I know that many of you are placing last minute orders from Hakuhodo before the January price increase. I did, too, but as always, I prefer to spend some serious quality time with my brushes before I review. Still, a quick look through my files shows that I have several more older Hakuhodo makeup brushes that need to be featured here. Also, I keep getting questions about possible similarities between MAC 217 and some Hakuhodo brushes.
First, let me say that if there is a MAC 217 twin in Hakuhodo's line I have yet to find it. I'm far from a MAC fan, but the 217 is unparalleled and irreplaceable and is my one exception to the rule of always choosing a Hakuhodo brush. With that out of the way, let's look more closely at these two eye brushes from the G series, G5523BkS (E1536) and G5533BkSL (E1546). Both are made of blue squirrel hair, but while the G5523BkS is flat and almost oblong, the G5533BkSL is full and round. This makes the former better at packing color while the latter is more of a blending brush.
The thing is, at least in the case of my G5533BkSL, that it's not as exquisitely made as I'd expect. I baby my brushes and try not to abuse them, but you can see in the photos that this one shows some serious and annoying splaying. It still works, but when an eye brush has this amount of stray hairs it makes it less precise and prone to messing things up. I use it for all over washes and rough blending (very similar to how I use my MAC 217, now that I think of it), sometimes as a backup to Paula Dorf Eye Shadow brush (the one I have is years older than the Hakuhodo, yet it's like new). So, yes, in a way G5533BkSL may work like the 217, but it's not just softer, it's also floppier and not as firmly packed, so I don't use it with cream shadows, which is one of my preferred tasks for the MAC one.
G5523BkS is an excellent flat and precise brush. It's a multitasker and I use often interchangeably with Hakuhodo Kokutan WM (E0186). It can also blend, especially when I'm trying to do most of my eye makeup with just one brush. I tink I like the Kokutan a little better, but perhaps it's because it's prettier.
Bottom Line: you can easily skip the G5533BkSL. G5523BkS is a solid and reliable tool that gets a lot of use.
G5523BkS (E1536) $24, and G5533BkSL (E1546) $23, are available from hakuhodousa.com. Prices will increase after the new year. The company offers worldwide shipping.