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Sunday, August 22, 2010

NARS Kabuki Artisan Brush collection: Botan brush

The Botan brush by NARS is one of the four brushes from their Kabuki Artisan Brush Collection and it is the mother of all brushes. I mean as far as Kabuki's go, this is one big brush! It's another brush that is based on traditional Japanese brushes. I had been lemming it for a while because it just looked awesome so I was really excited when it arrived. I should say before I begin my review that this brush seems to be one of those love it or hate it things. Not many people really sit on the fence about it and online reviews are really mixed and contradictory about quite a few aspects of the brush.

So anyway, the first thing I did when I received it was to wash the brush a few times as I do with all my brushes when I first purchase them. I was a bit worried when I first washed it because the dye bled quite a bit and this brush shed like crazy! I went online and checked reviews and found that there were others with the same experience so I relaxed a bit. I think it's normal for brushes that are this dense to shed because there's just so many hairs packed in that a few of them are bound to fall out. I will say that this brush takes a ridiculous amount of time to dry because of its density and that I had to leave it for 3 days before it was really useable.

Here's a picture of it from the side so you can see how big and dense it is.

It may not look very big when in this picture and even I didn't truly understand how big it was when I first receivied it until I compared it to a standard kabuki. I took a picture of it next to my Jemma Kidd kabuki brush as a reference:

The head of the Jemma Kidd Kabuki is very similar to the size of a standard powder brush such as the MAC 150. You can see just how much bigger the NARS Botan is. It's so big it covers most of the side of my face if I hold it up to my cheek. The immense size and density is what's leaving me confused as to what its use is.

When I read reviews online, alot of people wrote that they use this brush as a finishing brush to blend their make up as a final step and apply their finishing powder. In theory this sounded awesome but when I tried to do this it really did not work for me. Instead of getting this flawlessly blended makeup look, this brush just ended up wiping away all my hard work concealing and applying blush. I tried using it very gently but this brush is so dense that it just strips off my makeup and leaves my application looking patchy.

I think this brush would be good for people who don't have blemishes on their face that they need to conceal as there wouldn't be any concealer to wipe off. This brush would also be great for people who only wear powder foundation or want to wear bronzer all over their face as you could buff the products in really well and attain a flawless finish. My only concern is just how gentle this brush is for your face.

When you touch this brush it feels super soft but for some reason this doesn't translate when you brush it against your face. I've seen quite a few other people say that this brush was harsh on their skin. While I don't think it feels like it's stripping your skin away (like I read in one review), I also don't think it's as gentle and soft as NARS and some reviewers would have you believe. Some reviewers say you need to break this brush in so it reaches its ultimate softness but I would just not advise getting this brush if you have very sensitive skin.

Since I purchased this brush a few weeks ago, I really haven't had much cause to use it. The few times that I have reached for it has been to buff off my makeup when I've applied too much blush or powder. I use the brush to buff off the top layer, touch up my concealer and then just reapply my blush and powder to my liking. I also like doing this if I've applied a blush colour I don't like and want to use something else.

The only other use I have been able to find for this brush is to apply powder to my jawline, neck and chest so it doesn't look like I'm my face is a different colour to the rest of me. This brush is really good for this as it covers large areas really quickly. Apart from these rare instances though, I'm afraid my Botan brush just sits by itself on my shelf away from all my other brushes as it can't even fit in my brush container.

Don't be discouraged though if you want to try this brush because I think it's a good brush depending on the type of skin you have and what you want to buy it for. I think the key to finding the perfect brush for a particular use is research so just make sure you do yours before taking the plunge because I should warn you that this brush is pricey! It's $75 in the US and $145 in Australia!

I definitely would not have paid full price in Australia for it and I doubt I would have paid full price in America for it either just because I haven't found it to be that useful. The only reason I'm ok with having this brush despite not using it much is because I picked it up for a ridiculously good price online. So ridiculously good a price in fact that I thought it was a fake but I am now sure it's not.

As always, if you have the money to spend and you think this brush would be useful for you then go check it out but otherwise I would say this brush definitely falls in the non-essential and probably unnecessary pile. That's a pretty big statement for me to make becasuse Oprah had this brush listed as one of her favourite things and I love Oprah, but O, I gotta say that you may have gotten it wrong with this one! There are so many other great, more user friendly brushes out there that you could buy for a fraction of the cost of this one but as always the choice is yours to make!

UPDATE 6/10/2010:
I was getting really frustrated with my inability to use this brush for any real purpose so I went to my closest NARS counter (well Mecca counter seeing as I live in Australia) to speak to a makeup artist. I told her that I just couldn't figure out how to use the brush because I thought I could use it as finishing brush but it kept wiping of my makeup.

This is what she told me:
1. This brush is made mainly for applying a base of powder product whether it's bronzer or powder foundation or mineral powder makeup.
2. The density of the brush means that it will buff those products in quite flawlessly and give you a natural looking finish.
3. It's not ideal for applying powder on top of cream or liquid products as they tend to move under the density of this brush.
4. If you do use liquid or cream first then you can't apply powder on top using a buffing motion and instead have to use a sort of gentle pat and roll motion so as not to disturb the makeup too much.
5. This brush will get softer the longer you use it.

This brings me back to the point I made earlier about researching prior to purchasing a product. If I had gone to a counter and had a feel for the product then I would have known that this brush wasn't for me. Hopefully my experiences will help you with your research though and give you an idea of whether or not this brush is for you. If you have purchased the brush or have used it then I would love to hear your thoughts below.


  1. great review! I still think I would like to try it to blend out my bronzer. I was just wondering which ebay seller you purchased this from?

  2. Hi! I replied to your other comment on the Yachiyo post but I thought I'd add to this one as well. The ebayers I bought from were both one offs and weren't from ebay stores so if you're looking to buy online then maybe stay clear of the stores because I think that the ebay stores that sell a large amount of Botan brushes are most likely fakes. If you don't end up finding an ebayer and you're from Australia then try You'd still be paying the US prices but at least it's better than Oz prices! The yachiyo isn't up on their site but the owners of the site are pretty good about getting stock in if you email them about it. Hope this helps!

  3. Thank you so much for that! I have just made an order from

  4. Glad I could help! I'd love to know how the brush works out for you once you've used it a few times. I've seen so many mixed reviews on it so I'm always curious to hear what other people think!

  5. great review....i've been drooling over these brushes lately, and the yachiyo brush is 30 bucks more in canada than the states so i'm holding out. i was thinking about picking up this brush too but now i'm not so sure it's worth it.

    i would literally have it for vanity's sake!

  6. Alma, I would recommend the Yachiyo in a second because I love it so much that I actually own two now! It's so versatile and I think it gives a perfect application every time whether you use it for powder/cream blush, highlighter, bronzer or face powder.

    The Botan on the other hand is definitely one of those brushes that I have because it looks awesome and not because I find it even remotely useable or useful!

    I feel your pain about the price, I think the Yachiyo goes for 100 here in Australia! Head to if you haven't yet because last time I checked they had the Yachiyo in stock at the US price. HTH!