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Fluffy? Fluffy!

The “Konayuki Set” from the Kisetsu Collection: Koyudo x CDJapan Beauty Holiday Brush Set – Value Calculations and Comparisons

Preface
To those of you who think I’ve died, you’re not too far off. This blog is on hibernating mode and I’m kinda micro-blogging on Instagram now. (Yes, I made one finally…) I’m posting videos of me using my fude so y’all can see the size of the fluffies in the context of a face and examples of how i use them. Follow me @jaybirdwalking or search up #brushdemo for well, brush demos.

But don’t worry, when it comes holiday time I’ve got you. I can never pass up some good number crunching, especially when it also helps others. Massive thanks to Fude Kyun for alerting me to this set and contributing to a bunch of the following points.

Leading the pack in releases this holiday season is Koyudo! in collaboration with CDJapan Beauty or CDJ Beauty. They’re releasing their first holiday brush set together and it looks magnificent.

konayuki banner

The “Konayuki Set” (which translates to the Powdered Snow Set) is what looks to be the first of a series: the “Kisetsu Collection” or Seasons Collection. If that isn’t foreshadowing, then I don’t know what is. We can probably expect a set released with each season in the future. They also say that it is “the first” in a series of exclusive collections. R.I.P. bank account. Here is the press release. CDJapan have gotten fancy with their press-release pages lately.

Koyudo has also been on fire with special releases recently so we could really use some precipitation. (Bet you didn’t miss the bad jokes) Speaking of which, it was freaking 104 degrees here yesterday. Snow sounds heavenly. In regards to the special releases, see the ultra-collector’s dream: the Yoshiki Saibikoho Powder Brush, and the more affordable-luxury that is the White Canadian Squirrel Small Powder Brush.

The Set
Everything brush is made with saikoho, or a high grade of goat hair, which is resilient, and easy to use + maintain. At first glance, the Konayuki Set seems highly reminiscent of the Chikuhodo Noel 2015  brush set. They’re both blue with a smattering of silver decoration and feature white goat hair.

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Left: Koyudo Konayuki 2017, Right: Chikuhodo Noel 2015

However, the Konayuki’s color scheme is a warmer indigo rather than cobalt so it comes across less cold. However, it affects the color that the hair appears. Saikoho, due to its semi translucency has a yellow tinge to it. Cobalt is bright, and a cold blue which is complementary  to yellow and thus better cancels out that tint, resulting in more snowy white looking bristles.

The compositions of the two set is also quite different so for fude veterans, it could be worth owning both sets. The Noel 2015 set contained a face powder brush, a cheek brush and an eye paddle brush. The Konayuki Set comes with a over-sized foundation brush, an eye-paddle brush, and a precision eye brush (pencil brush).

Analogs & Calculations
JYP = Japanese Yen
USD = United States Dollar

kona face brushes

NOT TO SCALE! Just showing general shape

Brush Hair length Hair Thickness Ferrule Width Price Difference
CDJB x Koyudo Konayuki Foundation 40 mm 32 mm 28 mm ~
Tom Ford Bronzer Brush 05 45 mm 30 mm 30 mm 115 USD Ebony handle, Gold plated ferrule,
Koyudo BP013 Foundation Brush
40 mm 5,040 JYP Hakutotsuho goat hair
Bisyodo B-FD-01 Foundation Brush
28 mm 25 mm 10,000JYP Gold plated ferrule, Rosewood handle

Estimated Value of Konayuki Foundation Brush: 8,500 yen ???

Unfortunately, there is  no near match or clear way to determine how much the Konayuki foundation brush is worth. The Tom Ford Bronzer Brush 05 get this closest in terms of type of hair and size, but keep in mind that they price is jacked up due to the luxury elements added: the ebony handle and gold plated ferrule. he Tom Ford 05 is already pretty dense so Konayuki Foundation brush should be denser to be strong enough to blend foundation with it’s long flexible hairs. If it is similar tot he Tom Ford 05, I’d say use it as a face powder/ bronzer tool.

The Bisyodo FD-01 is one of the few saikoho foundation brushes that I know of and  the only one that is an oval shape. It is extremely dense and has a lot of high quality hair packed in there. However, the price is also higher than it would be if it had a regular wood handle and nickle-brass ferrule. Meanwhile I don’t have the other measurements for the BP013 so i can’t comment on it besides that their hair types are really different. If anyone has it and would like to contribute measurements, I would really appreciate it! Saikoho is more supple, and finer in diameter than hakuototsuho. This will mean a softer, more flexible brush that may require extra work to achieve a seamless finish.

kona eye comp.png

Again, Not to Scale. NOTE: some of the brushes are starched and not properly fluffed out like they will be with usage and thus the shape is not accurately represented.

Brush Hair length Hair Thickness Ferrule Width Price Difference
CDJB x Koyudo Eye Shadow Brush 15 mm 7 mm 10 mm ~
Hakuhodo J5523 16 mm 4.5 mm 19 USD Used to be saikoho specific
Chikuhodo Takumi Series T-7 14 mm 4 mm 9 mm 2,500 JYP
Tsubokawa Mouhitsu Koyomo Nadeshiko Flat Eye Brush 16 mm 4 mm 10 mm 2,500 JYP “ancient” Hakutotsuho hair
MAC 239 10 mm 5 mm 11 mm 25 USD Unknown goat

Estimated Value of Konayuki Eye Brush: 2,500 yen

The Konayuki eye brush is unusually thick and should make for strong, fluffy paddle this will translate into an excellent blender and buildable laydown brush. If you want a strong laydown brush that’ll pack product on, you need a thinner brush.  It will be on the larger side of medium so if you have small eyes or very little lid space, this may not be ideal as an everyday eye brush. The closest in shape seems to be the Chikuhodo Takumi T-7 (which is also made of saikoho) so i just went with that price. The specifications kind of speak for themselves otherwise.

kona eye.png

Not to Scale. NOTE: some of the brushes are starched and not properly fluffed out like they will be with usage and thus the shape is not accurately represented.

Brush Hair length Hair Thickness Ferrule Width Price Difference
CDJB x Koyudo Pencil Brush 10 mm 6 mm 5 mm ~
Koyudo C011
10.5 mm 1,560 JYP
Chikuhodo Takumi Series T-8
12 mm 6 mm 6 mm 2,200 JYP
Koyudo Mizume-zakura Medium Eye Shadow Brush
11 mm 6 mm 2,000 JYP
Hakuhodo J5529 13 mm 5 mm 5 mm 17 USD unspecified goat, prev. saikoho

Estimated Value of Konayuki Eye Brush: 1,900 yen

The pencil brush looks more like a precise blender than an actual pencil brush. It’s got a bit of a dome to it so it doesn’t look super precise. so I’d label it a crayon brush. Seemingly the closest brush (in measurements) is the Koyudo Mizume-sakura (Cherry Birch) Medium Eye Shadow Brush. However the shape is closer to the Hakuhodo J5529. The Konayuki pencil looks more like a small/precise crease brush, rather than a pencil-type brush that’s strong enough to be a smudger. It’ll be excellent for those with small creases and scarce little space.

Estimated Set Value 12,900 yen vs. Retail Price 12,000 yen, a difference of 900 = 7.5 % savings.

So the savings margin is not great. Some might say that I’m being stingy about the value of the foundation brush. Fine. We’ll bump that big fluffy’s value up to 10,000, the same as the Bisyodo B-FD-01 with the length of the hair making up for the luxury trappings (handle and ferrule). That brings up the set total to 14,400 yen, a difference of 2,400 yen which will translate to a 20% savings.

Price and Availability
As we already know, the Konayuki Set costs 12,000 yen which translates to about 103-107 USD (depending on the daily exchange rate).

The link to the set is available now on CDJapan, but stock goes live for pre-orders on the 27th, 12 PM Japan time which is 8 PM of the 26th in Pacific Standard Time. If you miss the preorder, CDJ Beauty says that the set will go live for sale sometime in November. If you are new and have questions about ordering from CDJapan, you might find this guide helpful.

The cut off for free shipping on brushes at CDJapan is also 12,000 yen. Coincidence? I think not but I’m not complaining at all! It is very no bullshit. I hate it when companies price things juuust below free shipping so you have to add something inexpensive (that you probably don’t really want) to tip past the threshold. Good guy CDJapan.

Appraisal and Critiques
I’m very pleased that the hair being used in the Konayuki Set is saikoho goat hair. This makes them more versatile and durable. Due to the expected high quality of the hair, the brushes should be soft enough for everyone except those with the most sensitive of skin.

Overall, I’m really liking this set because there’s no filler, or what some of you might consider to be throwaways. I’m talking about stuff that you wont use on a regular basis that you know adds to the  “pieces count” and thus the total price of the set because it increases overhead. I’m talking about stuff like a brush case, lip brush, eyeliner brush, and eyebrow brush (fight me, I don’t do eyebrows everyday :P).

Thus, this set is excellent for collectors. It’s small at only three pieces, a blessing for those of us running dangerously low on space.  The brushes are fairly unique yet useful. It’ll still be interesting enough for those who nearly have it all. And of course, it’s beautiful enough to proudly display in rotation.

However  the same qualities that make it great for fude nuts make this set is not so great as a gift or introduction set for beginners. I don’t know if i would give this set to someone as an “upgrade” for their current tools.  Starting with the lack of a case.:I could be wrong, but i assume it’s going to come in Koyudo’s and CDJapan’s signature paper boxes which are nice quality, but may come across as kind of playful and not serious. The packaging is not “extra” enough to make a “WOW!” type of first impression. You might have heard of “form follows function”.  Because the form (container) does not match the level of the function (brushes inside), the person receiving the gift might not get the full impact of just how extraordinary fude are. Additionally, assuming you are giving the set as a gift, it is a rather incomplete set, because it is missing those “extras” it comes across as truncated, in complete (the lip brush, eyeliner brush, eyebrow brush). To be a fully functional set, it’s also missing a glaring essential: smaller/medium sized face brush. Hopefully the person you care to give it to are chill enough to not give a crap.

paper box

Signature paper box: stand not included

The the large foundation brush might be not that useful to the casual makeup user. Most people do not use natural hair brushes for foundation because of the perception of natural hair being more prone to harboring bacteria and needing to be washed more frequently. Though I’ve suggested using it as a face powder brush.giant powder brushes are a luxury, not a staple. I personally am a fan of  including moderately sized cheek brushes over foundation and powder brushes in a set and I would have liked to see that instead. A smaller, more reserved brush would have also made the set cost less, but I don’t blame Koyudo for wanting to make their holiday a luxury, albeit an affordable one. This is not so much a critique as much as a comment.

Something that ACTUALLY irks me (and probably only me) is the fact that the ferrule is not the same color as the handles. They are more of a violet than indigo-blueberry. SOMEONE. EXPLAIN. WHY.  Yeah the ferrule is metallic and shiny, a contrast in texture from the glossy, creme-finish handle, but they put SO much attention to detail into the brushes. Are they really in capable of color matching across different textures? I can’t be the only bugged by this… or am I?

The value of the Konayuki Set isn’t stellar so whether you decide to get the set or not should really be based on how much YOU like it and the state of your brush stash. Do you have these shapes already? If not, it might be worth getting. I know I will be despite my nit-pickings, because it intrigues me enough.

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Artistique Face Brush by Surratt Beauty – Review, Thoughts, Pictures Galore, and Comparison to the Chikuhodo Z-1 Powder Brush

Preface
If you are interested in the Surratt Beauty Artistic Face Brush,  you are likely no stranger to high end brushes or Fude (Japanese made brushes). If you are new, I think this review will still be easy to digest for you and (hopefully) informative. I think when most people see the price tag ($230 in USD) on Sephora, or where ever there are browsing, they go “WDF, WHY?!” then move on. Brush hounds will look at the price, raise an eyebrow, look for the  brush head material (it’s squirrel) then instantly start tail wagging + salivating, and look for the magic words: made-in-Japan, artisans, hand-crafted, etc. Or maybe that’s just me. >_> As always, feel free to skip the preface to get to the review.

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I’m actually quite surprised that I can’t find that many reviews on this brush. Lately, There seems to be a culture of “@#$%^!!! $$$Obscenely-Priced-Item! See MAH REVIEW!!!!!” (Wow I’m such a hypocrite. Anyways…) It’s even more surprising considering that this brush is quite easy to stumble upon, and buy in the Western market compared to some of the other sticker-shocking brushes out there. The Surratt Brushes also aren’t brand new, though they are newer players in the world of high end brushes. It seems like most of Troy Surratt’s line is a copy pasta of Addiction Beauty’s aesthetic which is perfectly understandable because he says that his brand is inspired by Japanese cosmetics and seems to serve as the bridge between markets across continents. From Surratt Beauty’s website (I normally don’t complain about typography but I haaaate that font):

after visiting japan for the first time, troy fell in love with the unparalleled skill of japanese methods, and began a decade-long journey that led to the creation of surratt beauty, now comprised of 200 bespoke products. while developing surratt beauty, troy traveled back to japan countless times, seeking out the top tier of artisans, materials, and formulas, and then elevated each product to the next level of innovation.

I wouldn’t be surprised if his color cosmetic products have the same OEM as Addition Beauty or Three Cosmetics because things like the blushes and eyeshadows just look so darn similar. The Addiction line of brushes are OEM’d by Chikuhodo, so perhaps his makeup manufacturing contacts are the same as Addiction’s. In case you are confused, Addiction [Beauty] by Ayako is not on that list because the brand falls under the Kose Corporation umbrella. Fun fact. Troy Surratt worked under Kevyn Aucoin. And my favorite foundation from Kevyn Aucoin Beauty, the Sensual Skin Enhancer, is made in Japan. Perhaps, he retained some of his mentor’s contacts. This article suggests otherwise though,

Anyways, I didn’t get this brush at full price thanks to the winter Sephora 20% off sale and some gift cards but I will be reviewing it as if I did. If you think I am being too generous to it, please feel free to tell me off. I am not without bias though I try my best to be.

 

Presentation
Yup, presentation gets it’s own section. The brush may be Japanese made, but the packaging is everything you’d expect from a luxury beauty brand: cardboard. French cardboard to be specific. Hey, an actual box is miles better than the plastic slip that most Japanese brands deliver their brushes in, but I can’t help but wonder how much the fancy box added to the end cost. Then again, Surratt is targeting the Western markets and people here expect a certain level of niceness in presentation when shelling out any more than $50. Let’s be honest. I do too. The brush still comes with the plastic slip that keeps all the hairs in place and prevents the head from rubbing against the lining of the box and getting frizzy when it is brand new. I’ve had mine for near half a year before I even got around to taking pictures so that plastic slip is long gone. These pictures are heavily edited because I took these non-essential pics in the shittiest lighting possible. Sorry.

Picture1.png

Paper Sleeve, Box, Back of Sleeve

Anyhow, the box has a cover that slides off to reveal a velvet lined, slightly plush, removable insert equipped with an elastic band to hold the brush in place, should you choose to store and travel with it. I personally do not use the box because it’s too bulky and takes up too much space on my already chaotic vanity. It’s stored away in an obscure corner of somewhere, probably getting chewed up by moths. The only boxes I use and keep on display are the recycled-paper-shell-with-fabric-lining Koyomo ones and the wooden ones from some special Koyudo’s.

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Brush Specs
The Artistique Face Brush is a medium size powder brush made of grey squirrel hair. On my cheeks, it works as a blush brush. The brush head completely round from the ferrule, starts tapering from around halfway up the brush head, and ends in dome crown.  I’ve previously described the Chikuhodo Z-1 powder brush as an egg on a stick. Well the Surratt Face brush is even more like an egg on a stick as it is more tapered tip and has a pointed dome, like what you would find on the apex end of an egg. (See comparison section) Do keep in mind that I store and wash my brushes with a brush guard so it will be have a smaller width measurement than many other people’s. The Artisque Face Brush can puff up to about 30% more volume if you allow it to air-dry naked.

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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Brush Reviews

 

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Definitive Overview of The Entire Chikuhodo Takumi Series – Brief Review and Pictures of Each Brush

I lied. I do not own the eyebrow brush (T-9, Badger Hair, 3,000 yen) and lip brush (T-10, Kolinsky Hair, 2,300 yen) and thus will not be reviewing them, but who cares about those? 😛 Other than those,  I will be reviewing all of the goat-hair brushes in the Takumi Series by Tesshyu Takemori of Chikuhodo fame. The T-1 Powder brush (12,000 yen) (Large), T-2  Powder Brush (8,000 yen) (Small), T-3 Foundation Brush (6,000 yen), T-4 Blush Brush (5,000 yen), T-5 Highlight Brush (5,000 yen)T-6 Eye Brush (3,500 yen) (Large), T-7 Eye Brush (2,500 yen) (Medium), T-8 Eye Brush (2,200 yen) (Small).

all-2

Takumi Series in incandescent lighting

I’ll be doing this overview a little differently. In the first section I will be giving just pure straight facts about the brushes with only minimal “feelings” and input on anything that is subjective. In the second part, the brushes will be out of order  because they will be ranked from my most to least favoured. That is where you’ll get my opinions on them. So if it all sounds uninformative and bland as a wet tissue at first, keep pushing on.

All of the pictures are in slideshow format! so be sure to “scroll” through them to get the full picture (heh) of what each brush is like. Incase you are wondering what my lovely sparkly black background is /s… it’s aquarium filter foam.

Once there was an Ask Reddit Thread topic-ed, “If you could add a 0 to any number in your life, what would it be?” there was one answer that struck me as pure and utter genius: “the number of hours before I need to sleep.” In a perfect world I would be able to use all that extra awake time to take care of things that need to be done (like all the drafts for this blog). In said world, I would also have individual review + comparison posts for each brush completed and hotlinked (the comprehensive, singular focus ones that I normally do) but alas all I have are skeletons of each post. If there is one you want to see in particular, let me know! Having a request or two is usually enough to push me to move them from the back burner to the forefront.Otherwise, the next one up will be a comparison between the Surrat Artisque Face Brush and Chikuhodo Z-1 Powder Brush. If there are any of you who think that this should not occur, speak now or forever hold you peace.

For brush veterans who know what you are getting into, feel free to skip the following section to get straight to the mini reviews.

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Posted by on February 11, 2017 in Brush Reviews, On the Fence

 

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G-S2 Flat Eyeshadow Brush by Houkodou – Short Review, Thoughts & Pics

Preface
JFC. This draft has been sitting untouched for a month because i was so busy. I was really excited about it in my pre-haul post. My god, was that really 3+ months ago? I’ve been using the G-S2 for a long while now and it’s time i share the love. Finally.

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I just ordered another one because it’s just THAT good for the price. (Oops? Spoiler alert?) Damn you CDJapan, why didn’t you add Houkodou brushes to your offerings earlier. I could have gotten this brush sooner and saved goat-loads of money by never buying another eye brush again. No that’s not a typo: i could have saved goat-loads … as in “boat loads” of money… Because most of my eye brushes are made from goat hair?

Untitled

In addition to being terrible at jokes, my Paint Penmanship is pretty bad too.

Well anyhow, we all know that’s not true 😛 I would have bought more eye brushes regardless of how happy i am with a certain brush because SCIENCE. Sorta. Hey it’s brush science okay?

This brush is from the Houkodou’s “Brilliant Gold Series” which are their nicest looking ones. I would put them on par with the Chikuhodo Z Series and Hakuhodo S Black Series as all these lines utilize expensive, fine materials. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2016 in Brush Reviews

 

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Saibikoho Yakusugi Blush Brush by Koyudo – Review, Comparisons, and Possible Substitutions

I feel like a shitty human being for reviewing an item that is no longer available and has been unobtainable since it sold out within a week of its release. I am of course talking about the Saibikoho w/ Yakusugi Handle Blush Brush that was released by Koyudo and sold on CDJapan in January of 2016.

ss cover

So why am I bothering with this post anyways?

  1. To show off  To provide information in case you are lucky enough to run across someone selling theirs later on and you are contemplating dropping your hard earned money on it.
  2. To provide suggestions for possible replacement / substitutions / dupes.

What makes this blush brush so special is a combination of the hair and handle materials. Saibikoho hair is the cream of the saikoho hair crop. Saikoho is already soft and fine (premium brushes are made out of this stuff). However, the softest and finest Saikoho hairs are sorted out and categorized as Saibikoho. If that doesn’t make any sense, think about how there are differences in hair quality between humans thanks to genetics. Same applies to goats. Genetic differences result in some goats, just like people, that provide better quality hair (diameter, silkiness/coarseness) than other goats. So take the hair from the goats that provide the best saikoho, and select finest hairs from that pool. The resulting selection of batches are saibikoho. That is the softest goat hair you can get  your hands on.

The handle is made of yakusugi wood, or 1000+ year old Japanese cedar. Wait isn’t that going to be protected?! Yes, the live trees are. The felled ones are fair game to be collected and used in items. (i’ll let wiki explain here). TLDR on why it’s special: it has history and smells divine. I’m a sucker for long history.

For the sake of my sanity, I’m going to shorten the name to Saibisugi. I don’t have the patience to type out Saibikoho Yakusugi every time. I’m a lazy person. (in case that fact was not already evident from my very erratica post “schedule” and giant time gaps.)

Oh yeah, and the saibisugi is dirty with blush (MAC’s Frankly Scarlet) in most pictures because if i were to wait to catch it clean and dry for photos, this review would never happen.

The Brush + Details
What else do I say besides it’s gorgeous? I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves and try not to interrupt to much along the way. Just kidding. It’s not a review of mine unless it’s long winded.

ss out

The Saibisugi, like most of Koyudo’s premium LE brushes, comes in a presentation box made of Palouwina wood. More on the box at the end of the post because lets face it, the brush is what you’re here for. The brush arrived sheathed in a protective plastic sleeve, and cradled on a bed of shredded paper that strongly reminds me of the shredded daikon beds that sashimi is presented on. (Am i the only one that enjoys eating that? The shredded daikon, not paper…) The box and paper shreds eventually become imbued with the Yakusugi scent despite the handle not being overpowering in smell at all.

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Posted by on January 31, 2016 in Brush Reviews, On the Fence

 

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Ordering on CDJapan: Experience + Insight

CDJapan.com is a legit website, despite how sketchy the layout looks. Its layout + design are more than a little outdated but i put up with it just fine because stuff listed on there doesn’t have the markup of American retailers. If the currency exchange rate is in your favor? Even better! Forget Beautylish. If you’re in the USA, get your Chikuhodo’s here. Pretty much all of my Japanese made brushes (except Hakuhodo’s) have come from this site. Note: I regularly update this to add details or do revising as things change.

The best part of CDJapan is the fact that I don’t have to pay the 8% sales tax! I only pay for the brushes and shipping, and sometimes, I don’t even pay shipping (more on that later).

One of the biggest things that stopped me from making my first order was fear of customs. I spent quite a bit of time lurking in the Smutville forums (their name for it, not mine) and was reading horror stories of exorbitant customs taxes having to be paid as ransom to receive the package. After reading through this thread, I felt a lot better and went ahead, made a CDJapan account and proceeded with the brush to checkout. I did talk to other ppl first of course. Everyone told me: ship EMS, don’t do FexEx (again more on that later).

CDJapan was (maybe still is?) running a newbie promotion where 300 rewards points are applied to the account, just for joining. Their rewards point works like Ulta’s, you can redeem them, applying them to your cart like cash to lower your total so it’s essentially a rebate. I promptly applied the pleasant surprise towards the purchase and got 300 yen taken off my bill (a little less than $3 at that time). The smallest of dents, but a nice gesture none the less.

Their rewards system gives you three ways of earning points with ever order. Full information here, but i’ll summarize it for the lazy.

You get 3% of your item’s purchase price back as points unless otherwise stated. Sometimes, special items will have 5% or 10% back.  You’ll have to check the individual items listings. 1 point = 1 yen off your future order(s) if you apply it. These points are valid for 1 year. You do not get %-back points if you pay for your order with Paypal or completely with rewards points.

In addition to the percentage of the item price back as points, if you order total before shipping  is over a certain amount you get bonus points.

  • 300 bonus points for orders over 5,000 yen (6%),
  • 500 bonus points for purchases over 10,000 (5%).
  • 600 bonus points for purchases over 20,000 (3%)
  • 700 bonus points for purchases over 30,000 (2.3%)
  • 800 bonus points for all purchases above 50,000 (1.6%)

For some reason, the bonus goes DOWN with the more you buy. Makes no sense to me but hey, I’m not the one calling the shots. Ideally, you’ll want to load you cart up as close to 5,000 or 10,000 yen as you can. Sometimes, they’ll run a promo where they’ll double the amount of bonus points you earn and you can be alerted to these periods by signing up for their email alerts which honestly aren’t spammy at all… just ugly and all text. Anyways, these order bonus points are granted the day your package ships out and  expire in a year from that day.

They also award additional points quarterly – Jan:March, April:June, July:Sept, Oct:Dec. The amount you get depends on how much you spent during that quarter

  • 500 points for 20,000 yen spent (2.5%)
  • 700 points for 30,000 yen spent (2.3%)
  • 1,000 for 50,000 yen or more yen spent (2%)

Again the amount decreases with the more you spend. It’s almost like they don’t want your money! What an awesome company. They’re worried about your wallet’s health. /s. These additional points are good for 3 months (until the next quarter) and they’ll warn you by the email you have linked to your account when points are close to expiring.

Another way to earn points if by reviewing items of a certain brand when they run a promotion. For example, here is one such promotion. Normally you can only earn up to 1,000 points or around 10 USD. These last for a year before they expire.

Okay, now the account has been made, stuff has been added to the cart. Check out is easy, responsive, and most importantly (for me) in English. You get to select your shipping option, redeem your points if you so wish, and maybe gift wrap your package for an extra little fee.  It takes usually less than half a minute for them to confirm your payment method. Happily, I’ve never had time-outs or anxiety inducing lag when checking out. Within minutes of placing my orders, I receive a confirmation email.

If the item’s listing description reads “in-stock” the item will usually ship out within 1-2 days of order placement. Without fail, within 48 hours, i will receive an email saying that my package had shipped out. If you have a mistake in your order, try to send a correction email to their customer service within 24 hours of placing your order clearly detailing what changes you want made; make their CS team’s life a little easier by including your order ID. If you alert them of changes or mistakes within 24 hours, it will almost be guaranteed that they will be able to change your order (because it hasn’t shipped out yet) and shuffle the appropriate money around.

The exception is if you pay for the whole order in points – which i have done for the shits and giggles  for science. (That fact alone should give you an idea of how much I’ve shopped at and spent on CDJapan. Spoiler alert, i like it very much.)  I tried amending my order by email almost right after i placed it – to add something – and they replied back saying  that it couldn’t be done because trying to change an order paid for entirely in points would fuck up the payment processing programming beyond belief, which would cause the mainframe to catastrophically blow up and leave a smoking crater in the Earth. RIP CDJapan. Kidding about the latter part.

If the item is not in stock it will give you an estimate, usually something along the lines of “ships out in blank to blank # of weeks”. When the item finally does ship with the whole package order, you will get the notification. I recently ordered something that had a 2-4 week estimate. To my surprise, i got a email a little over a week after i placed a order saying that it had been shipped out! The same happened with several other orders containing items that weren’t in stock. However, another person i know had a 2-3 month estimated wait. She really did have to wait 2 months.

The “package has shipped out email” also comes with the notification that my account has been credited with the reward points for my purchase. If credit card is used as the mode of payment, and the card will not be charged until the product shipped. The exchange rate shifts daily and that means that sometimes, i pay a few cents less than i had expected, other times, i pay a few cents more. I believe that if you use PayPal, your account will be charged at the time of purchase. Do note again that Paypal paid orders do not reap %-back reward points but you do get order-total bonus points.

As far as the packaging goes, i have had nothing to complain about though environmentalists may be crying in rage. I’ve have had “fragile” eye shadows and blushes arrive with less padding. CDJapan takes shipping seriously! They treat your merchandise like royalty and package stuff in a box that’s 3 times the size of your item with lots of paper.

People do generally recommend EMS as the shipper but i have used Air Mail since my first order with no issue. I live in a nicer area with a reliable mail person (Hi, Mary!) so I’m not particularly worried about packages going poof or getting delivered to the neighbor or next block over. If you local mail service has been known to mess up a lot (deliver to similar but wrong address down the street, for example) get tracked shipping or have it sent to where you work if your workplace is chill. I originally chose Air Mail because it was cheaper and continue to use it because it is cheap and stuff arrives in a reasonable amount of time (anything over two weeks i am not okay with, no matter how cheap the shipping method is). 😛 Also, it doesn’t require signature. I am perpetually never at home to sign for things when they get delivered and I don’t like going to the post office to rescue packages. My cheapness and laziness  better not come back and bite me in the ass.

Anyways, the description for AirMail says 4-12 days. I live in Southern California and i usually receive my package in the late afternoon, 4-7 business days after being notified that it has shipped. The longest it has taken was 9 days. Side note for the maple people: someone in Canada uses EMS and has never had to pay customs on a package so use EMS for security, and use AirMail if you’re cheap and don’t easily get heart attacks if your package is a little late like AirMail is once in a while.

I’m frankly not impressed with EMS, it takes a norm of 7-9 days after the shipped-out notification for the package to arrive. The longest was 14 days! (that number was not included in the average because it was such an outlier value.) I watched that package sit at one location for 5 days before it moved on.  Thank god i got to watch it through tracking or i would have thought it had gotten lost for sure. EMS rates have also gone up recently so i wouldn’t use EMS myself unless there was a free shipping promotion… which there perpetually is on brush order over 12,000 yen. Free shipping promotions used to pop up twice a year and run for a few months at a time though the latest one (info here) seems to be running year long. **Edit June 5, 2016: Oh hey waddaya know. My latest package reached me in 4 days after the ship out notice! Still a pain in the ass because I have to wait two more days before i can go to the post office to pick it up because of schedule and PO time conflicts.

NEVER use FedEx. They’ll likely hold your package and interrogate you on its contents. If you’re lucky, you’ll get your product late and won’t be charged a fee for wasting their time (also known as a service fee). At worst, they will confiscate your whole package and toss it because it contains an item it is not supposed to. *coughFish&WildlifeServicecoughkolinskybancough*

Edit Nov 26: CDJapan has sent the following notice in regards to shipping during shopping rush season:

Please note that packages shipped in November and December will take extra 2-4 weeks for delivery for Air Mail and SAL due to Holiday season and in response to recent worldwide incidents. For this time of the year, we strongly recommend EMS and FedEx.

A couple days after i receive my packages, i will get an email with a customer satisfaction and comments survey. The first time the survey is filled out, it grants 500 reward points. Each order survey after the first one grant 50 points.

So far i only have experience ordering brushes and miscellaneous beauty supplies, though they offer a ton of other stuff like CD’s (it’s in the name), calendars, tea, makeup and cookware. All in all, I am a very happy customer. I will happily gobble up any brushes that CDJapan throws at me, though my wallet will cry.

Their customer service is usually quick to respond the handful of times I’ve contacted them. If they don’t respond within 48 hours they’ll usually tell you that your message got “sent to spam”. I’m pretty sure that means they opened your email then forgot about it, so just send another followup  to prod them if it’s been a couple days. I’ve had a faulty product issue come up once and it took about a week to resolve because they had to contact the supplier. They kept me updated every step of the way though.

The only pain in the ass part of dealing with CDJapan will only crop up when you want to exchange or return things. I’ve only had to exchange something once and it took 5 weeks  to resolve from start to finish as the following things had to happen:

  1. I email CDJapan customer service  with pics saying that i believe the item ‘s not up to par (Jan 11, 2016)
  2. CDJapan replies back with the usual “we are so sorry,” and asks for more pics  to send to the manufacturer to check that the condition of my item is not normal.  (Jan 11, 2016)
  3. manufacturer emails them back saying, “nope that’s not supposed to happen, send that baby back.” And they prepare to send a replacement to CDJapan to send to me once they get the defective item back. (Jan 13, 2016)
  4. i get a return merchandise authorization # from CDJapan and pay for shipping back to Japan, keeping a copy of the receipt, which i take a pic of and send to CDJapan. (Jan 18, 2016)
  5. CDJapan receives the returned item and credits my account with points as reimbursement for the shipping-back cost using the exchange rate for that day. (Feb 4, 2016)
  6. CDJapan sends the item to the manufacturer for them to confirm the specimen’s condition is faulty
  7. Manufacturer gives the okay to release the replacement item to me in a newly created  order. It gets packed and shipped free of charge to me by CDJapan (Feb 5, 2016)
  8. I finally get my replacement and go to bed snuggling it. (Feb 14, 2016)

If you believe something to be defective, document EVERY aspect of it from the beginning and be as detailed as possible. The more paranoid you are (aka the more pictures you take) the better. Keep every single hair that is shed, even if it means having stick all the fallen hairs to a piece of tape because it will be useful during the picture verification stage.  I’ve never returned something outright but i imagine it’s a pain in the butt because they only accept returns on brand new items. oh, and you have to pay shipping back.

Last thing: I recommend signing up for their email alerts. Though for some reason, announcement usually don’t hit my inbox until two days after the release.

Have your own experiences from shopping with CDJapan or live in other parts of the world and wanna chime in about shipping times/advice? Tell me about them in the comments below!

  • Another CDJapan exchange experience! (reposted with permission, edited slightly)

I ordered a Koyudo Fuwafuwa during the ongoing 20% off sale (Nov – Dec 2016). I ordered just a bit over the free shipping minimum and received my items (FuwaFuwa and another T-7) extremely quickly.

It’s been a couple weeks since I started using my FWFW and I’ve been noticing a bit of shedding every time I use it (3-5 hairs every morning, though they were not long enough to have been coming out from the ferrule; still feels like a fricking pillow though, even if it gets hairs on my face). I understand when a brush is first put into use, it sheds a bit and then gradually “stops”. I don’t consider myself a fude master (more like noob; been in the game for like a year or two), so I shot cdJapan an email asking about the shedding.

I received an email back in ~24hrs (shout out to Yukari) asking for photos to see the condition of my FWFW. I sent her a couple pictures of the brush head (still densely packed; about 20 hairs had fallen out at that point) and the hairs that had fallen out that morning. Within a couple hours, they replied back with a replacement order (so apparently it wasn’t normal even though they were shorter hairs?) It was amazingly quick considering the time difference (and that I often don’t experience that sort of service here in the US).

Replacement item was received on December 11, 2016

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2015 in Brush Reviews, On the Fence, Shopping Site Reviews

 

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Takumi T-4 Cheek Brush vs BP016 Blush Brush Review and Comparison

Preface
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.

Chikuhodo T-4 (top) - it's a little dirty) Koyudo BP016 (bottom)

Chikuhodo T-4 (top) – it’s a little dirty) Koyudo BP016 (bottom)

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. Read the rest of this entry »

 
10 Comments

Posted by on October 7, 2015 in Brush Reviews, On the Fence

 

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