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Sun Dragon by Ohm Beads – Review, Pictures Galore, and Composition Ideas

Preface
I’m being an ass again, reviewing something that is sold out… but should you find it second hand at a non-jacked price, you really should seriously consider getting it. This review here is to provide insight that’ll hopefully guide your decision making process.

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This is the Ohm Beads Bead of the Month for August of 2017 in commemoration of the solar eclipse that will be taking place on the 21st which is, conicidentally, the day I start the fall semester of my M.S. program, and the day my life as I know it will cease to exist. (Similar to how if the sun was devoured and the Earth cast into darkness, life would cease to exist.) Kidding. It’s not that bad because we’re only going to be in three days of classes (rather than five) with one day of fieldwork. But we have been warned that fieldwork will be quite… intense.

Anyways, where was I? Oh right. Eclipse. I don’t care about that. I mean, I do REALLY want to view the total eclipse if I can swing it (ditch class maybe?) but my train of thought in getting it went more like, “I see pretty dragon. I want pretty dragon. ” Plus, it’s shiny. *cue Moana song*

The Bead
It’s obviously East Asian inspired in design with the boxy head with “antlers”, feathered tail, and lack of wings . Just about every other dragon design I’ve seen has been goofy looking, or the dragon has been given a bird-like head. No, just… no. This little guy was handsome and beautifully detailed so I “had” to have it.

 

I’d call this a charm rather than a bead. Being made of solid sterling silver, it’s pretty weighty despite the delicate, sinewy appearance. It’s a good size that will get noticed, but it is still small enough that it doesn’t take over a bracelet. it doesn’t HAVE be the focal point of a composition (as i will demo on a few bracelets later in this post.  Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2017 in On the Fence, Pretty, Shiny Things

 

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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.

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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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Read the rest of this entry »

 
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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 and lip brush 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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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

 

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Chikuhodo Violet Noel and Azur Noel Collection for Holiday 2016 Available for Pre-Order: Value Calculations

First off, i know. I’m terrible when it comes to typos and there’s a glaring one in the title: Azure is suppose to have an “e”. it’s not my bad this time though. That’s literally how they (Chikuhodo) spell it. Never mind. I’ve been schooled. Azur is the French spelling for azure and all past Chikuhodo holiday sets have been named in French, so it makes sense to continue the trend. Violet, being the same threw me for a good loop though.

NOTE: I will add the price comparison for Beautylish once i see their list price for the sets.

Let’s start with the bigger (and more expensive) set.

Azur Set
This set is available for pre-order now at CDJapan for 32,500 yen. The set contains 6 brushes and a pouch, all in a dark, shimmery cool-blue theme. There are 200 sets available. The product page says that they wont be shipped out until late November though but be prepared to buckle down for long wait.

From the pictures and comparing provided measurements, it looks like this set contains the following series of brushes

  • Powder Brush: Gray Squirrel
    • Hair length approx. 52 mm, 27 mm wide (tentative, see the long quote in the Violet Set section to see how the number was arrived at.)
    • Looks like a MK-2 (16,000 yen) or perhaps a Z-9 (16,000 yen). Both are 52 mm long and 25 mm wide with the former being 22 mm thick and the latter being 20 mm thick. Without a thickness measurement for the Azur powder brush, i have no way of telling which one it is. Either way, both brushes have the same price and match in hair length + hair type.
  • Blush Brush: Gray Squirrel + Sokoho Goat Dyed
    • Hair length approx. 36 mm Full length approx. 151 mm
    • Closest match is the GSN-4 (6,000 yen) w/ hair length, ferrule shape and materials matching exactly.
  • Eye shadow L Brush: Brown Squirrel + Weasel
    • Hair length approx. 18 mm
    • This one was hard. The closest i got was finding the Y-3 (2,500 yen) and the Artist RE/BL-12-2 Eye Shadow L (2,500 yen). Both are made of pine squirrel mixed with weasel and 20 mm, so 2 mm longer. The Y-3 looks fuller and starts tapering earlier like the Azur L e/s brush. This Azur L e/s brush may actually be a twin of an eye brush that is not from Chikuhodo though.
  • Eye shadow M Brush: Canadian Squirrel
    • Hair length approx. 10 mm
    • Closest match is the Artist BL/RE-6-6 Eye Shadow M (2,500 yen) that is also  made with Cn. Squirrel, but 2mm longer than the brush in this set. However, this brush is discontinued (dc’d) and no longer available like their other pure Cn. sq eye brushes from the Artist line, the whole of which was dc’d recently.
  • Eyebrow Brush: Water Badger
    • Hair length approx. 9-11 mm
    • Similar to the Artist RE/BL-6-4 (2,700 yen) but appears less wide, though not less slanted (the RE/BL-6-4 is 7-11 mm long). Being in the Artist series, this is now dc’d, and quickly running out of stock.
  • Non-Retractable Lip Brush: Weasel
  • Brush Case: opened 200 x 185 mm; closed 200 x 90 mm (not including this in price calculations)

The values of the individual brushes in this set total up to 31,200 yen while the set costs 32,500 yen. No savings at all, in fact you are paying 4% more than if you brought all of them alone, except you can’t buy some of them because they are of the dc’d Artist line. And yes i double checked my calculations because i was taken aback.

Some would argue that this isn’t fair because I didn’t include the cost of the case, but I didn’t do that last year either. And yes, the price for the Lumiere set was still a 7% savings compared to getting the equivalent brushes individually.

**Edit Oct 28, 2016: important update via a comment i received:

I’ve seen brown squirrel used for the KW-2 powder brush from their discontinued Kiwami Brush Set. A closer match might be the Eyeshadow Brush B by Addiction (a rumored Chikuhodo OEM), which also has the same combination of brown squirrel and weasel.

This would be pretty good news.  The retail price of the Addiction B eye shadow  brush (20 mm long, 2 mm longer) is 4,900 yen, which would push the value of this set into positive territory.

If the Addiction by Ayako brush is the closest match, the new individual total would be 33,600 yen. The difference of 1,100 yen between the individual price and the set price means a 3.4% value. Not much, but at least it’s in the green now.

This set might be worth getting if you are head over heels in love with the blue shimmers + shooting stars (?) on the handle, and don’t own any of the equivalent brushes.

Notes on Azur Set:

  1. I’ve no idea what brown squirrel in that large eye brush is. I’ve never seen it in Chikuhodo’s offerings until now. If anyone knows otherwise, please let me know! It might be Kazan squirrel which is really expensive and thus, pushed the price up.
  2. Looks like they really dug deep into their more obscure brushes this year. Last year’s price comparison (here) was a breeze because i had suspects that i could name off the top of my head. Last year’s large set was 34,600 yen (2,100 yen difference or 6% more) but had 7 brushes, four of which  (2 face, 2 eyes) were pure squirrel as opposed to the 1 lone, pure grey squirrel brush this year.
  3. I was disappointed to see that the lip brush this year is non-retractable. At least give it a cap to make it portable, please! Being able to protect the brush head makes a lip brush far more useful (for me anyways) as i can load up the brush in the morning with my lip color choice of the day, toss it in my bag willy-nilly, then pull it out and uncap for touch ups throughout the day… rather than bringing the whole tube of lipstick with me, risking the cap falling off and letting debris get in, or worse, having it get stolen, or lost. They do offer an Artist Series 4-2 Lip Brush with a cap (for 1,800 yen), which i would have preferred.
  4. According to a commenter (thanks a bunch by the way) “Chikuhodo lists the shape of the Azur blush brush as 丸, which they also use to describe the shape of other completely round ferrules like the ones found on the R-C2.” So it is fairly safe to say that the GSN-4 is a proper match.

[Beautylish price analysis coming soon]

Now for the other one:

The Violet Set

The Violet Set (15,500 yen) is the second, smaller set that CDJapan is also taking pre-orders for and has a shimmery violet theme with the same chain-of-stars accents. There are 400 sets available.  It contains three brushes that form a pretty well rounded set for face, cheeks and eye.

  • Powder/Blush Brush: Gray Squirrel + Saikoho Goat Dyed
  • Highlight Brush: Goat Saikoho Dyed
    • Hair length approx. 30 mm
    • Closest match i can find is the Takumi T-5 (5,000) yen and even this one is really off. 8 mm off to be exact. The Violet highlight brush starts tapering much earlier (lower down on the ferrule end) and ends in a finer point)
  • Eye shadow Brush: Gray Squirrel
    • Hair length approx. 12 mm
    • It’s either a clone of the M-5 (2,600) or G-4 (2,400 yen) both of which are pure grey sq. and 12 mm long. The M-5 is dc’d but the G-4 is here to stay. I mentioned the M-5 because it was the other grey sq. brush by Chikuhodo with 12 mm bristles

There is no brush  case with this set

I’ll be doing several combination comparisons because i have no effing clue which powder brush is the closest. To make my life easier I’m taking the average of the eye brushes and using 2,500 yen for my calculations. I’m assigning a value of 3,900 yen to the highlight brush. See note #3 for how i came up with this number. I came up with a value for a hypothetical mixed bristle Artist 20-2 brush.  See note #4 to see how I arrived at the value I used in my calculation. **Edit Oct 28, 2016: I did not think the original version of my first chart through enough. The chart has since been updated to reflect adjust prices for the G-8, MK-3 and GSN-1 (to approximate their values as if they were 45 mm long rather than 55 mm long as the original chart was based off of). I will not be showing calculations for these since they were simple proportions like in note #3.

The reason why i did these adjustments is because the length differences between the violet brushes and the permanent ones are quite significant and hair length is correlated with price. I consider anything more than 3 mm in difference to be significant as it is readily visible. I was not able to properly adjust for the cost of having saikoho mixed in rather than sokoho, which would increase the value of the brush some, so takes these calculations with a grain of salt.

Mx 20-2 G-8 MK-3 GSN-1
Powder brush 6470 7400 9400 9800
Highlight brush 5000
Eye brush 2500
Individual Total 13970 14900 16900 17300
Violet Set Total 15500
Difference -1530 -600 1400 1800
Percent Savings -9.87097 -3.87097 9.032258 11.6129

**Edit Oct 30, 2016: We owe many thanks to the reader who gave me this critical information:

I’ve tried to calculate the width of the powder brushes using Chikuhodo’s website description that I printed. For the purple powder: the hair is 45 mm long, this equals 30 mm on the printed paper. On the printed paper, the hair at the base of the ferrule has a width of 17 mm on my ruler, making it 25,5 mm on the real brush. For the Azur powder, my calculations give a 27.5 mm width at the base of the ferule on the real brush. But I don’t have the thickness.

This would mean that the closest brush (without knowing the thickness), at 26 mm wide is the MK-3 powder brush. You would hypothetically be saving 9% by getting the set, but it is really hard to give a value to an all-new brushes.

This set is intriguing due to the never-seen-before brushes (and that gorgeous purple color), but i woudn’t cry over missing out if my credit-card fu ends up being rusty and too slow to snag a set.

Violet Notes

  1. These brushes seem to be novel Chikuhodo offerings. They usually do gray sq + sokoho combos. There are no brushes with grey sq + saikoho in their current line up. They don’t have a goat (saikoho or sokoho) highlight brush as short as the one in the azure set either.
  2. I really wish they have given width measurements so that i could narrow down and select the closest powder brush in their regular brushes available all year round. If anyone gets this set, please let me know the width of the ferrule on the face brush!
  3. **
    T-5 Violet HL
    38 30
    5000 3947.368  = 30*5000/38
  4. ** To calculate what a mixed bristled Artist BL/RE-20-2  (9,500 yen) would cost, i compared the MK-1 and MK-3
    1. the MK-1 is 52mm long, pure squirrel and costs 16,000 yen
    2. the MK-3 is 55 mm long, mixed and costs 11,500 yen
    3. if the MK-1 was 55 mm long it would cost 16,900 yen proportionally
    4. Now that the brushes are “equals”, we can see that using mixed hairs translates to a 32% decrease in value compared to pure sq.
    5. here’s a visual
      MK1 MK3 MK1 (55) MK3
      52 55 55 55
      16000 11500 16923.08  – 11500  = 5425
      MK1 (55)
      5425  / 16900  = 0.321006
       BL/RE-20-2
      32% of 9500  = 3040
      Mixed 20-2
      9500  – 3030  = 6470

[Beautylish Price Analysis Coming Soon]

Maybe they got pissed at me price snooping last year and decided to make my life hard this year. (Ha! As if they even know who i am, or read my price analysis).  The more logical explanation is that they are testing the market strength of the Chikuhodo name and trying to gauge general consumer interest toward their brand and  less popular brushes.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2016 in Grab It Before It's Gone, 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?

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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.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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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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