Monday, June 20, 2011

Shu Uemura Kolinsky Brush 5R

This one is a serious hall of famer. I was first introduced to the 5R Kolinsky Brush by a Shu Uemura makeup artist at the counter (how I miss having actual Shu counters in the US. Their staff was always knowledgeable and helpful, and boy did they do a good job applying makeup). He showed me how this unassuming little brush could do anything and everything: handle all textures, do precise work in the crease and inner corner, reach between the lashes, create a beautiful smoky eye and even blend eye shadows to perfection.

Dain of Ars Aromatica mentioned the 5R brush in a comment she left me last year and it was interesting hearing how she found this brush particularly fitting for her eye shape, as I loved it dearly despite being so small (a large part of my eye brush collection is occupied by the makeup equivalents of huge paint rollers). It's all about performance, and the Shu Uemura Kolinsky Brush 5R does an amazing job.

The bristles, made of pure kolinsky, are wonderfully soft despite their relative firmness. It's the perfect density to pick up enough color for crease and lash work and then blend everything. A really good brush doesn't need you to work very hard until you get the desired look; the 5R is a perfect example for that. And it does it all while being this small- you can see it here next to Hakuhodo S146, a slim and delicate crease brush. The Shu 5R is so much smaller, which is why it also works in the lash line. The elegant and equally versatile Shu Uemura 8HR looks huge next to it. I often use them together.

Bottom Line: completely worth it.

Shu Uemura Kolinsky Brush 5R ($60) is available from and overseas counters.

All photos are mine.


  1. Thank you for the review on this and all of the other brushes you've been doing---you've given some great recommendations I would never have known about or tried otherwise.

    I would never think to try such a small brush, but it sounds quite impressive. I may have to rethink my brush-buying criteria and learn to step out of the box once in awhile.


  2. oh my god, your brush collection is to die for. i love you for that. seriously.

  3. The 5R is my favorite brush of all time; I'm attached to it the way most women are to their 217. It's versatile, as you point out, but what makes it particularly suited to me is how it fits exactly into 1/3 of my lid space (obviously, mine is minute). Dick Page once wrote that you really only need two shadow brushes: a large one for washes and blending, and a smaller one for detail work. (He also thinks a natural hair brush, like a blush brush, is better for applying foundation. I wish he'd write a makeup book.) As I reason it, the perfect detail brush is 1/3 of your lid space; I think it's because that's how far you can smoke up your eyeliner before it turns into eyeshadow, so any bigger than that, it's no longer qualified for precision work.

    I picked up an LM Finishing Eye a couple days ago. It's a duofibre in that classic crease/blending shape, quite loose, the tips are very diffused. I'm sure it does its job of "finishing" very well, but this is the perfect brush for buffing in concealer. It picks up very little pigment, and gives the most naturalistic finish. Let me upload a photo real quick.

  4. Kolinsky brushes like the ones pictured can also be bought at art supply stores or catalogs, in many different sizes and shapes. They do have long handles, though, unless you can find a "travel" brush. The secret with art brushes is in the number of crimps: one, not so good; two, pretty good; three; now we're talking. I'm no makeup brush expert, but for $60 one can buy a very good kolinsky artists brush, especially a small one. Just a thought.

  5. I love Shu uemura brushes as well. I have Kolinsky Brush 4R, the hair looks a little longer than 5r and less stiff. I love it. If you are starting a movement to bring Shu back to the States, I will self recruit myself to join you. I miss all the artists that work at the counters and in the store in San Francisco.
    Great Review


  6. That brush is calling to me. I hope you locked it up. I have three Shu Kolinsky brushes (I forget the number--I want to say 10), and they are incredible; one is full size and two are travel.

    I agree you have an incredible brush collection.

    Dain, I also have the LM Finishing Brush, and I agree it gives an airbrushed look to concealer application. I also like to apply my cream eyeshadows to the crease using the LM brush because typical cream brushes are too flat for that area and skip and drag.

  7. Shannon, I find that I need more variety in my brushes the more makeup I have.

  8. ketoglutarat, thank you! I try to be worthy of my brushes ;) .

  9. Dain, and here I thought I had all the brushes I need. There is a quick visit to Blommie's in my almost immediate future.
    I'm with you on all things Dick Page. I really (really really) want to meet him and watch his work. By the way, I agree about natural brushes and foundation. While I have several great synthetic ones, I get the most perfect finish from natural flat tops.

  10. P., thank you so much for this piece of advice. I know absolutely nothing about art brushes and had no idea they even had kolinsky brushes at the art supply stores. This opens up a whole new world.

  11. Thanks, Daisy. Adding the 4R to a shopping list for next time I'm in Canada.

  12. ZP, I'm too lazy to go check if the 10 Natural is a kolinsky or not, but it's a fabulous brush. All unicorn, as far as I'm concerned.

  13. I'd never used sable before I came across it in the Shu brushes, and I could not believe how soft they were. My next splurge will be that Suqqu powder brush.

  14. ZP, I dream of that Suqu brush. The entire line, really. I wish Ichibankao would start selling them- she has the the makeup, after all.


I love comments and appreciate the time you take to connect with me, but please do not insert links to your blog or store. Those will be deleted. The comment feature is not intended to provide an advertising venue for your blog or your commercial site.

Related Posts Widget