Friday, 20 April 2012

Hakuhodo K024 and Kokutan ML Eye Brushes


I was finally prompted to write a post about these two brushes after using the Hakuhodo K024 the other day and feeling rather disappointed. Being disappointed by a Hakuhodo brush is such a rarity that I thought it was is definitely worthy of discussion.

These eyeshadow brushes are at the opposite end of the price spectrum. The Kokutan ML eye brush is a blend of blue squirrel hair and synthetic fibre and costs $48. The K024 is a horse hair brush and currently costs $17 (I paid $12 as I purchased before the January price rises).  It is probably unsurprising that a brush that retails for under £10 has some imperfections but I suspect that it's the type of hair that I don't get on with in this case.



Looking back at the pictures of the K024 when it first arrived, it is clear to see that it has lost its shape through washing. It has altered further since I took these pictures. The oval paddle shape has gone and instead it is wide and splayed out just before the tip. The hairs no longer feel smooth at the end, some have taken on a kink and the brush feels quite bulky at the tip. The hairs no longer feel as soft on the skin: they have blunt tips and feel more like cut ends rather than the usual natural tapered tip of the hair. I'm not sure which, if any, of my other brushes are horse hair to compare with but it is possible the slightly rough texture is typical for this type of hair.

I particularly noticed how scratchy the brush felt after washing. I wondered if it might benefit from being washed with moisturising shampoo rather than my preferred BECCA brush soap. It did indeed feel a little softer after washing with the shampoo so I will have to remember this in future (or more likely skip using this brush).

The K024 still picks up product with no issue but I feel it doesn't apply colour on the lids as well as some of my other brushes. I actually did one eye using the Kokutan and one with the K024 yesterday, so I know I'm not just imagining the difference in performance.

Kokutan ML

The Kokutan ML eye brush is a completely different story. I love this brush and it was worth every penny for its luxurious feel. It feels silky soft to the touch and maintains its lovely oval paddle shape after washing. I wouldn't have realised that it was a blend of hair and synthetic fibre had I not checked on the Hakuhodo website as it looks and feels like 100% hair. It also has that faint animalic whiff when it is washed.

The Kokutan ML applies colour on the lid beautifully: it doesn't pack it on like the MAC 239, instead it is perfect for adding colour in layers and because of this I don't end up with a blunt line that I need to blend. It holds on to shimmery eyeshadows well, applying without fallout. It has a shorter handle than many brush makes but as I've mentioned before, I rather like that.


Top to bottom: MAC 239, Kokutan ML and K024

Top to bottom: RBR Large Shader, MAC 239, Kokutan ML and K024

I have included pictures of both of the brushes next to the MAC 239 and Rouge Bunny Rouge Large Shader 003 for size and shape comparison. As you can see, both are quite large lid brushes and closer in size to the RBR brush than the 239. The Kokutan ML is also much flatter in profile than any of my other brushes.

So there we have it, one love and one 'meh'. I can't say I hate the K024, it is serviceable enough and cheaper than many other lid brushes but I think there are better alternatives available and this is probably one to skip.

Hakuhodo brushes are available from Be aware that customs charges my apply for those buying from outside the USA.


  1. Jane, I am sorry you were disappointed, but it's quite refreshing to read an honest review among the Hakuhodo hysteria. To be sure, they make some amazing brushes. I have several that I love so much I could practically lick them and others that will end up in a future blog sale, partly because I just don't have as much use for them as I thought I would.

    One thing I will do in the future is have a ruler handy so I can see what 6mm really looks like for a brush head!!

    Funny but one of my non-Japanese favorite brushes is still the Edward Bess Luxury Eye brush. It's not for detail work, but it's excellent for applying 2-3 washes of color and blending them together.

    1. They definitely make some wonderful brushes, I think that's why this stood out so much. I'm sure it's the hair I don't like. It's not rubbish but it is one to miss and hopefully this review will be helpful for other people ordering online.

      It's funny you should mention the Edward Bess brush. I remember stroking it in person and wondering whether to go for it. So many trusted people like yourself have recommended it that it might just be an itch I have to scratch ;)

  2. I think I had a look at the K024 but when I went to order it was out of stock so maybe it was a sign?

    I agree with you about the Kokutan brushes - I bought one which was the MLL (which is a bit bigger than the ML) and I love it, so beautifully soft and I do get good use from it.

  3. Maybe that's why Hakuhodo says not to wash their brushes. That surprised me. So far I've just wiped them off.

  4. Lately I'm really disappointed with my hakuhodo purchases, I wonder if they are not victims of their success and gave a little bit on the quality. I just saw a picture on a blog of the G5515 and was horrified how loosely it is packed (
    But on the other hand they have such a good selection of shapes and hair types that I'm always tempted


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