Tag Archives: japanese made

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

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.


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.


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.


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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


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.


Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Brush Reviews


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Koyudo LE Collector Level Brushes – 2016 Edition: Thoughts and Price Comparisons

FML. No wonder CDJapan extended free shipping – on brush only purchases over 12,000 yen (details here). They were planning on releasing these 5 limited brushes.

First up is a brush made of cotton candy from dreams,  err… i meant goat, fine goat. There’s an Echizen Saibikoho Powder brush being offered for 83,400 yen. Why did they have to make  it a face brush ;_; and thus so expensive. They could have done the $500 cheek brush again but noooo, $800+ face powder brush it is. As if 500 is affordable, hahaha. Everything is relative?


Stock was 5 but has since the time of writing this has dropped to 4. Maybe it’ll last until holiday time when stuff goes on 20% sale and is decreased to 66,820 yen?  Maybe I’ll win the lotto in the mean time? A girl can dream… JFK. It’s already sold out! No more fantasies.

In case you dont already know, CDJ offers a lower priced Fupa 14 and a Fupa 02, which are the products of a collaboration between CDJapan Beauty and Koyudo. The handles are matte black rather than glossy-lacquered with minuscule sparkles, and have a practical flat bottom rather than a rounded butt, which i approve really hard of since they can stand up on their own.

le p2.png

and now the newest one. They are offering another Koyudo Fupa style brush at a lower price in an LE black, matte handle: the LE Matte Black Fuwa Fuwa.

le pic

LE MB Fuwa Fuwa (left) & Permanent Fuwa Fuwa (right)

Anyways, back on track, the LE Fuwa Fuwa still has a golden ferrule which looks really classy. It’s a pretty good deal, better than the other CDJ collabs in looks, if you want a Fuwa Fuwa just for the brush head. It the most economical Fupa yet. Yes, i consider the Fuwa Fuwa to be a member of the Fupa Family because it has the same, general chubster shape.

I personally would skip this cheaper Fuwa Fuwa (even though it looks really nice already) because i looove wood. Some people would say that this LE version looks better, but I’s rather save my money until I had enough for the permanent version of the Fuwa Fuwa (12,000 yen) which features a maple, ebony and rosewood parquetry handle. The craftsmanship is THAT good, and yet, it might not be worth it for everyone. I’m a handle snob. 😛 If you’re like me and  the handle matters, cross your fingers and pray that Koyudo is 20% off across the board again come this holiday season because that’ll drop prices to 9,600 yen for the Fuwa Fuwa (a mere 6.7% more expensive than LE Black Fuwa Fuwa). Here’s a review if the looks of the handle doesn’t deter you and you want to know more about it.

Stock: 25. This stock probably wont last until holiday season, during which if they do the 20% sale, the price would drop to 7,200 yen.

My favorite of the LE brushes is a version of the famed White Mushroom (13,200 yen). This year’s LE is a White Mushroom with Red & Black Wajima Lacquer handle. That labor intensive skill work for the handle ain’t cheap. Plus that red fade to black is dead sexy. and sexy aint cheap. It rings in at 20,000 yen. The last LE mushroom – which featured an ebony handle (18,000 yen) – i hemmed and hawed over a little to long and one day, it was sold out, never to return. It took about 8 months from release to sell out from an original stock of 20, so i anticipate this one (being more expensive) might be around until sale time even though stock starts at 10. The people who are crazy about brushes already have a white mushroom, which they got long ago and would not get another one. The people who want a White Mushroom but don’t care about aesthetics would get just the regular, permanent white mushroom during a 20% sale (it’ll drop to 9,600 yen). And then there’s my type of the people: the ones who have pined for a white mushroom but have held out on getting one waiting for THE ONE.  This brush is really only for a collector who doesn’t already have a white mushroom or a really crazy collector who must catch own them all. After all, it is 52% more expensive than the regular white mushroom!


Permanent White Mushroom(Left) & Wajima Mushrooms (Right)

Some expert IG snooping by another brush crazy friend has found price discrepancies though. The same brush is available from Koyudo directly through FudeJapan for 15,000 yen. He doesn’t charge tax or service fees for Koyudo, but add dont forget to add 2,000 yen for EMS shipping, bringing it up to 17,000 yen (15% savings compared to the CDJ price w/ free shipping). The Kihitsu one is the exact same thing, but for 22,500 yen… and that’s before shipping.

Stock started at 10 but has dropped to 9 since i started writing. If i stare at it anymore, it’s gonna drop to 8. Must…. resist … @_@ but i have points… Aw, fuck it. I’ve just ordered the Wajima Mushroom.  I’VE ALREADY LOST YOU ONCE (le ebony mushroom), I’M NOT GOING TO LOSE YOU AGAIN!

**Edit August 11, 2016 – holy shit i was embarasingly wrong. They are selling. There are only 4 left in stock. And i didn’t even open my big mouth on a blog post about how much I’m enjoying mine >->

New year also means new iteration of the Echizen Red Squirrel Blush brush (Gen IV) – this time, there’s a kolinsky lip brush bundled in – for 13,500 yen. Once again it comes with a box. It looks denser and more thickly bundled than the Gen II (no echizen; 8,000 yen) and Gen III (echizen) Square Handle (8,800 yen)  Red Squirrel brushes. There was a Gen III Round Handle (8,800) from the same year that people claimed was more densely packed than the Square version.  This might be the same as the Gen III Round brush from 2015, but with a 2016 price tag.


Assuming that the lip brush costs 2,500 yen like this M015 Lip brush – this is the closest one i could find in specs – the blush brush alone would cost 11,000 yen. Holy hell. That’s a 25% markup in price from last year’s model, and that’s IF the blush brush was sold alone… which it is not. This year’s brush, sold in a set, has a total cost of 53.4% more. Unless you’re really, really frickin desperately lust for a Red Squirrel brush (and need a lip brush really badly), i would skip this. There is a Canadian Squirrel Blush Brush (with echizen handle too, no lip brush) for 12,000 yen  which i think is a better deal because Cn Sq. is generally regarded as superior though general consensus says red squirrel is the softest of the squirrel hairs, and thus, more luxurious feeling.


To supplement this blush brush and lip brush, they also released a Echizen Trio set with a Powder Brush and Medium Eye brush made of red squirrel, along side a liner brush made of weasel. This set costs 49,450 yen. This is a rather expensive supplement… A full set of these echizen red sq Face, Cheek, Eye, Lip and Liner brushes would be 62,950 yen.

Red Squirrel seems to be getting more and more exorbitantly expensive. The Yakusugi Red Squirrel set used to cost 100,000 yen but has been upped to 150,000 yen… -_-” Remember kiddos, take screen shots. They might come in handy for price comparisons.

yaku set

Screenshot taken from The Non Blonde’s blog entry  titled “Want: Koyudo Brush Set” written in 2014


Screen shot from July 2016

Anyways, speaking of yakusugi, the last LE special brush is a Gray Squirrel Face Brush with Yakusugi handle (16,000 yen). Damn, there must have been a lot of storms last season to fell trees left and right. Earlier this year, there were the Yakusugi Saibikoho blush brush (review here) and the Yakusugi Gray Squirrel Blush Brush for 9,800 yen which is essentially a BP018 on a fancy handle. Anyways, it resembles some of our favorite Chikuhodo luxury brushes, but at the same price. A pretty good deal. The only one in this batch of LE brushes, in fact (besides the Matte Black Fuwa Fuwa).


Here are it’s specs:

Hair length: 51 mm

Thickness: 18 mm

Ferrule Width: 25 mm

In comparison to the Chikuhodo MK-2 (16,000 yen) which also has a special handle.

Hair length: 52 mm

Thickness: 22 mm

Ferrule Width: 25 mm

and the Chikuhodo Z-9 (16,000 yen) is 2 mm more in thickness and literally just a hair longer. It is closer to the Yakusugi Gray Sq. Face brush, but doesn’t have a special handle.

Hair length: 52 mm

Thickness: 20 mm

Ferrule Width: 25 mm

This brush had the largest starting stock at 30 and has dropped to 27 in two days. It is unlikely that this will last until 20% sale season (Nov-ish) but you can always pray. If stock does last, it will drop to 12,800 yen.


Posted by on July 15, 2016 in Grab It Before It's Gone, On the Fence


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

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.


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?


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 »


Posted by on July 9, 2016 in Brush Reviews


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Koyudo Brushes 20% off Sale and Recommendations

Some of my favorite things are on sale… makeup brushes. Actually it looks like ALL the Koyudo brushes are on sale until Dec 16th, including the super expensive saibikoho set (120,000 –> 96,000) yen. Here’s the announcement.

In a nutshell almost anything Koyudo that’s listed and not out of print is 20% off from now until Dec. 16th.  Sadly the red squirrel cheek brushes are not included in the sale. The free shipping over 10,000 promotion only runs until Nov 24th though, so you could save a few more bucks if you order soon  lel they extended it until Dec 24th so it ends 8 days after the koyudo sale ends.  Koyudo ‘s brushes are already pretty affordable (for a Japanese brush brand) and the 20% off sale makes them even more reasonable to someone not wanting to splurge on Chikuhodo or Hakuhodo.

Get a Japanese hand-made face brush for 30 bucks?! HELL YEAHHHH. Some/most mid range brand brushes cost more!

Here are some of my recommendations and stuff I’m giving serious eye to. I like them enough to know the brushes by number code, and i SUCK at remembering numbers. Also, for those of you who haven’t ordered from CDJapan before – and want to – but have reservations, here’s a quick little guide.

Fupa 07 ~ 5,760 –>4608 yen
: this is one of my favorites for liquid, cream and other wet type foundation. It’s a dense long rectangular brush that makes an excellent buffer as the finishing step to polish out texture or streaks that sometimes form when I’m using Kevyn Aucoin’s SSE (which is super thick). If i have no time to make sure my foundation is even, i swipe product onto my face and swipe this brush all over my face to distribute. As long as i cover every square inch with at least one back and forth sweep, there is no problem with the finish/coverage being uneven. The hairs are quite soft, the body is dense but the hairs move so coverage is on the lighter side to medium-heavy depending on the foundation you use. I considered getting another one for a hot moment but i have waaaay too many foundation brushes to rotate through already.

Fupa 13 (white bristles) ~ 5,040 –> 4,032 yen
: This is one that comes highly recommended so i finally took the chance to order it. It’s the smaller of the two angled fupas (the Fupa 12 is 6,240 yen –> 4992 yen) and is more for smaller faces or detail work and shading (for all the sculptists out there). No i’m not racist, i just prefer this version over the dyed one because A) I’m compelled to wash it more often and not feel gross and B) it’s cheaper by 1,000 yen!

Macaroon Kabuki ~ 4,800 –> 3,840
: Comes in a medium pink, violet, and orange. This sale is a good time to take advantage of to get some “fun” brushes (like the macaroon) that are non-essentials but nice/fun to own. This is basically a super dense powder round like the Tarte Airbuki but more rounded in the head, dyed in pretty colors, and made from goat hair rather than synthetic bristles. It’s incredibly dense and a great value for the amount of hair that is packed into the brush. This should be a powder brush but I get more use out of it for powder foundation because of the coverage achievable. It also works well with thicker liquid/cream foundations because it buffs and blends almost like a sponge.


Face Brushes
Fuwafuwa Powder Brush ~ 120,000 –> 9,600 yen: A round, flattened dome type powder brush. I’ve already posted a rave and review on this brush (here). If you like functional, beautiful, soft, fluffy things, you need this. It’s pretty good for powder foundation if you’ve got good skin and not alot to hide. That’s not be though so I mostly use it as a finishing brush. Most days I’ll just wear sun screen and set it with this brush swirled  in a colored finishing powder that has a bit of color to even things out. It’s extremely fast and efficient with powder product application but will provide too heavy of a coverage in regards to actual setting powder (hello MUFE Micro HD ghost face).

Fupa 14 ~ 9,000 –> 7 200 yen (black handle
 or white handle):  In the same vein as the Fuwafuwa, this is a flattened dome powder round that can be used for applying powder OR foundation. Here is a direct comparison of the two. This is one of my few brushes that does not kick up a bunch of powdery bullshit when i swirl it in the Hourglass ambient lighting powders pans. It’s a squirrel-goat mix with a very low ratio of squirrel. When compared against a pure grey squirrel brush you’ll definitely be able to tell that the body has more resistance, but the brush head’s feeling itself is still uber soft and plush.

I do like the Fuwafuwa more because it is pure goat (more resilient) and because the wooden handle is so perfect. I think the black handle fupa 14 looks classier/better but that may just be me (or not because the black  handle perpetually has a lower stock count).


BP 016 ~ 5,040 –> 4,032: a very versatile fanned out paddle brush that feels like a silk pad on the cheeks. The hair are ultra fine and straight so there’s very little friction. It’s almost like a small fan brush in shape. The wide face is good for blush, bronzer and target powdering while the skinny side tapers to a rounded point that can highlight and contour. Color application is light and build-able to heavy unless your cheek color is utter crap in the pigmentation department.  Full review here.

**So the BP 016 is not only out of stock, but it seems to be out of print as well. The difference between the latter and the former is that with an ‘out of stock’ item, you can still order it, but it’ll take 2-4 weeks to be ready. Out of print means that CDJapan don’t know if they will restock. Because the BP016 is part of Koyudo’s permanent line, i imagine it will be restocked eventually but not before the sale is over.

If you want a suitable replacement, check out the BP 015 ~ 4,440 –> 3,552 which has the same head (size/shape/measurements) as the 016 but is composed of dyed black sokoho goat bristles instead of undyed saikoho. (Sokoho is just one grade below saikoho. It is better at grabbing color product from the pan at the cost of being marginally less silky) Some people prefer the black bristles because they don’t appear “dirty” as quickly,  and it’s also a bit cheaper.

If you want a softer option, check out the BP 018 ~ 8,250 –> 6,600. Again, the same head but made of of gray squirrel rather than goat so its several degrees softer than the 016 or 015. It takes more to build up color intensity as with all gray squirrel brushes. It’s slightly denser, wider at the ferrule, and fuller/more plush than my Chikuhodo Z-4.

Gray Squirrel Blush Brush ~ 8,250 –> 6,600
: If you’re looking for a good dupe for the Chikuhodo Z-8 cheek brush try this one. It’s slightly smaller than the Z-8 (the bristles are barely longer than the Z-4). Body wise, it is thicker than the Z-4 and more dense. It is slightly flatter from the side  than the Z-8, but just as soft. the price is also lower, making it a good deal. Color application starts off sheer and builds. It can also be used as a powder brush of course. I don’t know why this is the same price as the 018 because i think this one is superior (has more hair for the money).


BP 036 ~ 2,160 –> 1,728 yen: I took advantage of this sale to buy a spare and give my poor current 036 a rest once in a while.  It’s a tapered round blender that’s ideal for smaller creases and precise v-work. The hairs can handle concealer or creamy/wet formulations. It’s stronger at blending  than most fluffy tapered blending brushes due to the more resilient nature of the hairs, but the tips are soft and never scratchy. They move color well, so if you tend to use a lot of sheerer powdery shadows, this might not be the best. If you like cream shadows or pigmented pots of unicorn poop, this is a great brush to diffuse product and mush it into other colors to create a well blended eye look. Don’t be scared by that point, it turns into a gentle dome after you wash and dry it.

C011 ~ 1,560 –> 1,248
: an indispensable pencil brush, plus it’s almost dirt cheap. Super soft, non-prickly and keeps its point well. Stick it in your outer corner, stick it in the inner corner, stick up your nose (jk don’t do that). Point is (haha, geddit? its a pointy pencil brush?) it’ll always be soft and gentle on delicate skin. Some people with larger hands might find the handle to be too short and uncomfortable to hold though…

Gray Squirrel Pointed Eyeshadow Brush ~ 2,850 –> 2,280
: is an interesting shape I’ve been meaning to try for a while. It is found in Surrat’s and Chicca’s lines and was one of the shapes in the Chikuhodo x Beautylish Sakura set. The Surrat ones are waaaay expensive, Chicca’s are reported to be scratchy and the Sakura is no longer available, leaving me with this one. I hope it retains that sharply tapered point.

C006 Eye Shadow M ~ 2,880 –> 2,304 yen
 or BP 034 ~ 3,600 –> 2,880 yen: Both of these are flat, compact paddle brushes of medium size and good for a variety of eye shapes and sizes. The hairs are the same length. but the BP 034 is slightly squared off while the c006 is completely round. Both provide strong coloring if you like to pat product on, rather than swipe it on. The hairs are quite soft (tip wise) and never scratchy, though the body is less flexible than goat or squirrel eye brushes. Pretty good if you only want to use one brush for a whole eye look.

BP 033 ~ 3,510 –> 2,808 yen
: A squirrel version of the above brushes, with 2 mm longer hairs. Thicker, fluffier and softer. Pretty dense for an squirrel eye brush. Larger than the Chikuhodo Z-5 and denser too. It takes more building to achieve desired color intensity than its above siblings but the hair feels like silky heaven on the lids. It’s excellent for providing a shiny wash when used with metallic eyeshadows and does great at glitter and fall out control on more shimmer packed/glitter chunky shadows. Pictures at the end of this post. It’s the one with the white handle.


1 Comment

Posted by on November 16, 2015 in Grab It Before It's Gone, On the Fence


Tags: , , , , , , ,