|You'll have to excuse the Hakuhodo's (right) appearance: I had to retake the photos on a day the brush was dirty, so I quickly washed it but had no time to let it dry, so what you see is a very damp G534.|
Ever since reviewing the magnificent Hakuhodo G543 brush back in 2011 I've been getting request to find a synthetic equivalent. It took a while, but here it is: Tarte Airbuki Bamboo Powder Foundation Brush. Like the Hakuhodo brush, it's kabuki sized, with very short bristles (shorter than the Hakuhodo, actually), and a completely flat head. Both are designated for buffing powder, especially powder foundation, onto the skin, and both do an awesome job.
The synthetic hairs of Tarte Airbuki (was this name really necessary?) are soft, densely packed and firm enough for a perfect buffed full coverage. They might lack the extra puff-like plushness and luxurious feel of the Hakuhodo, but even I have to admit that only marginally so. Cleaning them is about the same- the Hakuhodo hair is white, so returning it to its full glory takes a bit of a time and a good face cleanser, and the same goes for the synthetic bristles, so no real difference here, though if you never use the Tarte brush with any liquid product it should be easier.
I've tested the brush with a bunch of powder foundations (Laura Mercier, Youngblood, and Dior), all with perfect results. Do note that on dry and flaky days (or after using a chemical exfoliant) it might add to the situation, but that's a given.
Bottom Line: probably the best brush Tarte ever produced.
Tarte Airbuki Bamboo Powder Foundation Brush ($26) is available from Ulta, Sephora, and tartecosmetics.com.