Reviews, Tools

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.

It's almost time for the next run of Wayne Goss brushes to come back in stock at Beautylish, so what better time to review the third Goss brush that I got? The Goss 02 is a smallish tapered brush designed to be used with powder products for the face. Wayne Goss 02 Brush Like the other brushes in the range, the 02 has a black seamless ferrule and black-lacquered wooden handle. It's light but well-balanced and comfortable to hold. The brush number and 'wayne goss' are imprinted on the handle with holographic lettering, which I covered with clear nail polish to keep it looking nice. Wayne Goss 02 Brush Wayne Goss 02 Brush The brush head on the 02 is round and tapers at the end. The bristles are arranged so that the tapering starts about halfway down the brush head. It's fairly dense, but not so much that it's stiff. On par with the other Goss brushes I have, it's solidly constructed with no flaws in craftsmanship. The hair is evenly bundled and well-shaped. It did shed about 4-5 hairs over the first few uses, but no more since then. The hair type for the brush isn't specified, but it's very similar in appearance and texture to the Hakuhodo G5521. Based on that I'm going to guess it's a mix of goat and blue squirrel, so it's very soft and silky. The balance of softness and density means you can get very good coverage and blending, but it's hard to overapply products with this brush. I could see it being a little too soft to use with very lightly pigmented products, though, and it wouldn't work well with cream or liquid products. I've used it for blush, contouring and highlighting, and it was great for all of them. So great, in fact, that it's become my most-use blush brush on my extra-dry skin. It's too small for all-over powder application, but there will be a limited edition holiday brush that's more appropriately sized for finishing powder or bronzer (you can see it in Wayne's video here, at the 3:38 mark). As always, here are the measurements for the 02: Full length – 168mm Bristle length – 32mm Width of ferrule foot – 12.5mm Width of brush head at the widest part – 22mm When I was first looking into this one, I thought it looked nearly identical to the Hakuhodo G5521, which is part of the reason I hesitated to get it - I wasn't sure if I need two of that style of brush. At the time I was only using the G5521 for highlighting, and when I realized how much more it could really do, that's when I decided to spring for the Goss as well. It turned out that I was pretty close to right. There are minor differences in the brushes, but I can use them pretty much interchangeably. The Goss is a little fuller and less dense, but the shape is very similar. Below are some photos of the Goss 02 vs Hakuhodo G5521. Wayne Goss 02 Brush vs Hakuhodo G5523Wayne Goss 02 Brush vs Hakuhodo G5523 Wayne Goss 02 Brush vs Hakuhodo G5523 In Short: This has quickly become one of my most-used brushes for face products. The Wayne Goss 02 is available for $35 from in the US and everywhere else.

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!

Koyudo Red Squirrel Cheek Brush

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).

Koyudo Red Squirrel Cheek Brush

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.

Koyudo Red Squirrel Cheek Brush

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:

Koyudo Red Squirrel Cheek Brush

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.


  1. lee mcq

    December 17, 2013 at 12:33 am

    I just received it today ( 17 december ) …oooomaaiigoodddd…its even softer than my suqqu cheek and other squirrel hair brushes that i own…totally amazing softness! Since the hair is very very very fine..i wonder how do u pre wash it ? Are u using baby shampoo? Tq…

    1. niccigilland

      December 17, 2013 at 8:41 am

      I don’t have the Suqqu, but it’s definitely the softest cheek brush I own too! I used baby shampoo and lukewarm water to wash it, and then hung it upside down to dry (used a hair elastic to attach it to my towel rack). The hairs fluffed out a bit after washing, but I put it in a brush guard for a few hours after it was dry, and that put it back to its orignal shape.

  2. Holly

    March 12, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Can I ask how you like the Hakuhodo K008 brush? I was thinking about getting one and upon doing research I noticed not many people have reviews on it.

    1. Nikki

      March 12, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      It’s very soft and deposits color well, but I prefer blush brushes that aren’t tapered at the tip. I actually ended up swapping the K008 to a friend because I wasn’t using it nearly as much as the other cheek brushes in the picture. If you like a flatter blush brush though, it’s very nice and well worth having.

  3. Maria

    June 9, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    I own a lot of the koyudo makeup brushes including the red squirrel cheek brush which I love. I would like to know what is the best way to take care of this brush and how often should I wash red squirrel. I am afraid of ruining the brush if I wash it too much. I would appreciate any help you can give me with this problem. Thank you.

    1. Nikki

      June 9, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      For mine, I try not to wash it more than once a month or so. After each use I wipe it off with a clean tissue to remove any product that’s left on it. When I wash it, I use just a little bit of baby shampoo and lukewarm water, then use a hair elastic to attach it to the towel rack so it can hang upside down to dry. When it’s dry if the hairs want to stick together I use a fine comb to comb it out a bit. The main thing is to never let water run into the ferrule, don’t use hot water and DEFINITELY don’t use any cleaners or brush sprays with alcohol in them.

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