 October, 2012 - 2:39 pm

This is amazing once again, so detailed and informative like all your other posts! Everything you shared just makes it so much easier for everyone 🙂

Thanks so much once again!

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mikmik90 21 October, 2012 - 9:53 pm

As always, I am in awe with your posts. So very thorough and informative.
Quick question- do you use brush guards?
xxkarima

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 22 October, 2012 - 7:34 am

Hi Karima, thank you 🙂 yes I do use them when I need to reshape a brush but not to travel with them, they would move and damage the bristles.

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Malin, Kohlindo 22 October, 2012 - 8:45 am

WOW! What a great post! I love reading it. I learn and learn and learn. I´ve been reading about hair for a looong time now but I still learn new things. As Buggsibee says: +++++++++++++++ to you 🙂
And thank you both Sonia and Dena for great makeup tips 😀
Now Im going to be a bit cruel 😉 ……. have you seen the two Xmas set from Chikuhodo? Candle and Star. http://www.chikuhodo.com/product/set_candle.html , http://www.chikuhodo.com/product/set_star.html

I must have it!

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 22 October, 2012 - 8:51 am

Hi Malin, thank you !
If you can get the Candle one, I would be interested in one 😉

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Alysse 22 October, 2012 - 1:01 pm

I know what you mean about the MAC brushes, if Hakuhodo made a brush shaped like MAC’s 130 my only MAC brush would find it’s way into a drawer.

This is an excellent resource! I’m really glad you went into detail about the hair and how they perform/look because I feel sometimes that topic can end a bit vague and a potential buyer is left unsure of where to look because they don’t know what hair would suit what they’re trying to achieve.

Speaking of…innocently crosses hands behind back. If I was looking for a non-tapered round eye brush for applying a soft wash of color would goat be a good area to search in? Soft but not too soft because I’ve realized I want some firmness in that area and many brushes are just too soft.

P.S. I lemm for that white Koyudo brush more and more everytime you post a picture of it. Any chance there’s any online sellers who might offer it?

Thanks for such a wonderful post, your blog has quickly become one of my faves for looking at gorgeous brushes and hearing about new brands. You do an amazing job 🙂

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 22 October, 2012 - 1:23 pm

Hi Alysse,
Thank you so much for your kind comment !
Something shaped like the hakuhodo 214 for example ? If you want round(ish) and flat(ish) I could think of a Hakuhodo 214 or an Edward Bess eyeshadow, or also some Hakuhodo crease brushes from the J series are round but flat and still quite firm and dense (but not as much as the 214), if you have a look at my Hakuhodo J Series review, the crease brushes are pictured there. Edward Bess is a nice brush that many people enjoy since you can apply a base and blend at the same time, it’s soft but not as soft (mine is really not that soft but I heard that hair could very slightly differ) so it would pack a lot of product and apply it quite heavily.

The Koyudo White Mushroom you mean ? please write to Koyudo Japan by email, they might be able to get it for you 🙂

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Alysse 22 October, 2012 - 8:12 pm

Luck of the draw.

My rouge bunny crease brush just came in today and it’s the perfect shape in terms of the brush head but…omg is it scratchy! My pure synthetic Sigma E40 is softer! I can’t imagine what happened with the brush but at least now I have a general shape in mind and can just find a hair type to fit it better.

This brush was supposed to be goat but I do see a synthetic blend in there oh harsh thick strands. Hakuhodo should have something to suffice.

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 22 October, 2012 - 9:29 pm

Alysse I also have the RBR Crease and I can’t use it although it’s not a bad brush. The shape and the flexibility is perfect but I agree, the hair are not very soft 🙁
If this shape is what you are looking for, maybe the J5529 or the J5533 can be what you wish, the J5529 is smaller than the RBR and the J5529 is bigger (I am talking about the tip of the surface it covers) but these two are really really really good in all aspects, truly gems.

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anaksunamun 22 October, 2012 - 2:39 pm

wow i think i have more than 50 brushes that are not drug store but nothing over$100 in price. it’s sad that i am still looking for the perfect one for me. funny but true.
i think i’ve tried everything that are available locally but for the brushes that aren’t available
i did not want to take risk of wasting money.
i prefer actually feel and see the brush when buying.
thanks for your reviews, i feel that you have a very high standards when talking about the brush so i can 100% trust your opinion 🙂
i’ve started to extend my collections with your reviews and haven’t had any disappointments with the softness and the quality!
the only thing is that it’s difficult to estimate the size of the brushes. i know you post the comparison photos and all and they are very helpful but doesn’t show it all if you know what i mean haha
i’ve never got more information about the brushes than this and i am very happy that there is someone like you who is happy to share the information.
maybe in the future i’d love to see you apply make up with your brushes! (on youtube or video of any kind)
oh i cannot wait to get my hands on those hakuhodo j brushes. haha 😉

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 22 October, 2012 - 5:10 pm

Fantastic ! Happy it helps !
I don’t think youtube is for me, unless it’s for comedy and not beauty !but we never know… maybe just a video embedded on my blog…
yep you need J series 😛

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anaksunamun 23 October, 2012 - 8:06 am

actually ive decided to get the z ones by suqqu maker first! they were all sold out in the website that you mentioned 🙁 i guess i still need to wait a little longer in finding the perfect brush!

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Hanne 22 October, 2012 - 6:34 pm

What an informative post! Thank you! Having it all in one place like this made it so much easier to understand. Like so many others, I really appreciate the time and effort you put in to your blog.
I just made my first Hakuhodo order the other day, and I am SO exited to get the brushes!!! I can’t wait! Your post on the Hakuhodo J-series, and the favourite brushes post was really useful, when deciding which ones to get. Especially that photo showing all the J-series brushes together, for size reference. I decided to get G5520, J5523 (I have wanted a softer mac 217 forever), J242G, J142, J146, J214, J5521 , J122R , G5557 and the large Pointed Yachiyo 😀

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Buggsiebee 22 October, 2012 - 7:18 pm

Heh, heh soooo funny! I just googled ‘hakuhodo j4003’ and got this:-

https://www.google.de/search?q=hakuhodo%20j4003&sugexp=chrome,mod%3D0&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=de&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=fZWFULjHOYfMsgbc8YCoAQ&biw=

OMG!! It’s crazy!! They’re all yours:))
You’re the QUEEN of Hakuhodo!!

Hello Hakuhodo!??? Anyone out there?? I definitely think that it’s time for you to put your heads together with Sonia & create a ‘Sonia brush’ in honour of all her input.

You’re the best SG:))

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 22 October, 2012 - 7:28 pm

😀 OMG how funny 😛
I can’t believe it …
I have plenty ideas I am ready whenever they want 😉

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Buggsiebee 22 October, 2012 - 7:33 pm

I have the j4003 thanks to you & mine feels so divinley soft after its bath that I wanted to find more info on it. I have NEVER felt such a soft brush in this form. Hakuhodo really knows it’s stuff & so do you. I am serious about you guys coming up with a Sonia brush…..or heck, it had better be an entire set:)))

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Stacy 22 October, 2012 - 8:52 pm

I’m with Buggsiebee! Sonia’s HG brushes by Hakuhodo in a set!!! Made from the best of the best!! I’m in!!! Get with Sonia and put it together Hakuhodo!!!!!

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Stacy 22 October, 2012 - 8:54 pm

HAKUHODO

I’m with Buggsiebee! Sonia’s HG brushes by Hakuhodo in a set!!! Made from the best of the best!! I’m in!!! Get with Sonia and put it together Hakuhodo!!!!!

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 22 October, 2012 - 9:30 pm

Where do I sign ?

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anaksunamun 26 October, 2012 - 6:41 am

do you know anything about eurasian red squirrel hair by any chance? I love love the softness of the grey squirrel but i found a brush maker that make brushes with eurasian red squirrel hair and it was more highly priced than the grey ones of theirs. names are so difficult!

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Buggsiebee 26 October, 2012 - 6:54 am

Hi! Would you mind telling me the name of the brush manufacturer? I am also really interested in red squirrel as I have a few now and they are not all equally soft. If anyone has more info on red squirrel hair I’m sure we’d all be interested:))

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Dena 26 October, 2012 - 7:21 am

Is it Picasso Brush? I’m pretty sure they do red squirrel brushes, as well as mohair, which sounds interesting. I contacted them with some questions but haven’t heard back, so I haven’t tried any yet.

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 26 October, 2012 - 7:21 am

I wish… but I don’t, it’s going to be my future investigation, I have just ordered this one and I have to check out some others. When I have info, I let you know !

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Buggsiebee 26 October, 2012 - 7:42 am

Hi Dena, I have a few from Picasso. The quality is good & the # 702 is super duper soft but it doesn’t come close to the Koyudo red squirrel face brush The one which Sonia has linked you to ) . The Koyudo brush is much more red & the hair even finer. Perhaps the Picasso brushes are dyed? The Picasso red squirrel have a more simliar color to grey haired squirrel.

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Buggsiebee 26 October, 2012 - 7:54 am

Oh yes….sorry….I forgot to mention the Piccasso mohair brush. I have the # 105 which is nice & soft but a bit too full for me. I don’t use the rolling method which they suggested with this brush so perhaps I should give it a try:))
I do think that their brushes are good quality & worth testing.
And another thing……I’m always in a rush when I write & never proof read hence the rather offish spelling & grammar sometimes:))

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akismet-b95fcc3e90c7a8e18f59cfacaf7e3985 26 October, 2012 - 8:18 am

Ooh, thank you both for the info. I am adding that Koyudo brush to my list, and I am tempted to try some Picasso brushes, too. Thanks! How does red squirrel compare to blue and grey squirrel in terms of softness?

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Buggsiebee 26 October, 2012 - 9:37 am

The Koyudo cheek brush is quite simply THE most silky brush I have ever felt . I think the hair is finer than other squirrel. I like the auburn coloring too. This brush is made for any blush with terrifying pigment levels. I used it to apply TF’s Narcissist this morning with fantastic ease. I also experimented with it for the application of my absolute favourite no-brainer blush ( RMK ‘s Coral Beige – 04 ) with less satisfying results which didn’t surprise me at all. Soft brushes aren’t good for everything but my gosh they do feel soooooooooo good on the skin. The Picasso red squirrel brushes which I have compare more to blue squirrel in softness. This Koyudo cheek brush has the same silky feeling as the now discontinued Hakuhodo highlighter brush S115 which is made with Kazakhstan squirrel hair.

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Dena 26 October, 2012 - 1:38 pm

I am salivating! I love the idea of an auburn haired brush – it will match my own hair! I think I’m going to order it, along with the Fu-Pa 02. Thanks so much for the tip 🙂

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Buggsiebee 26 October, 2012 - 2:28 pm

Hee,hee, I agree with the importance of having brushes to match one’s own hair color:))
With Sonia’s love for the J-series she should really dye her hair white don’t you think??

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 26 October, 2012 - 2:43 pm

😀 of course ! I might do that for Halloween ! 😛
you didn’t see me in the 80’s… I sure had creativity when it came to hair color 😀

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Buggsiebee 26 October, 2012 - 2:49 pm

You have gorgeous hair & I love your hair color……Please don’t change it !!

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Nikoleta 26 October, 2012 - 9:02 pm

Do someone knows what kind of hair is this set made of ? http://www.koyudo.co.jp/product/makebrushset/ces.html
The cheek brush that Sonia linked seems very tempting

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Buggsiebee 26 October, 2012 - 10:18 pm

I think they say it is Canadain Squirrel – look here:-

http://www.hakuhodousa.com/index.php?itemid=10&catid=3

The brush which Sonia linked is an entirely different degree of softness. The set you are talking about is DIVINE but you’re getting Canada squirrel for EVERY brush as far as I understand. I find that a bit boring. The packaging is nice & I bet the brushes are FIRST class though. Koyudo has yet to disappoint me with their better brushes. Their quality is excellent.

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Dena 26 October, 2012 - 9:08 pm

Haha – that’s so funny about the white hair! When I went through my pink phase about 15 years ago (including fuscia hair), I bought a fuscia makeup brush. I also bought (and wore! – cringe!) the Mac pigment in fuscia. When I joined Makeup Alley, I couldn’t wait to swap that product. It looked so awful on me! I love the idea of an auburn-haired brush; I really have to get it!

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Buggsiebee 27 October, 2012 - 9:42 pm

Wow, you were all so crazy with your hair. It makes me feel really boring. I guess being at an all girls Christian bording school with strict uniform put paid to any kind of obvious experiments;P Even earrings were forbidden & if your hair touched your shoulders it had to be tied up. Nails cut short. Sounds like prison huh? Funny thing is that we were crazy as could be & actually managed to have great fun on the sly.

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 27 October, 2012 - 9:46 pm

Fuscia hair ???? WAOWW Dena ! I really want to see that !!!

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Dena 27 October, 2012 - 11:02 pm

Haha, my school had similar rules, and I never would have got away with it at school. It was when I was at university, and it preceded my blue hair extensions! Sonia, I will dig out a photo to show you 😉

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 28 October, 2012 - 6:58 am

Coooool 😛

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Amy 3 November, 2012 - 5:48 am

Hey, I’d been reading your postings for quite sometime. And this article is best of all and I definitely will be re-reading this many many more times. Your article differs from others by comparing the different types of hair and comprehensively evaluate the brushes across brands and functions. I simply love this post. I collect brushes too, though very much less extensively than you, and I do have an extensive collection from Shu Uemura, a few Hakuhodo, T LeClerc, Lunasol, Mac, Edward Bess, UD, Two Faced, EcoTools, BodyShop. I especially love Shu’s kolinsky/sable eyeshadow brushes. Number 12 is my favourite. I do have a couple of squirrel hair and goat hair eye brushes. But for some reason I find that my techniques are different when I use a hard brush (weasel family) and a soft brush (squirrel/goat)… I am no makeup artist, but do share your experience in comparing the 2.

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 3 November, 2012 - 10:11 am

Hi Amy, thank you so much for your sweet comment, I really appreciate it, it was quite an effort for me because of my English but seeing that readers can still understand what I mean and enjoy it, simply makes my day 🙂
I am no makeup artist either but I will be happy to share my experience with weasel brushes vs goat/squirrel.
I use a lot of cream or liquid based eyeshadows (Laura Mercier, Mac paintpots, RBR, Addiction, Chanel mousse, etc…), before I had weasel brushes in my collection I was using synthetic brushes, one day I heard that weasel was meant for liquid and powder products so I tried it.
I find the use of weasel brushes really fantastic with that type of products, they are soft (depending on the quality..) yet hard enough to easily pack a product like Mac paintpots and also blend them. It’s also a personal preference, I prefer to work the cream products with weasel brushes that I find softer and more pleasant to use for my eyelids than synthetic brushes. There are often bundled more tightly (hope that makes sense..) therefore I can very precisely pack the color close to my lashes and bring it upwards, it does “glide” much better than using goat brushes, the technique will be easier and less painful than using harder goat brushes, although you clearly don’t need 50 different eyeshadow brushes … 😛
Weasel brushes are also more durable than goat/squirrel so they would resist a harder maintenance related to the use of cream products (more regular washes).
I also use them with powder pigments when I want to apply and blend some pigments (or glitter), to give you an example : I apply the cream base with the weasel brush, then once I finished both eyes, I dip the brush in the pigment and pat a little just in the center of the eyelid, you will have a controlled application of the pigment (or glitter…) and you will be able to push it without having fallout all over the place and it’s really beautiful when you close your eyes and you see tiny sparkles just precisely placed, I love that !
That’s my usage for most of my weasel brushes… but then there is the Shu 12, this one is good for anything, from powder to liquid. Unfortunately it is very expensive but the quality of the hair just couldn’t be better.
In past I was only using goat brushes, I wanted my makeup application to “shout”, I was looking for a very heavy coverage so goat brushes were perfect for that, squirrel brushes weren’t packing enough product for the result I was aiming to get. Today, time has passed… I still love high impact looks, but I often want a more natural yet even application of powder shadows, that’s why I love squirrel brushes.
The products, the result and my delicate eyelids are the reasons why I would prefer a weasel brush over a goat brush, or a squirrel brush over a goat brush, I don’t know if my reply answers your question, but please let me know… 🙂
I am interested in Lunasol brushes but I haven’t tried them yet, which brushes would you recommend me to try from this brand ?

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Amy 3 November, 2012 - 5:27 pm

Thanks much for your response. I have just acquired my Lunasol brushes, as such I have not developed strong attachment to them yet. The quality is excellent, and they are beautiful. I bought the following:
1. Power Brush N – 100% blue squirrel
2. Cheek Brush N – 100% blue squirrel
3. Eye Shadow Brush (L) N – 100% Canadian squirrel
4. Shadow Liner Brush N – 100% weasel
5. Lip Brush EX N – 100% Kolinsky
The softess brush in my collection is the Hakuhodo S114 – Kazakhstan squirrel. The Lunasol face brushes are just a tad less soft. Though amazing soft, the bristles do carry pigments well. Tried applying Shu Uemura P Medium Red 175 with the Cheek Brush N, realised that I’d needed to handle with a lighter hand. Eye Shadow Brush (L) is shaped pretty much like the Hakuhodo S114, though slightly thicker in proportion. It applies a wash of powder eyeshadow well. I like them all but I am most impressed by the Lip Brush EX. The bristles are wide and long, and the brush is well weighted – somehow my Shu lipstick (which was a regrettable purchase), looks smooth & plump on me using this brush instead of applying directly to my lips. This is my favourite brush of the lot. I do not believe in lip brushes cos I could still achieve the bow lip look without a brush (unless the lipstick is red).
I had tested the Eye Shadow Brush (M) and (S) at a local counter, they felt slightly prickly on my eyelids, so I skipped them. Likewise, I skipped the concealer brush, having given up hope on my concealing skills (`_´)ゞ
Hope this help in your selection of the Lunosol brushes. O, by the way I recommend the retractable Cheek Brush S too… Though I did not purchase it, I am still haunted by it – it’s beauty and functionality really appeal to me.

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 3 November, 2012 - 7:06 pm

They sound very interesting indeed, thank you for sharing your thoughts about these Lunasol.
I was afraid they were too similar than the RMK brushes (that I don’t like to use) but the ones you mention sound great and are different. I will anyway skip the Eyeshadow M and S since they are made from canadian squirrel and horse and usually horse doesn’t feel soft enough for my eyelids.

I do use lip brushes very often to mix two lipsticks together so the Lip Brush EX is also really tempting me A LOT ! Hmmm and the Cheek brush S looks beautiful too, if you get it one day please let me know how their mix of goat/squirrel feels on the skin and if the quality is good, I would really love to know!
Thank you for your recommendations, it does help a lot and I will definitely get some of these brushes 🙂

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Amy 18 December, 2012 - 10:09 am

Hello Sonia, just can’t wait to update you my new purchase – lunasol cheek brush S. I just bought it last night and this morning I was absolutely impressed by its performance… it may be replacing my favourite Hakuhodo S103 for the top place in my blusher brush collection. I first read about this on Blushed Wombat’s blog. I was able to control the length of the bristles by swivelling up the handle and it doesn’t droop, thus losing the control of the bristles. It’s soft just has the right amount of snap. Love it O(≧∇≦)O

Buggsiebee 18 December, 2012 - 12:42 pm

Hi Amy!
Hmmm…..I don’t have this one yet. I’m not really a fan of retractable brushes because they tend to be tricky to clean & they retract in mid-use.
It does sound rather nice though. Have you washed it yet? I always worry about water getting into the base of the brush. Do you know what i mean?

Amy 18 December, 2012 - 3:29 pm

Hi Buggiebee,
I know what you mean, retracting during mid-use. This one doesn’t, once ‘locked’, it acts as a contour brush quite nicely. I just washed it moments ago, so can only feedback how well it holds itself after a few more washes. I had a T LeClerc retractable powder brush bef, and it’s head detached itself from the ferrule after a few washes, it’s the only brush I threw away :(( Pains me till today. The brush head is about the size of MAC 188, which may appeal to some users. I really like this brush a lot.

Buggsiebee 18 December, 2012 - 12:00 pm

Hey Sonia,
do you have the IPSA squirrel blush brush in L?
If not, and you are looking into getting the Lunasol ( at Bonbon cosmetics? ) then do check this brush out too. It works wonders with pigmented blushes.

Sweet Make Up Temptations 18 December, 2012 - 3:15 pm

I got the Lunasol cheek and powder brushes a few weeks ago, started to write the review, it’s nearly done so I can share it with you all shortly.
What I am loving about this IPSA L is that it’s pointy, the pointy blush brushes are the ones that I prefer for me…

Buggsiebee 18 December, 2012 - 6:39 pm

I don’t have another brush quite like the Ipsa squirrel. That’s quite something when I consider the number of blush brushes I have collected! Sadly, it doesn’t come cheap:(

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Sylvia 9 February, 2013 - 10:12 pm

A most comprehensive post, Sonia.
Excellent reading!

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Bea 10 February, 2013 - 2:38 am

I just went thru this post. Wow Sonia I can’t imagine how much work went into it because there is such a wealth of information here. It takes me back to the time when I discovered Hakuhodo. I just checked and it was July 2008 almost 5 years ago. I remember when I first heard of these brushes. I had watched this guy’s video taken on a bus. He had just come from IMATS and he mentioned HKD and that all the makeup pros were raving about it. What sparked my interest was the fact that it was Japanese made so I went on a research mission and at that time there wasn’t that much info at all nor any mention by any blog, etc. only a few articles and a short video of the president of HKD and how he had started supplying brushes for MAC. After I did my first purchase, I was hooked and my torrid love affair with these beautiful handcrafted brushes took off lol.
I just watched Wayne’s video on his brush collection. If you are the queen of brushes then he is the KING. I was floored. I know he’s a makeup artist and all that but my jaw just dropped hahaha! I need to get me some J series brushes. Now that I’ve bought a slew of Koyudo face brushes, it’s time to get me some J series. I have a lot of the G series and am still taking pics of them for the next video slideshow but I keep getting sidetracked by this blog and Koyudo lmao! 🙂 🙂 🙂
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWy1bFeyHoU

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 10 February, 2013 - 9:23 am

thank you 🙂
Wayne has a wonderful brush collection, we are both totally in love with brushes and we spend a LOT on them ! if one day he tries the brands that we all love here he will be even more addicted 😀 😀 😀 and he will need a cargo boat to satisfy his lemmings… hmmm maybe we could rent one together ??
thanks for the link ! just watched it 😉 today is going to be “my” day (=time for me and my passion), my table is covered with a blanket made of brushes that I will be showing you 😛 can’t wait !

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Anastasiya 10 February, 2013 - 8:15 am

Here in Russia we have two companies, which recently started making makeup brushes. The companies themselves originated in the Soviet Union and share worldwide fame for their art brushes. I’ve read they export hair and brushes to Europe and America. So, for makeup they offer a wide variety of shapes and hair types. Kolinsky is the most frequently used, in my opinion. There are plenty of brushes made of squirrel, pony, goat, racoon, marten, badger, polecat, even silver fox and pig bristles, nylon and mixed hair. You can actually choose the shape and get the same type of brush made of different hair. If you are interested, just let me know, I’ll give you more information and can provide you with assitance.You’ve mentioned you don’t have much experience with kolinsky. Any changes in your opinion? I just can’t get along with this type of hair. It is beautiful, flexible, durable and I always feel jealous reading people use it everyday. I think it is really for more precise work, while I prefer more powdery, subtle effect. One thing I should mention here is that I find kolinsky good for brows and eyelining with gel textures.

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 10 February, 2013 - 9:42 am

Thanks Anastasiya, yes I am interested 🙂
Since I tried more of the Shu Uemura ones I can say that I love them more and more but the Shu are probably the best amongst other similar brands I have, I prefer the density and quality of the Shu, maybe if they had other shapes I would use them more but the range is lacking some essential shapes like precise angled crease, medium blending, etc or maybe I haven’t see them ? But on a daily basis I reach more for goat or squirrel brushes too, I can find there the shapes and functions I need without having to use the kolinsky ones if I don’t want to.

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Liza 13 August, 2013 - 7:07 pm

Hi Anastasia, would you mind sharing the company names in Russia that make makeup brushes? I would love to know more about them 🙂
Thanks!

Sweet Make Up Temptations- Wonderful post! Very informative 🙂

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Bo 24 February, 2013 - 10:22 pm

Hello, I absolutely love your post!!! I am a college student and can not afford those brushes. I wanted to ask you about ebay and the brush set that claims to be gray squirrel and goat hair. Have you ever tried those? I am tempted to buy a set for under $40 dollars. What do you think? If you go on ebay and type gray squirrel or goat hair they have a bunch.

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 25 February, 2013 - 7:42 pm

Hi Bo, thank you 🙂
I am not sure, I wouldn’t recommend you to get these. But I will ask someone what would be the best option for a reasonable set (coastal scents, sigma, crown…).
I have tried many companies that claim to have nice brushes, they weren’t that bad but I could not use them since they weren’t soft enough for my skin.
What are you looking for exactly ? do you prefer to have “normal” brushes (not necessarily very soft) or are you more interested by quantity of brushes ? Just to know how to guide you, I think it would be better to get 2 or 3 very good versatile brushes and then expand your brushes depending on your budget. I have wasted a lot of money trying to find other cheaper options so now I prefer to recommend people to get just a few but that I am sure you can use.

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Bo 27 February, 2013 - 4:58 am

Thank you for your help! I am currently using a elf set that I purchase a year ago. The handle part falls off!!! it gets so hard in the winter time too. Before that I was using an amazing art brush from the art store that was the softest brush that I have ever felt. It was on sale for $10 from 30. It was too big to blend and I stop using it. I have several tarte brushes that came included in a eye shadow kit. I don’t know for some reason I’m not so fond of the double side brushes. I ordered the brushes from ebay=T and I’ll let you know how it is. =) Hopefully there are at least 3 decent brushes in there out of the 32! I need a eyeshadow brush, blending brush a must, eyeliner angle brush, foundation brush, blush, and concealer. I don’t think I use too many brushes. Hopefully when I graduate and be able to work full time again, I can try those brushes you love =D

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Sweet Make Up Temptations 27 February, 2013 - 5:27 pm

I hope you will like them ! or if not, you can always share your experience here, it will be certainly useful for those of you who read. Let us know !
You will be very motivated to finish your studies then, maybe it helps to think about beautiful brushes 🙂 I hope you will get there soon, crossing fingers for you !

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Bo 15 June, 2013 - 9:20 pm

Hello!!! LOVE LOVE your page and I have recommend it to my friends =) They are entering the world of true brushes! You are right about those brushes! of course you are. I bought it thinking I will find at least 2 out of the bunch. It is so horrible! I have not even used one!!!! I wanted to wash it before using it and the water is blue, I washed it 4 times and the blue dye is still dark blue! When I open the package, I can’t even believe the horrible smell. I am saving for hokuhodo brushes specifically the S100 series !!! Thank you for your help again and I am looking forward to all your found treasures from JAPAN!!!

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Ellebeauty23 15 July, 2013 - 5:25 pm

Thank you so much for this wonderful post! I’ve just become interested in goat brushes and wanted to ask for your advice. I had recently started using mineral makeup and realized I didnt have the appropriate brush. The mineral makeup I use is both compact and loose. Of the J series, or Hakuhodo which brush(es) would you recommend best for a med- full coverage(not interested in light coverage)? Something that does a spectacular job giving flawless application. There are just soo many brushes to choose from the brand and would really appreciate your advice!
Thank you! 🙂

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Amalia 16 August, 2013 - 6:15 am

I’m surprised you would even buy real techniques brush, let alone recommend! 🙂 and hello by the way, I’m reading your blog a looong time ago, now I visit again, I stay until 3 am reading your trips to Japan Sooo awesome!

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Sweet make up temptations 16 August, 2013 - 8:43 pm

There is a budget for everyone and honestly for synthetic brushes they are good 🙂 I prefer natural brushes but if all the synthetic were as efficient I would have more.
Thank you Amalia 🙂

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Kirbie 17 September, 2013 - 11:37 pm

Thank you so much! This has helped me greatly; I had no idea about any of this or where to start. It was quite overwhelming looking at all the various companies, styles and types. Lifesaving information!

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Vicky 27 October, 2013 - 7:09 pm

I love your detailed review on brushes!
I was looking for a squirrel brush, but I just can’t buy them yet.. I love squirrels too much may be 🙁

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Sweet make up temptations 27 October, 2013 - 7:20 pm

Thank you Vicky, you don’t need squirrel brushes if you don’t want to or are not comfortable with the thought, today many goat brushes are just as soft 🙂

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Katrina 4 December, 2013 - 5:47 pm

Okay, so, squirrel hairs = no liquid/creams and goat hairs = yes to liquids/creams! Squirrel hair is delicate and absorbent, and goat hair more durable…. I think Ive got it!!

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Sweet make up temptations 5 December, 2013 - 12:50 pm

yep you did 🙂

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Pinkieyeung 6 February, 2014 - 11:23 am

Hi Sonia,

How would you compare and recommend eyeshadow brushes made from blue squirrel and kolinsky? I see large and medium sizes of eyeshadow brushes (S120, S123, Kokutan L & M) on Hakuhodo’s website. It seems that kolinsky brushes are slightly more expensive, but I am not sure if it’s because the S brushes are longer. What do you think?

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Sweet make up temptations 8 February, 2014 - 1:25 pm

Kolinsky is always more expensive in general, it should because it’s more rare to find and probably in more demand (painters, nail artists, etc…) so there is little for many kind of clients.
Kolinsky is meant for every product (liquid and powder), blue squirrel is only for powder products, that’s the main difference. Then it’s also a matter of preference, if you eyelids are very and extremely sensitive, blue squirrel has more softness and less firmness so they may be more gentle. Kolinsky is soft too anyway but firmer 🙂

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Pinkieyeung 9 February, 2014 - 10:27 am

Thanks Sonia, I totally get it! You make me want to buy both plus creamy eyeshadows if my budget allows me :D. I read another post mentioned that Kokutan eyeshadow L is large enough to be a highlighter. What hair length or thickness of eyeshadow brushes should I be looking for, considering base, blending, detail or simply daily needs? I have a small face so I guess my eye lid is in a small to medium size.

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Introduction to Brushes | Makeup for Beginners 5 July, 2014 - 1:57 am

[…] An overview on makeup brushes – an in-depth post, with lots of detail on different hair types. The rest of the Sweet Makeup Temptations blog has a wealth of information on brushes, especially high-end ones. […]

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korean girl 24 December, 2014 - 2:13 am

pony and horse hair is softer than goat hair? sorry, i can’t enough use english

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Sweet Make-Up Temptations 29 December, 2014 - 4:56 pm

Hi !
It depends what quality of pony and what quality of goat, there are many in each type of hair. If you compare high end pony with regular goat hair, pony might be softer but it’s rare that happens. Most of the time goat is softer than pony or horse.

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Cindy 4 January, 2015 - 2:13 am

Omg! I never knew there were others out there like me- addicted to makeup brushes. I was curious about why so many companies don’t state type of hair anymore. 10 or more years ago they were more forthcoming. Anyhow, I bought a very expensive brush that stated “animal hair” and it was so scratchy. I couldn’t believe it. So I started researching and voila! Found you. Your site is incredibly helpful. It’s educational and technical written in an easy to understand and comical format. Thank you so, so ,so much! This is just what I’ve been looking for.

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Sweet Make-Up Temptations 4 January, 2015 - 2:20 pm

hahaha well, definitely happy you found me! you will certainly find around the forum a lot of passionate people like me 🙂
wishing you lots and lots of fun and new discoveries 🙂

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farah 7 April, 2015 - 7:06 pm

OMG U R the queen of all brushes. Such an extensive experience complete with photos made it all worthwhile reading your article. Thanks a lot!

Actually, I stumbled upon your blog after searching about brushes using pig/ boar bristles. Just like Cindy, I found that cosmetic companies don’t state the source / origins of their bristles anymore. Sometimes they just state: made from synthetic & natural hair. My question is – how do you identify brushes made from pig’s hair?

Appreciate your kind reply.

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Rachel 26 January, 2017 - 8:42 pm

I just found this post. I know you wrote it a long time ago, but I have a question if you see this. I just bought some Hakuhodo brushes, and the pamphlet that was included said that those brushes rarely needed cleaning (washing). How should I handle getting the eyeshadow powder out of them if I don’t need to immerse them in cleaner very often? Thanks.

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Sonia G. 27 January, 2017 - 12:50 pm

Hi Rachel,
I totally understand your question 🙂
The brushes that should not be washed often are the bigger squirrel powder brushes, those are more delicate and if it’s to use on yourself you can just wipe them often with a little towel or microfiber cloth to remove powder and oils. As bacteria can only be removed by washing with water, when I asked them they recommended to wash them every 2 months or so, it will depend on the brush. It sounds funny to say that it’s better to not wash them often but it’s true, that’s why make-up artists who need to work on many clients and use many brushes will use more durable brushes and more easy to maintain bristles. On stronger bristles you can spray alcohol to clean them but you should not do that on squirrel brushes for example.
When I use white powder brushes, I wipe them regularly with the cloth then wash them when I feel they need to be washed or when I cannot resist anymore (either way, it will be more regularly than 2 months). I like when a white blush brush is a bit stained with pink or red, but a foundation brush I will wash it really very regularly!

Regarding the smaller eyeshadow brushes, it is on a per case basis and it depends on much your products stain the bristles, especially if you use creams then it’s regular washing for sure. When I use dark bristles eyeshadow brushes and only on myself I just wipe the color with a towel until there is no remaining color on the brush, when it’s white eyeshadow brushes I wash them as often as I need to, mostly due to visual ocd 🙂 My personal opinion is that eyeshadow brushes should be washed regularly or at least sprayed with alcohol (when brush permits) cause going near the eyes with a brush that has accumulated too much dirt/bacteria is not a good thing.
Either way, all brushes have a life span, the longer you can keep them in good state the better (and my brushes are still working great after 10 years, just the paint has rubbed off) but brushes are not meant to last forever, after some years or some mileage they need to be changed.
I hope this helps you! 🙂

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Ainiey Z. 10 November, 2017 - 1:14 am

Very informative post for beginner like me. ✌ btw i want to ask something, how to find the different between the other brushes and from boar(pig)? And did you know what is gronma type of brush? Recently I saw that word description behind my makeup brushes case. Thankyou

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Sonia G. 16 December, 2017 - 3:53 pm

gronma seems like a type of nylon bristle, not sure but synthetic.
I guess boar is coarser but you may need to double check with the reseller to make sure you have the right material and details given to you at the time of the purchase or later via their website for example.
Not sure if I have replied to your question, let me know 🙂

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Azi 4 February, 2019 - 9:23 pm

Amazing explanation! Thank you!!! Have you tried Kevyn Aucoin brushes? What do you think of them? Any suggestions?

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gaby 23 February, 2019 - 4:50 am

Do you know if the Inglot 4ss brush is synthetic fiber? Because it says on the information that is made of “squirrel substitute”

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Sonia G. 2 March, 2019 - 9:44 pm

It is I believe a synthetic fiber, I think this is what I understood when I asked but it was so many years ago and it does feel like goat bristles. I will have to double check!
I will try to contact Inglot and ask! will keep you posted 🙂

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Mary 27 May, 2021 - 10:55 am

I am looking for a recommendation for the Wayne Goss Air Brush but in Travel size. Blue squirrel travel brush for powder touch-ups. Any ideas?

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