Sephora PRO + Hakuhodo Brushes: Review

Sephora recently collaborated with Japanese Brush Maker Hakuhodo for a Pro line of synthetic brushes. I normally prefer real hair brushes, but I thought Sephora Pro and Hakuhodo might be worth trying some synthetic brushes. Synthetic is sometimes preferred because of being vegan, they are easier to care for as washing doesn’t damage them as easily, they work great for liquid and cream products and they’re usually cheaper and more hygienic.

These are limited edition. Per Sephora’s website: “These beautiful brushes feature an innovative synthetic bristle material—the first to benefit from exclusive technology—that creates a softer, fluffier feel with actual bounce while retaining the benefits of synthetic bristles. As a result, these brushes are soft as cashmere, yet deposit more product onto the face due to less absorption and are more hygienic than natural hair. The result of the first ever collaboration between a beauty company and highly-skilled traditional Hakuho-do craftsmen, these brushes benefit from the expertise of the Sephora Pro team and are handmade in Japan using a traditional, 200-year-old manufacturing technique. This ensures the highest quality design, materials, and assembly for astounding results. The brush shapes were chosen for their precision, control, and ability to function as multitaskers.”

The brushes come in nice red boxes with a sleeve describing the collaboration:

And a description for each brush:

I bought three to try: Ougi Fan Cheek Brush, Kotsubu Small Teardrop Pointed Highlighter and Kusuriyubi Angled Concealer Brush. The handles are long and red, with black matte ferrules. The bristles are slightly off white with some darker colors mixed in. I had a very hard time getting a good photo of the bristles with some definition no matter the light, so excuse some of the blurriness, but hopefully you get the idea on size. I was surprised how long the handles were when I first opened them, I’m used to shorter handles, you will be able to see in comparison photos below.

L to R: Small Teardrop, Cheek, Concealer:

With flash showing the edges and shape better:

Top view to show size comparison. Top to Bottom: Concealer, Cheek, Small Teardrop:

First is the Small Teardrop Pointed Highlighter. Sephora states “A revolutionary medium-point highlighter brush for precision contouring and highlighting.” The retail is $38. The Hakuhodo J5521 is usually my go to brush for highlighting. In comparison this Sephora Small Teardrop was disappointing. The bristles are too long and it’s not dense enough to really do any blending with cream or liquid products. It worked for powders only. It had a hard time picking up creams from the compacts. It was too floppy to really do any decent blending, even if you used your finger first to apply the cream product you then wanted to blend. It left a streaky application and overall was a fail for anything liquid or cream. If you want to use this for powders only, you might like it. I would not recommend it unless that’s your main use for this brush. This has a long tapered tip shape.

Compared with the Hakuhodo J5521:

The Fan Cheek Brush retails for $40 and per Sephora “A universal blush brush to apply blush, contour, or for a natural, no-makeup look.” Like the Small Teardrop, this brush was disappointing. The bristles were too long, it was too floppy and not dense enough to be successful at it’s purpose for liquids and creams. It worked for powders like the other brush did. So unless you want it solely for powder use then I can’t recommend it for liquids and creams. It didn’t pick up any creams out of the compact well, and the blending capabilities were sub par, it left a streaky application and didn’t blend anything well except powder. It has a flat paddle shape with a square tapered tip.

Compared with the Chikuhodo Z-4:

The Angled Concealer Brush is my favorite of the bunch. It retails for $30. Per Sephora “A multitasking brush with angled shape for allover eye shadow, cream eye shadow, undereye concealer, and highlighting.” This brush was a touch larger overall than I thought it would be, but it actually is denser, and works great for applying and blending concealer. I have not tried it yet for eyeshadow, but I was pleased enough with it’s abilities for concealer that I imagine it would do OK. I would say the same for using it for more precise highlighting. This did well with both liquid and cream concealers, it applied and blended my Urban Decay Naked and Cle de Peau Concealer equally well. The front is tapered and angled, the back is not. It’s flat and paddle shaped with a square shape. It’s more fluffy than a usual concealer brush which tend to be more flat. I would recommend this brush if you are in the market for a concealer brush.

This brush might be more successful because the bristles are shorter. I had no issue using my same cream and liquid products with my Tom Ford brushes or even the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush, which is synthetic. They all did a phenomenal job applying and blending cream and liquid products in comparison to these Sephora Pro + Hakuhodo brushes. The design seems to be the main issue with my disappointment in these brushes. The bristles are soft, and could work, the shape needs work to make them successful.

Compared with the Chikuhodo Z-5:

 Front with angle:

Back no angle:

Side to see angle view:

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