The Big Koyudo Post

Friday, March 2, 2018

I've been looking back at some of my brush purchases of last year and internally went yikes as I realized I had been meaning to post about some of them for over 13 months. I ordered my first Koyudo brushes last year and aside from mentioning some of these in passing on Instagram, I never really posted pictures or raved about the quality of their Kolinsky hair brushes. In the meantime, quite a few of their brushes that were limited edition went out of stock, so I really wanted to write about these as the last few remaining stock starts to dwindle.

I could have split this up into a few posts but I couldn't quite decide how to group brushes together. Instead you get a giant post!

Koyudo is a brand of brushes made in Kumano, the artisan brush capital of the world. They make quite a few lines of brushes, some are short handled for travel, some lines I would describe as practical, and some lines are the ultimate luxury in fude, costing hundreds of dollars. I stick to the low and mid range brushes, as I'm unable to part with ~$150+ for a single brush, even if it is beautifully lacquered and inlaid with delicate designs.

First, let's look at the short handled C Standard range. This is a great range for someone who wants to start using more brushes and try different hairs.

Left to right: C019 Shift, C , C

C019 (~$32)is a duofiber white goat/synthetic brush. Super soft synthetic hairs balanced with resilient, but fine goat. Really great if you like soft glowy highlighter instead of a sharp glint. Very pleased with how this feels when sweeping across my face. I also use it for setting powder. 

The C011(~$15) is currently my favorite pointed pencil. The taper comes to a nice tight little point, and the goat is not coarse at all, making a great brush for smudging along the lash line and for deepening crease and Vs in a very small, controlled manner. It seems small, but it's been immensely useful. I'm now realizing that white goat bristles against the marble doesn't show up very well. Will try to update with a contrasting background.

C006 Medium Eye Shadow. This is a kolinsky bristled brush. Flat and small, it's good for general purpose brush for small applications of color. Smooth hairs. ~$27 because of the hairs, which seems steep (relative to the prices of other brushes in this line) but this brush gets so much mileage. 

CB Fu Pa 02 and  Pearl White Cleansing Brush.

The Fu Pa 02 is the densest brush I have. The white goat hairs are densely packed to the point where the curvature of the perimeter feels almost like a cut brush, because the hairs form almost a complete hard curve (sounds like nonsense, right?). It uses the same brush head as the Fu-Pa02 Regular, but instead of a rounded glossy handle you get one that is flat and matte at a lower price. No issues with shedding. I use this for powder foundation, I use one side of it to pat powder against my face.

I'm head over heals in love with the Pearl White Cleansing Brush. For reasons unknown, I greatly envy men and their beard brushes. The whole ritual of coaxing dense shaving foam to form with a badger brush and shaving soap- I want in on this, only hold the mustache, please. I now get to have this self indulgent cleansing routine with this ridiculously cute little brush. It also comes in a pink handle. If you're buying stuff, it should make you happy, no?

I've been whipping my Tatcha Gentle Enzyme Cleansing Powder into a bubbly lather, then using the brush to gently whisk it around a damp face. The result was skin that was extra soft. I'm not sure how, but it was definitely better than washing with my hands. I figure that this is a more consumable product than my makeup brushes, all that water and cleanser is gonna give it a shorter lifespan. But what a great life of massaging my face it will have.

CW range. 

These are long handled brushes with sleek black ferrules. 

CW-10 is the only brush I have two of in my stash right now. Made of the smooooothest Kolinsky hairs, it offers the user so much control and precision for the size. You might be thinking that it looks like any old rounded flat brush but I promise you, Kolinsky is in its own ballpark. A bit later in this post, I have pictures that hopefully illustrates the difference. CW10 is 3000 yen (or around $28). I initially balked a bit at paying that much for what looks like a basic brush. It's so exceptional, I now have two. Sometimes I use it as an all in one brush; I'll clean it between colors but I can do a whole eye look with just this all star. Place color, blend out, emphasize. All doable. It's currently my favorite eye brush, beating out the previous ArtNet sable socket brush. 

CW-07 is a powder/blush brush, 3500 yen ($33). It's made of white goat that is of medium softness. This one shed a little bit at the beginning so I'm not super enthused about it. I mostly used this with powder foundation.

Koyudo also makes single brushes with and without their logo, I've picked up three of these.

On the left is the L Kolinsky brush. It has an inky black handle that has emerald green sparkles, they really catch your eye in direct sunlight. It's a little larger and a bit bulkier than most of my eye brushes of that shape, but the kolinsky means it moves across my lids with ease (see below for explanation). The stock photo on the site makes it look tapered, but after a wash the rounded shape fills out. I highly recommend this brush as one to lay down brow bone color, one of my favorite Koyudo purchases.

Next it, the black handle with silver ferrule is a now discontinued weasel brush. Nothing noteworthy about it, this is actually my swatching brush.

The white handled pine squirrel brush was also a limited time special buy. It's got great hairs, but the issue I have with pine squirrel is the shaping, the hairs are more disorderly than other materials.

I guess I have a type of brush that I can't help but purchase (over purchase? Let's not go there.). These five Koyudo brushes are pretty similar in shape, They're all long rounded flat mops. They are however immensely different in action.

This one is kolinsky. As I push on the tip hairs, you'll notice that the hairs remain firmly upright, only the soft tips bend. I really like kolinsky and sable bristles for color placement, because eye shadow goes exactly where I intended. The brush can be huge but the control you have over the tip makes it a breeze to use.

This one is weasel. While it's soft, the hairs give away much easier than kolinsky or sable. The same amount of pressure makes all the bristles bend over and sway, especially the hairs furthest away from the point of skin interaction. On the eyelid, this translates to less precision as the hairs splay outwards. I end up using the side if I use this brush, more of a patting/packing on motion than using the tips to apply eyeshadow. This tends to be much less precise, more shadow gets on my eye than I want. Using brushes like this makes me take eyeshadow far too high on my eyelid. Pine squirrel behaves similarly, but with more elastic, glossy hairs.

For further explanation of hair types, this guide by CDJapan is pretty informative.

On the whole, these brushes are top notch quality. Different lines may use different materials, but overall they are very well constructed and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Koyudo as a brand.

Every single one of these brushes was purchased from CDJapan. Actually, I'm not sure where else you can get Koyudo brushes, aside from a private shopper or forwarding service. They have a free international express delivery if your order is over 12000 yen (~$115) and that promotion has been active for as long as I've been buying from CDJapan (it used to be 10000 yen in late 2016). There's also additional reward points back, each 100 points equals roughly a dollar. If you hit the shipping minimum, you'll probably earn about 500 points and another 300 points when it ships. This is brilliant on their part because I feel perpetually compelled to spend those points and place another order.

Whew. If you made it all the way through this post, I applaud you! There aren't very reviews of Koyudo brushes out there which meant that most of these were very "blind" buys for me. Hopefully this post helps anyone out there considering these very well made brushes!

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