Now you can finally caress and purchase an array of Hakuhodo brushes here in Singapore!
Arguably some of the best in the beauty realm, these hand-crafted makeup brushes are available for sale at the Hakuhodo Brush Up Fair at Takashimaya from now till 4 September 2013. Located at the beauty department (Level 1, opposite the Clarins counter), the pop-up retail space offers a fairly comprehensive range of the famed makeup tools, as well as brush rolls and makeup cases.
Hand-made in Kumano, Japan, the brushes (fude) are most notably known for their natural – uncut – hair tip; their craftsmen pick out every single hair strand without cutting it to shape, and bundle them together. Compared to mass-produced brushes with laser-cut tips that tend to be rougher and scratchier in comparison, uncut hair tips mean a more delicate/naturally-tapered end and a superior softness.
The 200 Series – With bouncy brush heads, quite a few of the brushes in this range are designed for cream or water-based products, so you will see many with synthetic fibres. Other hair types also appear in this series.
The Basic Series (B-Series) – This basic selection range has handles in 3 different sizes: standard (glossy black, champagne gold, silver and white), longer ones for professional use and shorter travel-sized ones (both in glossy black only). I only saw the black-handled ones at the fair yesterday.
The G Series – The distinguishing trait of this range is the innovative hair combinations such as blue squirrel hair + goat hair, blue squirrel hair + horse hair, goat hair + horse hair, as well as blends of these natural hairs with synthetic fibres. According to the BA, synthetic fibres offer some modicum of firmness to floppier/softer natural hairs.
The J Series – Featuring goat hair, horse hair, goat hair + synthetic fibres and horse hair + synthetic fibres, this range uses un-dyed natural hair – perfect for those who like clean-looking, white brush heads! As with the G series, moderate resilience comes from the blend of synthetic bristles with the natural fibres.
The K Series – This is a range that the brand recommends for beginners, though makeup artists use it too.
The Kokutan Series – A premium range, the handles are made of ebony wood which will improve as you use them and are perfectly weighted to offer you precise control. I love their black-on-black appearance and fell in love with a paddle brush for eyeshadow as soon as I held it, proving their claim of good-feel handles!
The S100 Series – This is the super-premium range featuring a wide variety of brush types. The S100 Vermillion brush range has gold-plated brass ferrules and vermillion-coloured wood handles, the broad-angled bases of the handles featuring a white phoenix, a reference to the brand’s name in kanji – 白鳳堂 (White Phoenix Company). The range looks luxe and Oriental but I’m not particular drawn to the colour gold, what more bright red and gold…it’s all a little too Chinese New Year for me and a touch loud for my taste. (And my wallet sighs in relief!)
Note: The S100 Black brush range has identical brush heads but glossy black wooden handles. I believe they’re exclusive to Japan; I don’t recall seeing them at Taka.
Japanese Traditions – In this range are traditional Japanese brushes including yachiyo (tapered goat hair brush heads with thin twined cane handles) and itabake (straight-cut goat hair with hand-finished wood handles). To be honest, they feel flimsy and much less substantial than the rest. I suppose they’re fun purchases, thanks to their traditional look.
Kinoko/Fan Brushes – Kabuki brushes with soft goat hair, I was told they extended all the way to the base of the handles, unlike most that just make up the top. The lacquered handles accentuate their charming old-style appearance. I might give them another look but the testers were a little splayed, so I didn’t buy any.
Portable Brushes – The retractable cheek/face travel brushes have a rectangular casing whose sliding mechanism easily pushes up the bristles. I was drawn to the compact packaging at first but hesitated to buy any as the sliding motion might damage the hairs over time. The lip brushes are typical push-up and turn-up ones.
The hairs in Hakuhodo brushes come from:
- Blue squirrel
- Canadian squirrel
- Kazan squirrel
- Pahmi (ferret badger)
- Pine squirrel
- Synthetic fibre
- Tamage (A difficult one to determine – I couldn’t find what tamage was by Googling and had to do some sleuthing. I discovered on the Japanese Hakuhodo website that tamage is ‘玉毛’ in kanji, which led me to an answer: Someone did a little research and found that it refers to cat hair! Who would’ve guessed? Incidentally, the characters mean ‘jade hair’ in Chinese.)
- Tanuki (raccoon dog)
- Tree squirrel
- Water badger
It seems that the hairs across the Hakuhodo series are the same in that the quality is stellar throughout (i.e. goat hair in one series is no different from that in another). Prices vary according to hair density and handle type. Different hair types is another matter; for instance, blue squirrel is indisputably softer than goat, and widely regarded as more superior. Even so, I’ll say get what suits your purposes – despite its high quality, a soft squirrel brush won’t give you the control you desire for certain makeup looks.
At a glance, the S100 series ranges from S$163 to S$39. Do click on the photos for a closer look at the prices.
3 sets were on display but I was told the brush prices are the same; you only get the brush rolls free. I don’t remember how much the basic selection and goat-hair sets are but they’re under S$200, for sure. The S100 set is S$484.
Here are some of the prices compared to the pricing on the Hakuhodo USA website (excluding the international shipping fee of US$12):
- S102 Round and Flat Finishing Brush (Blue Squirrel) – S$148 vs US$142
- S103 Pointed Powder Blush Brush (Goat/Sokoho) – S$97 vs US$93
- S105 Round Powder Brush (Blue Squirrel) – S$145 vs US$138
- Botan Bake Vermillion (Goat) – S$101 vs US$96
- Maple Kinoko White Large (Goat/Saikoho) – S$189 vs US$180
- Maple Kinoko White Medium (Goat/Saikoho) – S$126 vs US$120
- Maple Kinoko White Small (Goat/Saikoho) – S$74 vs US$72
(With reference to the Maple Kinoko listed above: Unlike the website, I saw at the fair that the goat hair is labelled as paired with synthetic fibre, so do check with the BA.)
As you can see, they’re all very reasonably-priced. I was told they kept to the current exchange rate for this mini-fair but the prices on the Hakuhodo USA website are a little higher to account for fluctuation in currency rate.
I ended up with fewer than I wanted and more than I’d expected! I bought mostly blue squirrel brushes yesterday but might go back for more; I can’t seem to stop thinking of the white-bristled ones. ;)
For Hakuhodo 101 and more, do visit these excellent blogs: