Aside from history and exquisite craftsmanship of Japanese Fude brushes, what sets them apart from other makeup brushes is their bristles. Bristles are hand-selected to ensure only the highest quality bristles are used; the bristles are then hand-bundled by artisans to achieve the different shapes. There is no cutting or trimming, to keep the natural tip intact for optimum softness and performance. This is a painstaking process, but one that allows the brushes their characteristic benefits: excellent product pickup; smooth and even distribution of product, and silky-soft tips that are friendly to sensitive skin.
Ask the Artisans
Natural Bristle Q&A
CAN YOU PLEASE COMPARE GOAT, SQUIRREL, AND HORSE BRISTLES?
The tips of squirrel bristles are very delicate and soft, and their feel on the skin is unsurpassed. Squirrel is suitable for natural make-up as it applies color softly. Goat bristles have fine tips and a strong body. They're good for blush, eye shadow, and many other applications. The tips of horse bristles are firmer but still soft, they blend well and are easy to use. The price is very reasonable.
Squirrel bristles are soft and pleasant to the touch. They're suitable for natural-looking makeup. Goat bristles are comfortable and soft on the skin and has a more manageable texture than squirrel. They can pick up a good amount of product. Horse bristles are ideal for eyebrows and other areas where you want to apply the product well.
HOW DOES THE TANUKI HAIR COMPARE TO OTHER HAIR TYPES LIKE WEASEL AND SABLE?
(Koyudo) Tanuki more flexible, controllable, and durable than weasel or Kolinsky; it can have less uniformity.
(Houkodou) Tanuki bristles are a little thicker than weasel or Kolinsky bristles, both overall and at the tips. Tanuki bristle is often used as an eyebrow brush, but it can be used to apply makeup in fine lines.
MIX SQUIRREL/GOAT. HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO ALL GOAT/ ALL SQUIRREL?
(Koyudo) The softness, strength, and powder content pick up of each hair material can be brought out and leveraged in combination.
PLEASE BREAK DOWN THE DIFFERENT SQUIRREL HAIRS AND WHY SOME ARE MORE EXPENSIVE THAN OTHERS?
Note: Blue, gray and ash squirrel are used interchangeably.
The pure softness of red squirrel and gray squirrel is their main characteristic. Pine squirrel is stronger than red and gray squirrel and are suitable for blush and shadow. Canadian squirrel has stronger tips than pine squirrel and is very rare and expensive, but it is a popular material among professionals because it is very manageable and controllable. This is why they are more expensive than others.
All squirrel types naturally high quality, but there are differences in softness and strength. Red squirrel is very precious and difficult for brush makers to acquire. It is very pleasant to apply product with, even around sensitive areas like eyes. Gray squirrel are black and have fine tips, so feel very soft and comfortable on the skin.
IS THERE A BRISTLE THAT TENDS TO LAST LONGER THAN OTHERS? ADDITIONALLY IN TERMS OF THE LEAST TO MOST EXPENSIVE CAN YOU RANK THE MAIN BRISTLE TYPES?
Bristle longevity depends on the delicateness of a bristle, combined with how often it is used and with what products, as well as how it is washed and treated.
The order of softness is typically*:
Silver fox/squirrel/saibikoho > saikoho > sokoho, goat > weasel / kolinsky > water badger.
*But this depends also on other factors, like the quality of the bristles themselves, and the shape, length, and density of bundling.
The price of the bristles depends on the price the workshops buy them for, which depends on quality and rarity. Silver fox and some varieties of squirrel are high-quality and rare, and therefore generally more expensive. These are also becoming more difficult for Japanese Fude makers to purchase and more expensive.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DYED AND UNDYED GOAT HAIR? DOES DYEING THE BRISTLES AFFECT THE BRUSHES' LONGEVITY?
The general consensus from workshops differs between makers, but the general consensus is that it barely makes a difference, and that the difference can relate to the shape or length of the bristles, quality of bristles, and density of the bundling. It might also cater for personal preferences for showing product or not. Some makers (such as Mizuho), often use dyed for powder and undyed for liquid.
“It is said that undyed bristles are softer, but there is not really much difference. If anything, the difference is related to the design.” (Chikuhodo)
“Dyed goat hair may be a little weaker in strength. However, there is no difference in softness. The softness varies depending on the individual difference of the raw material itself.” (Houkodou)
are natural bristles ethically sourced?
The natural bristles used in Japanese Fude brushes are by-products of other industries (such as animal meat and pest control), so no animals are killed for the purpose of producing brushes.
Fude brushes are often chosen on the basis of sustainability, as they are hand-crafted using high-quality materials and designed to last for many years, rather than shorter lifecycles of mass-produced brushes.
WHAT ARE THE BEST HAIR TYPES TO APPLY SHIMMER EYESHADOW?
(Kyureido) It depends on your preference for the finish, but if you want a natural look, squirrel hair is the way to go. If you want a solid color, then go for horse, weasel, or goat hair.
(Houkodou) Horse and goat, since the tips of the bristles can pick up and deposit a lot of powder, the color can be applied well. Kolinsky, as the tips of the bristles are thin and the color can be applied with pinpoint accuracy. Also, it is easy to handle because of its elasticity.
WHAT KIND OF BRISTLES GOES WITH WHICH TYPE OF MAKEUP FORMULA?
Generally, more delicate bristles like gray squirrel and silver fox are not recommended for creams and liquids, but rather, more durable bristles like goat, weasel, kolinsky, horse, PBT and PBT blends. Aside from durability, absorption can be an issue with natural bristles (which tend to absorb more product). But the length, shape and density of bundling also impact whether a bristle type is suitable for liquid/cream products or not (eg. Chikuhodo T-11 may be saikoho goat, but the bristles are dense and on the short side).
(Chikuhodo) “We recommend brushes made of weasel hair or synthetic fibers. Some of our customers use R-LQ1 or other liquid foundation brushes for blending blush, it depends on how you use it.”
Koyudo recommends their Makiko Series and Fu-pa for cream and liquid products.
Mizuho recommends PBT and weasel bristles for cream and liquid product application.
Houkodou recommends bristles of PBT, weasel and horse hair when it comes to smaller brushes such as eye and small highlights. For cheek brushes, they recommend brushes with densely bundled bristles.
Kyureido recommends using PBT brushes for liquid, cream, and gel makeup.
WHICH EYE BRUSHES WOULD YOU RECOMMEND FOR PEOPLE WITH SENSITIVE SKIN AROUND THE EYE AREA?
(Chikuhodo) We recommend using a brush with a soft texture, such as silver fox and gray squirrel.
(Koyudo) Red squirrel and gray squirrel brushes are recommended for the softness of the bristles.
(Tanseido) We recommend the squirrel bristles, as these are fine and soft. Nylon brushes cause static electricity and are not recommended.
(Kyureido) Soft bristles are best, so we recommend products that use squirrel hair. We recommend the KK003 and KK004 eyeshadow brushes.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN IT'S TIME TO replace A FUDE BRUSH?
(Houkodou) The lifespan of a brush depends on its care, but it also depends on the stiffness of the bristles. Soft squirrel bristles can be used for a long time even if the bristles wear out. If you feel a stinging sensation when you put it on your skin, or if cosmetics do not adhere well to it, you can say that it has reached the end of its life.
(Kyureido) If the brush does not apply makeup well after washing, or if the bristles fall out easily, it is time to replace it.
what is the best practice for keeping brushes clean?
(Chikuhodo) The less often you wash it, the better, but the timing of washing should depend on the condition of the tips rather than the quality of the hair. In order to reduce the number of times you have to wash, please take good care of your tips by using tissue removal.
(Koyudo) Goat roughly once a month, squirrel and silver fox once approximately every three months.
(Tanseido) Squirrel-type bristles are fine and soft, so if they get dirty, we recommend washing them with neutral detergent and rinsing.
CAN WIPING NATURAL BRISTLES ON A TOWEL DAMAGE THEM? IS THERE A BEST WAY TO WIPE TO PREVENT BREAKAGE?
(Houkodou) Normally, remove cosmetics by gently dabbing the brush on a tissue. Towels have coarse fibers, so for brushes made of delicate materials, we recommend using a tissue. If the brush is heavily soiled, use a cleaning agent for brushes.
(Tanseido) We recommend using a Japanese towel. Please wipe off carefully. Wipe it lightly in the shape of a straight brush and stand it up on a cup or other holder. Please use a suitable shampoo to wash.
(Kyureido) Immediately after applying makeup, use a tissue instead of a towel to lightly brush off the brushes until no powder comes out. After washing brushes, wrap it with a dry towel and lightly press down to wipe off the moisture. It is not necessary to wash brushes every time after use.
WHERE AND HOW IS BEST TO STORE FUDE BRUSHES?
(Houkodou) When storing brushes as new, we recommend adding camphor or other insect repellent. When storing brushes after use, there is no possibility of insects eating the brushes since they are covered with cosmetics. However, if the brush is kept in an airtight container, it will accelerate the growth of bacteria, so please keep it in a well-ventilated place.
(Kyureido) It is best to store them in a cylinder like a pen holder or in a pouch or case designed for makeup brushes.