Surratt Artistique Brushes

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Makeup artist Troy Surratt came out with his own line of luxury makeup brushes in the Fall of 2014. Rumour has it they are manufactured by Chikuhodo. Over time I’ve had the pleasure to collect nine of them. The collection consists of natural hair brushes hand made by skilled artisans in Japan with a teal purple duo chromatic gradation on a black matte handle. The brushes come in their own velvet lined box with a sliding cover.

My collection thus far consists of the following:

  • Artistique Cheek Brush – blue squirrel
  • Artistique Highlight Brush – blue squirrel
  • Artistique Sculpting Brush – blue Squirrel/goat
  • Artistique Smoky Eye Brush Grande – blue Squirrel
  • Classique Shadow Brush Grande – Canadian squirrel
  • Classique Shadow Brush Moyenne – Canadian squirrel
  • Classique Shadow Brush Petite – Canadian squirrel
  • Artistique Concealer Brush Grande – kolinsky
  • Artistique Concealer Brush Petite – kolinsky

The permanent collection also has a blue squirrel Face Brush and two more blue squirrel Smoky Eye brushes in Moyenne and Petite.

Artistique Cheek Brush 

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Hair Length: 35mm
Ferrule Size: 16 Round

The classic pom-pom shaped round ferrule cheek brush. Similar to the Chikuhodo RC-2. Hair is soft yet incredibly efficient at placing and blending blush in circular strokes. If asked, this is the must have brush in the collection.

Artistique Highlight Brush

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Hair Length: 38mm
Ferrule Size: 16 Round

A round ferrule candle shaped highlight brush. A fan favorite, the ferrule is also curved like the Face brush. The hair is soft but also firm and excellent at picking up and applying highlighter to the face.

Artistique Sculpting Brush

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Hair Length: 30mm Highest Point
Ferrule Size: 19mm Flat

Angled for the perfect sculpt. Because this brush is a mix of goat and blue squirrel hair, it has the firmness to pick up hard to soft contour powders. This brush is multi-functional. If you prefer smaller face brushes, I recommend this one. Since I don’t contour, I’ve used it mostly with pressed and loose face powders and blush.

Artistique Smoky Eye Brush Grande

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Hair Length: 30mm Highest Point
Ferrule Size: 9mm Round

Probably the most fascinating brush to me from the entire collection. An elongated teardrop shape. This looks like a mini artist brush. It’s supposed to be for all over eyeshadow placement, but I’ve repurposed this one specifically for targeted highlighter. I love the soft bundle of blue squirrel hair.

Classique Shadow Eye Brush Grande

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Hair Length: 21mm Highest Point
Ferrule Size: 12mm Flat

My favorite type of eye brush. Large and flat with a gently pointed tip for a lazy and quick one eyeshadow look. It’s made with Canadian squirrel hair, my favorite hair used in Japanese makeup brushes. Canadian squirrel is soft yet has the ability to pick up powders and pack on color more efficiently than gray or blue squirrel. Its gentle for the most sensitive eyes and a great alternative if you can’t use goat or horse hair used in traditional eyeshadow brushes.

Classique Shadow Eye Brush Moyenne

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Hair Length: 12mm
Ferrule Size: 9mm Flat

This is a medium sized flat paddled eyeshadow brush made with Canadian squirrel hair. It’s great for packing on color, inner corner shadow placement and outer corner V work. It can be used with glitter and celestial shades.

Classique Shadow Eye Brush Petite

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Hair Length: 10mm
Ferrule Size: 5mm Flat

This tiny brush, besides being super cute, is perfect for inner corner eye work and very detailed and precise eye work. It’s made with very soft Canadian squirrel hair.

Artistique Concealer Brush Grande

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Hair Length: 11mm
Ferrule Size: 9mm Flat

It’s no secret to my fude friends that Kolinsky is my favorite hair used in makeup brushes. It can do just about everything and because of the very nature of the hair its best suited for cream and liquid products. This brush is perfect for concealer but don’t be fooled, it can also be used for powders, cream shadows, glitters and celestial shades.

Artistique Concealer Brush Petite

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Hair Length: 6mm
Ferrule Size: 5mm Flat

A tiny Kolinsky brush. Perfect for concealing small spots and very detailed eye work.

Surratt brushes can be purchased at Sephora online in Canada, and the USA. If you are VIB, VIB Rouge members, a great tip is to buy them during the sales.

Featured post

Hakuhodo Kazan Squirrel Brushes

A few years ago, the Kazan Squirrel bug got to me. Curiosity drove me to try a brush made from this hair. Of course, I only knew about this hair because of Hakuhodo and their “Material Used for Making Brushes” section on the website. (I didn’t know at the time that Kazan is also called Brown Squirrel depending on the brush manufacturer).

According to Hakuhodo, and other artist brush companies, Kazan (Brown) squirrel hair is the best squirrel hair, superior to Sacamena (Blue Squirrel Hair) and Talahoutky (Gray Squirrel). It has a superb tip and elasticity and besides makeup brushes, the hair is used for watercolour brushes.

Kazan squirrel comes from the Kazan region of Russia. The hair can be black, black with red tips and flecks of gray along the shaft and like the Hakuhodo brushes, it can be the colour of mahogany. The hair is softer than other squirrel hairs. Chikuhodo famously used Brown (Kazan) squirrel for the second smaller powder brush in both Kiwami versions.

Fude companies also use Red Squirrel to make brushes. Now, if my understanding is correct, Kazan is technically also an (Eurasian Red Squirrel), but because it’s region specific, not all (Eurasian Red Squirrel) are Kazan Squirrel. Therefore I don’t think those two terms should be interchangeable. Kazan is region specific.

Now after all that info, let’s get to the brushes I do own that are made of Kazan Squirrel:

Hakuhodo G5518 Powder Brush Round:
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SPECS:
Ferrule Size: 17mm Round
Hair Length: 28mm
Use: Powder, Highlighter

Hakuhodo G5524 Highlighter Brush Tapered:
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SPECS:
Ferrule Size: 12mm Round
Hair Length: 15mm
Use: Highlighter

Hakuhodo G5558 Eye Shadow Tapered:
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SPECS:
Ferrule Size: 17mm Round
Hair Length: 10.2mm
Use: Eye Shadow

I find this hair incredibly beautiful. In sunlight the hair turns from mahogany to an auburn brown. If you’re curious to try Kazan squirrel makeup brushes, they can be found at the Hakuhodo USA website and also the Hakuhodo Japan website (japan only sales).

A Farewell to Hakuhodo Canadian Squirrel Brushes

Several months ago I noticed that all the Canadian Squirrel brushes disappeared from the Hakuhodo Japan website. At first I thought maybe there was something wrong with the search feature, but as time went by, the brushes never reappeared.

A friend of mine living in Japan was told at the Hakuhodo counter that the company would discontinue making the brushes made with this hair. There just wasn’t enough raw material procurement to continue producing the amount of fude Hakuhodo makes. Their website says they manufacture something like 500,000 brushes per month!

Soon thereafter Hakuhodo USA started selling out of all the Canadian Squirrel brushes and listing them as discontinued. Although they say Temporarily Discontinued and they recently got a few more in stock, unless Hakuhodo can obtain the high quality raw hair in sufficient amounts to last several years of production, I’m afraid the brushes will be permanently discontinued.

Many years ago they made a beautiful highlighter brush in the S100 series, the S115 made with Canadian Squirrel. At the time I didn’t know much about this hair and I don’t remember the S115 ever being sold at the Hakuhodo USA website. This was still when the series had Beverly Hills stamped on the vermillion handles and not the companies name as they are now.

Other than that unicorn brush, I made it my mission a few years back to purchase all the Canadian Squirrel brushes they had throughout the different brush series. I discovered that the doe shaped brushes were wonderful as highlighter brushes, especially the larger G513 and the S122.

Although other Kumano Fude companies continue to make Canadian Squirrel eyeshadow brushes as well as cheek and face brushes, its noticeable now how this hair is slowly disappearing from other companies brush catalogs. Chikuhodo is also slowly pulling them from their OEM branded brushes like the Artist Series. Koyudo will come out with a few brushes here and there when they have procured enough hair. At the moment Takeda Brush still continues to make Canadian Squirrel eyeshadow, highlighter and blush brushes, but who knows how long their stock will last.

If you’re lucky enough to find any of these brushes still sold in Hakuhodo stores in Japan, pick one up before they’re gone. Its amazingly beautiful hair, not just functional.

 

Spotlight: Takeda Brush, Inc.

For my very first Spotlight (on fude) post where I will feature different Kumano Brush companies, I chose my favorite fude company: Takeda Brush Inc. It is the oldest continuous “Make-up” brush company in Kumano, Japan. The company was started in 1947 by the father of its current President, Mr. Shiro Takeda.  Japanese Kumano fude brush manufacturing has been in existence for around 180 years, but the first brushes were mainly made for calligraphy. There were also a select few made for Geisha/Maiko and Stage Theatre makeup.

How did brush manufacturing come to Kumano? The story is that farmers had to supplement their income from the off season months and traveled to other cities looking for work. They purchased and resold calligraphy brushes because they were cheap, easy to carry and transport during their travels. As time went by, they learned the techniques of making calligraphy brushes (around 1830’s) and brought home that knowledge. Thus began the fude industry to the region.

I have many reasons why Takeda is my favorite brush manufacturer. Their history and origins after WWII, the small family run business aspect, the closeness to their customers, attention to detail and knowledge and their impeccable first rate hair and willingness to customize standard lines to your taste or create your own idea for a custom brush are just some of the reasons why I love them.

The very first Takeda brushes I purchased were a custom made Canadian Squirrel set made with maple handles. The handles had a two month back order wait so you can imagine how much patience I had to have before I saw the final product. During that time I had all sorts of questions and was very surprised and then pleased at how open they were to answer my questions regarding the hair, the handles and general questions about the company that piqued my curiosity.

You see, Takeda does not have a very english friendly nor user friendly website. They still use old fashion email for customers ordering online and from overseas. During the two months as I waited for any previews of the brushes I ordered, I played with their website, hit all the links and had Google Translate to help me find most of their standard brush lines and garner a bit of the companies history. My suggestion to anyone curious about this company is to really lose yourself doing this for some time before you send off an email requesting information. Takeda uses emails mostly for brush orders and they may be slow to respond. One must not forget the time difference but also the volumes of orders and questions placed this way.

Custom vs. Standard Lines

Takeda has a limited choice in handle designs. The Red Camellia series (winner of the Good Design Award 2017) is one of the most attractive standard lines. Brushes are also available with short and long black handles, pearl pink handles and the beautiful Canadian Maple handles. They also have a variety of limited brushes in tortoise and clear and colored plastic. You can customize handles with the Takeda Logo/Kanji, have your name engraved or even the brush number if you wish. Their engraving can also be done in different colours. Takeda will show you an array of poster colour paints that can be used if asked. Retractable brushes can also be engraved. The best part is you can always ask if something can be done or if you have an idea of how you’d like the brush handle to look.

Hope this post helped a little in regards to such a great Kumano Fude company. Information and ordering information can be done through email to takeda-brush@ad.email.ne.jp

 

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Kolinsky Sable Part 4 – Face (Foundation) Brushes & A Very Special Cheek Brush

In this final part of my series on Kolinsky Sable makeup brushes, I will share the three face brushes I own.

Eihodo LQ-3 WP Series Liquid Foundation Brush 

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A flat paddle shaped kolinsky brush with 20mm length hair. Because I don’t use liquid foundation much and when I do, I prefer to blend with my fingers, I purchased this brush to use with cream stick highlighters. I find the shape to be easiest to use when sweeping up product across your cheekbones. The price of this brush is phenomenal, (currently around 6,500 yen) and the hair is of very nice quality. Kolinsky’s rarity and skyrocketing price make this one a steal. It’s still currently in production and can be purchased from CD Japan.

Takeda 15LF (Liquid Foundation) Brush 

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Similar to the Eihodo LQ-3 but with longer hair, around 25mm. This is a gorgeous brush with the highest quality kolinsky. It is a beautiful golden yellow brown. The hairs are super soft and smooth. Just like the Eihodo brush, I purchased this one to mainly use with stick highlighters. Sadly I must say the price of this brush has gone up quite high. Due to the suppliers rising costs in securing this fine quality hair and its scarcity on the market, Takeda has had to raise prices on November 1st. This brush now retails for 18,000 yen. Is it worth it? That is hard to say. For now I’m glad I was able to secure mine a few years ago for a lot less.

Takeda (custom) 16R K 

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Imagine the unicorn of all kolinsky brushes. This is a very special fude brush. In general, something like this is supposed to be for foundation, but what I really wanted mine for was to use as a blush brush. That’s right, cream or powder. Is this a necessary brush?Absolutely not. Is it something I consider as the pinnacle in brush collecting? A resounding yes. This is something that took me years to build up to in my fude journey. There were many other brushes that were required first. As the years went by though and my collection seemed more complete, the siren song of the elusive kolinsky cheek brush called to me. I feel like keeping her details secret so as not to classify her into a category except to say, she’s my own. But enough with the sentimentality. Here are the brush details: 16mm round ferrule, 32mm length hair. Price: currently unknown. You must ask Takeda.

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Kolinsky Sable Part 3 – Eye and Concealer Brushes

Kolinsky eyeshadow and concealer brushes come in two different basic ferrule shapes: Flat (with a Round, Pointed or Angled brush head) or Round (candle or pencil shape). There are fewer round ferrule brushes on the market, but some companies like Takeda Brush Inc. can make a custom brush from your design if that’s what you are looking for.

Flat & Round

Flat & round eyeshadow brushes are basic staples in every makeup brush collection. It’s the most common used brush for eyeshadow application. What makes kolinsky so special is how easy it works with hard pressed powders, celestial shades and creams. It effortlessly deposits the colour onto your lid. Where you might own a difficult shadow to work with, one that isn’t easy to pick up or to deposit, where it might have gone hard in the pan, the kolinsky is there to do the job.

Because they come in different sizes and head shapes, everyone can find a brush best suited for them. Personally my favorites are the large ones that allow quick and easy one eyeshadow looks.

XL to L sized Flat Kolinsky Eye Shadow/Concealer Brushes
(Takeda 14, Takeda 12, Koyudo BP027, Houkodou W-S1 )

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M sized Flat Kolinsky Eye Shadow/Concealer Brushes
(Takeda 11, Koyudo BP031, BP034, Houkodou GS3, Takeda 10, Houkodou GS5)

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S sized Flat Kolinsky Eye Shadow/Liner/Concealer Brushes
(Koyudo BP038, Houkodou GS4, Eihodo S7, Eihodo W-S1)

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Pencil

(Koyudo BP036)

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Stay tuned for my conclusion Kolinsky Sable Part 4 – Foundation/Face and Cheek brushes.

Kolinsky Sable Part 2 – Lip Brushes

Eihodo

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L-4 Kolinsky Lip Brush:

  • Portable flat and pointed. Can also be used as a concealer brush.
  • Hair Length: 10mm
  • Purchased from CDJapan, Retails: 2,600 yen
  • Good quality kolinsky hair. It cleans up well with brush soap and water.

What I like most about it: Attractive red colour and it also has Kolinsky Lip Brush printed along the cap.

Houkodou

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L-4 Kolinsky Lip Brush:

  • Portable flat and pointed. Can also be used as a concealer brush. Identical to the Eihodo L-4.
  • Hair Length: 10mm
  • Purchased from CDJapan, Retails: 2,600 yen
  • Good quality kolinsky hair. It cleans up well with brush soap and water.

What I like most about it: It’s a neat black portable brush that has the company name printed along the cap.

Kihitsu

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(White Canadian Squirrel Makie 7-piece Brush Set’s) Kolinsky Lip Brush:

  • Heavy Duty, Portable flat and squared lip brush.
  • Hair Length: 10mm
  • Purchased through FudeJapan as part of a set.
  • Koyudo equivalent (M015). Retails at CDJapan for: 2,500 yen or 3,240 yen on Koyudo’s website
  • Great quality kolinsky hair. It cleans up well with brush soap and water.

What I like most about it: the beautiful heavy metal casing.

Koyudo

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(BP High Class Series) BP049 Lip Brush:

  • Flat and slightly rounded. Can also be used as a concealer brush.
  • Hair Length: 9.5mm
  • Purchased from CDJapan, Retails: 2,400 yen
  • In terms of quality this is good kolinsky hair. The Koyudo BP series are some of the best in terms of affordability with a very clean aesthetic (white handles, uncrimped black ferrules). It cleans up very easily with brush soap and water.

What I like most about it: It’s a no fuss kolinsky lip brush. No fancy handle or special coddling required. BP series brushes have plain white handles, but that doesn’t make them any less attractive in terms of its ease of use and care. If anything I prefer these second to my Takeda kolinsky brushes.

Kyureido

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(Kiwami Premium Series Fine-Kalla) KK-008 Lip Brush and KK-010 Portable Lip Brush:

KK-008

  • Flat and squared.
  • Hair Length: 11mm
  • Can be purchased through FudeJapan, Retails: 3,780 yen
  • In terms of quality this is excellent kolinsky hair. Application is the easiest when it comes to this lip brush shape. I love the width as it easily covers a larger surface area. It cleans up very well with brush soap and water.

KK-010

  • Portable flat and pointed. Can also be used as a concealer brush.
  • Hair Length: 11mm
  • Can be purchased through FudeJapan, Retails: 3,240 yen
  • In terms of quality this is excellent kolinsky hair. It keeps its point without stray hairs poking out the sides and cleans up easily with brush soap and water.

What I like most about them: The Fine-Kalla series have some of the most beautiful handles with iridescent sparkles concentrated more heavily on the bottom half. It’s like looking at stars in the night sky.

Suqqu

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Lip Brush L:

  • A luxurious flat and squared lip brush.
  • Hair Length: 11mm
  • Can be purchased from Harrods, Retails: $47.65 CAD or FudeJapan
  • In terms of quality this is also excellent kolinsky hair. Identical to Kyureido KK-008 (if you ask me its most likely manufactured by Kyureido). Same easy application when it comes to this lip brush shape. The width easily covers a larger surface area. It cleans up very well with brush soap and water.

What I like most about it: Its elegant simple black brush design and well, it’s Suqqu!

Yojiya

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Beni-fude Lip Brush M:

  • A beautiful traditional lip brush. Can also be used with eyeliner.
  • Hair Length: 15mm
  • I purchased mine from CDJapan for 3,180 yen, currently out of print but it can be purchased through FudeJapan
  • Manufactured by Hakuhodo
  • In terms of quality this is excellent kolinsky hair. Retains its shape after repeat washes.

What I like most about it: It’s a unique traditional brush that looks great on your makeup vanity.

Stay tuned for Part 3 – Kolinsky Eye and Concealer Brushes

Researching Kolinsky Sable Part 1

My favorite fude brushes are kolinsky sable brushes. They make wonderful eyeshadow brushes especially for use with cream, celestial shades and harder stubborn shadows that are difficult to pick up with other natural hair brushes like goat and squirrel. I have a few kolinsky foundation brushes that I love to use for cream blush as I am not a traditional liquid/cream foundation user. Most kolinsky makeup brushes on the market are flat and round shaders of various sizes made for eyeshadow and concealer. Rare larger sized round ferrule brushes for foundation, powder or blush do exist. Some can be custom made by Kumano Fude companies like Takeda Brush Inc.

So what exactly is Kolinsky Sable? How can you tell what is quality kolinsky? Why are they so expensive? I’ll share as much information as I can that I have learned about my favorite brush hair.

I’ve found the terms Pure Red Sable, Kolinsky, Kolinsky Sable when shopping for kolinsky makeup brushes… are these all the same? Is the Kolinsky an actual Sable Marten or another animal from the Mustelidae family? Here’s a quick introduction and information I gathered from online sources.

Kolinsky sable comes from the Siberian Weasel (Mustela sibirica). This small animal lives in the coldest regions of Siberia and northern China. It originated from the Russian populations in the Kolonok region and is where the term “Kolinsky/Kolonok” comes from. The harsh and cold Russian winters ensured the animals fur, especially the tail where the brush hairs are taken from, was full and thick and incredibly strong. The best hair coming from the male animals winter coat/tail. The hair is supple and springy, has a thick belly, a fine tip and is able to hold an incredible amount of paint. What makes it so special is its strength and its ability to spring back into a point which makes it one of the best for use in artist brushes. Its color is a beautiful golden brown. Kolinsky is incredibly expensive due to the fact that the animals are trapped because they don’t do well raised in captivity.

Kolinsky sable besides being used in artist brushes and acrylic nail brushes are also used in makeup brushes. Shu Uemura popularized this hair in their famous eyeshadow brushes. Some were made with 100% Kolinsky reflecting their high cost and others a mix with sable (weasel) hair that is more “affordable”. Not all kolinsky hair is high quality. In fact many are most likely a mix of male/female hair, not from the winter coat/tail or a mix with other weasel species. High quality winter coat male kolinsky hair is scarce, highly valuable and most likely artist brush manufacturers would be the first to purchase this grade at auction before fude makers.

Many Japanese brush makers make fude using kolinsky hair. Most are eyeshadow /concealer brushes and lip brushes, but there are a few who make foundation brushes, and even some companies who could make a custom brush for you using this hair.

In this series I will share the kolinsky brushes I’ve collected over the years and highlight their use, their durability, the difference in hair qualities from brand to brand, pricing and where they can be purchased online.

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