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Recently, I upgraded my makeup storage; my makeup fripperies now live in two large Alex 9 Drawers from IKEA (I swear I’m going somewhere with this). After meticulously categorising every genre of my collection, every product type was given a drawer and alphabetised (no, I’m kidding…but I considered it).

As I beamed at my new unit as only a makeup addict would, I kept coming back to the drawer designated to my Hakuhodo brushes. I firmly decided, it was my favourite drawer. Let me tell you why.

If you recall, I purchased an ample number of Hakuhodo brushes at IMATS Sydney 2012. It was my first legit encounter with the brand and I was like a child in a Willy Wonka factory. I’ve been using them incessantly since then and now that I’ve kinda not really wrapped my head around their preposterously large selection, I bring you my thoughts.

The lowdown on Hakuhodo Brushes

The head office and manufacturing plant lies just east of Hiroshima, Japan. With an emphasis on craftsmanship and quality, Hakuhodo brushes have been dubbed the Rolls Royce of makeup brushes. While I do believe there are other brushes of comparable quality, what sets Hakuhodo apart is that they are easily accessible (to a certain degree, you won’t find them at your local store but they are available online and have stands at makeup conventions). Despite providing brushes on a mass scale, all brushes are hand crafted, using carefully selected hairs from China and Europe.

This is my quick brief, you can find a full analysis of hair types and brush series at Diabolus In Cosmetica (run, don’t walk).

Why are Hakuhodo brushes awesome?

The variety
Fo real, every shape/size/application you could possibly imagine.

Brushes are not laser cut
If you think of an eyelash, the base of the individual strand is dense before it tapers to a very fine tip. Most of the natural hair brushes on the market are shaped by laser mechanisms, which slice off the tips of the hairs. On the contrary, Hakuhodo brushes are crafted by arranging the hairs to construct the shape while preserving the soft and tapered tips. Craftsmanship, people!

They are soft
I’m just going to say that they feel like a bunny. They are the softest brushes you will ever touch- I think that covers it. There lies a notion that soft brushes are not as functional as they don’t pick up much product. I politely disagree- I think it is more a (complex) function of density, resistance and softness of the brush head.

Incredible variety of hair types
For every application, a hair type is selected based on characteristics. For soft and sheer application, you may opt for Kazan Squirrel. For an eyebrow brush with a stiff and resilient form, Water Badger is the better option. You get the gist. Full explanation of each hair type here.

They do not shed
This is a bold statement, I haven’t tried every Hakuhodo brush (read: broke) but not one of the brushes I own have shed a single hair.

They’re reasonably priced
I say this with reservation, Hakuhodo brushes can range anywhere from $20 to $250. Bern poses a valid observation: MAC 109 currently retails for $35.00USD – its Hakuhodo counterpart, the Hakuhodo 210, is only $36.00USD. I can say with confidence that the Hakuhodo equivalent is far, far superior.

No, you cannot touch them in store (unless you frequent IMATS) and yes, you have to research thoroughly before ordering them online. Personally, the endeavor has been whole-heartedly worthwhile.

Onto my second Hakuhodo haul! I purchased these online and opted for the international shipping + tracking option. They arrived on my doorstep (in Australia) within 5 days.

Left to right:
J4004 (fan brush, highlighter perhaps?)
Kokutan Eyeshadow L (Imma try contour with this one)
B505 (blush brush)
Yachiyo Large Pointed (multi-purpose face brush)
J5523 (known as the MAC 217 dupe, but superior by ten fold)
J242G (flat shading brush, somewhat similar to a MAC 239)
G5515 (teeeenyyy tiny pencil brush for precise eye work)
J521-d1 (mebbe for tightlining? or lower lash shading? we shall find out)

Hakuhodo Brushes- The Lowdown and Haul

A bit closer, shall we?

Hakuhodo Brushes- The Lowdown and Haul

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Hakuhodo Brushes- The Lowdown and Haul

You may notice that I have labelled these- this is due to the fact that they have no markings to indicate brush name/number. Perhaps my only complaint.

Geeky reviews of my first Hakuhodo lot are in the making.

Tell me about your favourite Hakuhodo brushes! I need MOAR!


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  1. I need to stop looking at Hakuhodo brushes. I saw them at IMATS last week and after seeing the similar MAC 226 brush in your past Hakuhodo post combined with the 239 dupe here, they’re very tempting to get

  2. I love the ones you bought! The B505 is tied only with the Shu 20 for my favorite blush brushes ever. And they’re completely different shapes, so… yeah, I’m glad I own both πŸ˜€

    My favorite Hakuhodo eye brushes are the J5523 (I own two, might need more) and the weasel/synthetic mix brushes, specifically the 235. It’s a laydown, but it somehow blends while it applies. I love it. I have only 1 235 but two of the smaller weasel/synthetic ones. They’re slightly bigger than the 242, which is also great!

    I actually just bought the B214 for contour – I think it’s sliiiightly smaller than the 212, but my face is pretty small, so I think it’ll be fine. I’m excited to try it! Of course, I still want the G5521, which looks like it might possibly be a similar brush to that Chikuhodo? So: more Hakuhdos are in my future! It’s a GOOD thing.

    1. The Shu is flatter than the B505 – shape-wise it’s relatively similar to the MAC 116 but the hair quality is eons better and I like the shape more.

      That’s the one! I think it would be a good multi-purpose brush, and right now the Chiku is way out of my budget. It also looks bigger than the brush I’d want. The G5521 looks like a better fit.

      1. Yeah, I haven’t purchased any Chikuhodo yet because purchasing them isn’t as straight forward as Hakuhodo. And they’re like…triple the price. One day, maybe!

  3. Ooh, you got several of the brushes on my wishlist! I want the B505 & Kokutan L, both to use as blush brushes actually. And I’d love to try a Yachiyo.

    I do have the 5515 baby pencil brush and it is seriously awesomely awesome – you will LOVE if you don’t already, and the one that’s similar to the 239, which is nice, but not a specific favorite.

    1. Hey Emi πŸ™‚
      I only have first impressions so far but B505 seems perfect for blush. Not floppy but still very soft. I think the Kokutan L might be a tad small/dense for blush but maybe if you’re using a quite sheer blush?
      The Yachiyo was a pleasant surprise to me- I purchased it to replace my NARS Yachiyo (scratchyyyy D:) but turns out, it’s a fair bit denser and I think it would work well for blush, among various other applications.
      What do you use the 5515 for, out of curiosity? I’m thinking maybe smudging eyeliner and intricate crease work but I’m not entirely sure.

  4. I’ve been infected and now I have to order some. How do you store them, do they arrive with a little plastic covering or something to keep the bristles nice?

    1. Hey Suz!
      Welcome to the club πŸ˜› I store them flat in a brush roll. They arrive in plastic sleeves but I personally wouldn’t store them in that. If you’re concerned about keeping the bristles in good condition, I suggest looking into brush guards (google that) to keep them in shape while they dry.
      Hope that was helpful!

  5. I own a small army of hakuhodo brushes, some of which are still enroute to me! I actually used pics from your first haul to help me pick out my first order, the kokutan T, the duo fibre cheek brush, a narrow horse hair brush for precise work and the contour brush (black hair). Hopefully you know which one I mean by my descriptions! So far, I’m very happy.

    The only brushes I have discovered that are softer are the Suqqu brushes – I have the M eyeshadow brush and cheek brush. Both beyond incredible and too soft for words, but still functional! They cost me an arm and a leg, luckily I wasn’t disappointed!

    1. Hi Elizabeth πŸ˜€
      I’m glad to hear my first pictures helped you out with your purchase! Now to review all those brushes…lol.
      I’m yet to try SUQQU brushes but I hear they’re being discontinued? I hope not because I wanted to purchase some next time I visited UK. Thanks for letting me know your thoughts on those, I will try to get my hands on some.

    2. Oh no! I know the suqqu eyeshadow brush S was d/c, I haunts heard the whole line is going, I certainly hope that’s not so!!

  6. Hello
    I am so happy to see this post-I have been researching these brushes as I ‘ need’ to make a purchase soon. My question to you is do they have a liquid foundation brush good for buffing in ? I was just about to make a Tom Ford blush brush purchase ( heard they might make his brushes)

  7. these brushes are so pretty, i can’t handle it! i’m glad you had fun organizing πŸ™‚ I’m scared of the ikea alex drawers because i don’t want to know if i can fill one up lol. Also, if i can’t fill it up with my current collection, i’m afraid i will want more just so i could fill up the drawers! LOL!

    1. Hey there, Joyce!
      Funny you should say that, I purchased two under the premise that I would never have an organisational issue again. Turns out, my collection has been multiplying because of all the extra room! It’s very, very dangerous πŸ˜›

  8. Haku! I have not decided if I need to put the names on my hakuhodo brushes yet. I have G5515, G5514, G5528, J146, J142, J210, J110, J5523, K007, and a small pointed yachiyo. I picked the G5514 before I ended up getting the 5515. I like them both very much, but I ended up getting the 5515 for more precision and control. the 5528 I do not use all of the time, but it is great for packing on color in my outter V and is a really powerful blender if I need to smoke something out that is stubborn. I picked the J142 first, and then purchased the J146 after. Wonderful blending crease brushes, however do to the shape of my eyes, I actually need a smaller crease brush than I expected to I use the 146 more in my crease, and the 142 for blending out softly. I picked up the J210 as a replacement for my Mac 109 contour, I think I need a different kind of contour brush, as a whole, but this is a seriously powerful blender for the face. I don’t know if it is meant to be used this way, but since I switched to powder foundation recently I have been using this to blend in my powder. It’s been dreamy. The J210 has been a wonderful blush brush, it’s been soft and blends wonderfully. It’s replaced my other blush brushes completely. It’s even done a great job with my pigmented blushes from fyrinnae. 5523 is the mac 237 dupe but far better. Nothing feels so soft. more densely packed so it blends even better than it’s mac version. I would give up wearing liner completely if I had to use anything other than my k007 now. The yachiyo is small, like very small, the handle is shorter the brush as a whole is smaller than the large yachiyo, I think I thought the handle would still be as long, but it isn’t. My Nars yachiyo was scratchy too. I actually use the small yachiyo for my highlighter, I thought I was going to use it for a contour, instead I started using my Nars ita as a contour (I was using it for highlighting before) It’s not as soft as any of the haku. However, it has been such a great brush I don’t know if I want to replace it and get a haku version of the itabake instead. Even though I know the Hakuhodo version with be better.

    1. Oh I couldn’t remember the names without labeling- I’m a scatter brain lol. 142 is a big bigger but unless I’m doing intricate crease work, I find the tapered head to work well for the crease. I do really like the 5523 but I’m wondering if there is something a tad denser?
      The NARS Yachiyo is sooo scratchy, the Haku alternative is much better, I agree. It is more dense, though.

      Thanks for all your thoughts, Nikole πŸ™‚

  9. Great post Karima, you influenced my first hak purchase! I’m interested in how you clean yours? What products etc

    1. Hey Michelle πŸ™‚
      I clean my brushes with a gentle shampoo (currently using the Beauty Blender Cleanser) and the eye brushes I condition with any old hair conditioner. I always dry them in brush guards so they retain their shape.

  10. Hello,

    I am actually thinking about getting the orginal black 210 or the newer white J210. I always wanted to have this brush as many people are raving about its multipurpuse uses! I basically want to use it as a blush / contour / bronzer (soleil tan de chanel) brush. Which one do you think is better? The J210 is supposed to be even softer but does it do the same good job as the 210 or do you loose control of the bristles because of the softness? I actually wanted the 210 because I was so convinced of it but when I read that the J210 is softer then why donΒ΄t get an even softer version with the same qualities???

    I would very appreciate your help as I am finding myself in a serious crisis =p!!

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hey Monique!
      As far as I can remember, I don’t own the 210 or the J210, so I can’t really say for sure. I think you should read up on the various hair types and see what level of resistance they offer. Sorry I couldn’t be more help! xxkarima

  11. hello Karima,

    I have been following you like over a mounth and it is very helpfull so thank you for that. I’m building my brush collection new and really need your help. I’m considering to buy Kokutan Eye shadow Brush L for sheer eye shadow base all over it and like you, to contour and maybe powder under eyes. But the question is it really working for eye shadow base or is it too big for it? Would you buy it again in case you miss it?

    1. Hey Derin, welcome to Shameless Fripperies! πŸ™‚
      The Hakuhodo Eyeshadow L is way too large for eyeshadow base but works well as a contour. It’s a tad too large for under eye setting powder (or too large for my preferences, you might like it). It’s a versatile brush and I would repurchase it if I lost it or something πŸ™‚ xx

  12. Hey Karima! Lovely review on the Hakuhodo brushes. I have bought 5 of them so far and I’m loving them! Must get more.

    You say you store your brushes in the drawer? I typically store mine in a cup on my vanity/desk. What would be the advantages of storing them in the drawer/why do you typically do that? Does it make it harder to get ready fast? Thanks!!

    -Olivia F