Koyudo Somell Garden Series Brushes
The Somell Garden brushes from Koyudo may be tiny but they pack a big punch.
The Koyudo Somell Garden Series consists of four brushes which are inspired by fruits. The name of this brush series is derived from a portmanteau of 'someru' which is Japanese for 'dye' and the word 'mellow' because the tips of each brush have been lightly dyed with colours which correspond to a fruit. Each brush showcases different Japanese woods in the handles so the overall theme aims to evoke a garden or orchard. The Koyudo logo and Somell Garden designs have been laser engraved onto each brush handle.
There are very few brands which utilise hakutotsuho hairs now so I was attracted to these Koyudo brushes. Makeup brushes which use goat hair most commonly utilises hair from the chest region. You get in order of hair softness and quality: saibikoho, saikoho and sokoho. Most of the fude available on the market will use saikoho and sokoho because Japanese graded saibikoho is extremely expensive. These common hair types all are classified as soft thin, delicate hairs. The issue with using brushes that are comprised of very soft hairs is that it sometimes won't pick up enough product. While softness is something I think is important to a brush, I value efficiency more, particularly in a goat fibred tool. If I want a very soft brush, I'll choose one made from grey squirrel.
If your blush is a very hard pressed powder or if you want to use a cream product, using a brush made of very soft and fine hairs may actually require more effort and using a cream product on such delicate fibres may damage it. For this reason, I look for a hakutotsuho brush because these hairs come from the shoulder region on the goat. The hairs are thicker and have an elasticity to them that typically makes an audible snap back sound if you run your finger through them. Since the fibres aren't as delicate or prone to breaking, you can use them to dip into creams or potted products and the brushes don't become as gunky as quickly as they would using a more delicate hair. They also pick up more product so they perform better with a hard pressed powder, a baked product, gelee formula or a cream makeup product.
In case you haven't noticed the brush lengths, here's a photo of what they look like in the hand. I have small child-sized hands and I think they're small but they're just long enough that if I hold the brushes like a pencil, the end of the handle can sit in the webbing between my thumb and index finger. These are what most people would label as 'travel-sized brushes' and I'd definitely pack these with me on my next holiday getaway but they're great to have as part of the regular rotation.
Packaging, price and availability
The Koyudo Somell Garden brushes are sold individually and they come in the cutest little cardboard boxes featuring a lush forest or orchard print. The insides of the boxes are lined with paper to imitate straw in a barn.
The cardboard boxes are sturdy enough to be repurposed should you wish to. I like to keep my packaging so I store everything from small knick-knacks to jewellery in these boxes.
The Koyudo Somell Garden brushes are available to purchase from CDJapan. All links in this post are affliate links to CDJapan. I will earn a small commission should you choose to make a purchase through my link. The retail price remains unchanged so you will not pay any extra.
Each brush is sold separately. The Peach Brush, Blueberry Brush and Orange Brush retails for 3000 Yen on CDJapan while the Lemon Brush costs 3800 Yen. This does not account for any additional taxes which may apply. I bought all of mine from CDJapan. There is a 10% GST applicable for purchases by Australians but using a coupon code on top of my rewards points I was able to negate the extra tax cost. CDJapan sends out 1000 Yen coupon codes regularly and has free express international shipping via FedEx or DHL for orders over 12 000 Yen.
The Somell Garden Blueberry Walnut Brush
This brush is being marketed as a highlighting brush but I think it's more versatile than that. Made of hakutotsuho hairs and with a domed shape, this brush has wonderful buffing capabilities. The Koyudo Somell Garden Blueberry is soft for hakutotsuho, airy and is excellent for stippling before buffing in product using dabbing or swiping motions. The Koyudo Blueberry Brush is fractionally smaller and firmer than the Koyudo Yoshiki 02 but is very similar so if you're thinking 'do I need both?' then the answer is 'no'.
These days, I'm not wearing a lot of base product so I find this brush perfectly serviceable for a quick light coverage look. My skin has been really clear lately but my face has been so dry that I've typically been avoiding anything more than a tinted moisturiser or half a pump of foundation. The blueberry brush has a mostly rounded ferrule which curves in fractionally to yield a mid to high density brush head. It's possible to achieve a full coverage base using this brush if you don't mind spending the time applying in multiple layers so given how small the head is. I'm far too lazy for that. For heavier coverage days I still prefer my tried and true Koyudo Fu-Pa 02, another hakutotsuho brush, which is larger so it allows for faster foundation application. Unfortunately the old fu-pa series has been discontinued and replaced with synthetic fibres.
L to R: Sonia G Face Two, Hakuhodo J210, Koyudo Yoshiki 02, Koyudo Somell Garden Blueberry, Chikuhodo T-3, Rephr 17, Sonia G Keyaki Mini Base
The Blueberry Walnut brush is the most versatile brush in the collection. If you're not wanting to use this for foundation, I'd suggest trying this with cream blush. The hakutotsuho hairs are just thick enough to pick up potted cream products or poured products and the rounded edges of the brush allow for seamless blending. It's also suitable to use for cream contour or bronzer application as well. As always, goat hair brushes can be utilised to apply any type of makeup product from liquids to powders.
Finally, if you use the Blueberry Walnut brush as suggested in applying highlighter, then you get the most brilliant buffed-in and seamless sheen with a powder product.
The Koyudo Somell Garden Blueberry Walnut brush is available for purchase here on CDJapan.
The Somell Garden Orange Maple Brush
The Orange Maple Brush is very similar to the Blueberry Walnut Brush in that both are made from hakutotsuho hairs measuring 27mm long. The difference is that the Orange Maple brush has an oval ferrule so the hairs bloom outwards. It has a thinner profile than the Blueberry brush and is like a larger, thicker version of the Koyudo BP014. The Orange Maple brush is bundled in a way that the tips of the brush head forms a shape that is reminiscent of a chisel. It's imperceptible to the eye but you can definitely feel it come to a thin edge if you pinched the brush head from the ferrule with your index finger and thumb and ran your fingers along to the hair tips. For this reason, it makes the Orange Maple brush the perfect candidate for contouring or you could turn it to use the width to apply bronzer.
L to R: Rephr 24, Wayne Goss 12, Real Techniques Mini Expert Face Brush, Chikuhodo GSN-05, Koyudo Somell Garden Orange, Koyudo BP014
I really like this brush. It makes cream contour application very quick. I had previously been using the Koyudo BP014 to apply contour almost to the exclusion of all other brushes but the Orange Maple is thicker with that same chisel tip so it blends product faster and actually has less drag on the skin compared to the thinner brush.
I recommend using this brush only to apply one directional strokes, although it has decent flexibility so if you want to apply highlighter to the very tops of your cheekbones and not have it spread out, you could place the brush on the exact spot you want and wiggle it to blend. I'd consider this brush a high density brush for its size. If you own the Chikuhodo GSN-05, then the brush head of the Orange Maple is roughly the same size looking from the top down but this Koyudo brush is denser and softer. My personal experience with Chikuhodo is that they don't produce the best goat hair brushes compared to other Japanese fude makers.
The Koyudo Somell Garden Orange Maple Brush is available for purchase on CDJapan here.
The Somell Garden Peach Keyaki Brush
I'll admit that I wasn't enthusiastic about this brush. It's the only brush in this set that is made from a combination of hakutotsuho goat hairs and synthetic PBT fibres. Also, I find the heart-shaped head a little kitschy so I've avoided buying the other heart brushes from Koyudo. I have many similarly sized brushes but alas, I'm a completionist and I like owning entire sets enough to overlook its novelty aspect. The handle is made from keyaki or Japanese Zelkova wood.
L to R: Rephr 05, Hakuhodo J110, Koyudo BP016, Koyudo Kakishibuzome 03, Koyudo Somell Garden Peach, RMK Cheek Brush, Koyudo BP018
The skill of the artisan who bundled this brush is clear. Although this brush contains synthetic fibres, they've been placed very strategically along the outer edges of the brush to preserve the heart shape. If you use this brush by its tips rather than applying product from the flat lengths of the hairs, then you'll barely notice the synthetic fibres. If you do like to brush powder to go with the grain of the hairs then it's apparent that there are PBT fibres in it.
This brush is my least favoured in the Somell Garden series but it has its uses. If you prefer a diffused highlighter application, then this brush will nicely fit around the upper cheekbone. The dip in the middle of the brush allows you to hug the cheekbone or the jawline. The Peach Keyaki brush is also airy so it lends itself well to powder blush application with dabbing and then left and right swiping to blend product in. Powder bronzers can be applied using the same left and right or up and down method.
The Koyudo Somell Garden Peach Keyaki Brush is available for purchase on CDJapan here.
The Somell Garden Lemon Walnut Brush
The Lemon Walnut brush is a kinoko brush which again features a walnut handle. Koyudo sells a range of these mushroom brushes with novelty patterns, shapes and designs. They're typically limited edition items and I've seen cactus-shaped ones, flower pots and one with soccer ball patterns on them. They also have some traditional round kabukis in their permanent range. Koyudo makes these kinoko brushes using a variety of hair type from the more expensive saikoho all the way down to sokoho graded ones. The Lemon Walnut brush, like all the other brushes in the Somell Garden series are made from hakutotsuho. Hakuhodo is another fude company which makes kinoko brushes, although they limit themselves to traditional undyed options in the kabuki shape.
The Lemon Walnut kinoko just tips the scales in terms of too rough to use all over for me on an everyday basis because I own softer brushes. Your own tolerance may be higher than mine. My problem with this brush is that it tends to encourage microexfoliation on my skin or pick up texture when I brush a powder over it as I have done here in the picture above. My forehead area looks a bit rough here as does the area around my nose. I'm honestly starting to forget what real skin texture should look like in untouched photography. Maybe I'm being overly critical here because I've been staring at a close up picture of my face for too long but I'm reasonably sure that the texture issue wasn't as noticeable in person.
L to R: Shou Shou Lang Green Dill 01, Tsubokawa Mohitsu Koyomo Pearl Pink Powder Brush, Koyudo Somell Garden Lemon, Koyudo Yoshiki 01, Koyomo Pearl Pink Blush Brush
I don't have many completely rounded large brushes in my collection since my application style leans towards patting rather than buffing over large areas. This Lemon Walnut kinoko brush is densely packed because it is designed to be used as a buffing brush. I have dry skin so I generally try to avoid buffing powder products in, especially using a coarser brush. I do like the effect of buffing a finishing powder all over my face but my skin is a bit too sensitive to be doing so using this brush on a daily basis, especially as I use both a chemical and physical facial exfoliant. If you have less sensitive skin or you apply powder foundation, this brush might interest you.
In terms of softness, I find it a fraction softer than the much smaller Chikuhodo GSN-05 which I know most people feel is soft enough but I personally feel is prickly. That being said, I like the Koyudo fu-pa 02 hakutotsuho brush for all over foundation which isn't the softest brush on the market but that's my tolerance level for a buffing brush that is to be taken over a large surface area. The difference between the three brushes is very slight and most people wouldn't have a problem with it but my skin is particularly sensitive after exfoliation. If I use the Lemon Walnut brush on the days in between chemical exfoliation, then I don't feel that it's too rough.
Since I don't like to take the Koyudo Lemon kinoko brush all over my face, I have been using it to apply bronzer in a liberal fashion. It's really good for buffing bronzer into the forehead near the hairline.
The Koyudo Somell Garden Lemon Walnut Brush can be purchased on CDJapan here.