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  • Writer's pictureAnnie

Hakuhodo Reiwa Celebration Sky Blue Set

Hakuhodo has released an 8 piece set to commemorate the 2019 commencement of the new era.

The Sky Blue Set is a special brush set that will be sold exclusively to our overseas customers to celebrate the start of a new Japanese era, Reiwa. 

On May 1st, 2019, Japan welcomed the ascension of Crown Prince Naruhito to the Chrysanthemum throne. To celebrate the new era, Hakuhodo released a limited edition 8 piece set to mark the occasion.

Available exclusively on the Hakuhodo USA website from October 1, 2019, the set consists of 5 brushes (which are all available in the permanent range), a brush roll, a microfibre towel and a cleansing soap.

Price, packaging and delivery

As per the custom with Hakuhodo, each brush is enclosed in a fitted plastic sleeve and a fully sealed outer plastic bag. All of the items in the Reiwa Set were then packed into another large sealed plastic bag before being packed into the golden cardboard box pictured below. Basically, lots of plastic.

The Reiwa Set retails for US$90 (AUD$131). It's the best bargain I've seen offered by Hakuhodo in a set which is priced at an extraordinarily low price given that buying all 5 brushes and 3 accessories separately would total to US$262 (AUD$383).

Hakuhodo USA charges a flat shipping rate of US$16 to international customers. As of October 2019, the market exchange rate equates to approximately AUD$23. They ship from California with USPS that offers a tracking number, despite the Hakuhodo website claiming there's no tracking. It took 10 days to arrive in Sydney, Australia.

The Brushes

All brushes in the Sky Blue Set are from Hakuhodo's permanent range. These brushes are made at the same factory in Kumano, Japan as their regular offerings but the handles on these are different to their regular black lacquer.

Described as a sky blue colouring with a deep blue gradation, these handles also feature the embossed 'Hakuhodo' lettering in an iridescent holographic silver. The golden cardboard box also features the holographic silver too, which makes it shinier than the traditional silver stamping on regular J Series or B Series brushes. They do rub off over time anyway, so it's special for as long as it lasts. The blue lacquer feels a touch thicker than the regular black handles. The ferrules are made from nickel-plated brass, the same material as their B or J Series counterparts. They're silver in appearance but don't have the same ridge that joins the metal to the wood as the non-limited edition brushes.

1. B206 Powder Brush

This brush normally retails for US$69.

Hakuhodo was advertising that this brush consisted of only 3% synthetic fibres via its Instagram stories but I find that it's more like 5-10%. You can see and feel the synthetic bristles when you use it and although the brush is soft, the synthetic hairs create some drag on the skin if you use it as the company recommends by laying the brush flat against your face and sweeping. It doesn't glide as smoothly as a 100% goat haired brush does. Furthermore, this brush has a lot of resistance and feels very springy to the touch. If you run your fingers through the bristles, all of the hairs will snap back into position quickly due to its elasticity. Don't get me wrong, this is still a soft brush, I've just been spoilt by Hakuhodo's other offerings which are silkier on the skin.

It picks up a lot of loose powder so I need to tap off the majority of it before I apply it to my face. Due to how bouncy this brush is I like to use a patting motion. Given where the synthetic fibres are bundled in my brush (along the outer edges and in the very centre where it comes to a tip), it's got a rigid structure so I also tried using it for brontouring. Bronzer application was okay but a little prickly for my liking. I prefer a brush with shorter hairs for bronzer/contouring anyway. I will let it continue to fluff out after more washes. I'm not a big fan of the B206 because I have dry skin and prefer an more airy powder brush to pair with both pressed powders such as the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder or the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder and loose powders including the extremely finely milled Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder.

2. B110 Blush Brush

I can confirm that the quality of this one is exactly like the normal offering. Hakuhodo states that it's their best selling blush brush and I can see why. Made of 100% undyed goat hairs, this brush is perfectly soft but has the capacity to pick up all types of blush formulas. It normally retails for US$54.

I personally like to use the B110 for hard-pressed blushes such as the Tarte Amazonian Clay blushes or ones with a gelee formula. Both nylon and taklon synthetic haired brushes struggle to pick up gelee formulas which sit in between a cream and powder. Goat hair bristles are perfectly suited to picking up enough product while creating a soft tactile experience when brushed across the cheeks.

It performs amazingly well with baked blushes too. I'm usually pretty heavy-handed but having white bristles allows me to see exactly how much pigment I'm picking up. The B110 allows you to place and blend blushes that contain shimmer such as the Laura Geller Baked Blush-N-Brighten and the softer more powdery Hourglass Ambient Lighting blushes so that you get a lovely radiant sheen with a nice diffusion of shimmer particles. Do tap off the excess if you're using a softly pressed blush lest you pick up too much product.

If you're new to Hakuhodo, this is the brush to get if you like to disperse your blush with patting or smooth sweeping motions. If you drape your blush up over your cheekbones, this a brush you'll enjoy using. You can achieve either a soft wash of colour or easily build pigment. The B110 is also fantastic for the application of highly pigmented product due to how it diffuses and softens harsh colours. If you let your blush bloom out, you'll be able to buff and blend using the tips in a circular motion. However, if your blush application is more targeted and you're a circular blender, you'd likely prefer the J210 (not included in this set) to pop product onto the cheek using the tips of the bristles.

3. G5552-4mm for foundation, liquids and creams

I said that I didn't think I'd like this brush but I'm eating my words. Retailing for US$47 as an individual brush, I thought it would be incompatible with the makeup in my collection. Nope, I was wrong. This is the perfect size and shape for my cream blush application - specifically for the cream blush pots such as the Luma Beauty Just A Touch Lip & Cheek Tints and the Tata Harper Volumising Lip & Cheek Tint. I had been previously applying my cream blushes using my fingers or with a Beauty Blender sponge.

The bristles are soft despite being comprised of both goat hair and synthetic fibres. It feels surprisingly softer on my face than it does when tested on the back of my hand. I have a small face but fat cheeks so the G5552 is the right size and shape being angled for targeted blush application. You must use a stippling or tapping technique, rather than a buffing motion with this brush.

Hakuhodo advises that this brush is also suitable for liquid, cream or powder foundations but personally, I feel it's too small. Size-wise, it's comparable to the Zoeva 110 Face Shape brush which Lisa Eldridge raves on about for foundation application. I hate that brush for foundation given it's so tiny and it delivers a streaky result with its synthetic hairs. The Hakuhodo G5552 delivers a superior streak-free finish. If you don't mind a slow foundation application or want to use this to blend concealer, this is a good brush. This brush was my surprise dark horse in the collection. Now I'm tempted to try the larger G555s for foundation...

4. J5549H Angled Eyebrow Brush

The brush is comprised of horse hairs which gives it a nice stiffness so it is suitable for creams or waxes. This is my least favourite brush in the set. I'm not using brow powders nor pomades as often as I do brow pencils these days out of convenience. It's also too wide for my liking to create precise strokes.

The brush hairs are 10mm wide and 5mm at it's height. If I could make alterations to this brush, I'd cut down the width by a third and lengthen the bristles a little more to draw in more believable hairs.

I think it would be a decent brush if you like to carve out your brows using concealer.

The J5524H retails for US$22. I don't think it's worth the money but each to her own.

5. B516 Concealer or Lip Brush

The B516 is the only fully synthetic brush in the Reiwa set.

The bristles are very stiff with a lot of resistance. I've been using it as a lip brush. I only use lip brushes when I apply a red lipstick or a bold colour. The brush lays down pigment smoothly in a crisp line which is critical for a red lip.

It's very easy to wipe off between uses because the synthetic fibres absorb no product. I also like how the hairs all taper towards the centre so you get an even application.

Hakuhodo are skimping with this brush though. The normal version which retails for US$32 comes with a metal cap so you can travel with this as a lip brush but the one in the set comes with a malleable plastic lid which is prone to squishing and bending.

I don't like using it for concealer because I prefer using a softer brush, a sponge or my fingers but again, if you like to carve out your brows, you may find this brush useful. Hakuhodo recommends using this for spot concealing or for smaller areas such as around the nose. For the RRP you'd pay for this singular brush alone, you could buy a handful of drugstore branded equivalents.

Pictured above: The brushes after one wash and using a brush guard to dry.

Pictured above: The brushes after multiple washes and without the use of a brush guard

The Accessories

The total retail price of the brushes if bought piece by piece would equal US$224 (AUD$327) but I believe the extras that come with the Reiwa Set are superfluous. They're nice to have, but not necessary purchases.

Items 6, 7 and 8 in the Reiwa Celebration Sky Blue kit are a bar soap, a microfibre towel and a soft brush roll casing. They retail for US$38 if purchased separately.

The microfibre towel which retails for US$7 is excellent for wiping off excess pigments after usage. It's 100% polyester so these towels are a dime a dozen at dollar stores and supermarkets.

The 30g transparent brush cleaning soap normally sells for US$8. This is a worthwhile purchase if your usual solid bar brush soap is something like the Beautyblender Solid Cleanser which costs twice as much for a fraction less product. The Hakuhodo soap is a very good brush cleaner and I'd recommend buying a bar if you're already planning to make an order. Hakuhodo states that the ingredients in this soap are derived from natural sources suggesting that the first ingredient Sekken Soji (JTN) comes from animal or vegetable oils. The bar carries the faint scent of old fashioned barley sugar lollies which isn't surprising given that sucrose is the third ingredient. As a soap it's an oddity. The surface of the bar allows the soap to foam easily while the rest of the bar maintains a firm glass-like feel unlike regular soap bars which start disintegrating upon contact with water. Personally, I've been happy with my Daiso Makeup Brush Cleaner which is AUD$2.80 for 150ml. It's cheap and effective so why pay more? I dry my washed brushes in a brush guard because it is my preference to keep the compact shape of these small face brushes.

The Po900BK brush roll usually sells for US$23. Made of polyurethane, it's a soft material that has the capacity to house 17 brushes of different sizes. You have to play a little Tetris to get the brushes from the Reiwa Collection to fit in side by side as pictured above or you can leave a pocket in between. You fold over or roll the brushes and wrap the strings around and tuck them in. The zippers are weighty metal but it's overall a flimsy case that I wouldn't travel overseas with but if you're a working makeup artist, this might help you when you're on the go.


I'm getting a lot of use out of the B110 and G5552 which are both a little dirty in this picture. The cost of these two brushes alone supercedes the price of the entire set so this was a steal. They're still in stock three weeks after they were first released and I'm tempted to order another set but the postage is a killer. If you want to dip your toe into Hakuhodo or Japanese Fude, the Reiwa Sky Blue Set is good value deal so take the opportunity to try it out.

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