Sonia G Keyaki Brush Set
A limited edition five brush offering from Sonia G designed to be the perfect travel companion.
Sonia G is the OG fude blogger. Sonia's blog Sweet Makeup Temptations is admittedly what kicked off my own interest in the wide world of fude. While I had been acquainted with Japanese made animal haired makeup brushes, I was totally unaware of all the options available from all the makers in Kumano, Japan until I stumbled upon her site many years ago. Fast forward and the woman who is in possession of one of the most impressive and extensive collections of fude has produced her own line of brushes.
I purchased the Keyaki Set as a Christmas present to myself in 2020. The set features shortened handles which are intended for travel or on-the-go application. I'm sure Sonia had these brushes in the production line a long time coming and there was no way anyone could have predicted the mayhem caused by Covid-19 to travel but the timing of a travel set arriving on the market was a bit poor. Luckily for me, Australia has Covid well under control and I've been travelling domestically. A travel bubble has recently been created between Australia and New Zealand so I might be putting something in the books for later this year. As for the handles, I actually don't find these to be short at all. I have small hands so these are actually perfectly sized and aren't much shorter than the Hakuhodo or Koyudo brushes. I've been very slowly buying brushes in the Sonia G line. I don't own all of them on account of how quickly they sell out on Beautylish but I have plans to expand my collection.
The set consists of two face brushes and three eyeshadow brushes. The three eyeshadow brushes are undyed goat hair versions of brushes available permanently in the Sky Eye Set while the two face brushes are new releases.
Packaging, price and availability
All of the Sonia G brushes are available exclusively on Beautylish. This set is sold together as a five brush collection and retails for USD$125 (plus taxes if applicable). In Australia, I pay an additional 10% on top of the retail price in USD. Ouchy.
Beautylish wraps all orders in black tissue paper and encases them within a sturdy cardboard box so everything always arrives in meticulous condition, despite traversing to the other side of the world from America. Shipping is typically very quick since they use express FedEx for international orders. Postage is free for orders above USD$35.
The Keyaki Set is a limited edition set released in December 2020 but at time of posting in April 2021, it is still available for sale on the Beautylish website.
Here's a photo of my finished makeup look. Limited to using these five brushes alone, you can create a pretty minimal look.
I applied the Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Hydrating Longwear foundation in #150 and the YSL Touche Eclat Pen in #2 using the Sonia G Mini Base. Using the Classic Face brush, I dabbed my t-zone and undereye area with the Rae Morris Invisible Mattifier, applied bronzer from the Charlotte Tilbury Film Star Bronze and Glow palette and the Tom Ford Sheer Cheek Duo in Lavender Lure. The three eyeshadow brushes were used with the Charlotte Tilbury Easy Eye Palette.
Classic Face Brush
This brush is a new release for Sonia G. The brush head is comprised of both dyed and undyed saikoho goat hair so it is intended to be used with powder products. The Classic Face performs well with a variety of powder formulas. Aside from common pressed or loose powder products, the brush is easy to use with gelee formulas and silicone products. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw how well it picked up from the Rae Morris Invisible Mattifier which is a silcone cake powder product.
I own nothing like the Classic Face in my collection. This statement typically applies to all Sonia G releases because she creates brushes that aren't on the market. When one owns as many brushes as she does, I'm sure it's not hard to find dupes but the Classic Face brush doesn't really behave like a goat hair tool. The Classic Face is very soft, wispy and it feels almost like a grey squirrel brush.
L to R: Wayne Goss Air Brush, Chikuhodo Z-4, Sonia G Classic Face, Sonia G Designer Pro, Sonia G Classic Cheek
I will put a caveat on that last statement. The Classic Face brush feels like a grey squirrel brush if you use it in a patting motion or directionally on the flat side of the brush. Personally, I feel that the Classic Face brush is the lovechild of the Chikuhodo Z-4 and the Wayne Goss Air Brush in goat form. It has a similar airiness about it which makes it the perfect candidate to apply powder with. If you like to powder areas of the face selectively, this will suit you nicely. I tend to only powder my nose and my undereye area to set concealer.
L to R (side profile): Wayne Goss Air Brush, Chikuhodo Z-4, Sonia G Classic Face, Sonia G Designer Pro, Sonia G Classic Cheek
For blush, this brush requires a directional stroking or pat and dab application. You can't take this on the tips and swirl circularly as you would using a grey squirrel brush such as the Chikuhodo Z-4. This is where I'm reminded that although the saikoho hairs render this a very soft brush, it still has that characteristic springiness that goat has so you can't just place the brush on one spot and wiggle to blend out product. You can get away with only packing this one brush if you're travelling but you'll have to wipe it on a microfibre towel if you're wanting to use this to apply powder, bronzer and blush or you'll risk creating a muddy look.
The Mini Base brush is really mini. I mean, it's in the name and I saw photos of this before I received it but I was still surprised at just how small this brush is. I know this brush is designed for travel or for someone on-the-go but if you wanted it in the hopes of allowing you to get out the door quickly, then look somewhere else. The Mini Base requires a larger time investment to create a flawless base but it's quite soft on the face so it won't feel iritating if you have dry or sensitive skin.
L to R: Hakuhodo G5552, Chikuhodo T-3, Rephr 17, Sonia G Mini Base, Koyudo Somell Garden Blueberry Brush, Koyudo Yoshiki 02.
Honestly, when I'm travelling or I'm in a hurry, I apply a tinted moisturiser with my fingers. I'm typically a slap-dash kind of person and my friends will attest that I'm always in the passenger seat applying my makeup on my way to an event. For this reason, I tend to use a large base brush such as the discontinued Koyudo fu-pa 02.
Here's a side by side of the Sonia G Keyaki Mini Base with the Koyudo fu-pa 02. It's a nice brush and will get the job done if you have the patience. You have to use stippling tap and dab motions and ideally with a thinner liquid product. Apply foundation in sheer layers or the bristles will quickly gunk up. This brush is comprised of sokoho hairs and synthetic nylon and PBT fibres. I recommend wiping off excess product with a microfibre brush after every use. I have experienced some mild shedding with this brush.
Personally, I feel that the Mini Base is too small for foundation application but I really enjoy it as a cream blush or contour brush. The rounded edges of the brush reduces drag on the skin so it's easy to quickly buff and blend product. In case you're having trouble gauging the size of this brush, here's what it looks like beside a Charlotte Tilbury lipstick.
Although the undyed goat haired brushes are supposed to be the same as those offered in the Sky Eye Set, my Jumbo Blender brush is noticeably different from the original. I don't consider my white undyed goat version of the Jumbo Blender to be anywhere close to its intended shape. Kumano brushes are hand-bundled and so one should expect slight differences in each brush but my undyed version is far less dense compared to the dyed goat hair version. You can't tell me that these two are supposed to be the same brush. Here's a look at their side profiles.
The brown-haired blue handled Jumbo Blender is so dense that I have absolutely zero wiggle room at the ferrule and rounded at the top for blending whereas this undyed Jumbo Blender becomes useful only as a flat brush because there's a sizeable gap in the ferrule. The brown goat Jumbo Blender is a truly unique brush in that it can be used on the flat side to apply product as a lay-down
brush or as a blender brush. The original can be used akin to how you would use the eraser on the end of a pencil. It's a perfect fixer brush for when you've overapplied pigment. My Keyaki Jumbo Blender on the other hand, is close in feeling to the Worker Three brush which I like but it's the wrong shape to be using as an eraser buffer. Overall, I'm disappointed because I wanted this set mostly to use the Jumbo Blender as a one and done cream eyeshadow brush.
The Mini Booster is a nifty little eyeshadow brush which everyone with hooded eyes or limited lid space should own. I'm happy to report that this undyed goat hair version is very close to the original dyed hair iteration. While the Mini Booster is small crease brush, it's denser than it appears which is why the name fits perfectly. It's designed to give a boost of colour or intensity to a small area on the eye so it leans more as depositor brush than a blender. That is not to say that you can't blend with the tips of this brush but it's not as airy as something like a Hakuhodo J5529 or Rephr 13 which both have a smaller ferrule. The Sonia G Mini Booster is about a third more dense by comparison so you can intensify an area faster. If you prefer a softer eye look or tend to be heavy-handed, then you would prefer the Hakuhodo or Rephr brush.
The Mini Booster, like the Sonia G Crease Pro brush both come to more of a pointed tip rather than a rounded dome so they prioritise precise placement over diffusing power. You just need to press down a tiny bit more if you want to blend out a harsh edge. I like to use this brush to define myself a new crease above my natural crease given how hooded my eyes are and to deepen the eyeshadow at the outer corners of my eye.
The Flat Definer brush is a mini smudger brush that is intended for blending out eyeliner on the upper or lower lash lines. Like the dyed goat hair version in the Sky Eye Collection, this undyed goat hair brush is soft, flexible and taking the tips of the brush over the lash line feels gentle on sensitive lids. If you like to use a pencil, gel or eyeshadow in lieu of liquid eyeliner as I do, then this is a brush I'd recommend because it gives you a really soft and natural look.
L to R: Koyudo BP038, Sonia G Keyaki Flat Definer, Sonia G Flat Definer, Hakuhodo J242, Rephr 28, Sonia G Builder Pro, Bisyodo Alba B, Rephr 02, Koyudo KSZ-05, Hakuhodo B004G, Rephr 21
The beauty of using a brush such the Flat Definer is that if you don't apply your pencil or eyeshadow perfectly, it'll blend it out softly and hide your wonky-handed application. You can't achieve a sharp wing with this brush nor a stand-out bold eyeliner but you'll be able to darken your lash line with ease by pushing the brush into the roots of your lashes. I don't tend to wear a lot of mascara on account of having droopy eyelashes and my preferred mascara is the very sutble Maybelline Full N Soft so I reach for the Sonia G Flat Definer when I want to add intensity to the upper lashline and the upper waterline.