Friday, December 31, 2010

NARS Botan Brush

The huge Botan brush is part of the foursome NARS Artisan brushes (as is the Yachiyo. I'll review the two Ita brushes soon). When I say it's huge I really mean it: it fills your hand and covers large chunks of face real-estate. The Botan brush is bigger and denser than any of my other Kabuki brushes and has quite a bit of personality. It requires understanding more than actual skill to use correctly. I've been living with mine for the last six months, so I feel it's time to share the love and knowledge.

First, what it's for:
NARS website tells us the Botan has "a large, dense dome shape perfect for loose powder application, buffing and blending. ". This is a finishing brush- the last stage of a full makeup application, when you're trying to achieve a smooth, absolutely seamless finish. The brush buffs away contour lines, removes excess powder and evens out the color on your jaw and everywhere else. You can use the Botan to apply mineral makeup, but honestly, I feel this tasks requires more precision when depositing the color than the brush allows. However, the way it's cut and fits on the face does allow access to crevices, especially around the nose, so I understand why some like to use it with stuff other than just finishing powder.

What's most important to know:
Don't even think of using this brush without first washing it thoroughly. An experienced NARS specialist stressed that it was absolutely crucial to do that, and I guess she was right. The brush definitely felt softer to the touch once I washed it. It also lost some hair and a bit of dye in the process but not since. This is annoying, if you ask me. When a company creates a top tier  product (and prices it accordingly) you'd expect it'd be ready to use. It's even more irritating considering the brush is so dense it takes 2-3 days to fully dry (not to mention the maneuvering and Macgyvering  I have to do making sure the brush stays upside down while drying), so you buy this luxury brush, need to do some work to make it fully usable and then wait.

Once your brush is dry and you're ready to use it, do your makeup as usual, get your favorite finishing powder (note that the Botan brush doesn't fit inside a Guerlain Meteorites tin), start buffing and note the difference- it's all in the details.

Bottom Line: Excellent, but probably not a beginner's tool.

NARS Botan brush ($75) is available at Barneys, Neiman, Sephora and

All photos are mine.


  1. Thanks for reviewing this brush- I've always been curious about it. I think I've found my HG finishing brush, though- Hourglass No. 7. It is Taklon and so soft, yet so effective.

  2. Thank you for the detailed review. It's a very beautiful looking tool. I find it a little intimidating I must say. From my days as a decorative painter I learned that all application of paint of any kind is improved immensely by blotting or touching it before completely set. Now I spray with a fine mist of water and blot with a soft cloth after putting on a more opaque foundation, or even on a dry face pass a very soft cloth or tissue over the whole face, especially around the nose and eyes, and find it makes a huge difference for the better, blending and removing the very finest thinnest top layer to make a more integrated look.

  3. I own this brush but never wore it that much - I got a good deal on eBay, but its large size and somewhat stiff hair left me at a loss over what to do with it! This review is incrediply useful. I'm going to wash mine and see what happens!

  4. hmm, aren't you not supposed to dry upside down, so that water don't seep into the ferule?
    i dry mine on top of a towel, in a slightly sloped surface (the brush hair in the lower slope of the surface). yes, one side of the hair may turn out a bit flat during the drying process, but once dry and fluffed, they usually regain their form.

  5. Another want! The only problem that this brush is so large I'm not sure I could could swirl this in the cap's of my powder to evenly coat the brush. Good for the body though!

  6. I have wanted this brush for a long time, but wonder if you still use it a lot- nearly two years later. I have amassed quite a large Hakuhodo stash (in large part because of you and your drool-worthy reviews) and wonder if my money is better spent on Hakuhodo. What do you think? Like you, I love unusual brushes-- but do you find that you reach for other brushes instead of this one? Have a lovely weekend! xx

    1. You guessed right. It's a good one but I've mostly switched to a Hakuhodo Kinoko flat brush. It's a little more expensive, but the hair is of a superior quality and the finish is better.

    2. I had a feeling that you were going to say that!! That Kinoko flat brush has me drooling!! I have been stalking that brush on the Hakuhodo website, and really wish I had ordered it last year before the price increase!! I will scratch the NARS Botan from my wish list, and definitely add the Kinoko to my next Hakuhodo order! Thanks!


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