New Face and Cheek Brush Acquisitions: Chikuhodo, Hakuhodo and Hourglass

April 22, 2015
I have a handful of new-to-me cheek and face brushes that I’ve been playing with for the past few weeks. When it comes to trying or purchasing new beauty products I’m usually pretty open to buying things sight unseen except for makeup brushes. There have been a few exceptions, but for the most part I primarily buy the mainstream brands that I can see or test in person. Roundup of my staples here and here. After testing just a few brushes from Chikuhodo, Hakuhodo and Hourglass, I can say that these are truly incredible tools worthy of their higher price tags. The materials used and the way they are cut are phenomenal making a huge difference in makeup application and feel on the skin.
I have five brushes I’m reviewing today, left to right: Chikuhodo MK-2, Hakuhodo J501, Hakuhodo J505, Hakhuhodo Fan Brush White and Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder Brush.
The Chikuhodo MK-2 Brush ($178) is one of three new brushes in the Makie Series. These are brushes that come with a beautiful print on the handles. These are made of grey squirrel hair and are incredibly soft and plush – it’s the softest brush I have ever felt. It’s semi-loose/semi-dense making it really good for all over powder or a soft wash of bronzer. It has a round shape but is semi-flattened which I like in a powder brush. This is the first Chikuhodo brush I’ve tried since they’ve been hard to find. Beautylish now carries the brushes and I’ve been thrilled with their quick shipping and awesome customer service so I’ve been doing some research to plot a sizable purchase. If you have any recommendations I would love them. The MK-2 along with all of the Chikuhodo brushes are a luxurious splurge but they are incredibly well made and soft. 

Front view versus side view:

Hakuhodo has been on my radar for ages. I saw the line for the first time at The Makeup Show LA this year. The website is a bit overwhelming with all the options for those new to the line. I should have done more research ahead of time, but picked out a few to buy based on density and shape. I picked out white brushes because they felt ultra soft. The three face brushes I picked out include the Fan Brush White ($45), J 501 ($100) and J 505 ($72). 

The Fan Brush White is made of 100% goat hair. it’s a wide and fluffy but dense kind of brush. This one is ideal for powder and finishing. It’s ultra soft but still medium-to-full in density so it will provide medium coverage if you layer on powders. I’ve used this to dust powder all over the face and also to blend powders along the sides of my face whether it’s a soft bronzer or to blend in blush. The compact shape and size is designed for it to be purse-friendly, but you do need a case for it to keep the bristles in tact. There is a small black case you can buy from Hakuhodo for it that retails for $10. It’s something I should have picked up but did not.

Next up are two synthetic fiber / goat hair blended brushes in J 501 ($100) and J 505 ($72). Both are ultra soft and plush. They remind me of the Tom Ford Brushes but are more tapered at the ends. They do fluff up a bit after washing but for the most part still keep their shape. J 501 is larger option, it was recommended to me for pressed powder because it’s a dense brush. J 505 is smaller and ideal for blushes. To me they feel identical in density and softness compared to the Tom Ford. The only difference is the shape.

Front vs side view:

Below the 2 Hakuhodo brushes compared to the Tom Ford Cream Foundation Brush ($72) for size and the Cheek Brush ($78). I have a slight preference for the more tapered shape of the Hakuhodo just for looks, but they perform the same and I’ve been such a huge fan of my Tom Ford Brushes I don’t know that I can pick one over the other.

Last but not least is the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder Brush ($35). This has been on my radar for forever but it’s something that has always escaped my shopping cart. It’s a densely packed brush made of high-grade Taklon bristles (synthetic fibers) and comes with its own pouch to store. This one is designed to be used with the Ambient Lighting Powders to dust all over the face or the angled portion to apply contour/highlighting products but it’s quite versatile. I also like to use it with the Ambient Lighting Bronzers because you can control the intensity of product easily with this brush.
Quick peek at more Hourglass brushes from the Abbot Kinney Boutique in Venice Beach:

Do you have any favorites from any of these lines? I have enough brushes to last multiple lifetimes but if I could start my brush collection all over again I would certainly choose to invest in ones from niche brands. They come at a steep price but the design, quality and way they apply product is truly phenomenal.

The Hourglass and Chikuhodo brushes were provided courtesy without charge for review consideration. All other items purchased by me.

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  • Olivia S. April 22, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    Have you tried the Wayne Goss brushes at Beautylish? I am becoming mildly obsessed with them. I just purchased a few more and one Hakuhodo brush and am anxious to compare them.

    • Sabrina April 24, 2015 at 3:44 am

      Hi Olivia, I have purchased 2 of the holiday Wayne Goss brushes (the tapered ones). I really like the shape and texture of the white one. The black one was perfect until this weekend the dye seems to having issue (the dye now transfers onto my skin, even after it has dried).

      I don't think I can give a proper comparison since the 2 I have are completely different in shape and density, but both Hakuhodo and WG are very soft and plush. Would love to hear which Wayne Goss brushes you like!

    • Unknown June 18, 2015 at 5:09 am

      Tom Ford & Wayne Goss are both manufactured by Hakudo.

  • Tess Kennedy April 22, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    I'm so jealous right now! I've wanted to try all of those brushes out for the longest time.

    xx Tess Isabella Beauty

    • Sabrina April 24, 2015 at 3:44 am

      I hope you can try one soon!

  • Anonymous April 22, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    Have you also looked at the Rae Morris brushes? They're also available on Beautylish and compared to my Hakuhodo and Wayne Goss brushes, hers are even softer. They also come in some very unique styles which I love.

    • Sabrina April 24, 2015 at 3:45 am

      I've heard so many good things about them and I did browse briefly on Beautylish. I am tempted! Which ones are your favorites from Rae Morris?

    • NJ April 27, 2015 at 2:55 pm

      Rae Morris 23 for liquid foundation is a hit with me. Extremely soft – I dampen the ends very slightly and then basically use like I would a beauty blender, but with better application results on my very sensitive skin. The RM23 was one of Sweet Makeup Temptations 2014 best brushes for liquid foundation lists, by the way.
      I've also been eyeing the Chikuhodo Takumi T1 as well as the MK2 or Z1 (can't decide between the 2 of the latter).

  • Zoe April 22, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    I have the Chikuhodo Z-8 and Z-2 which I adore for very pigmented blushes and highlighting, respectively. I've been eyeing the Z-1 for a while and the advent of the Makie series makes deciding even harder!

    I also like the Hakuhodo Kokutan Eye Shadow Brush T. Quite a unique shape!

    • Sabrina April 24, 2015 at 3:46 am

      Ooooh, the Z-8 and Z-2 are such beautiful brushes. Thank you for the recommendations and suggestions on what to use them for. I'm adding them to my research list 🙂

  • thebeautybloss.com April 23, 2015 at 12:20 am

    I agree with Olivia ^^ the Wayne Goss brushes are amazing. I have the Hourglass #1 and it is so soft as well as the Chikuhodo Z1 (my favourite powder brush).

    • Sabrina April 24, 2015 at 3:46 am

      Everything in the Chikuhodo Z line seems incredibly well made.

  • Gemma Louise April 23, 2015 at 1:59 am

    These brushes are so cute! I love the floral print! xx

    Gemma Louise | Just Little Things

    • Sabrina April 24, 2015 at 3:47 am

      Me too! Gives it such a special extra touch.

  • Becca April 23, 2015 at 2:45 am

    I love a Hakuhodo brush but gosh darn they are pricey. So luxurious! x
    Becoming Becca

    • Sabrina April 24, 2015 at 3:47 am

      I know! The price is a big ouch to the wallet.

  • Anonymous April 23, 2015 at 3:09 am

    I have purchased a ton of brushes from Beautylish, mostly Wayne Goss and Chikuhodo z series. I am so happy with all my brushes, it makes applying my makeup a much more enjoyable experience. As for Beautylish, they are simply amazing. They are my retailer of choice for sure! My other favorite brushes are by Suqqu and Shu Uemura……the kolinsky 11 brush is a lifesaver!

    • Sabrina April 24, 2015 at 3:48 am

      Ahhh Suqqu! Another brand that is hard to find for me. I agree Beautylish is simply incredible in terms of online shopping and customer service. In a market filled with online retailers they have really made the shopping experience extraordinary.

  • aymaylee April 23, 2015 at 6:18 am

    I get so excited every time I come to your blog bc it's like you know what's on my mind (I've been trying to decide on whether it's worth splurging on Chikuhodo brushes) and your review about the Makie is making me think I'm going to buy the set. I discovered that Beautylish isn't the only retailer that sells Chikuhodo; another retailer online at visageusa does too and features way more sets and the option of engraving your brushes! Thank you again for your post and posts in general! They're the highlight of my day!

    • Sabrina April 24, 2015 at 3:51 am

      Awww, so sweet of you! I did see Visage USA but I haven't ordered from them before. Have you? I love trying new retail sites but some I am a bit cautious in ordering from if it's not something I know a lot about. I am really excited about your plans to order the Makie set. You might want to give RaeViewer's latest April Favorites video a look – she featured 2 of them in her review which I think is helpful 🙂

    • aymaylee April 24, 2015 at 6:29 am

      Thank you for referring me to Rae's post. It was there actually that I first saw the beautiful Makie brush and then the obsession with "should I get these brushes?" started. Your very informative review on the brushes you bought has just confirmed that it's destiny for me to buy Chikuhodo brushes. I haven't bought from Visageusa before, but if I have a bad experience, I'll be sure to let you know 😉

    • Gina April 24, 2015 at 8:28 am

      I have ordered from Visage USA before and they are great! Their service is just as good as Beautylish. Sometimes they do offer discounts so make sure you sign up for their newsletter!

  • Anonymous April 23, 2015 at 6:51 am

    I love Japanese brushes and love when others find them. I suggest any of the Takumi line, the hair is just as soft as the Hakuhodo J series white brushes. I have the T-3 through T-8 and plan on getting the T-2 soon. Any of the Z series brushes are excellent choices. I have the Z-1 through Z-5 and the Z-8 and they are all the same quality as the MK-2, which I also have. If you like brushes with round ferrules then I suggest the GSN-4, such a high quality brush that I use all the time for powder.
    I would personally stay away from any of their full black goat brushes and Hakuhodo's for that matter. Something about the hair being dyed black just sucks a lot of the softness from the hairs. I much prefer the softness of white goat brushes, even if they do look dirty immediately after use. One more thing, the Hakuhodo and Chikuhodo brushes are not cut, rather the uncut hairs are shaped using molds.

    • Eileen April 23, 2015 at 4:29 pm

      Sara at Color Me Loud visited a brush manufacturer in Japan and has an excellent post with videos showing the manufacturing process. Anyone who wants to know how these superlative brushes are made, should take a look at her post.

    • Eileen April 23, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      Oops! I forgot to say that it was Chikuhodo that Sara visited 🙂

    • Anonymous April 24, 2015 at 2:06 am

      Yes, I saw her post and loved looking at her videos. Sonia at SweetMakeUpTemptations is my go to brush source. Her site is a Japanese brush encyclopedia, If you want a review then she probably has it. Her reviews, comparison photos, and the comments section have helped me immensely in deciding which brushes to buy and how to get hard to find brushes. She has also been to Kumano and visited some of the manufacturers and has a great series of posts about her trips.

    • Sabrina April 24, 2015 at 3:54 am

      Thank you Anonymous for the tips. I agree there is something with dye that changes the brush. My Wayne Goss Holiday brush now bleeds like crazy when I wash it and the dye has even started transferring onto my skin so when I add bronzer, I get black/blue streaks from the brush.

      Thank you for all the recs, they are so helpful! I've added them to my research/wish list.

      Thank you Eileen, I will check out Sara's posts again 🙂

      Anon – I can't get on Sweet Makeup Temptations site, it's been a few days. I tried different browsers but get an admin error. I used to refer to her posts often but can't seem to access them.

  • Rachel April 23, 2015 at 9:57 am

    That Chikuhodo brush is so beautiful. I love the design.

    Rachel | http://www.currentlyrachel.com

  • Lisa April 23, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Thank you for the comprison between the Tom Ford and the Hakuhodu. I love my Tom Ford brushes. I recently purchased the Wayne Goss set and I am still evaluating. I love the Holiday brush (it's what inspired me to buy the set) but many of the brushes are designed so similarly in the eye portion of the set 3 of them any way and I think in some ways they are almost to soft and floppy. He doesn't have a brush to "pack on" eye color for precise application. I found that strange. So I'm still evaluating. . . . .

    • Sabrina April 28, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      So sorry for the delay in responding, I've been traveling and exhausted. But I totally agree about your thoughts on the eye brushes. So far, the best brush I've tried to pack on color is MAC 239. I wish more brands had something similar to the size, density and shape – but like you, I find so many either too large or too loose/floppy.

  • Annikky April 23, 2015 at 11:33 am

    I'm not much of a brush person, but even I have to admit that Suqqu brushes are indeed wonderful (I own the eye brush in M).

    • Sabrina April 28, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      oooh! Suqqu – one day I will test one!

  • Eileen April 23, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    I am a huge fan of Hakuhodo and have been for several years. I also love Tom Ford (manufactured in Japan), Chikuhodo, a few of Suqqu and some Wayne Goss (manufactured in Japan). Once I discovered Japanese handmade brushes, I no longer looked twice at brushes made elsewhere. So, yeah, I'm a brush snob, but there is simply no comparison in terms of quality. Of course, not all Japanese brushes are created equal, but Hakuhodo and Chikuhodo turn out a superlative product. To feed my brush addiction, I just bought the Chikuhodo MK-1 and MK-2 simply because they're so beautiful–as well as beautifully made 🙂

    • Sabrina April 28, 2015 at 5:58 pm

      Eileen, I love that you are a self-proclaimed brush snob, I wish I had discovered these sooner. If I could start my brush collection all over again I would without hesitation splurge on the Japanese hand made brushes. So excited about your new Chikuhodos! I took mine on a trip with me and it's just so amazing.

  • Clever Girl Reviews April 23, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    I really like the look of the one from Hourglass!

  • Hell Notes For Beauty April 23, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    These brushes are amazing and the review thorough as always. I agree with Lisa there has to be some way we can get some good brushes to pack on, especially considering the price points.

  • Sugar Rimmed April 23, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    I love my Hakuhodo and Chikuhodo brushes and im slowly building my brush stash. Other brands and even knock offs are not the same quality imo.

  • Christine Crabb April 23, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    I'm a big fan of Hakuhodo and Koyudo brushes, and I have eye on the Chikuhodo Takumis. Here are my favorite Hakuhodos and Koyudos:

    Foundation / liquid: Koyudo Fu-Pa 13 (for blending–place with fingers or a flat brush)
    Blush: Koyudo BP016
    Finishing Powder: Hakuhodo J104
    Shadow / laydown: Hakuhodo J242G (fantastic brushes–I have two)
    Shadow / crease & blend: Hakuhodo J142
    Shadow / crease & blend: Hakuhodo J5523
    Shadow / outer V: Koyudo C011p
    Shadow / inner corner: Hakuhodo G5515
    Concealer: Hakuhodo G538
    Concealer / eyes: Hakuhodo G542
    And the Hakuhodo brush cases are gorgeous!

    I also like the Ecotools angled brush for using shadow as liner, Anastasia brow brush, Sephora 55 for liquid foundation, and Ecotools flat foundation brush. I use Sephora 54 for highlighter and bronzer but really need to get specialized brushes for those–it's my old blush brush.

    • Sabrina April 28, 2015 at 5:59 pm

      Hi Christine, thank you so much for breaking down your recommendations by category. This is so incredibly helpful! I've made notes and am starting to build my wishlist 🙂

  • susanger April 23, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    What a wonderful review! Brushes are an element that can completely change how you apply –and how you look–with certain products.
    I've recently found the It Brushes at Ulta –all synthetic–to be affordable and excellent quality, they're big and fluffy and don't shed at all.
    I have a couple of Hakuhodo cheek brushes, the dyed black goat hair–they bleed some blackish color every time I wash them so I've kinda backed off on using them. I agree with the other comment to stick with the white undyed goat hair. I have heard that Tom Ford and Wayne Goss brushes are made under license by Hakuhodo. The Wayne Goss brushes are terrific, no dye bleed, no shed hairs, easy to use and balanced, they're my favorites. The Tom Ford brushes pick up a lot of pigment from powdered products so I prefer to use them with softer blush colors or setting/finishing powders.

  • Anonymous August 20, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    ::cough:: your picture of the Chikuhodo MK-2 says "hakuhodo". You may want to fix that.

  • http://www.amymirandamakeup.wordpress.com June 17, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    I love your brushes and am in love with chikuhodo and hakuhodo.. when i reached the bottom of your article and saw you put the little guy from hourglass, fullly synthethic in this mix, i said oh no.. big no no..

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