Are you guys sick of brush posts yet? Too bad! That was a rhetorical question. Onward! This post features reviews and my thoughts on two Japanese made cheek/blush brushes: the Takumi Series T-4 Cheek Brush by Chikuhodo and the BP High Class Series BP016 Blush Brush by Koyudo.
If you are looking into buying a high quality makeup tool but have no idea where to start, I would recommend starting with these two. Both are cheek/detail-face tools that feature heads made from saikoho (a high grade of white goat hair) which is a pretty fuss free material (unlike squirrel). The two brushes are similar in function but they still different tools, hence the comparison component.
Is it necessary to have both? Not by any stretch of the imagination. Is it nice to have both? Hell yes. Which one is better? That’s for you to decide based on your personal preference. I’ll just be helping you decide by providing all the information you could need or want (hopefully). If i manage to convince you that you *need* both… well, oops.
I’m a human with opinions so I will be making comments and sprinkling some bias here and there. Regardless of which brush you think that i like better, the best tool for you is the one that fits your needs and completes your arsenal by doing core duties, be it a full face multitasker or cheek only brush.
As always, click on the pictures to enlarge them and feel free to ask any questions or give feedback. My measurements may not be identical to another source’s. Two reasons for that: human error and human error. Huh? Aren’t those the same reasons? Let me explain a bit. Human Error 1: these brushes are hand-made so there will be a window of variance. Human Error 2: I wash-dry my brushes in brush guards (they end up being not as flared) then measure them with a ruler so it’s sort of eyeballed to the closest mark rather then super precise like caliper measurements would be.
Specs + Shape
The Chikuhodo Takumi T-4 is completely round and has a circular “footprint”. It’s densely packed at the base but flares out quite at bit, starts tapering about halfway from the ferrule, and ends in a flattened dome. I’ve seen this shape described as “pompom on a stick” and that’s about right.
The Koyudo BP016 is a wide fluffy paddle, almost like a fan brush. If the head was an inch or two wider, it would probably be one. The footprint is a long oval. From the main face, the bristles flare moderately from the handle, start tapering 2/3’s of the way up and are arranged to form a wide, domed edge. From profile view, the bristles flare out more extremely, start tapering 2/3’s of the way up and end in a pointed dome.
The T-4 is typical of most Japanese brushes and has a shorter handle but it is still long enough to fit into the crook of my hand for comfort and support. The BP016 on the other hand has a handle of moderate length (when compared to western brand brushes). Both are nicely sized for traveling. The T-4 has a matte black metal ferrule which is joined seamlessly to the matching matte black lightweight wood handle. Unlike the Chikuhodo Z-series which lack numeric identifiers, the Takumi series have the brush number-code (T-4) printed on in red text. The BP016 has a open, glossy-black metal ferrule joined seamlessly to a glossy white handle, also made of lightweight wood. Unfortunately, there is no identifier (name or number) other than the Koyudo Collection logo anywhere on the brush.
Both brushes are made of soft, fine goat hair, or saikoho. The bristles don’t feel scratchy when i moosh them against my skin or sweep them around errantly. Both are suitable for all skin types, including sensitive, because the naturally tapering bristles are very gentle. One thing to note: the hairs on the BP016 feel finer and softer to me, more on that later.
The B016 has a bigger surface area when pressed to the skin but it actually contains less hair than the T-4. Using my patent pending squeeze test, I have determined that the T-4 contains more hair than the BP016. More hairs means that the brush head is more packed and feels firmer. When pressed to the skin with the same pressure, they brushes fan out to about the same area but the BP016 will fold around contours and curves better. (see the red arrows)
See how the BP016 is flush against the skin while the T-4 forms a little mound? The BP016 folds smoothly around curves and feels softer. The T-4’s greater hair density causes the brush to feel firmer and it isn’t as floppy (though i would hardly categorize the BP016 as floppy). Both brushes are very soft, though the T-4 does feel more plush and luxe.
Coverage with the T-4 ranges from sheer to almost heavy because the brush head has a loota heat. and a lot of hair holds a lot of pigment if you give it a full swirl in the product pan. Luckily it is capable of at blending stuff out so you can buff products into oblivion if needed. Aside from that, sweeping and tapping on product usually controls color deposition pretty well. One of my favorite application methods is to tap the flattish top part of the head into my skin like a sponge (handle is perpendicular to the skin) until i reach the desired color intensity, then use circular motions to blend.
I would say that its too dense for my tastes to apply finishing but not dense enough to apply setting powder. It’ll work in a pinch if needed. However if you have a cake face you can buff the brush around to polish out texture. The bristles are soft enough that they won’t move product underneath, as long as the base products have already “set”. It works with pretty much any other powder product, except highlighter. The T-4 is not the most precise because it’s shaped like a flattened dome and covers a larger than ideal area. The flat dome is good for applying and diffusing contour though and lends a very sculpted look on my chipmunk cheeks. The head is also dense enough to apply powder/mineral foundation with decent coverage (if you already have pretty good skin).
The BP016 allows for more sheer application that can be built up to medium heavy with layering. It’s softer structure will make it awkward to buff with but it does a pretty good job of blending transitions and and diffusing the edges of applied product with moderate pigmentation. It will work with virtually any powder product because of its excellent design. It’s not efficient with powder foundation but you’re welcome to try.
The broad sides can be used to apply setting and finishing powder, as well as bronzer. The skinny side + point can be used for more detailed work (highlighter, sculpting, contouring) and of course, blush can be applied any way you want with this brush. It’s very intuitive. This BP016 can also be used to remove/knock off excess product, but don’t expect it to polish away texture like the T-4 can.
Being made of goat, both the BP016 and T-4 are compatible with wet products (cream, liquid, serum etc) though neither can do wet foundations. The BP016 works better with thinner, runnier textures because it doesn’t have as much buffing/blending power while the T-4 can handles creams as long as they have some slip. For example: I would not use the BP016 with MUFE cream blushes or Stila Convertible Colors but the T-4 is fair game.
With applying wet products to broad areas (like bronzer), the T-4 is better because it can buff to blend. The BP016’s result is streakier if you dip the brush in product then apply to the skin. It works better if the product is already dabbed on the skin, then distributed, sheered or blended it out with pats and sweeps
Things to Note
Alright, time to do my favorite things in the world. Critique and nitpick.
Because the T-4 flares so much from the handle, one side will get flattened when i store it lying on its side so the brush head ends up looking a bit wonky. If I store it in a brush roll, the footprint will get squished to a oval rather than a circle. This can easily be fixed by shaking it out and grooming the head back into shape with fingers. If you are very picky, you can prevent these deformation issues by propping up the ferule with… anything, be it a chopstick or rolled up towel.
Cosmetically, the T-4 is more attractive in my eyes. The color scene screams “class”. The red on black is serious and professional-looking like Lucida Calligrapy type font, while the BP016 makes me think of Comic Sans: cute & playful. There’s something about the pink lettering against stark white that makes me unable to take it seriously like the T-4. The color scheme certainly doesn’t scream “high class,” which is part of the BP Series’s name.
Another way in which the T-4 outclasses the BP016 is in the color of the hair. Overall, the BP016’s hair looks jaundiced because it’s competing with the snowy white handle while the hairs on the T-4 are contrasting against black. (See pic at beginning of post) Which brush head is going to appear more pure and more attractive? The T-4 of course. The T-4 also looks pretty when it is “dirty” with blush because the color creates an ombre with the white hairs that looks like shaved ice with syrup seeping in. (i don’t seem to be able to write anything without mentioning food…..) If zoomed in though, the brush heads appear the same shade of white.
Of course, all of this color stuff deosn’t affect the actual performance of the brush. It’s just stuff that I want to put out there. It could be argued that the BP016 uses high quality hair, which i think it does. Even within saikoho categorization, there is a range of grades. The BP016 has more hairs with translucent tips, which contributes to the jaundiced look, but these translucent hairs indicate finer bristles and higher quality. They also feel finer, silkier and are completely straight.
The T-4 over–all has more wavy hairs. Something that bugs me is the fact that there are a couple of kinky/curved bristles on the perimeter.The wavy hairs may be intentionally blended in with straight-silk hairs because wavy bristles allow a brush to pick up product better. They just don’t feel as nice. The wavy hairs may also cut down on price. Because the T-4 contains a bunch more hair than the BP016, its technically the better bang for your buck. Speaking of pricing…..
Pricing and Availability
There are 2-3 trusted websites from which you can get the Chikuhodo T-4 and Koyudo BP016 if you live in the US. I’m just going to skip straight to the cheapest – CDJapan – but i will cover other options as well because different suppliers offer policies and services (duh). All information is linked for you lazy butts.
The T-4 is 5,000 yen and the BP016 is 5,040 yen. In USD, that translates to a range of $39 – 43 and $40 – 44, respectively. The reason for that range in prices is because the exchange rate changes daily. Those windows’ limits are based on 2 months of me tracking the exchange rate and prices and rounding the highest and lowest recorded amounts up/down to the nearest dollar. If you are a patient person like me, you can wait for the lower end of the window. If you don’t care about those couple of dollars you won’t be losing much either. With CDJapan, there’s no sales tax and the AirMail shipping option to the Southwest US that i have been using is pretty reasonable (time:price wise), though most people use EMS. EMS is faster and has tracking but is also more expensive. CDJapan’s return policy, only allows returns and refunds on unopened or sent-damaged items within a 30 day window.
The Takumi T-4 can also be found at Visage USA for $50 and Beautylish for $52. With Visage, you can request a customized engraving for an additional $2 (per brush).There is a shipping fee on top of the brush price and sales tax. Visage will take a while because they place a order with Chikuhodo then foward it to you once it is ready. Add that delay to shipping time and you’re looking at a couple of weeks on the conservative end. Visage has a very strict 7-day return policy. Basically, you cant return the item if it’s been opened unless it was sent in already damaged condition. Honestly, unless you have your heart set on getting customized brushes, BL would be the better option at this price point. Beautylish is the fastest and most expensive (hooray for markups!) but they offer free two day shipping on orders above $35. If the item is in stock, BL is fantastically speedy, shipping out the same or next day depending on what time you place your order. BL also has a generous 30 day return policy.
As far as i know, the other place to get Koyudo’s BP016 is from the Koyudo website for 5,443 yen which includes 8% Japanese sales tax. I don’t think that they ship internationally at this time so you might have to go through a shopping service which could charge a fee of anywhere from 10-15% of the total transaction. If CDJapan doesn’t ship to your country you might have to go this route.
I like both brushes. =P I rotate them frequently and regularly. If i had to save one…… ugh, I’m not doing this. I cant choose. If you’re a beginner – less confident with blush, or tend to over do it, or can only get one tool – i would recommend the BP016 as the more mistake-forgiving and intuitive choice.
If you want to streamline your tools-arsenal for everyday makeup, the more multitasky brush – Koyudo BP016 – is the way to go. The Takumi T-4 is a mini work of art though and works with creams, liquids, and serums better.
Since both tools are pretty much the same price from CDJapan (see above section) you really can’t go wrong with either selection. Here’s a handy chart that puts everything in one place (minus the critiques section)