Another year, another price increase. This time it’s Chikuhodo on the rise. Just like before the Hakuhodo price increase, I’m posting a list of my top 10 brushes from Chikuhodo that I consider must haves and my go to gifting brushes.
This list is going to start with the small brushes and end with the large face brushes. Two of the brushes on this list are on their “rest rotation” and I won’t be showing them in the video because I have them packed away and can’t easily retrieve them (I’m in the process of moving). However I will pull media from my other sources to show them.
Read the announcement on CDJapan here. Prices go up on Sept 26, 2019.
1. Z-7 Retractable Lip Brush
I love square tip lip brushes and the retractable feature of this one makes it even more lovable to me. When it has been loaded up with product you can pinch the brush head so that the tips taper to a fine point. This allows me to precisely outline the lip shape I want with the brush tip, then quickly fill in the rest of my lips by painting with the broad side.
The weasel bristles are very easy to clean. The type of hair, combined with the length and thickness of the brush makes it easy to control and versatile. I’ve used this brush for eyeliner in a pinch, wiped it clean with bioderma, then used it for lipstick. The brush retracts automatically via a spring which is pretty slick (as opposed to a fixed brush that you cover with cap).
If you’re a bullet lipstick wearer who does touch ups during the day, you’ll love this. I load up the brush with the lipstick that I’m wearing for the day and use the product on the brush for touch ups. This is advantageous over carrying the full tube around for several reasons:
I don’t accumulate an ungodly number of lipsticks in my bag.
No more half-melted and broken lipstick bullets. The lipstick won’t melt off the brush.
Easy to stick in a pocket (again, no melting) or the typical women’s wallet. I don’t like carrying a purse when I go out to eat. I’ll bring my phone in my wallet, along with the Z-7 for lipstick touch up and blotting sheets for my face makeup.
If this all this makes the Z-7 sound like a brush you’d love, you may also want to check out the MK-15 Retractable Lip Brush Retractable Lip Brush.
2. GSN-9 Eye Brush or G-4 Eye Brush
The GSN-9 and G-4 are what I consider luxury basics. Gray squirrel is so very soft and flexible, sometimes too much so. The gray squirrel bristles in these brushes have been molded into a flat-paddle shape with a thick body that lends to a very nice plush feeling and strength for blending and smudging.
It is an incredibly versatile eye brush if you don’t have eyelids large enough to have their own zip codes and use primarily powder eye shadows. (Squirrel doesn’t play well with creams and liquids.) I use it for eyeshadow laydown, gradient blending (blending between two areas of color), precision application and lower lashline smudging.
These two, smaller sized eye brushes have the same brush head (confirmed by Mr. Takemori at Chikuhodo) with different handles and by me. I own both but I like the G-4 more due to the short handle. It makes it easier to stick in my favorite makeup pouch. If you’re going to get one eyeshadow brush made of gray squirrel, get this one. Yes, even over the ones by Hakuhodo, as much as I love mine.
3. Z-11 Blending Eye Brush
This brush is incredibly brainless to use. It blends with minimal effort from the user. Simply pat or roll the brush in the pan, tap a few times on a surface (back of hand or tissue) to more evenly disperse the product and then apply the product to your face.
I like to sculpt my orbital area then continue the shading from the inner corner socket down the nose and contour it too in one fell swoop. This does it beautifully and is just the right size for the job. Speaking of size, it’s squarely in the medium category so it’s usable for a lot of people.
If you’re a collector, you probably don’t need this brush because you have a bajillion other round blending brushes, but you’ll probably want to experience it. Round blending brushes with a domed top made of 100% squirrel are really hard to come by because they’re usually much less efficient compared to the same brush made out of goat hair. The Z-11 defies that stereotype. The strength at which it blends eyeshadow will likely surprise and delight you. It certainly did me. I got it only so that I would have a full Z Series set. I didn’t expect to like and use it as much as I do!
4. T-6 Large Eye Brush
My absolute favorite face detail brush even though it’s labeled for use as a very large, blending brush for eyes. The saikoho goat hair blends powder products into seamless perfection. It’s made in an oval, candle-flame shape with medium density. These properties give the T-6 strength, precision and thus versatility.
It’s one of defaults for contouring the face, jawline, nose, eye socket, temple due to the shape and user-friendly nature. What’s more? The T-6 is fantastic for applying and blending highlight too. The goat bristles polishes most highlight powder to an ethereal glean on the skin. Chikuhodo offers the Z-2 highlight brush, but I prefer the T-6. The T-6 is also cheaper.
I would have three of these if I didn’t give two away to people who also really loved it when I used it on them. They were blown away by how soft, yet efficient it was. More details and pictures of the T-6 are available on my blog post about the T- series here. Instagram post on the brush here.
5. T-5 Highlight Brush
I love my multi-use brushes and this saikoho goat brush is as unique as it is versatile. It has the same oval, candle-flame shape as the T-6, but bigger and with more taper. It’s density is on the lower side of medium and the tapered shape means more flexibility to the brush as the tip. Thus, it works best with patting and sliding motions for application of product. If you like to buff and blend product in circular motions, this is not for you.
I use the flat side for applying blush or setting powder to target areas, the edge for applying contour, and the tip for applying highlight to various areas of my face. The T-5 cheek brush fills in for a lot of functions. It’s great to have as a primary or as a backup if your favorite brush for a certain function is already dirty.
More details and pictures of the T-5 are available on my blog post about the T- series here and pictures of me demoing it on my face.
6. Z-4 Cheek & Highlight Brush
The Z-4 is famous as a Suqqu Cheek Brush Not-Really-Dupe that has gained its own reputation and following, with good reason. It is a wonderful target cheek brush that practically blends product as you apply it. It has the great, plush, silkiness of gray squirrel and strength to blend face color seamlessly into the skin thanks to the density at which the hairs have been bundled.
The Z-4 excels at controlled application of cheek color (blush, bronzer) and a good size for shading the face to give it dimension. Different from contour, in my book. I want a contour brush to be stronger and really chisel out features. The Z-4 is too soft for that. It gives you a makeup look as softly blended and delicate as the brush feels.
I rarely use the Z-4 for highlight because I reach for the T-6 or another large eye brush instead. If you’re going to use it for highlight, I recommend keeping it in a brush guard to contain the floof. See my Instagram post showing it and using it here. I have a review of the Z-4 and a comparison of it to the other blush brush in the Z Series, the Z-8 Cheek Brush, here with more pictures.
7. RCC-2 Cheek Brush (Red Handle) or RC-2 Cheek Brush (Black Handle)
If you love round cheek brushes and you love squirrel hair, this is an excellent brush to have. Actually, if you like soft, efficient blush brushes in general, this is a must have. Plus, it’s a good size for almost everyone’s cheeks. It is a goldilocks blush brush.
Chikuhodo really nailed this one. So much so, I’m puzzled as to why they do not add it to the Z-Series. It deserves to be elevated into Chikuhodo’s top tier, yet here it remains in the artist’s series. I already said it was soft and efficient, but I feel like I need to drive that point home. The RCC-2 and RC-2 are meant to be used and adored. It seems fairly ordinary, a brush shape you’ve seen countless times before, but it performs extraordinary.
The red handle RCC-2 is much prettier in person than the picture shows. It’s got miniscule shimmers for semi-pearlized finish that gleams. I can’t speak for the Black RC-2. Check out my instagram showcase and demo of the RCC-2 here.
8. Z-8 Cheek Brush
My absolute favorite cheek brush from Chikuhodo. Using this brush is pure bliss. Plush, dense, soft. The only hard thing about the Z-8 is the ferrule and handle… and putting it away to give other, less used brushes a chance to play (what I call the “rest rotation”).
The Z-8 is on the larger side so those with smaller faces or those who prefer to apply blush more precisely may not like this brush as much as I do. It functions well as either a small setting powder brush, or larger cheek brush for blush and bronzer.
See more pictures of the Z-8 in my review on my blog post here where I review and compare it to the Z-4.
9. Z-1 Round Powder Brush
Here is a gray squirrel powder brush that plays well with pressed powder whether it’s been hard pressed into the pan or soft pressed. Swirling the brush into the pan to pick it up takes little effort, as if you were using a goat haired equivalent. The application and the blend of said product onto skin? Divine, both the result and the experience. It’s super soft, plush and blends like a dream. “Blends like a dream” is probably the most overused phrase in reviews after “holy grail” but The Z-1 is deserving of both terms.
Being a larger face brush, it is not as versatile as the RC-2, Z-4 and Z-8 which are also gray squirrel and equally soft, but using the Z-1 is altogether an entirely different experience that is not to be dismissed. As a face brush, the hairs are longer, the brush head is thicker and volumetrically more exuberant. The circular shape gives the brush excellent spring back (for squirrel). All of this contributes to a brush that you’ll want to endlessly stroke your face with.
I love using the Z-1 in circular motions all over my face and neck for an all over blend to finish. Sometimes I’ll have finishing powder on it, some times not. Applying bronzer with this brush is another way to use this fantastic fluffy.
See my comparison of it to the Surratt Powder Brush towards the end of this post.
10. The Makie Face Powder Brushes: MK-1 (Peonies) Powder Brush, MK-2 (Cherry Blossoms) Powder Brush, MK-MO (Holographic Moon) Powder Brush
The makie brushes by Chikuhodo are collectible, functional works of art and a luxury that you can use and enjoy everyday (except washing days) it would be prudent to jump on these before the prices increase if you have been considering getting any one of them.
The breah head on the MK-MO is slightly shorter and firmer than those on the MK-1 and MK-2 which fan out more and feel looser when patted on skin. Thus if you are looking for a beautiful brush to use for setting powder and bronzer, the MK-MO would be my recommendation.
There is no appreciable difference in function between the MK-1 and MK-2 so it really comes down to which graphic you like more. There’s disagreement on this subject, but mine are similar enough that I’m going to conclude that they can be used for the same purposes interchangeably. Both are great for finishing work (finishing powder, final blend), and bronzer.
All three brushes are wonderfully soft and great face brushes to have whether you are a collector or just starting your collection.
Honorable Mention: T-3 Foundation Brush
If you use a lot of cream products because your skin is dry and irritable, this is a great brush to have for blending out cream blush and/or contour. It doesn’t move your base layer of foundation, provided you press down with only a reasonable amount of force, and the rounded edges mean that you have to do less blending work around the edges. As for foundation? Too small to apply and blend and full face of foundation for my taste. It’s as a final blender to fix and textural issues.
See my review of it in my Takumi Series Overview here for a more pictures. (even though I didn’t give it the warmest review then, I appreciate it a lot more now!)
All of my brushes were purchased from CDJapan. There are a variety of places that are authorized dealers of Chikuhodo now, but CDJapan is still my default. A usual and always, they offer free shipping on makeup brush orders that total over 120,000 yen. Read my review of shopping on CDJapan here.