My Ideal Brush Set

After years, I finally feel like I have a good brush set I can rely on forever. Like most people exposed to beauty blogging, I’ve been reliant on Sigma, Real Techniques etc for the longest time. For the last two years I’ve slowly been paying more attention to the brushes I use, investing in better ones. The brushes I’ve picked today are used almost everyday and  are some of the most effective and soft brushes I’ve used by far. I’ve had all of these for more than a year now and they’ve lasted really well after many many washes.

ideal brush set hakuhodo chikuhodo zoeva-1

I’m also glad I bought these brushes now when I’m more aware about the way I use products and how I place them. Also kept my face shape in consideration, meaning I like smaller brushes! I looked more at the shape, bristle density and hair type while selecting brushes. This helped narrow it down to the kind of brushes I wanted and I ended up buying just the select few. *pat on the back*

ideal brush set-2T-B : Hakuhodo B5521BkSL, Chikuhodo Z-4, Sigma F80

Hakuhodo B5521BkSL = G5521BkSL Highlight Brush – I placed my Hakuhodo order with mainly this brush in mind. The bristles are a mix of blue squirrel and goat hair. The tapered end is excellent for placing highlighter over a small area and for contouring. What I love best about it is that it picks up a small amount of product and deposits almost all of it. That makes it great to use on different products at a time. You’ll see me contouring and highlighting my Charlotte Tilbury Bronze and Glow at the same time with this and I won’t end up with highlighter on the rest of my face!

Chikuhodo Z-4 Cheek/Highlight Brush – This was was splurge for me but now I don’t find myself dreaming about the Suqqu Cheek Brush anymore! If it’s even possible, Chikuhodo brushes are slightly softer than Hakuhodo! Z-4 is my go to blush brush! It’s small and the perfect size to sweep it across. I prefer building up the pigmentation of a blush or sometimes going very subtle. It picks up just the right amount of product and again, deposits almost all of it.

Sigma Flat Top Synthetic Kabuki F80 – I’ve had this for atleast four years now and it’s still as good as new. F80 is brilliant at buffing out foundation. I mainly use sheer to medium coverage foundations which take very little time in terms of blending. The more fluid it is, (think Mac Face & Body) the easier it is to blend out with this. Thicker consistencies like say, Nars Sheer Glow require a bit more time but I get a seamless even finish with this as well. I do at times use my BeautyBlender with the heavier foundations but to be honest, using this brush is just quicker! The shape has stayed in place really well over all these years and there’s been zero shedding.

ideal brush set hakuhodo chikuhodo zoeva-5ideal brush set-3T-B : Chikuhodo Z-10, Hakuhodo J5523, Hakuhodo J242G, Zoeva Concealer Buffer

Chikuhodo Z-10 Eyeshadow Brush – Made from the hair of gray squirrel, Z-10 is also very soft and perfect for smoking out smaller areas like lower lash line or the inner corner. I love the point, it’s great at extending the liner or blending more precisely. Chikuhodo brushes just look so sleek though! They’re my favourite now!
Hakuhodo J5523 Eye Shadow Brush Round & Flat – It’s the blending brush that makes it’s doppleganger, Mac 217 feel cheap and scratchy! Maybe it’s just the 217 that I bought, but it’s not very soft and I just don’t get the hype. J5523 has the same shape but it’s very fluffy and soft to touch. It blends eyeshadows so well and it’s very gentle on the eye.
Hakuhodo J242G Eye Shadow Brush Round & Flat – This flat brush is made from a mix of goat and synthetic fiber, which makes it great for powder and cream products too. It picks up a ton of product and deposits almost all of it evenly. It’s a given that it’s amazing with all kinds of powder eyeshadows but it’s equally good with cream eyeshadows. I find this equally good to use with a creamier consistency like Tom Ford Cream Eyeshadows or a more stiff one like Chanel Illusion D’ombre. I had no such luck with the other synthetic flat brushes though. I really want to buy more of these!

Zoeva 142 Concealer Buffer Brush – I find the traditional flat synthetic concealer brushes so hard to use! The application is always so streaky! I finally realized that I needed a denser brush and I was so happy to find this! It’s small and the perfect size to get into the corners and undereye area. I love applying my Bobbi Brown Corrector with this, blending it by tapping it across. It’s also great at blending and buffing more liquid concealers like the Mac Select Moisture Cover or the Urban Decay Naked Skin. Again, I need to buy more of these because it’s my most used brush! It’s still very soft after all this time and has kept it’s shape really well.

ideal brush set hakuhodo chikuhodo zoeva-4

The only brush I feel I’m missing is a good powder brush. Currently I use the Rae Morris Deluxe Kakuki brush which is small tapered and just the right size to powder under my eyes and T-zone but unfortunately, it’s not as soft as advertised.

Overall, I would really recommend Zoeva for affordable brushes. I rate them higher than Real Techniques and if you’re starting out, buying one of their sets is a good investment. I particularly like them more for cream/liquid products, they’re some of the softest synthetic ones.

If you’re comfortable spending $20-30 on brushes, I would highly recommend Hakuhodo for eye and cheek brushes, mainly for powder products. The prices are very similar to Mac (in some cases cheaper) and the quality is far better! My only gripe here is the availability. Unless you’re in Japan or LA, Hakuhodo can only be bought from their website. Don’t be fooled by their 90’s layout, the customer service and shipping is great!

On a quick note, I like washing my brushes with Beauty Blender’s solid cleanser! It keeps the brushes so soft and in total, it requires a lot less time and water. How do you keep your brushes clean? Also let me know about your most used brushes!


Hakuhodo B5521BkSL ($35) – Hakuhodo

Chikuhodo Z-4 ($36) – Beautylish

Sigma F80 ($24) – Sigma, Nordstrom, Feel Unique

Chikuhodo Z-10 ($73) – Beautylish

Hakuhodo J5523 ($19) – Hakuhodo

Hakuhodo J242G ($18) – Hakuhodo

Zoeva Concealer Buffer ($10.8) – Zoeva, BeautyBay

  • I definitely gotta have a look at these brushes! They all seem like such nice quality 🙂

    Kathy x

  • I’ve never heard of Hakuhodo before as a brand but loving the look of their brushes. Zoeva is probably a more easily accessible brand for me though, but so gutted I didn’t get the set I’ve been lusting after before their prices went up x

    Beauty with charm

    • Aah, so I only have a couple of brushes from Zoeva, not their sets but I’ve always wanted the Rose Gold one!

  • Oh, Hakuhodo brushes! I have been reading about them, but never splurged myself. I am pretty content with the Zoeva ones I picked up years ago, and I wash them with baby shampoo. Simply because I have that around anyway…

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

    • I wish I had discovered Zoeva sooner! I wouldn’t have purchased all the Real Technique ones!

      • I just bought some Real Techniques one and really enjoy them.

  • Oh my, I am so envious of your Hakuhodo brushes! I first heard about them through Wayne Goss but gosh, the price would have killed me especially when I am a stay at home mum. I do have a set of Wayne Goss makeup brushes (the first launched set) and they are the best I owned and I use them everyday.

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

    • They’re the most I’ve ever spent on a brush but I only got a few. Not tried Wayne Goss but I’ve heard good things about them!

  • Wow amazing collection you have gal

    • Thanks Krithi! I know you like the MJ one but which other ones do you like?

      • I recently bought Nars blush n countour blush which I love it already
        I also like my bobbi brown face brush
        I have very few brushes though ???

  • For some reason those hakuhodo brushes really stand out to me the most! Love you collection- it has definitely made me want to cut down on mine and find ones that really work!

    Georgia | The Weekend Attic – Personal Style, Beauty and Lifestyle

    • They’re completely worth it! I’ve had no troubles with shedding, losing shape or anything of the sort.

  • Trang Do

    Great brushes! Nice collection!

    Love from {a lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and food blog}

  • Never tried Sigma, i love Zoeva though x
    Yukova Blog

    • I wish I had discovered Zoeva sooner! I really love their brushes!

  • Great picks. ZOEVA brushes are on my wishlist 🙂

  • Really great post! You have such a lovely collection. I’ve been slowly trying to overhaul mine as well – I’ve really been liking the Sephora collection brushes as well as MAC ones. I too have been struggling to find a good powder/all over bronzer brush!

    • I really want to try a Sephora one but I always get overwhelmed and end up buying nothing (which isn’t a bad thing in itself). I’ve had my eye on the Marc Jacobs bronzer brush, it’s so fluffy!

  • Samileen

    Such a great post. I have heard quite a lot about Hakuhodo brushes. I love Zoeva brushes, they are the best, and have been enjoying a few Mac + sigma brushes too.

    Saman || Beautydetour

    • I know, Zoeva are pretty amazing! I wish I had discovered them sooner!

  • This post was soooo insightful seeing as I have limited knowledge on makeup haha. Will definitely be keeping my eye out for these brushes.


  • Fantastic picks! <3

  • Kathryn

    I have a mix of Real Techniques, Crownbrushes and MAC, but never tried Sigma.

    Kathryn /Cherries in the Snow

    • I need to look into Crown brushes, never heard of those! x

  • Oh gosh I’d love to get a hakuhodo brush, I keep hearing how great they are! After reading this…I realized I haven’t washed my brushes for a LONG time 🙁

    • Lol, I always procrastinate till I’m left to the last clean brush. I need to clean them right now too. :/

  • Jamie RS

    Amazing brush sets! I could not wait to get my hands on these brushes!

    xx Jamie | With Love, Jamie

  • Beautiful photos! A good brush set is so important!



  • I feel like I don’t really pay attention to brushes, it is something I invest more. I haven’t tried any of these brands, but definitely want to try Zoeva and Sigma, everyone is raving about them! x

    Ela BellaWorld

    • Overall, I really like Zoeva. I like their sets!

  • So many beautiful brushes! Collecting brushes can get kind of addicting also (: I have a chikuhodo highlighter brush and it is the softest thing ever! x


    • Thanks Erica! I know what you mean! After buying Chikuhodo I had to stop myself but it is seriously so soft! x

  • I have the sigma f80 brush and I love it for foundation x

  • Zoeva brushes are my favorite, I would love to try more brands like Chikuhodo or Hakuhodo when I feel a bit more spendy 🙂

    | |

    • True although Hakuhodo is better value for money out of the two. 🙂

  • hakuhodo brushes are definitely one of my most favourite brand for brushes! I’ve always wanted to try Chikuhodo too (I love the look of that z10 eyeshadow brush)! I have a few sigma and zoeva brushes, I find zoeva is another favourite and a lot more affordable but great quality. I like to keep my brushes in uniform so those brands do nice silver and black handles which I love, plus the bristles are so lovely to use.

    Jennifer | Amour JNFR

    • I really wanted the Zoeva Rose Gold set when it came out! I wish I knew about them sooner, I wouldn’t have bought so many Real Techniques early on. Hakuhodo are definitely the best of both worlds though. They have some more expensive series but for eye brushes, they’re roughly the same as Mac!