Shou Shou Lang Green Dill Series Brushes
This is my review of the Shou Shou Lang Green Dill 受受狼 绿萝 lǜluó brushes. Today's post looks at top quality Chinese-made brushes for those on a budget.
Shou Shou Lang 受受狼 is one of the most prominent Chinese brush makers. They have so many varieties of brushes on offer across multiple lines and price ranges so they're quite popular in China and readily available for purchase online on sites like Taobao. I've been a very long-term user of Japanese artisan brushes, particularly of Hakuhodo since I was a teenager. I'll admit that I was prejudiced against Chinese brushes because I'm generally a firm believer that you get what you pay for. I'm the type of person who buys leather shoes and staple clothing items every five years. Colour me surprised because these Shou Shou Lang Luluo brushes are quite cheap in comparison to their Japanese counterparts and they're fantastic.
At least once a month, I receive a message in my inbox either on Instagram, Reddit or an email here on my blog asking me to recommend a cheaper alternative to Japanese fude. I get it. Handmade brushes made from natural hairs are expensive. My own sizeable collection has been amassed over many years and I don't even want to think about how much money I've spent. The world of natural hair hand-made brushes is really difficult for a newcomer when there are so many options available on the market. It's a problem that is compounded if you have a limited budget and you have to go off online reviews since it's uncommon to see physical stores selling fude. I've been trialling scores of Chinese made brushes this year and I've finally gotten to a stage where I've picked out the brushes that are top quality for a fraction of the price of what you'd pay compared to a Japanese brand.
I always recommend starting off with a goat haired brush because it's the most versatile fibre that can be used for powders, liquids and creams. It's also the hair type that can take the most abuse so it can take multiple washings and the user doesn't have to worry as much about babying it. Although this review will probably be most helpful to those without a large collection, I'd urge anyone who knows Japanese fude to also consider giving these a go because the quality is better than what you'd expect.
Price, packaging and delivery
There are 13 brushes in the whole series but I purchased #1 through to #11 since these are made of goat hair. The remaining two brushes which I did not purchase are a lip brush and an eyebrow brush. Brushes 1 to 9 can be purchased in a set and there is a 3 brush eyeshadow kit too. I will link to each individual brush in the review below. The individual pricing for each brush at its full retail price will be listed in my review.
I purchased my brushes from e-commerce giant Taobao. I have written a guide for buying brushes on Taobao on the blog, so I suggest you follow my instructions there. For the brushes specifically reviewed here, I will post links for purchase. These are affliate links so I will make a small portion in commission. Some of these links will be to coupons which you can add to your account to receive a discount and others will be to discounted prices. Should you choose to click on them, some will take you to a coupon that you click on to add to your account. Click on the product image after that to take you to the store. Please consider using these affliate links to support this blog.
The packaging of Shou Shou Lang items always comes in a cardboard box and is wrapped in a shipping plastic that holds your postal details on the front. Large orders will be accompanied by free accessories such as a makeup bag, microfibre towels, brush soap and brush guards.
The brushes themselves are packed in individual sleeves. The face brushes come with a brush guard over them and the eyeshadow brushes are again packaged into plastic sleeves.
About the brushes
The brushes in the Shou Shou Lang series are made from 细嫩光锋羊毛 (xìnèn guāng fēng yángmáo) which is the equivalent of saibikoho in Japanese fude. This is the highest grade of goat hair available and is typically very rare and expensive. The hairs on these Chinese brushes are extraordinarily good. They are softer and finer than my Japanese saikoho hairs from the mainstream brands I will post comparison pictures of within this review.
Above: Unwashed and unbloomed SSL LL01 through LL11
The brushes themselves feature a green wooden handle that is comparable in weight to Hakuhodo brushes. This brush line is called the 绿萝 lǜluó series which translates to 'green radish'. Google Translate gives me 'dill' which I know to be 莳萝 shí luó but the green herb that we get in Western countries is not the same as the one in Asia according to every single Asian aunty that cooks and complains about needing to drive to some obscure Chinese market to obtain it. The word 萝卜 (luóbo) is 'radish' or specifically a daikon white radish that features a lovely green leaf. Perhaps that's where the inspiration came from? Either way, expect to see the word 'dill' or 'radish' pop up if you're using an online translator.
The Shou Shou Lang brushes feature a lacquer that has a high shine and irredescence that is very very similar to that on the Sonia G brushes but with even more sparkle. The ferrules are a lightweight metal that is again akin in weight to Hakuhodo ones but these SSL brushes feature either a gold or a rose gold ferrule. I have some variance in mine with my LL01 and LL08 being different in colour to the rest of the set.
Pictured here are the washed and bloomed brushes.
All of the hair on the face brushes bloom considerably after being washed but I choose to dry mine in a brush guard to control how large the brush becomes. They all remain very soft after multiple washes. I have remarks on shedding and my recommendations to deal with this in my conclusion at the end of this post.
(I'm here pictured on the right wearing the black blouse) I've used the LL01 to apply the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Ethereal Light, the LL02 to apply a mix of Pretty Blush and Summer Blush from the Charlotte Tilbury Glowing Pretty Skin Palette, the LL03 to apply bronzer from Charlotte Tilbury Film Star Bronze and Glow and a combination of the eyeshadow brushes to apply mattes, metallics and duochromes from the Pat McGrath Divine Rose Mothership VII Palette.
LL01 Powder Brush
The Shou Shou Lang LL01(RMB¥369) is a powder brush with a rounded ferrule. It is a medium to high density brush that is generous in its size and suitable for those who enjoy using the tips of the brush to apply a setting powder or a finishing powder. This brush is great for those who prefer to apply with a buffing motion.
L to R: Chikuhodo T-1, Rephr 11, Shou Shou Lang LL01, Koyomo Pink Pearl Face Brush, Koyomo Pink Pearl Blush Brush
Out of the package, the brush has a length of 50mm and a width of 41mm. I use a brush guard after washing and mine has bloomed to 50mm wide. The Shou Shou Lang LL01 is the softest brush out of all the other saikoho and the Koyomo ancient ototsuho brushes pictured above.
I actually own very few brushes with a completely rounded ferrule. I typically prefer to pat powder over my face because I have such dry skin so most of my powder brushes have a crimped ferrule. I generally like to avoid buffing but this brush is truly so soft that I have taken to using it to buff my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder. It truly does help to create a seamless blend of all your products together. Using this buffing technique also helps with makeup longevity given that I travel on public transport wearing a face mask.
LL02 Cheek Brush
The Shou Shou Lang LL02 (RMB¥209) is a good sized face cheek brush that has a crimped ferrule but is reasonably rounded after it blooms. It is described as being 'tongue-shaped' in the listing which is pretty accurate since it's a flat paddle brush when it's laid down. This is a great brush for those who want to selectively powder areas of the face so I use it to powder my nose, my upper lip, chin and forehead. Although the bristles are very soft, the brush has a moderate amount of resistance to it so you can make quick dabbing motions without the bristles splaying everywhere. You can choose to blend and buff blush in if you use more pressure and in that case you can force the hairs to splay.
Pre-bloom this brush head measures 37mm long and 28mm wide. Post-bloom this expands to 32mm wide. I find that the 细嫩光锋 (xìnèn guāng fēng) or saibikoho hairs very useful for dipping into a finely milled loose setting powder such as the Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder because you're easily able to tap off excess product. It's perfect for someone as heavy handed as I am.
L to R: Rephr 05, Hakuhodo J110, RMK Cheek Brush, Shou Shou Lang LL02, Rephr 19, Chikuhodo Z4, Wayne Goss Air Brush, Rae Morris #6
Don't let the flat-lay picture above fool you into thinking that this is a completly flat paddle brush. It blooms a bit so you get a fluffy cheek brush that you can use to apply powder, blush or even use the tips to apply contour with. I recently acquired a handful of cream blushes and the LL02 works fine by dabbing straight into the pan then directly onto the cheeks. If you apply firmer pressure to the brush, you can get the bristles to splay out so it will give a lovely blend to a cream blush all over the cheek. I tend to grab colour products on the tips of the bristles by going in on a 45° angle and applying firmer pressure to buff out until I get a more natural finish. In the photo from earlier, I also used the LL02 to mix two Charlotte Tilbury powder blushes together.
L to R side view: Rephr 05, Hakuhodo J110, RMK Cheek Brush, Shou Shou Lang LL02, Rephr 19, Chikuhodo Z4, Wayne Goss Air Brush, Rae Morris #6
Finally, I think this brush has enough structure in it and a taper in it to use for powder contour. I've tried it with the Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder and the tips of the brush work wonderfully to create the shadow. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I used this brush. When I took it out of the packet, I thought 'meh' but it's been a highly utilised brush in my arsenal. I'm considering buying a second brush because this is so often dirty with a cream product that I find myself sighing when I need to find something else.
LL03 Cheek Brush
The Shou Shou Lang LL03 (RMB¥219) is a flame or candle-shaped brush that some of my readers may well know is my favourite shape of brush. Pre-bloom it measures 40mm long and 22mm wide but it expands to 30mm wide.
I own more than a dozen of these types of brushes because I find them so versatile on my small but rounded face. I use these brushes to apply contour, powder, bronzer and highlight when I apply makeup and if I feel like popping an extra bit of blush to the very apples of my cheeks, I'll dip the tips into a powder and onto my cheeks for a quick dab and blend.
L to R: Bisyodo Cheri Highlight Brush, Wayne Goss 02, Houkodou G-C5, Rae Morris #2, Wayne Goss 10, Rephr 18, Rae Morris #1, Shou Shou Lang LL03, Rephr 19
The LL03 is what I'd consider to be on the larger side of a highlight brush in comparison to those pictured above but is still perfectably servicable for those who prefer a more diffused look. I mostly use this brush to apply bronzer. The tapered shape paired with the soft bristles blends product seamlessly since I can gently deposit colour where I want it and then apply more pressure to blend it by running my brush back and forth. This is why I love brushes with this shape so much. They make application so easy and quick. I also like to use this brush by running it in a '3' or 'E' shape from my temples to my cheekbone and to my jaw.
It is a floppier brush in comparison to the LL02 but it is by no means as floppy as a grey squirrel brush. The LL03 is soft while remaining structured at the same time. With gentle to moderate pressure, this brush splays to 35mm on the face but a heavier hand can make it go out to 40mm.
LL04 Eyeshadow Brush
The Shou Shou Lang LL04 (RMB¥39) is a flat lay-down brush. The LL04 is slightly fatter than a standard shader brush so it allows users to hold it perpendicularly and swipe shadows horizontally on the lids. It's also flat enough to pat eyeshadow onto the lid for more intensity with a nice taper to allow you to use the tips to blend out any harsh lines if you're being lazy but I wouldn't classify this as a blending brush. It measures 16mm long and 12mm wide.
The LL04 is slightly larger in size than a Hakuhodo J5523 which is one of the most versatile eyeshadow brushes and also fractionally thinner so it's less dense but not as dense as a Sonia G Worker Pro.
L to R: Rephr 01, Chichodo Eyeshadow, Shou Shou Lang LL04, Hakuhodo J5523, Sonia G Worker Pro, Sonia G Worker Three
My favourite way to use this brush is to pair it with metallic eyeshadows where I want it to have an intensely foiled look. I use it mostly with the Pat McGrath metallic shades which need a swiping action to create that wet sheeny look and I get opacity with one swipe using the LL04.
LL05 Crease and Blending Brush
The Shou Shou Lang LL05 (RMB¥39) is the only rounded crease brush within the set. It's a shame because I think the set could use a few other size blending brushes. Nevertheless, The LL05 features a rounded ferrule with a rounded dome shape that makes it an effective blender to diffuse eyeshadow.
It's perfect for Asian eyes because we tend to have protruding eyes due to not having prominent brow bones. A tapered blending brush sometimes feels uncomfortable because it requires more pressure on the thinnest part of your lids but the LL05 has a rounded top so it glides along with little effort. Due to the size of my lid space, I use the LL05 to blend out my transition colour or to diffuse out the edges of my eyeshadow to where it meets my skin.
L to R: Hakuhodo J5529, Rephr 14, Sonia G Crease Pro, Hakuhodo J146, Sonia G Blender Pro, Rephr 15, Shou Shou Lang LL05, Hakuhodo B142
LL06 Angled Eyeshadow Brush
The Shou Shou Lang LL06 (RMB¥39) is a surprising little brush that I didn't know I needed until I used it. It is angled but not densely packed.
Again, this is a brush that is designed for protruding Asian eyes. We don't have the brow bone to anchor a tapered eyeshadow brush in our crease so if we want to use a tapered brush, we need to go in at a right angle which is not a natural position to hold a brush with. This brush allows the user to go in with a 45 degree angle and blend using windshield-wiper motions from the outer corners inwards. The LL06 is a brush that allows you to place the eyeshadow where you want it with the side that has the shorter denser bristles then the fluffier tips will blend it out for you.
It took me a while to get used to this brush because I'm used to the thick, dense Hakuhodo B125 which I use to apply potted cream eyeshadows. Even though they are visually similar, they are not alike. The SSL LL06 should be viewed as a crease blending brush.
LL07, LL10, LL11 Flat Shader Brushes and Liner Brush
The Shou Shou Lang LL07 (RMB¥39) is a standard flat shader brush that is only fractionally larger than the popular Hakuhodo B004G. These brushes are a dime a dozen but very useful for applying shimmers, metallics or glitter formulas. Shader brushes are flatter than blending brushes and are intended for usage on mobile lid area. They are traditionally used to apply eyeshadow to the lower half of the eyelid below the crease or to the centre of the lid. You can also use the edges of the bristles to take shadow along the lower lashline.
L to R: Rephr 02, Bisyodo Eyeshadow B, Chikuhodo T-7, Shou Shou Lang LL07, Hakuhodo B004G, Hakuhodo J242, Shou Shou Lang LL10, Shou Shou Lang LL11
The Shou Shou Lang LL10 (RMB¥39) and Shou Shou Lang LL11 (RMB¥39) are smaller versions of shader brushes that really cross over into the liner brush territory. You can use them flat if you want to create more delicate looks like a cut-crease or inner corner work with a highlight shade or a glitter topper. I like to use the tips of the bristles for lower lash-line work or to take a dark eyeshadow and use it as an eyeliner before slightly winging it out. Are these must haves? No, but I don't like using liquid eyeliners so these are more useful to me since I can use them to create a smudged eyeliner look with both a dark shadow or a kohl pencil. You need to consider how much lid space you have and how much detail work you like on the eyes before buying the two smaller brushes.
LL08 and LL09 Pencil Brushes
The Shou Shou Lang LL08 (RMB¥39) and Shou Shou Lang LL09 (RMB¥39) are two tiny detail pencil brushes which are uncommon in Western brush lines. I've been searching for a soft yet flexible pencil detail brush since Rae Morris discontinued her #9.1 brush. I have extremely hooded eyes so these brushes are useful to those with limited lid space. As an eyeshadow brush, I use these to smudge a black or brown kohl eyeliner such as the Charlotte Tilbury Rock n' Kohl along my wrinkly upper lashline, to create a dark eyeshadow eyeliner look or to push shadow in-between my lashes to create a the illusion of fuller lashes. The LL08 and LL09 are also great for delicate lower lash-line work. By comparison the Sonia G Pencil Pro is just far too chunky for me so I reserve that for outer corner work.
L to R: Shou Shou Lang LL08, Rae Morris #9.1, Rephr 03, Shou Shou Lang LL09, Sonia G Pencil Pro, Eihodo S-6, Chikuhodo T-8
The reason why I bought both is because I also like to use these types of brushes for pin-point concealer work. I always have some pigmentation or a blemish I want to cover up so I want tiny little brushes that can place concealer directly onto the spot and blend the edges with. Again, do you need these brushes? Only if you're wanting to work in a precise area or if you have small lid space.
I was recently asked whether I thought there was a substantial difference between these eyeshadow brushes and my all time favourite Hakuhodo brushes. The answer is no. These Shou Shou Lang brushes perform just as well as their closest Hakuhodo counterparts but they are not dupes. As always, I try to quantify how I use these brushes with photos of my own makeup application but my style might not align with yours. I have taken to a more 'natural' looking makeup style during the last year. My skin is progressively becoming drier and drier as I age so any powder products I use really need to be buffed into the skin to not look dry. Of course dry skin and buffing don't really go well together so I'm ridiculously happy to have found brushes that are soft enough to do the job effectively.
The hair quality is very very nice. They're as soft as or softer than all of the brushes I've posted comparison pictures of. There is a similar goat hair line from Shou Shou Lang featuring blue handles which is around half the price of these Green Dill brushes but those brushes are made of a lower quality hair which yields some hit or miss results. I'd recommend just by-passing those and buying the cream of the crop brushes because these are really not very expensive.
Do you need all of the brushes? Probably not. These Shou Shou Lang brushes are really geared for people who might want to dip a toe into natural haired fibre brushes but who don't want to splash out serious cash to satisfy the fude curiosity. You need to consider what you need each brush for but if you decide to buy the entire set, you're not going to be spending that much money in the first place. The eyeshadow brushes are only RMB¥39 each at the full retail price which is under AUD$8 or USD$6 each. If you've already got a sizeable collection, think of these as the brushes that you will be okay with abusing because they're so cheap to replace. I've been going to town with these brushes on cream and liquid products and so they've been getting washed every week.
The face brushes are so inexpensive for being of such high quality hairs. The downside to these brushes is that some of the face brushes tend to retain the natural animal scent. When you wash them, they give off a wet dog kind of smell. The LL01 still smells like goat after multiple washes. It is fading so I expect that over a few more months it'll continue to dissipate. My LL02 has a faint scent and the LL03 has a light smell. The eyeshadow brushes are too small to emit any noticeable scent.
The final note I want to make is about shedding. All three of the face brushes shed right out of the packet. My recommendation is to take a microfibre towel and roughly swipe the brush back and forth on it when it arrives. I like to fondle my brushes and play with them when I receive them but you're just going to be pulling out strays every few swipes. Expect to lose at least ten hairs if not up to twenty on the large brush when you rough it up. If you don't do this, expect to pull out a few stray hairs after every wash. Just rip the band-aid off and force the shedding immediately so you won't need to deal with it later. My eyeshadow brushes shed just one hair or none at all and I've had them for many months now since they were my first foray into the Green Dill Series.
9 Brush Set: https://m.tb.cn/h.4WVymQb
3 Eyeshadow Brush Set: https://m.tb.cn/h.4dQ1cAd
Shou Shou Lang Red Belt Fox Face Set: https://m.tb.cn/h.4W47bnV
Shou Shou Lang Red Belt Fox Eyeshadow Brush Set: https://m.tb.cn/h.4WVANNi