Get yourself some snacks or nonperishable canned goods because this is a monster post! Welcome back to part 2 of the ‘Japanese Brush Starter Kit’, today we’re talking face brushes! In an attempt to make sense of the vast variety of brushes available, I’ve broken it down to 10 different categories so you can customise your own ‘face brush kit’ 🙂 I’ve linked stockists for each individual brush so click the blue text to purchase!
NB: Brush preferences vary greatly so I’ve tried to cover the popular options with emphasis on my favourites (which tend to be Japanese made, hence the title). I’ve also listed some more affordable/widely available options that might not be my first pick, in fact, some of them I actively dislike because the fibres are not soft enough for my liking (said brushes will be marked with a ** double asterisk) but they’re great shapes and you may not be as concerned about softness. Or maybe you are, in which case consider the shape but steer clear of that particular model.
Face Powder Brush
A soft, fluffy brush used to dust powder over the face to set a liquid foundation. The denser the brush the heavier the powder application so I tend to opt for ‘loosely packed’ brushes for a very fine veil. Size is also a factor – if you powder your entire face it might make sense to select a larger brush whereas I powder strategically so my preferences lean towards smaller shapes.
Wayne Goss – The Air Brush // Limited edition but I think it’ll become permanent (no insider knowledge on that comment FYI). Just as soft as the SUQQU Cheek (aka softest brush in the world) with a slightly flatter ‘paddle’ shape. I use it interchangeably with the SUQQU Cheek and it retails for 35USD. Bloody miracle.
SUQQU – Cheek Brush // A holy grail for uberrrrr fine powder application but at ~190USD… just get the Wayne Goss Air Brush. SUQQU Cheek review here.
Chikuhodo – Z4 // A bit denser than the SUQQU Cheek but equally soft (SUQQU Cheek and Z4 comparison here).
Rae Morris – 22 Pro Powder // My top pick for a bigger powder brush, very loosely packed and never disrupts foundation.
Zoeva – 101 Luxe Face Definer // A bit dense and big for my liking but not bad.
NARS – Yachiyo 27** // Brilliant shape and loosely packed but scratchy to touch 🙁 Many love it though!
Wayne Goss – 02 Brush // Candlestick shape, rather small and very soft. I prefer it for highlight.
It Cosmetics – CC+ Double Airbrush Ball Powder Brush // Softest option I’ve come across in a synthetic fibre. I can’t find this online 🙁
Under Eye Powder Brush
A tapered brush used to apply powder under the eyes in order to set concealer. To me, softness is of paramount importance since the fibres are likely to sweep the delicate lash line. For baking or liberal powder application, go for a dense brush OR a sponge.
Wayne Goss – The Air Brush // Tapered paddle shape allows for precision around the eyes. Soft like a bunny. I bought two backups lol.
Hakuhodo – G5533 // A crease brush that is useless for eyeshadow because it’s so floppy. Great for strategic powder application under the eyes though!
Beauty Blender – Blusher Sponge // Smaller version of the original. Great for the baking-esque techniques (to see my low key baking method, click here).
Rae Morris – 6 Deluxe Pro Blender // Missed this photoshoot opportunity because it’s at home! Another great paddle style brush.
Zoeva – 114 Luxe Face Focus // Very similar shape to the Rae Morris 6 but not as silky. Decent alternative.
Zoeva – 134 Luxe Powder Fusion // Narrow brush for sweeping powder under the eyes.
MAC – 224 // Aka, any large crease brush. This one is a bit scratchy but you can buy it anywhere 🙂
Put very simply, highlight brushes most often resemble a candlestick shape or a fan shape. Fan brushes have a very narrow profile so offer a confined, straight placement that is ideal for the tops of the cheekbones. Candlestick shapes deposit product in a slightly larger placement with more diffused edges. I love both but if you’re a minimalist, the candlestick shape is more versatile (also brilliant as an undereye powder brush or contour brush, just clean off your brush between functions).
Chikuhodo – Z2 // My top pick for a candlestick shape. Ridiculously soft and blends as it applies so no stripe-y highlight.
Rae Morris – 25 Highlighter // The fibre looks scratchy but it’s actually very soft 😉 Slightly smaller than the next option.
Hakuhodo – J4004 // Another solid fan brush. Soft, washes well etc.
Zoeva – 129 Luxe Fan // If you’re looking to save cash, the Zoeva fan brush is fab. I often use it thinking I’ve grabbed the Hakuhodo and barely notice a difference.
Hakuhodo – B5521 // I meant to photograph the Wayne Goss 02 but same shiz really, any candlestick shape can slot in here.
Many options here depending on preference: smaller, larger, flat paddle style, rounded, pointed, angled and so on. I have naturally red cheeks so I like my blush brushes small (precise placement) and not at all dense (light application).
SUQQU – Cheek Brush // Ideal for SUPER pigmented blushers. This is one arena where the SUQQU trumps the Wayne Goss Air Brush as the rounder head is more conducive to blush placement.
Chikuhodo – Z4 // My most used blush brush. Perfect for your standard moderately pigmented blush. Leans small but not as petite as the SUQQU Cheek.
Hakuhodo – B505 // My pick for a larger blush brush. Flat side can be used for larger application, tip can be used for more precision.
NARS – Yachiyo 27** // Again, awesome shape but scratchy.
Zoeva – 126 Luxe Cheek Finish // Paddle style and rather dense. Definitely for those who favour a strong flush.
It Cosmetics – French Boutique Angled Blush Brush // Awesome synthetic option. Angled and soft.
Typically a larger, fluffy brush used to dust a warm powder bronzer around the perimeter of the face. If you like your bronze to be of the Bahamas variety, you’re gonna want a large and dense tool. If you have heavy-hand-syndrome, compensate with a duo fibre or loosely packed brush that builds colour slowly. As per my face brush inclinations, I like them small (minds out of the gutter, people). Some favourites
It Cosmetics – CC+ Double Airbrush Ball Powder Brush // My pick for a large bronzer brush for the rare occasions where I’m seeking Becca-esque beachy vibes. Duo fibre allows for gradual and foolproof application with no harsh edges.
Chikuhodo – Z4 // Most used bronzer brush for everyday purposes, primarily because the fibres are so delicate that they never disrupt my foundation. Comparatively small so best for small faces 🙂
Zoeva – 101 Luxe Face Definer // The density shifts my base underneath but I know Sharon loves it for bronzer.
It Cosmetics – Heavenly Luxe Wand Ball Powder Brush // Why are It Cosmetics names so ridiculously verbose? Anyways, lovely synthetic brush – large but not dense.
MAC – 187 // Duo fiber for soft bronzer application.
It Cosmetics – Jumbo Powder Brush // Name says it all. If you take your bronzer down your neck and chest and to your toes… Don’t apologise to anyone, my friend.
Common contour shapes: squared, candlestick or petite domed brush (my personal favourite). The natural contours of our face (hollows of the cheekbones, under the jaw, sides of the nose etc) are smaller than the flat planes of our face so contour tools ought to offer more precision than a bronzer brush, for example.
SUQQU – Eyeshadow L // Actually a large crease brush but I adore it for shading the very hollows of the cheekbone. I will admit that this sort of sculpting best suits already prominent cheekbones, if your features are rounded or could be described as gorgeous baby faced, this tool will likely leave you looking stripe-y.
Rae Morris – 5 Flawless Shader // A spinoff of the square shape but rounded and tapered and far more forgiving IMO. Fab quality and results in a more diffused contour than the Eyeshadow L.
NARS – ITA** // The original square brush, scratchy but not dense. I’d recommend an upward flicking motion as opposed to a furious back and forth motion because harsh edges yo.
NARS – Yachiyo 27** // Broken record, great shape but so scratchy.
Charlotte Tilbury – Powder & Sculpt Brush** // I acquired this hoping it would be the better version of the Yachiyo 27 but alas, equally scratchy 🙁
Zoeva – 109 Face Paint // Softer than the NARS ITA but very dense so approach carefully.
MAC – 224 // Or any large crease brush that would substitute for the SUQQU.
Liquid Foundation Brush
I know this is a Japanese brush starter kit and I own numerous liquid foundation brushes from Japanese brands but y’know what? They were all underwhelming. I favour the good ol’ sponges and synthetic options from brands like Real Techniques and It Cosmetics (the gold standard of synthetic brushes, if you’re asking!). Perhaps obvious to some of you but I’m nothing if not thorough – liquid formulas are best suited to synthetic tools as opposed to natural fibres because the latter want to absorb all liquids.
Beauty Blender – Original Sponge // I’m sure you’re all familiar with this tool so I won’t bore you. If I had to pick one foundation tool aside from fingers, this would be it.
Real Techniques – Complexion Sponge // Close runner up to the beauty blender and not quite as bouncey.
Real Techniques – Contour Brush // If you only apply foundation to certain areas of the face, this size will float your boat.
Real Techniques – Buffing Brush // Not as dense as most of the buffing brushes on the market, which I appreciate.
It Cosmetics – Dual Ended Complexion Perfection Brush // Slightly softer than the RT counterparts, highly recommend all It Cosmetics synthetics.
Zoeva – 104 Buffer // Flat buffing brush. Some people find that dense foundation brushes provide more coverage, on my skin they just push product around so not a fave.
MAC – 190 // An example of a traditional paddle foundation brush. They’re not trendy right now but awesome for laying flaky areas flat (where buffing motions exacerbate the problem).
MAC – 187 // This duo fibre foundation brush was all the rage a few years back, ideal for light coverage.
Cream Products Brushes
While we’re on the topic of synthetics, they do a bloody good job for cream blush, bronzer, highlight etc. I’m less
obsessive particular in this category, I just grab whichever is the right size or if we’re being honest, whichever is clean.
Beauty Blender, Real Techniques Complexion Sponge, Real Techniques Contour, Real Techniques Buffing, It Cosmetics Dual Ended Complexion Perfection Brush, Hakuhodo G544 Discontinued, It Cosmetics CC+ Double Airbrush Ball Powder, Zoeva 105 Luxe Highlight, It Cosmetics Radiance Angled.
Here are some brushes that are used with a cream or liquid concealer to conceal the undereyes or larger areas of the face (pigmentation etc). Two themes emerge: flat brushes and fluffier brush (plus hybrids of the two). If you watch my tutorials, you’ll know that I almost always place undereye concealer with the applicator and blend with a sponge – pretty straightforward – but I figured I’d give you some brush options anyways 🙂
Spot Concealing Brushes
Spot concealing refers to pinpoint concealer application over blemishes or marks. Technically, any fine eyeliner brush should get the job done but… I’m neurotic about spot concealing. To watch a demo on how I spot conceal, click here and fast forward to 3:30.
Chanel – 24 // The elusive 24… Perfectly tapered for precision yet soft enough to scribble and blend edges. And discontinued 🙁 Have been looking for a dupe for years and I’m seriously considering manufacturing my own.
Visign Pro – 26 // Purchased this one in Amsterdam and it’s my second favourite. A tiny flat brush with a little give… but no Chanel 24.
Eyeliner brush // Aka, any fine eyeliner brush.
Ecotools – Smudge Brush // Synthetic, a tad large for my liking.
Royal & Langnickel – Mini Smudger // Nice but not soft enough to rub over an ouchy pimple. Major quality control issues, I’ve owned three and they’re nothing alike.
Hakuhodo – 007 // Aka, any fine eyeliner brush.
LM – Smokey Eye Liner Brush // Perfectly tapered but stiff AF.
Phew. This post is a true mark of my obsessive personality, I can only laugh. Hope you found it helpful, feel free to leave any questions in the comment section! 100% honest moment – this blog doesn’t contribute bank at all, I create this content purely because I want to chat with you 🙂
NB: Some of the brushes in this post were sent to me for consideration and many were purchased with my own moneys. I’ve been collecting brushes for 10 years so I can’t even tell you which lol.