This post will go over my most frequently used eyeshadow brushes. I’ve divided them into three categories – blending, crease, and shader – based on how I use them rather than their designated purpose. I will talk about what I expect from each brush and how it performs. All of these brushes are on the list because I don’t have any major issues with shedding or poking. I’ve passed on most of my brushes that have those problems (e.g., ELF, Morphe, EcoTools).
If you are planning on upgrading your brushes, I would recommend starting with your eye brushes. This is because the eyelid skin is more delicate, eyeshadow brushes need to be more precise, and eye brushes are typically cheaper than face brushes. A lot of great fude from Hakuhodo and even Chikuhodo are actually less expensive (and far better quality) than similar brushes from MAC. Before you purchase new brushes, make sure you’re aware of the different shapes, densities, and hair types that suit your application style and skin type.
Before I begin discussing the brushes I use, I will talk about the different hair types that I use:
- Goat – my personal favourite!
- Various types from different parts of the goat.
- Very versatile – any skin type, any product.
- Good for quick application – picks up a lot of product, great for blending.
- Clean every 3-4 months with a gentle, alcohol-free soap.
- Reputable brands are cruelty-free (the hair is harvested from brushing the goats).
- Hakuhodo makes the best goat hair brushes.
- Squirrel – the absolute softest!
- Different types – e.g., Kazakhstan Squirrel (softest and rarest), Blue Squirrel (extremely soft), Canadian Squirrel (soft, rare, easiest to use), Pine Squirrel (less soft), Tree Squirrel (similar to Weasel hair).
- Best for dry and/or sensitive skin.
- Do not use directly on oily skin or with liquids/creams. (I use my squirrel hair brushes after I’ve laid down a layer of powder.)
- Clean every six months and be as gentle as possible.
- Chikuhodo makes the best squirrel hair brushes.
- Synthetic – more widely available and at lower price points.
- Good for liquids and creams (the bristles don’t absorb much product).
- Clean every 1-2 weeks (or however often you deem necessary).
- Huge variation in quality.
- Often cruelty-free and vegan.
- Zoeva makes the best synthetic brushes.
- Other – horse, weasel, badger, etc.
When selecting a blending brush, I typically look for
- A slightly tapered tip for maximum precision
- Soft bristles (I don’t want to feel like I’m poking my eye)
- A precise shape to avoid muddy eyeshadow
- A medium density (denser brushes will blend the eyeshadow more quickly, while fluffier brushes will give a more natural finish)
Hakuhodo G5523 – blue squirrel, my softest blending brush.
Sephora Collection 27 Pro Blending Brush (discontinued) – goat hair, a little too fluffy and not as dense as my other blending brushes, not as soft as Zoeva or Hakuhodo.
Zoeva 227 Luxe Soft Definer – the softest synthetic brush! I like this more than Zoeva’s blending brush, which is more round and dense.
MAC 217 – goat hair, cult status. This is the most expensive brush in this picture, yet it’s my least favourite because it’s not overly soft and it doesn’t hold its shape as well as the others.
ELF Blending Brush – not the softest, but it gets the job done when my other brushes are dirty. I wouldn’t recommend ELF’s eye brushes.
Hakuhodo J5523 – the best blending brush I’ve ever used! Goat hair, soft, essentially blends your eyeshadow for you.
I like to have a variety crease brushes in different shapes, sizes, and densities for various purposes. These brushes must be soft, tapered, and precise.
Zoeva 231 Luxe Petit Crease (synthetic) – this is one of my larger/denser brushes that I use to place my transition shade.
Luxie 205 Tapered Blending (synthetic) – this brush is too poofy, so I use it (clean) over my eyeshadow when I want to tone things down. It’s not very soft, so I wouldn’t recommend it.
Zoeva 225 Luxe Eye Blender (synthetic) – this is a bit bigger than the Petit Crease, but less dense. I use this to diffuse shadows in the crease.
Hakuhodo J5529 (goat) – this is a tiny and perfect brush for the crease and outer V.
Koyodo C011 (goat) – this pencil brush looks and performs like a (super soft) pencil. It’s very precise and I use it for the crease, outer V, lash line, and other specific placement. It’s also one of my cheapest brushes.
These are my go-to brushes for eyeshadow application. I’m not too picky with these and I tend to grab whatever brush is cleanest. Because I use the side of the brush to apply instead of the tips, I don’t notice a huge difference in softness between hair types.
Sephora Shader (synthetic, discontinued) – shown for comparison purposes.
Hakuhodo G5513 (goat, but they currently sell it as horse) – this is great for packing on eyeshadow in a specific location.
Chikuhodo GSN-9 (grey squirrel) – a multitasker that successfully multitasks.
Hakuhodo J242G (goat) – my favourite brush for applying eyeshadow quickly and efficiently.
Sephora Concealer (synthetic, discontinued) – shown for comparison purposes.
For more in this series, check out my blog post, A Beginner’s Guide to Fude (Japanese Makeup Brushes), which outlines what to look for when purchasing makeup brushes (Japanese or not). My last blog post talked about my favourite face brushes. Please let me know if you have any questions or requests!
Thank you for reading!
What are your favourite eyeshadow brushes?
Disclaimer: All brushes were purchased by me. The images and text are my own. The CDJapan links are affiliate links, but all other links are regular links.