Hey dudes, its Quinn's turn up on the blog. If you haven't been following her already why NOT?
I love reading about the background of brands; not so much about historical dates and timelines (snore…) but more about the brand’s specialties, and how they (hand)make their products in a delicate and detailed manner. I have watched videos from how Diptyque candles are made, to how diamonds are selected, to the Hermes scarf process (and I agree with comments about the price — once you understand the process, $500 becomes… well, if not palatable, at least somewhat comprehensible.)
My newest obsession is makeup brushes.
(Disclaimer: I am a freakin’ neanderthal when it comes to makeup, and my face is not a canvas that inspires further makeup artistry. I’m happy with a flawless face, fluttery eyelashes and pink lips… simple! So my conclusions below are drawn from research, not first hand experience. Furthermore, I generalize a lot between mass produced brushes vs. hand made ones. Obviously there are wonderful cheap brushes as there are lousy expensive ones — but those cases may be the exception, not the rule.)
What I have been obsessed with in particular are Japanese makeup brushes. Hakuhodo, Chikuhodo, Koyudo, Suqqu — I’m devouring every review and photo. As I’m sure everyone knows, the key difference between Japanese makeup brushes and Western/mass produced ones are:
1. HAIR ARRANGEMENT: Mass produced brush bristles are laser-cut to create the shape of the brush head. This means the end of each hair is blunt. Japanese brush hairs are arranged by hand to create the shape of the brush head — so each hair remains tapered. This creates an extremely soft brush, which results in superior blending ability.
2. HANDLES: Western handles can be thick, long, and clumsy (exceptions: Sephora, Wayne Goss). Japanese handles are shorter, usually tapered and smaller. I can’t believe how clumsy MAC handles are — were they made by and for men!?
3. HAIR QUALITY: Most cheaper brushes are made of nondescript brush hairs: synthetic, or pony or goat, I guess. Typically they are stiff and scratchy compared to Japanese counterparts, which I have heard described as “so soft, that it doesn’t feel like a brush. You feel sensation, but not brush hairs.” Also, Japanese brushes pay more attention to the type of hair, specifying a different purpose for blue squirrel, Canadian squirrel, goat, weasel, water badger, etc.
4. LONGEVITY: Many say handmade brushes shed hair only rarely, never bleed, and do not splay with proper care.
5. ATTITUDE: This last point is subjective. I am annoyed by the attitude of “luxury” Western brands towards brushes. High end brands like Chanel and Dior offer brushes at ‘high end brand’ prices but frankly, some of their brushes are awful. They are made of nondescript hair that is laser cut, with clumsy handles. Yet these brands believe they can get away with selling them to women… What I fear is that their attitude towards brushes (i.e., selling mediocre quality products at a premium price because of their ‘luxury’ reputation) reflects their attitude towards the other products they make as well. I am weary of luxury brands trying to push pseudo-science onto women as marketing, or products being $$$ when a look at their contents shows nothing exceptional. What happened to taking pride in your own work and products? I think this might be the *key* difference between handmade and mass-production brands.
Now here is my question.
If you’re not a makeup artist or even a makeup enthusiast, then does it make sense to go for the ~$180 Suqqu cheek brush? Or even the $80 Hakuhodo Kokutan cheaper dupe of that brush? There are some very good, decent, synthetic and cheaper brushes. Real Techniques is an epitome of that category. And yeah, I just bullet-pointed-out the ways in which Japanese brushes are superior to all others, but I ask myself… do I always have to have the best?
In this day and age, it’s easy to Google… read reviews…watch YouTube tutorials… look at Amazon ratings… Yelp restaurants… and become a snob about quality. But do we always have to have the best?
Does it get exhausting… or even boring after a while?
What do you think?
Jenn's two cents below:
I think we often chase after the best. And the best is an ideal we should all wish to obtain but I don’t think its realistic in many avenues of life. My friends were talking about how people want ant a job that is fulfilling, meaningful, pays a lot, super exciting and,and, and...and they bitch and complain when they don’t have that type of job. But how is it realistic to expect such lofty goals from one avenue of our life, when we don’t expect for it to be realized in all other avenues. In the case of relationships, we‘d all want partners who are loving, constantly nurturing, wonderfully perseptive, loaded with good looks and money and great in bed, but none of our partners are all those things and we don’t wait around to find the ‘perfect’ one. We get the one that’s 90% there and 100% better than the rest. We suffice, and we deal.
So anyways, on brushes. Yea, there are $100 brushes out there, and I’m sure they’re made by the gods but I don’t have that kind of cash to be throwing around and I don’t think its realistic for people to strive for some of these things especially since its only consumerism. There are avenues worth striving harder for.