Review: Koyudo Red Squirrel Cheek Brush
This little beauty is one that I thought I missed forever. Last fall it was produced in a limited run (100 pieces) and completely sold out before I even heard of it. I stalked blog sales for it (well, for it and a few other things) but apparently no one who got one was giving it up. But it turned out all was not lost! Jillian from Jillicious Cosmetics tipped me off that it’d be re-released sometime soon so I started checking back in occasionally, and snapped it up as soon as I saw it was back. The product page for it doesn’t say it’s out of stock yet, so I think some of these are still available.
I knew I’d be absolutely useless until it came in, so I picked the FedEx shipping option when I ordered it, which surprisingly was just over $16. I ordered it on a Wednesday night, and had it in my hands by the next Monday – impressive, considering it ships from Japan. It came in a wooden box engraved with Japanese characters (I assume it says Koyudo, or something like that – hopefully nothing rude!), resting in a little bed of raffia. I kept the box to store… something. Not sure what, but I’ll find the perfect use for it eventually!
The handle for this brush isn’t the most luxurious one ever, I’ll admit. The handle feels like well-made plastic, or maybe a very light-weight lacquered wood. It’s a vermillion shade that’s very similar in color to the Hakuhodo S-series brushes, and has Koyudo Collection printed on it. The ferrule is also a mystery material. I can’t decide if it’s plastic or brushed aluminum; I’m leaning toward aluminum because it’s colder than the handle. In any case, the important thing is that it’s very well put-together. The ferrule is seamless, doesn’t bend if I press on it, and is joined tightly to the handle. I think the brush would feel a tiny bit more balanced if the handle had more weight to it, but honestly I’m nit-picking a little bit here. It doesn’t feel unbalanced at all, but it’s definitely more comfortable to hold at about the halfway point down the handle (vs further toward the bottom).
The magical thing about the brush of course is right there in the name – red squirrel hair. Supposedly red squirrel hair in this length is very rare (thus the limited number of brushes) and one of the softest hairs available. I’ll take their word for it on the first claim, and I completely believe them on the second one. This is hands-down the softest, silkiest face brush I own; of course, it should be noted that I don’t have any blue/grey squirrel face brushes, which could be close in softness to red squirrel. Just when I thought brushes couldn’t get much softer than Hakuhodo pine squirrel or goat/blue squirrel blend, along comes the Koyudo. It barely even feels like anything is touching my face. In practice, that means I can get an incredibly diffused application even with very strongly-pigmented blushes, and it doesn’t move my foundation at all. It doesn’t pick up quite as much product as some of my other brushes, but what it does pick up all gets deposited on my skin, not stuck in the hairs. The only thing it doesn’t really excel at is lightly-pigmented or harder-textured blushes. Since squirrel hair is relatively fragile and this particular brush is on the fluffy side, it’s clearly not a good choice for cream or liquid products.
Since the product page only lists a couple of the measurements, here are all of them as measured by me:
- Full length – 163mm
- Bristle length – 36mm
- Width of ferrule foot – 20mm
- Width of brush head at the widest part – 33mm
- Thickness of the brush head at the fullest part – 22mm
Measurements are great, but comparisons are even better. I don’t really have anything in a similar shape/density, but here it is against some of my other cheek brushes for reference:
From left to right we have the Hakuhodo K008, Hakuhodo J210 (which is very similar in size/shape to the MAC 109, if you have that one), Koyudo Red Squirrel Cheek Brush and Hakuhodo J5543.
Just as a note about the store website – it’s a little cluttered-looking design-wise, but seems to be very reputable (and you can pay through paypal). This was the first thing I’ve ordered from them, but it was packed really well and shipping was fast & reasonably priced – especially considering international delivery was involved. I’ve been wanting to try some other Koyudo brushes too (I probably should have ordered them, but I got too excited and went straight to checkout) and I wouldn’t hesitate to order from them again.
In Short: This is my new precious.
The Koyudo Red Squirrel Cheek Brush is available for ¥8000 (~$78 USD, depending on the exchange rate) from CDJapan/Cool Japan Now, with worldwide shipping.