I mentioned in my Holy Grail Beauty Products post that I haven’t done many brush reviews so it’s time to remedy that. After quite a delayed gratification (I first spied this brush in May of 2016, when Polished and Inspired came to Toronto for a visit and we pawed at this at Sephora), I was thrilled to add this delightful brush to my collection. You’ve seen glamour shots of it already, but here’s more:
I started using this brush as soon as I bought it in late November – after washing it first – and I want to share my impressions of it here.
This is VERY soft!
And that’s all you really need to know about it. 😛 Ok, maybe a bit more…
This Surratt Artistique Cheek Brush is a special creature because it is made in Japan in the tradition of handmade Fude brushes. The hairs are made of uncut grey squirrel – the natural taper of the hairs feel softer against the skin than blunt cut tips. Most commercial brushes have the tips cut in order to shape the brush head – leaving the hairs uncut means more care is required to place the hairs into the desired shape prior to gluing the hairs to the ferrule base. If you’re ever curious about how makeup brushes are made by hand in Japan, have a read here or view this video.
The appearance of the brush also matters to me. While the typical black brush handles are sleek looking, the Surratt Artistique Cheek Brush has an added touch: its gradient shimmering metallic teal / purple accent handle against the matte black ferrule make an eye catching pairing. The presentation of the box that it was housed in also adds to the overall appearance:
(Brush in boxes: it’s not often that brushes come presented in boxes but I realized that I have reviewed a few on the blog: MAC Masterclass Oval 6 Brush, Bésame Long Hair Finishing Powder Brush, and Hakuhodo Sephora Pro Kusabi Brush.)
The shape of the brush head is a small pom pom (about 3.0cm all around) – the hair tips gently tapers all around the head like a dome, and the base meeting the ferrule is a circle rather than pinched / flattened. The hairs are soft but not overly airy or floppy. I was pleasantly surprised that the bristles are moderately dense and the hair have a good amount of resistance and firmness.
The hairs of this brush is made of grey squirrel which is one of the softest natural hairs used for makeup brushes; it is softer than other popular hairs like goat or pony. I’ve been trying to define what makes a brush feel soft – I think it’s a mixture of:
1) individual hair size: thicker hairs = more course
2) airiness: less space between bristles = more firm
3) silkiness: crimped hairs = harsher feeling
What do you think?
I would say that the Surratt Cheek has very fine hairs, isn’t too airy, and has a good amount of silkiness.
I’ve tested using the Surratt Artistique Cheek Brush against various powder blush formulas and while it performs well with most, I find it excels at finely milled powders or baked mineral powders. Even though the brush head is small, it has a great ability to diffuse powders for a natural blush application. I also find that it buffs blush into the skin well, making the powder meld with skin texture. I wouldn’t recommend this brush for extremely pigmented blushes due to the density of the hairs. Also, brushes made of squirrel hairs should only be used for powder products – no gels, creams, or liquids – since the hairs are rather thin and fragile.
Examples of blushes that pairs will with the Surratt Artistique Cheek Brush: Surratt Artistique Blush (but of course!), Shiseido, MAC Mineralize Blush, Shu Uemura, and Laura Gellar.
I’ve washed the brush twice now and I didn’t experience any shedding. It does puff out slightly from its initial shape after washing and drying. How the brush holds up with usage and repeat washing over the years – only time will tell.
The Surratt Artistique Cheek Brush retails for $125 CAD ($115 USD) and is available only at Sephora within Canada.
• Softness overload
• Picks up and applies powder well
• Beautiful presentation
• Superior workmanship
• No shedding
• Not as versatile as other brushes
Stash worthiness: 8/10
No review of mine would be complete without a comparison. 😉 Besides eye makeup brushes, I have a weakness for blush brushes. It’s oddly specific but I just like trying out various brands, styles, and shape of blush brushes (according to my tracking, I have 55 blush brushes now. 😮 It’s probably correlated to how many blushes I own). Here’s a look at how the Surratt Artistique Cheek Brush compares to some blush brushes in my collection.
The Japanese contenders part 1:
• Shiseido The Makeup Blush Brush #2
• Shu Uemura Natural Brush 20
• Yojiya Ebony Chikurisu Brush
These are all Japanese brands and Japanese-made brushes. The Surratt has a domed profile whereas the rest have a pinched / flattened shape. The Surratt, Shiseido, and Yojiya are all made of squirrel hairs. Side by side in a blind test, I find that the Yojiya is softer due to its extreme silkiness, and both Yojiya and Surratt are slightly softer than Shiseido (but when we’re at this level of softness, it’s a difference between super soft and supremely soft!) The Shu Uemura is made of pony hair and the softness is comparable – this sucker is also very durable; I’ve owned this particular brush for nearly 8 years and it’s still in perfect condition. The Shu Uemura does have a similar level of density as the Surratt while the Yojiya and Shiseido are more sparse / airy.
I have a fondness for blush brushes with flattened paddle shape and pinched bases as I find they provide more control for precise blush placement. I like to apply blush onto my cheeks using the sides of the brush head in an upward sweeping and patting motion when I use these paddle brushes, rather than a swirling circular motion using the bristle tips like I would with rounded / dome brushes like the Surratt. Am I making any sense here or is this the ramblings of a mad person? 😆
The Japanese contenders part 2:
• Chouetools Face Color Brush (M) for Cheek
• Chasty Shiny Slide Cheek Brush
• Chasty Teak Blush Brush
These are drugstore Japanese brushes I found during my trip to Japan. Although they’re from the drugstore and don’t have fancy packaging, they were all labelled as made in Japan, and weren’t exactly dirt cheap (Chouetols is a sub-brand of Shiseido and that brush cost ¥3,000 or ~C$36). Their softness and brush hair certainly reflect the elevated quality of Japanese-made brushes. None have the same softness or pom pom shape of the Surratt but are good options if you’re looking for less expensive Japanese-made makeup brushes. The Chouetols one is my favourite of these.
The similar size / shape:
• Charlotte Tilbury Powder & Sculpt Brush
• Quo Professional Blush Brush
The head size and shape of these brushes are quite similar to the Surratt and I use them interchangeably. I’ve always maintained that the Quo Blush Brush is one of the best blush brushes I own and not surprisingly, it is almost as soft as the Surratt brush, although the hairs on the Quo is not as silky and it is more floppy. Considering Quo is the private label brand of Shoppers Drug Mart, and the brush was made in China – I’m really impressed by it. I have no clue what the hairs are on either the Quo or Charlotte Tilbury but they are definitely natural hairs (likely dyed goat).
The Charlotte Tilbury brush has grown on me – at first I found it scratchy and it shed, but after a few washes it has soften up and stopped shedding. What I like most about the CT brush is actually the handle – the chiseled shape makes for very ergonomic handling. What’s really unusual is that the CT brush is made in Germany.
The not so similar size / shape:
• Anna Sui Cheek Brush
• Sonia Kashuk #29 Dome Brush
I wanted to include these as reference points as to what the Surratt is NOT similar to. My beloved Anna Sui is much larger and fluffier and a paddle shaped – better to use for loosely packed blushes. Both the Anna Sui and Sonia Kashuk are also natural hair bristles – the Anna Sui is pony and I’m guessing the Sonia Kashuk is goat.
The Sonia Kashuk brush has the same shape and density as the Surratt but a much larger size, and although not as soft, it is a very soft brush in its own right. If you’re on a budget, I highly recommend the Sonia Kashuk brushes with the black shapely handles – I own all of the face brushes and they’re all stellar and a steal at less than $20 each.
Against MAC brushes:
• MAC 129SH Powder/Blush Brush
• MAC 137 Long Blending Brush
• MAC 133 Small Cheek Brush
Since I seem to own a number of MAC blush brushes – here’s how Surratt compares to them. The white goat hair of the MAC brushes are typically much softer than the black dyed goat hairs, but neither hold a candle to Surratt’s grey squirrel hair. I do enjoy the polarizing MAC 129 brush even though many people complain the hairs are rough – since it’s a pinched paddle shape, I do a sweeping motion with it when applying product, so I mainly use the sides of the hairs rather than the bristle tips. Maybe that’s why I don’t find it too scratchy? The MAC 137 is unique brush in my collection – it is my go-to for brightly coloured, highly pigmented blushes since it is so airy. I did a review of it here if you want more details. The MAC 133 is yet another paddle shape that I prefer but for some reason I don’t reach for it too often – I think it’s slightly too small for my liking. All of the MAC brushes shown are also made in Japan.
And here’s a comparison chart 😉 :
It’s hard to pick just one favourite but the ones I reach for most are the Shu Uemura, Yojiya, Quo, Surratt, and Anna Sui.
So is the Surratt the absolute most versatile blush brush I own? No. That distinction I would bestow upon the Shu Uemura (hence why I named it my HG blush brush). Is it the softest? I’d say it’s close to the Yojiya but not as soft. I should note here that being the softest isn’t always the best – sometimes you need a little firmness in a brush to blend products. The Surratt Artistique Cheek Brush is not an absolute must-have brush but with its combination of softness, shape, appearance, and craftsmanship, I feel it’s a good supplement in my existing blush collection. 😀
What is your favourite blush brush?
Since it’s been asked a few times in the comments about when I’m planning to stop blogging, I’ll answer it here. After this post, I have 2 more planned entries. Then on the 28th, I’ll be announcing the winner to my giveaway. 🙂