I was recently given the opportunity by Hakuhodo to try their brushes. Clued out as I was, I had never heard of this company before but became much more interested when I saw "Made in Japan" and celebrity makeup artist Elke Von Freudenberg mention them on her blog, as well as a handful of beauty bloggers who had tried out and raved about them.
I was not disappointed. Without a doubt, these are the softest, densest and most luxurious makeup brushes I have ever used. The company's PR DVD that I was provided with further elaborated how the brushes are actually handmade in their Japan factory, and you saw crafty Japanese workers laboring over each individual brush head, removing lesser quality hairs strand by strand with a fine toothed comb, until the finished product resulted in a luxurious makeup brush. Their factory is located in Kumano, Japan, where over 100 brush companies produce 80% of all brushes manufactured in Japan. Hakuhodo has also become an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), meaning they produce the makeup brushes for various high end cosmetic lines. This article has an interview with the founder and also some pictures of their meticulous production.
I was also impressed by the wealth of information available to the customer about each type and grade of hair that is used for a particular brush. No less than 6 different types of goat hair are used and elaborated on, as well as squirrel, weasel, horse, badger, and synthetic fibres, all of which are attained cruelty-free, as I was assured by the company.
The brushes I show in this video in order of appearance are listed below. Click on the link to take you to the exact brush on the Hakuhodo website.
1. Kokutan Finishing Brush LAG
2. S 103 Blush Brush
3. K002 Finishing Brush round and flat
4. H1062 Blush Brush round and flat
5. E0154 Highlight Brush round and flat
6. K004 Eye Shadow Brush round and flat
7. S 142 Eye Shadow Brush round
8. E0183 Kokutan Eye Shadow Brush T
9. E1143 Eye Shadow Brush Pointed
10. E1112 Eye Shadow Brush round and flat
11. K 005 Eye Shadow Brush round and flat
12. E1116 Lip Brush round and flat
My personal favorites so far are Nr. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 although I have used all of them by now for a couple of weeks and will certainly continue to use them in the future.
In the video I kept stressing how expensive these brushes are, which in retrospect isn't really right. While these brushes certainly are no eBay bargain bin set, I've actually now realized the prices are about the same to what you would pay for department store brushes here in Europe such as MAC or Bobbi Brown, and some are even a bit less expensive. So while they may be a bit more costly than MAC brushes in the States, they are in my opinion a step up in quality overall, and they come in a variety of series and price lines. Definitely not brushes I would recommend to a beginner makeup aficionado but a great investment for professional makeup artists or people passionate about craftsmanship and makeup brushes in general.
About the short handles as I've addressed in the video: I sent a follow up email to Hakuhodo and they told me that some of the brushes are available in different handle lengths: short, medium, and long. So if you wanted the longer handles ones, I'm not sure what you would have to do exactly as I see no different options on the web shop. I guess I would contact Hakuhodo before placing an order and if any of the brushes you're interested in do have the option of long or short handles. Besides the issue of the shorter handles on some, I was trying to think of any other cons to these brushes and I honestly could not find any.
Overall, I highly recommend these professional makeup brushes and like them better than many of my MAC brushes. I have dubbed them the "Rolls Royce" of makeup brushes. You can order through their online shop, or catch them at a makeup tradeshow in the future (apparently they were at the IMATS show this summer in California.) The quality is superb and the hairs are so soft and of such a high grade. I also loved how the bristles didn't splay like crazy after washing, even without using the Brush Guards I normally use for my other brushes. All the brush heads took on their shape again easily. A note on washing - do not "overwash" these brushes. You can find out on their website how to properly care for your Hakuhodo brushes, and you can be sure I will be treating mine like the treasures they are.
Link to the video