Friday, October 31, 2014

Introducing Surratt Beauty Artistique Brush Collection

Ahem.  Let me put on my grown-up calm face.  *breathes*  *breathes*  *hyperventilates*  I keep on telling myself I am not a real brush geek because it's a really expensive rabbit hole to fall into.

I thought I would just very casually check out the Surratt Beauty Artistique Brush Collection.  Just...er... you know, look.
Surratt Beauty Artistique Brushes
Troy and his brushes!
Because what's the big deal?  Every luxury brand offers brushes.
But inside I know that buying a brush from a luxury brand doesn't necessarily mean I am buying a real piece of master craftsmanship.  Inside.

The brushes from Surratt Beauty are hand crafted in Kumano, Japan.   And they are here, just minutes from my local lunch deli!  *deep, calm breaths*  There are over sixty steps an artisan takes that create these brushes.  It takes a week to make a brush!  Coincidentally, it takes me a week of master procrastination to put up a blog post.

I was only here to gawk at Troy Surratt and pretend not to be completely awestruck.  Coincidentally, I think he is the true brush geek.  *swoon!* Selecting a specific circumference of blue squirrel hair for specific brushes?  *thud*  From the ethereal softness of the blue squirrel hair, to the absolute precision of kolinsky sable, these brushes really impressed me at first glance (cuddle & swish).  The weight of the handle counterbalances the weight of the brush head and the feel of true artist's tools rests easy in my hand.  I could immediately tell I was a goner.  Ugh.

As much as the hair selection as an aspect, the handle balance is another big kick for me down into the rabbit hole.  The fact that the hair tips are not cut and shaped, retaining their natural fine hair tips and arranged into those beautiful brush head shapes is a really exquisite art.

Thing is, I own some glorious things of beauty.  Really, I know its hard to believe, but I'm not one to hold back from treating myself.  But for me, having this level of beautiful quality readily available is a real kicker!  WOOOHOO!  I can go cuddle these during my lunch break now!

I was impressed enough to put my money where my mouth was.  I purchased four brushes.  I think I've blown my lunch budget for the next year.  Would you like to see some seriously beautiful brushes? 
I chose the Face, Cheek, Smoky Eye Medium and Classic Eye Shadow Medium.

Let's back up a bit.  I want to bring your attention to this very beautiful packaging and presentation:
 The sizable black boxes are encased in an outer sleeve.  The top of the box is pulled down to reveal the brush nestled in the box amongst velveteen.
Each of the brushes have a nice weight, but is not heavy.  The ferrules are a matte smooth metal.  The handles are quite pretty.  In the same way that the cosmetics items in the line look, one end of the handle is embedded with violet and blue shimmering color which gradually turns all black closer to the ferrule.  The Surratt logo is at the end of the handle in raised black lettering

Hair Types Used:
The face brushes are blue squirrel, with the exception of the Sculpting Brush which is a blue squirrel and goat hair mix.  Troy and Nathaniel both said that grey and blue are interchangeable.  I had previously thought there was a distinction, but I will need to research so more.  Any knowledgeable gurus can lend a link?

The Smoky eye brushes are blue squirrel.  The Classic Eye Shadow Brushes are Canadian squirrel.  The two Concealer brushes are kolinsky, which I did not purchase.

Face Brush:
The Face Brush is the largest brush in the current collection.  The blue squirrel hair are fine and soft, but fairly densely packed.  It has an oblong head that has a rounded tip.
I've neither washed nor used these brushes, so there's no telling if the heads will expand or lose shape or not.  In my experience, squirrel hair holds shape very well even after many washing and over years of use.

Cheek Brush:
Here is the Cheek Brush nestled against the bigger Face one.
It is a very petite brush.  Similar to the face brush, the hairs are pretty densely packed.  It is a very round brush compared to others I own.  Troy Surratt mentioned its particular "pom pom" shape as a feature.

The Eye Brushes come in two flavors, the Smoky Eye which has a very unusual long and tapered shape and a more usual flat paddle shape in the Classic Eye Shadow.  Each comes in small, medium and large and I purchased the medium in each.

Smoky Eye Medium:
The blue squirrel hairs are very long and then shaped into a very fine tapered point.  It is a loosely packed brush.
Originally, I wasn't drawn to this thinking that the floppy hairs wouldn't perform very well.  Troy showed a way that I thought would be really useful: 1) swirl the tip of the brush into your eye shadow pan 2) use the pointed end to apply the color to your lid 3) brush back and forth in a windshield wiper motion to blend and smoke the color.  Let's see how it works!

Simplelifexsimplyme on Instagram mentioned these smoky eye brushes are similar to the ones made by Chicca (another Japanese brand).  I'm familiar with the brand, but not so with the brushes.  It makes sense to see similar brushes in other brands if made (I'm guessing) by the same manufacturer. 

Classic Eye Shadow Brush Medium:
This shape is pretty mundane as far as brushes go.  I have many others in this shape.  When I saw the original promo images and the mottled looking hair, I was really excited that there might be brushes in Canadian squirrel.  I own a Koyudo Canadian squirrel cheek brush and posted about how this particular hair functions compared to other hairs on the blog before (here).  It has a very soft, but weird springiness and firmness which does really nice work in blending and picking up pigment.  This idea of gentle and effective is really what got me interested in this particular brush, and yes, Canadian.  Actually Troy said Canadian Pine Squirrel.  Is this the same thing?
 View from the side.  It's very skinny indeed.

Comparisons to SUQQU

I also took some comparison pictures against my SUQQU brushes.  I actually think these have a lot more similarity to the Chikuhodo Z series, but I only own the Z10 and the Z3 (a pencil brush and a contour brush).  The density of the Surratt Artistique brushes has more in common with the Zs, I think.

Face to Face
 At first glance, the Surratt's version of the face brush is smaller and generally more compact.  It could be because the Surratt is brand new and unwashed.  There is a definite difference in density, with Surratt being denser.



 Cheek to Cheek

I initially thought these were very close in shape and size, but upon closer inspection (and subsequent slathering on the face), they are different!  Look similar, don't they?


Here's view from the side.  The ferrule of the SUQQU is slightly crimped allowing the hairs to flair out while the very round ferrule of the Surratt allows that cheek brush to remain bulbous in overall shape.  The density is different as well, with the Surratt having much more density.
From the top of the brush head, the size difference is more apparent.

 Eye to Eye to Eye
The Surratt Smoky Eye Brush is unique to my collection and not normally a shape I'd be drawn to.  It's kind of a dumb exercise to show it versus my SUQQU eye brushes, but maybe it would be interesting to see for size and such.
 This shows the SUQQU L in profile versus the Surratt Smoky Eye M.  The Large version of the Surratt is even more gigantic than this.  I envy those of you with the lid space to be able to use the large version!  And I thought the SUQQU L was loose and floofy, the Surratt Smoky M even more so.

The Surratt Classic Eye Shadow brushes are not unique in shape and in fact pretty close to a few others I own.  But keeping things consistent among the SUQQU comparison:
The Surratt is slightly less wide than the SUQQU F.  While the SUQQU is plenty soft, this is one of the most densely packed of the eye shadow brushes from the brand.  The Surratt in comparison feels even softer?  Huh...  this will need some good use and additional squishing to confirm this.
Here is a profile view which shows that the Surratt is a thinner brush.
My goodness, this was a long post, so thank you for sticking it out to the end!  Please don't mistake this post for a comprehensive review.  I mean, I didn't even use these brushes!  But can you tell?  I am really impressed based on initial impressions.  I'm looking forward to putting them through the paces.  I'm suspecting that these brushes will be able to stand toe to toe with any of my favorite brushes.  And it goes without saying that the beautiful quality will easily blow any other western luxury brushes out of the water.

Apart from being among the earliest of ardent brush lovers to get to see these beautiful things in person, it was equally fun and impressive meeting the people that make the brand.  Troy had such a genuine geek love for makeup and brushes.  His absolute energetic enthusiasm for his products really shined!  And funny!  And sweet!

I also had the amazing pleasure of having Monika from Rocaille Writes at this opening event which doubled all the fun for me.  What a day!

Surratt is exclusively available at Barney's New York in the US, Liberty London in the UK and Takashimaya in Singapore.  I'm not sure when these brushes will be available on line on the Barney's website, but two brushes are available for pre-order there.  The full range is available currently in the New York store.  Joey, the counter manager helped me and I'm sure she can help you with your order.  (212) 833-2824.

Also, yikes!  This post was exhausting.   Hope you enjoyed this peek at a truly exciting release.  I'm excited, are you?

49 comments :

  1. Awesome! But so dangerous for you Belly. Lol! Brushes are my weakness too and I've been so tempted by more Chikuhodo!

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    1. So very dangerous! Ack! It used to be a huge hassle to research on line and have to order and wait and wait and wait for Japan deliveries, so this really opens up a whole new way of making purchases for me. :D Boy, am I screwed.

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  2. No no, the pleasure was ALL mine! Fantastic comparison post, Belly, and I loved your photos. Sorry for lagging on sending you the photo with Troy, I've been consumed by the need to clean out the whole apartment today - very exhausting. I shall be working on my review next week! Oh, that blue/grey squirrel... :)

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    1. :) It was so fun being there with you and sharing the experience together, Monika!
      Clean up day is today for me. I am taking a break so I can reply to all the comments today. Aren't those squirrel-y things so gorgeous?!

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  3. V. impressed! You know I've been intrigued by the whole line. I'd probably like you would try the smoky eye brush, v. unique shape. The Canadian pine.. I have one lay-down brush like that from Hakuhodo, but I think the diameter is probably larger than Surratt. So sad Surratt chose not to expand to Seattle (there's also a Barney's here.. albeit a sad-looking one, always a ghost town whenever I stopped by).

    P.S. Bellycorn is here!! He is here!! We are planning to bake him soon, maybe this weekend.

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    1. PPS. Belly, I notice the lighting on your pictures are really good, especially on the brush comparison pictures! Do you mind sharing if you use a certain indoor light/if it is just good weather luck + good lens? I could hardly take any decent indoor photographs anymore due to gloomy weather.

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    2. Woe! Sorry to hear the brand is not represented in the Seattle Barney's! I think half the excitement for me is to have an accessible Kumano-made brush line available to see in person. Hopefully the brand will continue its expansion to over there, too! :) I hope you & Tod enjoy a good shrink-off with the Bellycorn! Mine took literally a minute to shrink up completely.

      I'm so glad liked the pictures!!! It is indoors, and I took in on a very overcast day here. I purchased a big light tent a few weeks ago and this is my first go at it. I also have two lights shining on it from either side of the tent which is giving it a very low shadow look. (plus some tweaking on Lightroom of exposure, etc). And majority of the photos were taken with a new macro lens which is giving a nice blur to the background with the aperture played around and extreme detail on some features. I'm surprised how nice these turned out, but I think it's also because I wasn't playing around with color cosmetics and of things that are mostly black. :) Let me know if you want me to email you specific gear links.

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    3. Thanks Belly dear.. No need to belabored on typing up about specifics now, I doubt I'll make any change w/ the way I take pictures anytime soon but worth noting in my brain at least. The Bellycorn is no go this weekend :-\ All of us have been passing around germs in the house. Don't worry, I'll try to make an event out of it :-D

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    4. :( woeeee, Lorp Family! Feel better soon.

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  4. That packaging + that handle + the beautiful bristles = now standing in a puddle of drool.

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  5. Can you please share with us the prices?

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    1. http://forum.sweetmakeuptemptations.com/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=217&start=200#p9335
      :)

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    2. Thanks, Cat for the link!! :) Fellow brush enthusiasts linger there. hehe.

      Anon, the prices are very high: the Face brush is $230 and the smaller brushes are around the $50 range of prices. For the level of craftsmanship, they are on par with SUQQU brushes (the face brush there is actually priced higher) in terms of pricing.

      Face $230, Cheek $115, Highlight $115, Sculpting $90, Smoky Eye S, M, L are $55, $65, $75, Classic Eye Shadow S, M, L $45, $50, $55, Concealer Brushes S, M are $45, $50. Hope this is helpful!

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    3. I just bought the cheek and face brushes....the last I was told. Thanks for sharing. They are not sold at my location. Want to test the eye shadow brushes later.

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    4. Woah! Are you serious? They already sold out of the Face & Cheek brushes?!!!

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  6. Whoa. The handles are especially beautiful. Do I need these? I will wait for your follow up review after you've washed them... :P

    FYI, both Chikuhodo and Hakuhodo websites use 灰リス "hai risu" which means grey squirrel on their Japanese websites. Hakuhodo just happened to translate the term differently on their English site. I've mentioned this on MUB and most people still think that grey and blue are different, but I personally believe it might be due to the difference in quality of Chiku vs Haku grey/blue squirrel hair quality rather than the actual difference in hair type.

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    1. Thank you thank you SO much, Andie Bits regarding the translation differences from Chikuhodo & Hakudoho. This is is so helpful!

      Oh you know... "need" is such a relative term isn't it? The handles ARE really beautiful! The brush heads are beautiful! :D I will try to compare more fully once I've started really using them, but I tend to take a while fully forming my opinion, but I'll get it there!

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  7. Sooo actually up until this point, I haven't been tempted enough to buy anything from the brand: that's going to change now! These look SO damn good!

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    1. Sunny, literally these are much more exquisite in person. I tried with the photos, but I swear I don't think these look half as beautiful as they do in person. The tactile experience is something else more beautiful altogether.

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  8. ugh they look so good, you just have to tempt don't you ;) I'll keep my eye out for the brushes on Liberty as think I'm going to need some of these xx

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    1. :) I just took pictures and gave in to temptation myself. They are hard to resist in person. Please let me know what you think of them once they hit Liberty, Clare!!

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  9. Wonderful post, Belly! I was just at Barneys this week talking with the Surratt rep and artist about the brushes. Aren't Troy and Nathaniel the most lovely people?! So genuine, kind and passionate about what they do. I'm sure that Kevyn Aucoin would be so proud of Troy! You know how crazy I am about brushes, and I certainly don't "need" more, but I'm pretty sure that I will cave as soon as I hold these in my hands! <3

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    1. Helen! Yes, yes! Troy & Nathaniel made such an impression on me because they have a level of passion for the product that makes a beauty lover even more excited. I hope their brush launch is wildly successful and gives many customers the warm fuzzies about experiencing some truly superior products.

      I know what a brush lover you are, too. I can't wait to hear which ones you select. :)

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  10. *HYPERVENTILATING IN DANGEROUS FASHION*
    Belly!!!! I am dead. You are exactly right, this IS something to be excited about! Mr. Surratt went all out with the best out there, something western luxury brands are not really doing when it comes to brushes (a few exceptions I can think of being TF -which I still find overpriced but still top quality brushes- and Wayne Goss.) Out there being Kumano of course, and the best being, as you say, a piece of masterful craftsmanship. I fell down this rabbit hole a while ago and there is no hope for recovery I fear, none at all D:

    I shall patiently wait for these to be available online and then... face + large crease shall be mine! I am also very much drooling with the CS e/s brushes, but since I have the Chiku Noel e/s coming soon, I'll wait until I can compare them with these to see if it is worth having both. Speaking of Chiku, a few of us have been speculating that this launch smells of Chiku OEM, a delicious smell of course! Well, only figuratively. Wet brush smell no good D:

    I know quite a few brush nuts who would have given anything to be there, myself included, so I cannot thank you enough for taking us with you. THANK YOU! *hugs*.

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    1. Aw Cat! I'm so glad to be able to share my experience with others. Sonia's forum is a wealth of knowledge and enabling. :) I hope I was able to give a good glimpse of the event & brushes.

      That's really funny, because in my head, I was sticking TF & WG in the Japanese camp because of the make! Apart from them, I don't know of a comparable western brand that has brushes like these.

      The Chiku holiday sets are beyond beautiful! Those handles are so pretty! I highly suspect Chiku OEM as well. I'm 99% sure they are not Hakuhodo. The more I compare with my SUQQUs and they few Z's I have, the distinct whiff of delicious Chikuhodo is ever present. I guess I might never know. Speaking of stink, whenever I wash my Chiku Artist Reds, they smell like yucky little smelly mammals. Blegh!

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  11. OOOOOOOOH.

    (I don't really NEED more brushes. But between these photos and the new Chiku Takumi... BASICALLY YOU ARE TERRIBLE/AWESOME, OKAY?)

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    1. Adele, I really don't NEEEEED any brushes either! Really, I enable myself. It's a terrible problem! :D

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  12. *swoon* The pictures are so pretty that it's almost tempting to not wait for a real review. I will, but in the meantime I'll also go stare some more. :P

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    1. :) Pictures don't do them justice. When I wash them and if hunks of hairs fall out, I will report back immediately. :)

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  13. *cries* I don't own any "luxury" brushes. This is going to have to change this year.

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    1. Teresa,
      So many price points are available for excellent quality brushes. You don't necessarily have to dip your toe into these, which are indeed VERY pricey. Both Hakuhodo (Hakuhodousa.com) and Koyudo have beautiful quality Kumano made brushes at more tolerable price points as well.

      My original splurges was the SUQQU Face, Cheek and eye shadow F brushes. They've held up beautiful over the years and laid down the foundation for some more crazed fall into that rabbit hole! :D

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  14. Great review, I'm sold!! Do you happen to have any info as to when they will be available for purchase online? I noticed that the 2 brushes available for pre sell are no longer there.

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    1. I'm not sure when they will be on-line or available in the other countries. If you are in the US, give the NY store a call. I hope you find them beautiful too!

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    2. I called the NY store yesterday and they were able to help me, in fact, the service was incredible. I can't wait until I receive my shipment!

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  15. OMG!!! They are so gorgeous! I am drooling over these. It have me thinking if I need this or not since I am okay with my RT brushes.

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    1. :) I have several RT which are excellent, too! I have a pretty sizeable brush stash, so end up constantly upgrading them. These Surratts are a nice upgrade!

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  16. Sorry, I was just wiping the drool off of my keyboard. (Also, whenever I ask in Barneys if I can take photos, they tell me they're not sure, so don't do it!)

    I can't wait to hear your thoughts on actually using them! I haven't splurged on the SUQQU cheeck brush—yet—so I'd like to see if I can avoid that one! And my powder brush may need to be replaced. And Canadian squirrel. I mean. I'm helpless.

    Shani x

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    1. Hi Shani! xxoo!!
      I never ask about pictures, I just take it with my phone, which seems less risky than taking out the big camera camera. :)
      Aren't these beautiful! I can't wait to hear what you think once you've seen these in person.

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  17. oh gosh!!! *hyperventilating* *deep breaths*.... i need NEED that cheek brush!! The face brush looks similar to the Chikuhodo that I have... but omg i waaaaant!! *squeal* You're so lucky Belly!!!

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    1. These are all rolling out, so hopefully you get to see them in Sg, too! :) I do feel very lucky to see these so early in the release though. And nothing as cool as getting to talk brush geekery with Troy himself.

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  18. Chiku Z-4, Surratt Cheek, Suqqu Cheek?? Where should one start with first or which one would you rank first... of course as addicts we want all three but these are investment prices haha

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    1. :DD I don't have a Z-4, so I can not really comment! I will always always have a soft spot for Suqqu, which does a beautiful job placing & blending in a really soft diffuse manner. The Surratt's round pom pom shade makes it really great for concentrating placement and also for some nice blending action... and is dense, so can work equally well with less pigmented blushes than Suqqu. :DD Ha! Maybe every needs one of each. *eyeballs the Z-4*

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  19. Hello, hello! Fellow master procrastinator!

    P.S. That pointed smokey eye (m) -- love at first sight.

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