I don't think a photo can truly convey just how soft and fluffy this Hakuhodu Kokutan Finishing Brush is. I once tried to explain the difference between certain brushes to the husband, so I slid this Hakuhodo brush first across his inner wrist and then his face. The Blond closed his eyes and nearly purred. Yes, it almost feels like Sophie*.
A finishing brush is an odd creature. It can be used to apply a touch of finishing powder (like Guerlain Meteroites) to the face once everything else is done. But more then that, such a brush should airbrush the face, perfect the blending and ensure there are absolutely no visible lines marking the start and finish of foundation, powder, bronzer or anything else you've just used. This is an important and not as simple a task as it might appear, considering this finishing touch should happen without moving and disturbing the makeup from where you actually placed it. This is why a good finishing brush must be the softest thing ever, not too firm but also not as floppy as to be useless.
This is why the Hakuhodo people with their perfectionism, top quality materials and incredible craftsmanship are the ones to make the perfect finishing brush. The large angled Kokutan (model number E0173) is not just gorgeous from tip to handle. The ebony wood is beautiful, of course, but it's the blend of goat and synthetic hair that creates the desired softness. The hair is uncut, meaning has its natural tip, making it more gentle on the skin and more durable. It's flexible enough to slide over the makeup and not move it, while not being floppy to the point of not making any difference.
I know some would question the necessity of a finishing brush, especially if one owns a couple of excellent powder brushes. It's not a must have, especially for beginners or those just starting to build a quality brush collection. The Louise Young Super Brush LY07 performs adequately, although it's not quite as soft, and being thicker and wider you need to pay little more attention and make sure you're not pressing it too hard onto the existing makeup (same goes for NARS Botan). The Hakuhodo is a truly luxury item and the difference it makes in makeup application is visible but relatively small. Using the Hakuhodu Kokutan Finishing Brush gives pleasure, physical and emotional, and is part of the makeup ritual, hence the bottom line:
Really (really!) nice to have but not a necessity.
Hakuhodu Kokutan Finishing Brush LAG E0173 ($82) is available from hakuhodousa.com. Please note that Hakuhodo offers a similarly shaped brush in their basic series, B100BkSL Finishing Brush angled E1102 ($66). The brushes aren't identical: neither in size (the basic is a bit bigger) not in hair (the basic is all goat), and I haven't compared them in real life, only from the available info on Hakuhodo's site. I do own several brushes from the basic series and find them excellent.
*Sophie, for those just joining us, is a cat: