Hair Type and Density Actually Make a Difference? Cheek Brushes

Very recently, I purchased a brand new Koyudo Canadian Squirrel cheek brush through a blog sale.  It was an impulse purchase fueled by greater interest in the more rare hair types available in brushes and partly fueled by my regret that I never purchased the red squirrel brush from Koyudo.

Eh, Canadian, Red, Grey.. horse.  Same difference.  Or IS IT?  DUN DUN DUNNNNNN!  Well is it?

Squirrels are impressive little creatures making home all over the world (except sad Australia.  But they have all sorts of weird marsupials, so I say we are about even with our Aussie friends) with a staggering diversity of more than 200 different species.

This is a very common Eastern Grey Squirrel that is often seen where I live (in the US Northeast).
I don't think these guys are made into hand crafted Japanese brushes with their stubby short hairs, but among premium brush materials, grey squirrel is among the finest.  The delightfully and unearthly soft SUQQU cheek brush is made out of grey squirrel.

I am going to post a little demo in an effort to:

  1. Justify the fact that I bought yet another cheek brush (ahem)
  2. Show how these brushes perform differently to the same product
  3. See if hair type & density actually make a noticeable difference in application.


I thought it would be a good exercise to show you how my brand new Canadian Squirrel cheek brush performs versus some of the other ones I own.  I was actually surprised at how many I own.  I actually have a handful of others, but I think for this demonstrations, these would be sufficient.

Before we get on to the brushes, a quick little look at Tom Ford Narcissist blush (DC, LE).  I own lots of super pigmented blushes, but this is the one that might rank number one in terms of pigmentation intensity.  This is the blush that makes me take the greatest care when I select a brush to apply it on my face.

I will be using this crazy bright pigmented blush to show how different brushes apply on my skin.

Here are the brushes I will be playing with today.
  1. Tom Ford Cheek brush - a very dense, large and very soft goat hair brush.
  2. Chikuhodo Artist Red 16-1 - a fair large grey squirrel brush, with some nice density
  3. SUQQU Cheek brush - a.k.a. Lisa Eldridge Kitten Paw.  Like the Artist Red, also grey squirrel, but with a very petite head and much less density.
  4. Koyudo Canadian Squirrel Cheek brush - the new kid on the block for me.  It is all Canadian Squirrel hair, which is soft but definitely with more bounce, resistance and firmness than grey squirrel.
  5. Trish McEvoy Fan brush - a fan shaped brush with hairs of two different lengths.  The longer black ones are very airily packed and allows picking up a fairy kiss's amount of product.  The shorter and firmer brown hairs allows for some light blending.  I don't know what these hairs are, but I'm seeing a generic "natural" when I search.  I'm guessing pony and dyed goat.
  6. MAC 187 Duo Fiber Face brush - I use this for blush, but it also works for foundations.  It is a blend of goat and sythentic fibers.  Like the TM fan brush, the longer hairs are very lightly packed and performs similarly to the fan brush in terms of pigmentation pick up and depositing.

The beauty blogger brush head picture.  This is a requisite picture.  Now I get a brownie point.  *plonk*

You can see relative head shape and size of each of the brushes.  5 & 6, the Trish and the MAC have the lightest hair/fiber distribution.  The Tom Ford, the giant of the brush is also the most densely packed.  Surprisingly, 4, the Canadian in the bunch is also fairly dense when compared to the 2 Chikuhodo and the 3 SUQQU Cheek.

If I can just summarize each brush again by density and softness:
  1. Tom Ford Cheek is super dense.  The goat hairs are soft, but has a lot of resilience and less give compared to all the other brushes.
  2. Chikuhodo Artist Red 16-1 is incredibly soft and dense, but less so than the Tom Ford and more so than the SUQQU.
  3. SUQQU Cheek is super soft, like the Chikuhodo Artist Red, but coupled with the airiness of the lack of density makes it magically soft all around.
  4. Koyudo Canadian Squirrel feel less soft than the SUQQU or the Chikuhodo grey squirrels, more slightly more soft than the Tom Ford goat hair.  It is much denser than the SUQQU, and slightly more dense than the Chukuhodo.  It is less dense than the Tom Ford.
  5. Trish McEvoy Fan Brush - is not terribly soft, but because the long hairs are so sparsely distributed, it feels very soft on the skin.
  6. MAC 187 like the Trish doesn't have the softness of the other all natural hair brushes, but the very loose density of the long hairs makes it feel very soft on the skin.
I've swirled each brush in the pan in a back and forth movement, covering the brush head evenly as I could.  The flash picture seems to show up the pigment on the hairs better than without.  Funny thing is how the SUQQU (3) looks like is completely packed on with color.

And now the application.  On some blogging days, I wish I had a longer arm.  Because then I would have used even more brushes!  *cackle cackle cackle*
The common wisdom is that a dense brush in a goat hair will product some impressively rich application.  And you can see how 1 Tom Ford is the darkest application.  Each swatch was swished twice, and I can see the 1 swatch needs some extra blending.  It was also the least controlled in terms of precise application, its large head kind of going all over the place.

The second darkest application was the new brush, the 4 Koyudo Canadian Squirrel one.  While it didn't produce as dark an application, it was pretty close and with it's more compact size and more directional shape produced a very precise and neat application.  It's practically perfectly blended right off the bat!

What surprised me was how similar the 2 Chikuhodo, 3 SUQQU, 5 Trish and the 6 MAC 187 were in terms of how darkly the blush was applied.  I do think for a really careful application of a blush like Narcissist, the fan and the 187 would be the better choice.  The more practical shape of the grey squirrel Chikuhodo and SUQQU brushes make then my staples for pretty much all the blushes I own.

I do see that my new Koyudo would make it a really excellent brush for the less pigmented blushes I have.  In the same way that Tom Ford & Koyudo make quick work out of picking up a LOT (maybe even too much product) of something pigmented like Narcissist, it also makes easy work out of picking up color from the lightly pigmented colors as well.

The other aspect to consider when you are thinking about the right set of cheek brushes for you is the actual shape of the brush head.  I only touched on it in passing, but it's the shape that gives precision or lack of precision in placement and allows for it to be a superior blending brush (or not)!  If I am going for a more apples of the cheeks placement and blending, the Tom Ford is my guy.  I'm looking for a soft and naturally blended one, then the Chikuhodo or the SUQQU ones will do.  Crazy pigmented colors?  Then the Trish or the MAC.  Now, how the Koyudo works its way in, I shall have to figure it out.

Blabbity blah blah.

In closing, I for one welcome our Canadian Squirrel Overlords.

What's your criteria for picking the best cheek brushes?

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