Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review: Shu Uemura 18G Foundation Brush

For the past 3 years I've been a mineral foundation girl and have been a MAC kabuki brush fan. But in the last 8 or so months, I've stop using powdered mineral foundation and have reverted back to liquids.

Why, I hear you ask?
The reason was simple, I was getting really flakey skin with use of prescriptive Retin-A to fade scars and mineral foundations was just making my flakes more obvious and pretty much giving me downright grief so I gave up using it all together one day.

These days you'll find on me slapping on Revlon Colorstay, Bobbi Brown Luminous Moisturising foundation or the cream based Cover Creme from Dermablend depending on my mood and the coverage I'm looking for. The thing that doesn't change though when I'm using liquids is my foundation brush.

Now most makeup artists rave on and on about flat synthetic foundation brushes like the MAC 190 brush for foundation application. I honestly don't know what they are on about because I find unless you are using with a light and fluid foundation, these foundation brushes leave streaks all over the face and don't make it the easiest job to do blending work.

Then there was the MAC 187 stippling brush craze which was all the rage 2 years ago for achieving the flawless airbrush look. Sure it does give you that result, but the stippling motion is very time consuming and when you're not in luck, you may find yourself having to pick up all the hair fibres that fall onto your face afterwards.

These days,  flatop brushes like the previously reviewed Sigma F80 or MAC 130 are the bees knees and are getting all the air time on Youtube and beauty blogs everywhere.

Today I want to rave on about another brush that does an even better and faster job of liquid foundation blending work; honestly - I don't know how I survived all those years without it.

Shu Uemura 18 Goat Foundation Brush

Hair close up

  • The first thing that surprises me is the size and shape of the brush. Seriously it is no more than 3cm wide and 2.5cm high, looks more like flattened mini blush brush, is quite thick from the side view and looks like no foundation brush I've ever used before. 
  • Handmade from superfine uncut white goat hair which is quite densely packed, it feels ah-mazingly soft on skin - like seriously, it was as if I was being caressed by angel kisses when I'm using this brush. 
  • Don't underestimate this little baby just because of its size, it takes me less time to blend my whole face with it than using the Sigma F80 brush. This brush gave me poreless airbrushed perfection skin in about 1 minute flat - for real! I would dot foundation all over my face with my finger and then use quick side to side wiping motion to blend the product into my face. I attribute the amazing results to its wonderful natural fibres being able to spread the liquid products around in a better manner than synthetic fibres.
  • Being made of white goat hair, I was thinking this thing would stain like hell after use, but the amazing thing was washing it was so easy, it was like washing off powdered products rather than liquids and each time after washing, my brush would appear brand new. Even my MAC white brushes don't come anywhere close to looking this new after a wash (they tend to have this light yellow stain after being washed) 
  • The other great thing is that it's quick drying and holds its shape well; I would wash it late in the evening and it would be ready for me to use again the early next morning. 
  • I have experienced very minimal shedding during use and in washes. On rare occasions, (like every 10th time I'm using the brush), I will get a single stray hair on my face and very rarely do I see any fallout during washes.
Foundation brushes side by side - 18G and F80 are dirty as I haven't washed them

Top view to show brush fibres and head sizes

close up of brush head - added in MAC 187 for size comparison purposes

I don't really use any other brushes for foundation any more after trying out the Shu Uemura brush. I still use the F80 for cream based foundation as the hairs are much denser, so spreads the thicker cream products better than Shu Uemura. Other than that, this powerful little thing has pretty much made all my other foundation brushes redundant.

For those of you who haven't invested in a foundation brush, I say skip everything and jump straight to this. It is an investment no doubt, but a very worthy one.

Rating: 10/10. RRP US$39. Available in Australia at selected David Jones stores at higher prices. I purchased mine online from the US.


  1. I LOVE Shu Uemura brushes, the quality is absolutely amazing. So far I only have the concealer brush but I certainly want to get more! I'm almost inclined to say they are the best brushes on the market, but I'd want to try a good number of them first, if only they weren't so incredibly expensive @_@ Makes it hard on my hip pocket to collect them >_O I think you've convinced me this foundation brush is next on the list!

  2. WOW - only $39 - that's a pretty good price for a great brush. Damn - now I want one too!
    Got a Sigma brush order on the way....maybe there'll be something in that order similar enough to it. I dislike the flat foundation brushes I have - they leave streaks as you commented. I do like a good kabuki brush though :) yet to try with liquid foundations - only mineral ones.

  3. Celina - I <3 brushes too, and wish I started out with them instead of collecting the MAC brushes. Don't get me wrong, I love most of my MAC brushes too but the Shu ones I own (a lip brush, foundation, and portable blush brush) are all amazing in quality and function. I have been adding a new ones bit by bit. Hopefully one day I'll have a whole Shu collection too :)

    @Melbournite - The price isn't cheap but add tax and to get it to Australia, it started to become dear. I have a sigma order on the way too. I got a premium travel brush set for when I'm travelling next year and for short trips. Can't wait to do reviews on those when I get to use them properly.

  4. After reading your review, I'm very very tempted to give this one a go. Which US website did you get it from? :P

  5. Another good Japanese brand for brushes is Hakuhodo. Try it. They are absolutely soft and amazing. And well priced.

  6. @anon - I absolutely agree with you about Hakuhodo. I recently had a chance to play with all their entire range when I went to IMATS makeup trade show.

    Ended up with 5 of their brushes back home with me... and lots more on my wish list. If I could start all over, I'd ditch MAC (except their MAC 217 and 226 brush, love those) and just stick with selected brushes from Bobbi, Shu, Stila, NARS and the rest would all be from Hakuhodo.

    They are absolutely amazing. watch out for reviews on them on the blog in the next few weeks!

  7. I about to get this brush because of you. Your review are so clear. Thank you so much. For me, my idea about the foundation brush is same like you. I like the brush like sigma F80 or 82 that make my life much easier with the foundation and now I see this shuuemura bursh and i know it will working amazing for me too. Thank you very much.

  8. You're most welcome Anonymous! I hope you enjoy your Shu Uemura 18G brush :)

  9. I bought a shu uemura goat 18 foundation brush in Dublin a few weeks ago, price €53 65. It applies foundation very nicely but in my opinion, it has one major flaw which is every time I use it, it sheds at least 3-4 hairs. I do not like this as other top quality brushes that I have had for years do not do this so I will probably return it, a bit disappointing for such an expensive brush.

  10. I love the Shu Uemura 18 goat too much to use it daily for foundation... Instead I use Shisedo Perfect Foundation Brush daily, with my Shu Smooth Fit foundation. When I apply my Anna Sui foundation, I tend to switch my brush to MAC 187 (which tends to shed, this is not the case with my MAC 188... which is dedicated to my Benefit Tints). My Bobby Brown foundation brush is much neglected. And I use the Elizabeth Arden mineral powder brush with my EA mineral powder... Hmm, time to edit my brushes and foundations...


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