Beauty, Buying Guides

The Best Japanese Makeup Brushes to Create the Ultimate Face

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST JAPANESE MAKEUP BRUSH

Ai (Love) Brush * KUMANO FUDE

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Another excellent brush for the face, we have the Ai (Love) face powder makeup brush. This is a true Japanese brand and is of excellent quality. The ultra premium face makeup brush is made of all natural super premium soft goat hairs.

The brush head width measures at 55mm or 2 3/16”, with a brush length of 140mm or 5 ½”, which by looking at the product online, you couldn’t tell that the brush is amply sized. The brush is optimal for dusting loose or pressed powder onto the face or body, which in turn airbrush-blends the makeup beneath it. This gorgeous brush is handcrafted in Kumano, Hiroshima in Japan and has been delicately crafted since 1846, making this brush an amazing addition to your collection. Obviously being handmade the price point for this brush is pretty up there. But if you’re looking for flawless application, this is the product for you. When applying face powder, this brush is so amazing that your powder application is rendered undetectable.

This brush is also really great for chin contouring given that it feathers the edges ever so softly along the jawline and leaves you with a much more natural look, because harsh contours is something we always want to avoid. No chinstrap moments with this brush. Another thing about the goat hair bristles besides it being soft to the touch, is the way it expertly holds the powder product. This would be great to use to apply translucent powder for your bake. Definitely a great brush to have in your collection.



e.l.f. Studio kabuki face brush

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When it comes to japanese face brushes, you really need to consider the care and attention that goes into making these works of art. Originally made for Kabuki actors, Japanese brushes truly are some of the finest quality makeup brushes you can find to expertly apply your makeup.

That being said there are some exceptions to the rules and with this I want to talk about E.L.F Cosmetics’ Kabuki face brush. E.L.F is one of my favorite go-to drugstore brands, not only for its affordability, but in that you’re not necessarily sacrificing high quality for its stellar price point.

The Kabuki brush is an anti-bacterial, synthetic Taklon brush which is softer and more absorbent and can be used with dry or wet products, and can provide either light or full coverage on the either the face or body with a flawless finish.

The compact brush is perfectly sized to allow for precise and controlled application of bronzer, powder or highlight on the skin. Great for travel, the brush measures 2.5 inches from brush to handle. One of the pros and cons of the brush itself is how tightly packed the bristles are, meaning that while it doesn’t shed as much, it may take an extra minute to completely clean the brush of product.

Given its size, price and versatility I think it’s worth to buy multiples of the product to use for different makeup products. An excellent buy on this list!

Shiseido -   Foundation Brush

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Now heading over to one of the most recognized Japanese beauty brands to ever exist, we have the Shiseido foundation brush. Growing up even as a kid not knowing much about makeup, Shiseido was always an iconic brand that was recognizable to me coming from an Asian household, and always seeing their counters in the mall.

This versatile foundation brush is great to use for all formulas of foundation, whether it’s a BB cream, or a thick full coverage foundation. This brush creates a natural finish with high coverage. Giving you that perfect no makeup, makeup look if you were looking to achieve that. Shiseido’s innovative technology and traditional Japanese brush-making techniques come to together to create the ideal foundation finish with this brush.

Perfect to liquid, cream, or powder foundations, this brush picks up all types of formulas like I mentioned, creating a uniform and impeccable finish. This product is also an Allure Magazine Best of Beauty Winner. A great thing about this brush is its compact size, making it great for travel, and I love brushes that are able to be packed lightly for on the go makeup touch ups.

Another plus about this brush’s small size is that it can also be used to blend in concealer around tight areas of the face like the nose and under the eyes so that it’s not distributing product too widely across the face. The brush diameter is about 1”, making it useful for even precise applications when not using it to blend foundation. A winner in my book.

Chikuhodo - Z-2 Highlight Brush

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Next up, we have a highlighting brush from the Japanese brand Chikuhodo. Originally founded in Kumano-Cho prefecture in Hiroshima, Japan (all the great Japanese brushes seem to come exclusively from the Kumano region!), Chikuhodo was originally developed by Tesshu, an artisan of makeup brushes. Their brushes uses select raw material coming from China, Russia, EU, Canada and beyond.

Their makeup brushes are all handcrafted, making this brush an expensive item. This Z series Z-2 highlighting brush is made with bristles from the hair of the gray squirrel. The bristles are 37mm in length, with the total length of the brush being 150mm. This highly luxurious brush is especially great for sensitive skin because of the gray squirrel hairs. As highlighting has exploded to the mainstream public in recent years, we couldn’t end this review without including a highlighting brush. Originally an industry trade secret for many years dating back to stage makeup application, highlighting has become an essential part of everyone’s makeup routine.

This highlighting brush with its soft bristles will perfectly apply any highlighter softly, yet still delivering top notch application to the skin. I love to use this brush over a fan brush, because I like to pack on highlight. This works perfectly when I want to apply my Jeffree Star Skin Frost, or Anastasia glowkit. A definite must for this collection of Japanese makeup brushes!

Shiseido - The Makeup Concealer Brush

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We have another brush product from Shiseido, this time it’s their concealer brush. It is a gently tapered brush that enables controlled, professional application of concealer. The brush is 5.75” long and is moderately priced. The bristles in this brush are synthetic, but definitely holds its shape.

It’s a great concealer brush in that it uniformly deposits concealer, and no tapping is required. The great thing about this brush is its precision and ability to hold its shape. The edge of the brush lets you put product exactly where you want it and makes it last a long time. Sometimes I like to apply concealer product directly with my fingers, but this brush allows more precise placement of product. Another place that I love using this brush is to clean up my eyebrows.

I typically use a dip brow pomade, and then after I’ve set my brows with powder I like to go back and line the tops and bottoms of my eyebrows with concealer. This brush does wonders for that effect, and then for the lower part of the eyebrows I blend the concealer down onto my eyelid and it also acts as a primer for shadow. Shiseido always delivers when it comes to their cosmetics, and the same can be said for their brushes. I highly recommend this concealer brush!

Kumano - Fude Buhna Cheek Brush

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Another makeup brush product from Kumano Fude is their cheek brush. This is an amazing brush to apply blush to your cheeks effortlessly. The brush bristles of this product are made of mohair. Mohair is a usually silk-like fabric or yarn made from the hair of the Angora goat.

If you’ve ever owned or worn a sweater or cardigan made of Angora/Mohair, then you know how seriously soft it is, meaning this brush will feel like you’re applying blush with silk. Being both durable and resilient, mohair is notable for its high luster and sheen, which has helped gain it the nickname “Diamond Fiber”.

Another great quality of the mohair bristles is that when applying powder to the face if you have oily skin, the fibers naturally reduce the appearance of shininess after a couple brush strokes, without irritating your skin as some blush brushes do irritate my skin.

This seems to be a pretty rare brush as well, as I do my research online there aren’t too many reviews, which leads me to believe that this brush is likely an industry secret amongst makeup professionals. This brush is so velvety soft you might run into a problem of putting on too much blush on your cheeks because you’ll want to keep feeling that soft mohair on your skin!

Shu Uemura -  Eye Liner Brush

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Keeping in line with Shu Uemura products, we have the natural portable eyeliner brush. The brush bristles are made of sable hairs. It’s a great travel friendly product due to its small size, with fine-shaped bristles for precise application of all types of eye shadow and eyeliner. One of the things I noticed about this brush is that it actually is a bit fluffier and opposed to a more precise pointed edge.

I believe this is due to the fact that in Asia, makeup is definitely not as heavy handed as it is elsewhere. The fluffiness of this brush allows for a softer and more diffused end result. Because of this, I think for more dramatic looks this would be a better brush to use to blend eyeshadow, or to smoke out shadow under the lash line.

However if you are going for the less is more look that is widely popular in Asia, then this would be the perfect blush to apply a sheer nude lip, or to gently apply a soft shadow look.

I also think that this brush would work great as a blending brush to create an ombre lip or the recently popular lollipop lip trend which started in South Korea.

Shu Uemura - Eyebrow Brush

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And now we move on to eyebrows. We have the Shu Uemura eyebrow brush made with synthetic bristles. For Asians, I know typically we have more sparse eyebrows, so eyebrows are an important component that will tie makeup altogether. Depending on what brow shape you like, this would be a perfect brush to add to your collection. Using the comb you can gently come the brow hairs to set it up.

What I do is comb the brow hair in the general shape I like to get them, and the I use the comb to help me trim any excess brow hairs by using brow scissors. The brush applicator is great to set a bold eyebrow by using either a brow pomade or powder. Shu Uemura is an iconic Japanese brand. When you think of Japanese cosmetic brands you either think of Shiseido or Shu Uemura. A little background on the brand, Shu Uemura became interested in hairstyling and makeup as a teenager after being severely ill and bedridden. He then enrolled in Tokyo Beauty Academy, becoming the only male student in a class of 130 pupils. After working on acclaimed movie sets as a makeup artist his first cosmetics product was developed in 1960 which was a cleansing oil. During the 1980s the brand Shu Uemura cosmetics was born, and the rest is history!​

Ai (Love) - Kolinksy HairLip Brush

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Now going back to Ai (Love), we have their ultra premium Kolinsky natural hair portable retractable flat square lip brush. This lip brush is impeccable and great for travel as well. It is made of full soft preium Kolinsky hair. The hair for this brush comes from the tail of the Kolinsky, which is a species of weasel rather than an actual sable.

The “finest” brushes are made from the male hair only, but most brushes have a mix of about 60/40 male-to-female hair. Kolinsky bristles tend to be pale red in color with darker tips. So as with all natural hair brushes, this product is not cruelty free, although you will be receiving a ultra high quality brush, with the scales of natural hair having the ability to pick up and distribute maximum payout of product. Like I said with the Ai (Love) face brush, each brush is handcrafted in Hiroshima, Japan making the price point of the product on the higher end of the spectrum. The brush head size is 9.5mm (⅜”) in length. The length of the brush measures 120mm whilst open (4 ¾”) and 118mm while closed (4 ⅝”). It is retractable like I mentioned, making it the perfect purse size. The model number of this brush design is TL-3.

The thing I love about lip brushes, as opposed to applying directly to lips from a tube or doe foot applicator, is that you get to really precision your lines. I always overline my lips, and when I use a lip brush, it blends the lip liner to the lip product seamlessly. Usually when I apply lip product directly from the tube or doe foot, I tend to get bleeding or feathering around the lines of my mouth, and for me using a lip brush eliminates that.

KUMANO-FUDE Heart-shaped Cleansing

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Up next is another Kumano Fude brush, but this time this brush is not used for makeup application, instead it is used for cleansing of the face. The brush is colored a soft pink and is the shape of a heart, making the brush cute beyond words!

The brush is heart shaped so that is distributes pressure so that it is easier on the skin. The concave heart shape is specially designed so that the brush is able to build lather quickly.

The brush is made of of a mix of natural goat hair as well as PBT synthetic fibers. Using the Kumano method of crafting brushes, these brushes are not cut to shape.

Typically in brush manufacturing if you see a brush like an angled brush or flat square brush tip, those are laser-cut, but not the Kumano brushes, which is the main reason why the brush has such a superior feel. Together with the blended goat and synthetic PBT bristles you get a superior feel to the brush while it still remains gentle on the skin.

The PBT bristles are set 3mm shorter than the goat hair, so that the only thing touching your skin is soft natural goat hair.

The goat hair is meant to be soft and flimsy to be gentle on the skin, while the PBT bristles allow it to keep its shape to help it stay dry, untangled and mold-free.

The brush is also the recipient of the Japanese People’s Honor Award, making this an amazing brush and showing you that brushes can come in many forms and uses!


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