A story from my early childhood might explain why I had to have this Shu Uemura 18 R Red powder brush: One of my biggest challenges during my first year of preschool was adjusting to the food they served at lunch. None of it was up to my three year old standards that were fashioned by my mom. The worst offenders were the sardine sandwiches. They looked even worse than they smelled. I took one look at that mess and refused to eat it, telling the teacher that I simply didn't like the color. The exasperated woman blurted: "so, do you need me to paint the sardines red?", my answer: "yes, please!".
There you have it. Red is my color.
Shu Uemura 18 R is a powder/face/bronzer brush. It's big, made of loosely packed longish goat hair that makes it quite floppy. This is obviously not a tool to push powder into the skin, but to flick the excess away. It's also good at light blending without moving the products on the face and for applying and diffusing shimmery bronzers.
As for comparisons, 18 R is obviously more narrow and floppier than Shu Uemura 27, which is a true powder brush. It's softer than both Bobbi Brown Face Blender and Smashbox #2, and as a result picks up and applies less product than these brushes.
Bottom Line: nice but definitely not a must-have. Unless you're crazy for red stuff.
Shu Uemura 18 R Face Brush ($52) is available from shuuemura-usa.com.