Hakuhodo: Eyeshadow Brush Guide
This is a introductory guide to the basic goat hair fude eyeshadow brushes from Hakuhodo
Hakuhodo is a maker of Japanese fude makeup brushes that offers a large selection of products which dwarfs its competitors. 'Fude' or 筆 literally translates to 'brush' but in Japan it refers to handcrafted artisinal brushes for both calligraphy and makeup usage.
Made in the famed town of Kumano, Japan where the majority of the world's fude is produced, Hakuhodo products are now widespread and much sought after in the makeup community. The problem for newcomers is that the company offers so many different shaped and sized brushes in a variety of hairs. They also don't bundle many kits together so shopping, particularly online, is extremely difficult unless you know what you're looking for.
This guide is intended for those who may be new to Hakuhodo, fude in general, natural hair brushes or who may be upgrading from synthetic brushes for the first time. I will only be discussing goat hair eyeshadow brushes in this post.
I'm going to try and cover all the basics in this post from crease or blending brushes to lay-down brushes and show comparisons to popularly owned synthetic brushes. All prices are correct as of November 2019.
Note that all of my brushes have been washed and therefore have bloomed, or spread out from the intial bundling. When you first receive your brushes, all the bristles will be tightly packed together. They will bloom after washing to allow for an easier blending experience.
Where to buy Hakuhodo
If you're in Japan Hakuhodo is sold in a number of shopping centres and malls as stand alone stores as well as from counters within department stores. If you live outside of Japan, your only opportunity to see the brushes in person is at the international makeup trade show IMATS or if you visit their showroom in Torrance, California USA. Otherwise your only other avenue to purchase Hakuhodo brushes is via the official website. Hakuhodo USA is the only website that will ship to US and international customers.
Postage, packaging and delivery
Postage is US$9 to American addresses and US$16 to international customers. Postage to Australia usually takes around 10 days. Hakuhodo provides a USPS tracking number that lodges the location of the package departing from California, arrival in the country of destination and a confirmation of delivery. However, USPS will hand over the package to your local postal service which may not provide any tracking information. Nevertheless, even with the sketchy track record of Australia Post, none of my brushes have gone missing. At worst, I've had the box crammed into my mailbox.
The brushes are double packed with a snug plastic sleeve that is fully encased in an outer plastic packaging and usually boxed in a gift box or a gift envelope made from thick cardstock. This is then packaged in a cardboard USPS box and mailed. I never fear receiving a damaged product ordering from Hakuhodo.
About undyed goat hair
Undyed goat hair fibres are the most versatile hair because they can be used for powder eyeshadows, cream eyeshadows and even liquids. They are long-lasting and resistant to damage, especially when compared to a fibre such as blue squirrel which is not to be used with liquids or creams. With frequent usage and proper cleaning, I find that my goat-haired eyeshadow brushes tend to last 4-5 years.
Undyed goat hair is soft and will provide an easy blending experience because natural hair glides over the skin easier than taklon or nylon synthetic hairs. The reason for this is that fude brushes are hand bundled using uncut hairs so each hair has a naturally tapered cuticle. If you feel the ends of your own hair after a hair cut, your ends feel blunt to the touch. That same blunt roughness is what you get from synthetic brushes because they are all machine cut to be uniform in size and shape.
Crease brushes or blending brushes
There are 4 traditional crease brushes on offer made from white goat hair bristles. These are the types of brushes that are most familiar to eyeshadow wearers. The traditional crease brush will deposit colour and allow you to blend. These are the type of brushes you want to use windshield wiper motions with and are also suitable to blend using small circular motions. The general rule of thumb is that the bigger and fluffier your brush, the more diffused your eyeshadow will look. The inverse is true. If you use a smaller, denser brush, then your colour will be more concentrated.
Which sizes you buy will depend on the size of your eyes. I don't have a lot of eyelid surface area so I tend to use the three smaller brushes. If you have large eyes then you probably will find the smaller brushes deposit shadow too slowly unless you want to use them for precise detailed work.
J5529 (USD$17): Hair length of 13mm and width of 5mm
This brush is perfect for a precise placement of shadow and especially useful to those with small eyelids or hooded eyes. I recommend using this for outer corner work to deepen shades given how this allows you to deposit colour exactly where you want it. The J5529 is a must for the person who needs to fake a crease due to having hooded eyes. It allows you to lay down eyeshadow in an area above the natural fold of the eyelid without allowing the shadow to migrate everywhere. As the hairs come to a naturally domed tip after washing, the bloomed bristles allow for a small amount of flexibility so you can use this to diffuse the shadow into a more natural gradient as well using small circular motions.
J146 (USD$18): Hair length of 16mm and width of 5mm
This brush is also suited to those with small eyes, hooded eyes or for those who just want to work in precise, small areas. Use this to deepen targeted areas such as the outer corners or along a specific segment of the mobile lid. Due to having slightly longer hairs than the J5529, this crease brush is better for both quick windshield wiper blending actions as well as with small circular movements since it's not as dense.
B142 (USD$19): Hair length of 18mm and width of 6mm
This brush is also known as the J142 but has been given the B classification because Hakuhodo considers it to be a basic brush that everyone needs. They're absolutely correct. This crease brush is suitable for anyone who has eyes. The B142 is what I'd consider to be a standard-sized blending brush. It comes to a slowly graduated taper so the domed shape of the bristles gives the user a wonderfully smooth glide in a back and forth blending motion. It has great flexibility due to the hair length but is bundled carefully so that your eyeshadows won't diffuse too far unless you choose to blend it out that much. This is the brush you buy for effortless blending in the crease, to diffuse out transition shades to natural skin or to blend together different coloured eyeshadows in the crease.
J5522 (USD$20): Hair length of 21mm and width of 7.3mm
The J5522 is the largest crease brush on offer so if you have big eyes or a lot of surface area to cover, this is the blending brush for you. This brush covers the crease area swiftly with a few back and forth swipes or can lay down colour over the entire lid quickly. Someone with small eyes can still use this brush to place one shade down over the entirety of the eye in seconds but it won't be as precise. The J5522 comes to a taper and fluffs out so that the user has control over where colour is deposited but the width of the hairs blends the colour out efficiently so someone with an abundance of eyelid space will appreciate this brush. This is also a suitable brush to keep clean of any eyeshadow and use to blend or diffuse the eyeshadow up and outwards.
Below I've provided comparisons to popular crease brushes, all with rounded ferrules from Zoeva and Real Techniques.
In general, Hakuhodo crease brushes are smaller in size than the popular offerings from Western brands. The Hakuhodo website provides details on the length and width of the bristles underneath each listing so be sure to check them against any brushes you like in your possession.
Blending brushes and Shader brushes
After the traditional fluffy crease brush comes the round and flat blending brush. These brushes aren't as fat or fluffy as a brush with a rounded ferrule but a slight pinch in the ferrule creates a flatter yet still rounded brush shape. These types of brushes are intended to be multifunctional so you can pat down shadow on the lid using the flat side and turn the brush to use the tips to blend the colour out.
Shader brushes are flatter than blending brushes and are intended for usage on mobile lid area. They are typically used to pat on shimmers or metallics to the lower half of the eyelid below the crease or to the centre of the lid.
J5523 (USD$19): Hair length of 16mm and width of 4.5mm This is one of my favourite eyeshadow brushes because it's so versatile. The flat side of the brush allows the user to pat or press eyeshadow all over the lid or crease and softly blend out the colour with the tips after. Unlike using a rounded crease brush that allows for constant back and forth windshield wiper motions, this brush is for people who like to press and wipe or pull the eyeshadow in one direction. Due to the density of the hairs paired with the directional usage, it deposits more colour than a fluffy crease brush.
J242 (USD$18): Hair length of 11mm and width of 3mm
This brush is constructed from both goat and synthetic fibres as it is intended for usage with creamier eyeshadow formulas. They are also good for the application of cream eyeshadows such as those in pots. The addition of synthetic fibres will allow the brush to keep its shape over time as well as prolong its lifespan. This brush is a nice small flat paddle that is perfect for patting or packing on a shimmer, metallic eyeshadow or a glitter. It will allow for precise placement due to the small size which is suitable for those with more limited lid areas. The resistance in this brush does not permit the bristles to splay out so it can also be used to shade the lower lash line.
B004G (USD$20): Hair length of 11.5mm and width of 4mm
Also known as the J004G brush, this brush also has a B designation because it is seen as a basic addition to everyone's kit. This performs the same function as the J242 but is slightly bigger so it is a brush suited to someone with average sized or large eyes. A patting or pressing motion is recommended for both of these flat paddle shader brushes. The B004G can also be used along the lower lash line.
Below, I have provided comparisons to similar brushes from Zoeva, Sigma and Real Techniques.
These oval shaped blending brushes are very common and the J5523 is often compared to the Sigma E25 or MAC217.
I hope this has been a useful introductory guide to Hakuhodo's eyeshadow brushes. Of course there are many other eyeshadow brushes available so if none of these shapes appeal to you, try looking at the B Series for those classified as 'basic' brushes as they tend to have more classic shapes. The J Series is also a good place for a newcomer to browse because it groups together popular brushes at Hakuhodo's most affordable price.
If you want a more luxurious brush, you can buy these same shaped brushes with the upgraded vermillion coloured handles which are coated in a scratch resistant lacquer and 24 karat gold plated ferrules in their S100 Series however these come at a much steeper price. The S100BK Series still have a black handle but have 24k gold plated ferrules.