14 Sep 2009

Huge Rave for Hakuhodo Brushes

I was recently given the opportunity by Hakuhodo to try their brushes. Clued out as I was, I had never heard of this company before but became much more interested when I saw "Made in Japan" and celebrity makeup artist Elke Von Freudenberg mention them on her blog, as well as a handful of beauty bloggers who had tried out and raved about them.

I was not disappointed. Without a doubt, these are the softest, densest and most luxurious makeup brushes I have ever used. The company's PR DVD that I was provided with further elaborated how the brushes are actually handmade in their Japan factory, and you saw crafty Japanese workers laboring over each individual brush head, removing lesser quality hairs strand by strand with a fine toothed comb, until the finished product resulted in a luxurious makeup brush. Their factory is located in Kumano, Japan, where over 100 brush companies produce 80% of all brushes manufactured in Japan. Hakuhodo has also become an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), meaning they produce the makeup brushes for various high end cosmetic lines. This article has an interview with the founder and also some pictures of their meticulous production.

I was also impressed by the wealth of information available to the customer about each type and grade of hair that is used for a particular brush. No less than 6 different types of goat hair are used and elaborated on, as well as squirrel, weasel, horse, badger, and synthetic fibres, all of which are attained cruelty-free, as I was assured by the company.

The brushes I show in this video in order of appearance are listed below. Click on the link to take you to the exact brush on the Hakuhodo website.

1. Kokutan Finishing Brush LAG
2. S 103 Blush Brush
3. K002 Finishing Brush round and flat
4. H1062 Blush Brush round and flat
5. E0154 Highlight Brush round and flat
6. K004 Eye Shadow Brush round and flat
7. S 142 Eye Shadow Brush round
8. E0183 Kokutan Eye Shadow Brush T
9. E1143 Eye Shadow Brush Pointed
10. E1112 Eye Shadow Brush round and flat
11. K 005 Eye Shadow Brush round and flat
12. E1116 Lip Brush round and flat

My personal favorites so far are Nr. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 although I have used all of them by now for a couple of weeks and will certainly continue to use them in the future.

In the video I kept stressing how expensive these brushes are, which in retrospect isn't really right. While these brushes certainly are no eBay bargain bin set, I've actually now realized the prices are about the same to what you would pay for department store brushes here in Europe such as MAC or Bobbi Brown, and some are even a bit less expensive. So while they may be a bit more costly than MAC brushes in the States, they are in my opinion a step up in quality overall, and they come in a variety of series and price lines. Definitely not brushes I would recommend to a beginner makeup aficionado but a great investment for professional makeup artists or people passionate about craftsmanship and makeup brushes in general.

About the short handles as I've addressed in the video: I sent a follow up email to Hakuhodo and they told me that some of the brushes are available in different handle lengths: short, medium, and long. So if you wanted the longer handles ones, I'm not sure what you would have to do exactly as I see no different options on the web shop. I guess I would contact Hakuhodo before placing an order and if any of the brushes you're interested in do have the option of long or short handles. Besides the issue of the shorter handles on some, I was trying to think of any other cons to these brushes and I honestly could not find any.

Overall, I highly recommend these professional makeup brushes and like them better than many of my MAC brushes. I have dubbed them the "Rolls Royce" of makeup brushes. You can order through their online shop, or catch them at a makeup tradeshow in the future (apparently they were at the IMATS show this summer in California.) The quality is superb and the hairs are so soft and of such a high grade. I also loved how the bristles didn't splay like crazy after washing, even without using the Brush Guards I normally use for my other brushes. All the brush heads took on their shape again easily. A note on washing - do not "overwash" these brushes. You can find out on their website how to properly care for your Hakuhodo brushes, and you can be sure I will be treating mine like the treasures they are.


Link to the video


  1. I must say, these brushes look amazing! You can see the difference in quality on the computer screen even.

  2. hi, can i just ask how u got the privilege of testing the brushes for the company? did they contact you and offered you a free set to trial or something? maria xxx

  3. Anonymous2:00 am

    check out this article:


    it says that hakuhodo manufactures the brushes for MAC! therefore i doubt that there is a big fference between both of them :-)

  4. I wish I had the money for these brushes. They look amazing & sound amazing from your review.

    Thanks for this review Ms. Julia!


  5. These brushes look amazing!! I could just imagine how soft they feel. One day..oh, you're so lucky Julia!!

  6. OMG...the brushes do look really good
    especially the one with the orange handle
    it looks so soft
    I am going to look at their website
    thanks a lot for sharing this great info with us

    I really love your blog and especially your youtube videos
    you always put up amazing tutorials
    I also have a blog
    hope you can come check it out

  7. Anonymous9:17 am

    Aw, the site crashed! Probably due to your raving about them :) hope they're up soon, I'm so intrigued!

  8. Yes they make MAC brushes but you tell them exactly what you want and they make your brushes for you.

    When a company is making your brushes, they ask you what handle you want and how long you want it, what ferrule you want, what hairs you want, how long you want the hairs, how full you want them, whether you want them cut or handcrafted, how close to the tip you want them cut etc. People are so clueless about all these things.

    Their brushes are far higher quality than MAC brushes. Why are people losing it with these brushes? BECCA and CHANTECAILLE make good quality goat and squirrel brushes too and they are so damn expensive! The same company that makes BECCA brushes makes SMASHBOX brushes and they are not the same quality at all. It's all about what you want.
    I'm glad you stressed the cost. It's important these days that most people want good stuff for nothing.

    I honestly don't believe you got these brushes for free. I have been unable to film one successful tutorial. I have spent money on lighting, on a camcorder, computer software e.g. photoshop; spent a lot of time gathering information, trying out stuff, going to shops etc. It's not easy at all. You just happen to be reaping the benefits of a worthy investment. I can tell from watching that you put a lot into your videos and you are so honest about it all. I'm glad they chose you of all the gurus to send it to. I'd choose you if I were them.

  9. Poshness: Thanks so much. You are right, people don't realize the investment that goes in behind the scenes in equipment, lighting, products, but most of all time. I appreciate that some people do realize this.

  10. Anonymous6:25 pm

    I have to say that i want to own this brand for a long time, but i'm not really used to buy things oversea, so i've been using brushes from another Japanese brand called "Lunasol by kanebo". The face brush is fantastic, the same quality, but a lot cheaper than Hakuhodo one(this base in Thailand currency).

    Also, you need to try Japanese cosmetics like Lunasol or shiseido, you will get completely notice the differences from western cosmetic brand. The pigmentation from the Japanese brand may not as good as the western one, but the shimmer is the best.

    Oh.. the pointed face brush with orange handle you showed in the video, i believed in the past Geisha used this shape of brush to paint their face and also draw lines on their back. I think if you want to know more about this brand, you need to do a little bit research on the geisha makeup.

  11. god.the brushes cost me a bomb.
    but it really does look good.
    i wish i could have one! do they have sale? :D

  12. Anonymous4:07 am

    Holy cow!!! These brushes are expensive!!!

  13. Do you know if they ship to Australia? I really want to purhcase!

  14. Thanks for responding. On my screen the measurements are jumbled. It says 15m something. The numbers and letters are really messed up. I emailed them and they answered right away. Thanks for doing the review.

  15. Vixxan: The measurements are in metric. mm is milimeter, which is one tenth of a centimeter.

  16. How on earth does one get hair from a squirrel without harming it?

  17. Anonymous4:40 am

    These sound awesome. If Hakuhodo is looking to sell directly to consumers they should market these better though, like through twitter or facebook.

  18. Hey MissChievous, I was wondering if you notice a difference from the hair quality of the brushes? I'm interested in buying a pointed blush brush, like the S103, but I can't afford that price. They have one with the same shape (the S203), but it's different hair (goat, but different kind of goat). I was wondering if you have any brushes with Ototsuho hair, compared to your S103 brush? Thank in advance!

  19. Thanks for the review. I am always looking for the best in cosmetics and brushes too. I stumbled on your video and it really shed some light on this company. I am getting my first set of these brushes as well and can't wait to get them in my hands. You are awesome!! keep up the good work.

  20. Anonymous8:53 pm

    I was interested in these since your review was so positive. Having big hands myself, I emailed the co. I got a response very quickly:
    "The longer handle brush series are as follows;
    S100 series
    200 series
    K series
    Basic series (last two letters "SL")"
    Thanks for doing a great job!