Makeup Artist Series: Basic Makeup Artist Kit

Hi Bellas,

This post came as a result of many emails and messages I received on the topic.  As you all know I started out as a blogger and after much research, dedication and hard work I became a makeup artist.  Along the way I've done countless hours finding out some of the best products out there that work great on clients and are worth the money.

Basic Makeup Kit – These are my recommendations for a basic kit which should cover most gigs.  Feel free to add on or modify according to your client base and type of work. /.,≥l0

Tips on buying for your kit

  • Try to buy in palette form – this will help save on space and make the makeup application faster when you see all your colors.  
  • Buy the basics now (neutrals) and add fun items later (bright colors, advanced products, etc).  
  • Put larger items into smaller containers.  Consolidate.  Buy clear small pouches to hold things – clear is good because you can see things quicker.  
  • Go in with another artist and split items – i.e. pigments, lipsticks, foundations – things that can be separated and put into smaller containers.  
  • Get your pro discounts!  
  • Visit makeup artist sites that cater to us like and and
  • Check out your drugstores for the basics like tweezers, tissues, alcohol, etc.
  • Check out Ulta and Sephora for a variety of higher end, consumer friendly brands

  • Moisturizer – pick something gentle for sensitive skin that can be used on everyone, then you’ll need to branch out to specialty ones that may account for oil control or dryer types
    • Rec –Cetaphil, Eucerin, Embryolisse, MAC oil control lotion, Clinique
  • Eye Cream – you don’t have to have this immediately but I would recommend it, especially for older clients or those with dry skin
    • Rec – oil of olay, nurturing force, MAC, Clinique
  • Makeup Wipes – I use this to clean the client’s face before application.  You can use to clean off your hands, a palette…they come in really handy
    • Rec - Costco Kirkland Brand Wipes, Neutrogena, MAC Wipes…if you’re in a bind you can even use baby wipes or wet ones
  • Foundation Primer – There are tons of brands out there.  This is great for clients with oily skin, uneven texture or those who need their makeup to last a long time, i.e. Brides. 
    • Rec - Smashbox, Laura Mercier, Eve Pearl, MUFE, Monistat Anti-Chafing Gel (cheap alternative but don’t let the client see the name, lol)
  • Anti-Shine - Apply to t-zone area and to clients with super oily skin (optional but I find it comes in handy)
    • Rec – MAC matte, Eve Pearl anti-shine, Nurturing Force
  • Foundation – I prefer cream foundation, specifically in palette form.  Creams can be used as foundation or concealer, thinned out with moisturizer or mixing medium for liquid foundation/tinted moisturizer.  I try to not skimp on foundation because it’s really important.
    • Rec:  Graftobian Warm Super Cream Palette/Cinema Secret Palettes/Cover FX/Eve Pearl/Black Opal
  • Liquid Foundation - Though I prefer cream, I do have some liquid foundations in my kit that are great because they're so easy to use and mix.  Try moving the liquid from heavy, cumbersome bottles into smaller plastic bottles for ease of use and to save space.
    • Rec-Face Atelier, MUFE HD or F&B, MAC F&B, Bobbi Brown
  • Concealer/Corrector:  Try to do palette form if possible, the cream foundation palettes will double as concealer.
    • Graftobian corrector palette, Eve Pearl salmon trio, Bobbi brown, MUFE concealer/corrector palettes, Temptu, Ben Nye
  • Blushes – Palettes preferably
    • Rec – La Femme palette, CRC blush palette, Graftobian blush Palettes – MAC blushes, NYX blushes
  • Bronzers/Contour – If you get a powder palette you can get away with using it to also highlight and contour.  MAC and MUFE also have powders specifically for highlight and contour.  Otherwise, you can pick up separate bronzers which can be used to add warmth to the face, contour, and on women of color offer a glow.
    • Rec – Graftobian HD Pro Powder Palettes, NYC bronzers, Covergirl Queen Collection Bronzers, Cargo, MAC Sculpt & Shape Powders, MUFE Contour Kits, Sleek Contour Kits
  • Highlight/Shimmer – You can use lighter powders to do a matte highlight.  For the shimmer, in the beginning don’t go crazy, go for something for lighter skin tones – pale pinky champagne, and one for darker – golden bronzey
    • MAC MSFs, NARS albatross, Physician’s Formula Shimmer Strips, Bobbi Brown shimmer bricks, Benefit High Beam

  • Eyeshadow bases – I like oil control ones as well as colored ones.  Start with nude skin tones then you can expand into colored bases.
    • Rec for oil control:  Two Faced Shadow Insurance, UDPP, L'Oreal Decrease
    • Rec for Colored Bases – MAC Paints (bare canvas and sublime nature fit everyone), paint pots (painterly, soft ochre), NYX has some new pot bases that are also great
  • Eyeshadows – I recommend starting with neutral colors and then adding fun colors later.  Once again, try to buy in palettes.  MAC has individual pans that you can put in a palette.  I like having a neutral palette and then a bright palette.  Smokey Eye palette comes in handy.
    • Rec:  MAC, NYX is a cheap alternative, Yaby palettes, MUFE shadows, Urban Decay Naked Palette
  • Liners – I like having pencil (kohl and a waterproof), liquid and gel – make sure to have black and brown to start out with then you can add fun colors
    • Rec for liquid: Revlon Colorstay
    • Rec for gel: Bobbi Brown, MAC, ELF, L'Oreal
    • Rec for smudgy pencil:  MAC Kohl, Stila Kajal, Rimmel Kajal
    • Rec for colorstay pencil:  Revlon Colorstay, MAC technakohl or powerpoint, Urban Decay 24/7
  • Mascara – Make sure to start with black and brown, waterproof and regular.  There are plenty of great drugstore brands out there.
    • Rec:  L’Oreal Voluminous, Covergirl Lashblast
  • Lashes (strip and individual – takes practice but work your way up to it) and Lash Glue
    • Rec:  Duo Lash Glue, Ardell or Red Cherry Lashes
  • Brow Pencils – have light, medium, and dark, supplement with coordinating eyeshadows
    • Rimmel Brow Pencils, Maybelline Define a Brow, MAC Brow Pencils, Tarte, Anastasia
  • Brow Gel/Wax– you can just use a clear mascara – not mandatory but comes in handy

  • Lip Liners – red, nude for light and dark, pink
    • Rec – MAC but NYX is a cheap alternative
  • Basic lipsticks – Palette with basic colors (nude, pinks, mauve, plum, red)
    • Rec – Graftobian and Eve pearl have pre-made palettes.  I also hand picked MAC colors and put them in palettes.
  • Basic lipglosses - peach, pink, plum, red, bronze, mauve, nude for light and dark, clea
    • Rec - MAC, NYX, a lot of drugstore brands make great ones
  • Lip moisturizer
    • Rec-Aquaphor, MAC lip conditioner
  • Lip scrub – Comes in handy but not required
    • Smashbox lip scrub, you can always use packets of sugar and mix it with your lip conditioner

  • In little spray bottles – hand sanitizer, water, alcohol, brush cleanser, makeup setting spray (nice to have – fix plus, model in the bottle, skindinavia), mixing medium (nice to have, you can always use water), eye makeup remover
  • Spatula and Palette (can use blank cds, petri dishes)
  • Brush Belt or Apron
  • Disposable applicators – mascara wands (must-have!) lipgloss/lipstick applicators come in handy but are not required if you have a lip brush (however they make your life easier with big gigs)
  • At least two sets of brushes – one for use on a client, then clean.  Switch to 2nd set while it’s drying
    • Rec– Sigma, Sedona lace (use code renren for $4.00 off), Crown brush
    • Affordable brushes to build your collection – Sonia Kashuk, Studio Tools, Essence of Beauty
    • Investment brushes – MAC, Hakuhodo, Bobbi Brown, Smashbox
  • Mini Scissors – to trim lashes, eyebrow hairs
  • Tweezers 
  • Eyelash Comb/Spooly – not required but comes in handy
  • Eyelash Curler – regular kindand I like an individual pinching curler
    • Rec - Shu Uemeura, Japonesque, Preo
  • Cup or something to hold dirty brushes (optional, but comes in handy)
    • Any cup, Rocky Cozette Vessel
  • Train Case
  • Makeup Cape – to protect client’s clothes (optional but comes in handy)
    • any beauty supply store
  • Paper Towels
  • Cotton Pads/Balls (to use with makeup remover)
  • Q-Tips, regular and pointed tip – be wary of super cheap q-tips because they can poke clients if there isn't enough cotton at the top
  • Wedge Sponges – look for latex free.  Not everyone uses latex sponges – I used to use mainly brushes in the beginning but I found sponges to come in really handy as I developed my foundation technique.
    • Rec:  alcone, Beauty Blender (advanced), you can get the cheaper wedge sponges from the drug store if you’re starting out
  • Powder Puffs
  • Tissues/Kleenex
  • Eye drops – regular and for contacts wearers
  • Mints
    • Rec – altoids
  • Pencil sharpener – get a good one, it will save your pencils
    • Rec - MAC, Anastasia
  • Makeup Chair –something that is bar stool height, I recommend getting something that can fold and has a strap.  This is something you need to invest in.  You might not always have access to a chair at a gig.  If you don’t have one in the beginning I like to ask to see if there will be seating available.
  • Oil-blotting sheets – optional but great for touch-ups and to absorb extra product from the face
    • clean and clear blue sheets, elf – you don’t have to spend a lot of money on this.  If you don’t have this, just use a tissue – separate it and use the one ply on the face.
  • Nice to have but not necessary – comb, nail polish remover pads, safety pins, bobby pins, straws, Tylenol

Hope this helps!  If you have any other tips, please leave them in the comments below!

***Updated:  As of Summer 2017 I've updated my kit and I want to share with you what I now carry!  Check out these posts:

Each one of these posts also has a YouTube video so you can see everything live, enjoy!