I’m an artist who learned makeup artistry skills and am marketing a private label cosmetic line
Recommended Beauty Essentials and Tools
Whether you want your own personal kit or plan to work as a professional makeup artist, you must take the time to plan and assemble a kit. If it's for personal use, only your favorite items are needed but if this is to be used for consultations and applications, the kit will require a selection of various tones, pigments, and textures.
I will focus on building a professional set up since it is much easier to figure out how to make a personal kit. Over the last ten years, I've learned how to include a few essential beauty tools in addition to just skincare and cosmetics. Some makeup classes teach only the basic products for makeup kits and focus on techniques but when working with dozens of people, having a variety of resources and options will be the key to success.
It all starts with being organized. A professional box that is made with the strength of high-quality luggage can end up weighing quite a bit. Choosing which type of makeup box is a matter of preference and convenience.
A briefcase style is the most popular next to the classic train case. Wheeled models are good for travel and those with physical limitations. The largest cases have tiered drawers and cabinets to organize tools and products that are most appropriate for theater and special-effects supplies.
The next essentials are brushes, a makeup artist uses the proper tools and "artists" invest in quality brushes. There are many high priced brands that are known for having numbers on them but a good shopper can find lower-priced options that are of good quality too.
- A great place to find those kinds of brushes are online and at beauty tradeshows. I recommend watching a few YouTube videos for beauty blogger reviews.
- Keep separate groups of brushes for eyes, lips, and face in zip cases or brush rolls.
- Natural bristles are mostly for powder-based cosmetics while synthetic bristles are for cream-based products.
- I stock duplicates of the most commonly used along with a small travel bottle of brush cleaner to do quick wipe downs for reuse in between deep cleanings.
- Always set used brushes aside in a cup and do not reintroduce in their case until they are at least given a quick cleaning.
Disposable or Single-Use Products
- Disposables are very helpful for keeping the product clean and letting your clientele see supplies that are new and just for their session.
- Well-made cotton rounds that don't leave fuzz are great for skincare, removing makeup, and softening excess color.
- Applicator style swabs are very handy for blending out eyeliner and touch-ups. I always need a good stock of lip wands, spatulas, and spoolies, also known as mascara wands.
- These items are all kept in a plastic organizer that is easily found in the beading section at craft stores or in the fishing tackle or electrical storage sections at popular chains. I prefer to have two, one for small disposables and a larger one for latex-free foam sponges and the cotton pads.
- In addition, gel sanitizer and packages of makeup remover wipes are also incredibly useful to keep on hand too.
Permanent or Reusable Tools
- Some more permanent tools are best made of metal and need regular sanitizing. These can include a small 2" x 3" mixing palette for blending thicker creams like lipsticks and gels, brow shaping stencils, a dual end metal sharpener, and tweezers for applying false lashes.
- A pack of individual lashes in brown or black can be used with a clear adhesive in a pinch for any client.
- Starting with the face basics, a makeup artist kit will need a small set of skincare that includes a soap-free cleanser, alcohol-free toner, and moisturizer for oily and normal skin to prep the skin.
- Keep a hydrating lip balm and a quality primer and liner filler for creating a smooth canvas.
- All products must be hypo-allergenic and perfume free to minimize potential irritation for sensitive skin types. Having these items will help clients feel pampered too with balanced skin that makes fabulous results and should also be in personal collections to minimize flaws and challenges.
Foundations and Powders
After that, it's all about the makeup!
- Foundation is the base canvas for skin and is used for matching color and hiding imperfections. Liquid foundations can give layers of coverage and be mixed with moisturizer as a thinner tint. Meanwhile, thicker concealers or cream foundations can hide skin pigmentation issues, dark circles, and even tattoos! Keep a range of 4-6 colors depending on the range of skin tones for your market of clientele that can always be mixed to match.
- Finishing powders in the basics of light, medium, and dark can help set makeup or be used as a base for trouble-free skin to take down shine.
- A well-made, medium-tone bronzer can show up on light to dark skin with the proper application along with a few basic blush colors in peach, pink, plum, and coral.
- Choose eye shadows that are classics with some thought to trendy colors and texture.
- A finely milled powder has more pigment which shows the color better and will last longer especially when used with an eye primer.
- Cream shadows are great for humidity and layering, but be sure to have both matte and shimmer in the collection with a few glitters for party looks.
- Bridal and mature makeup calls for mostly neutral taupes and browns so have a range of warm and cool tones in stock.
- Palettes with sets of colors can help keep the amount of compact bulk down and organize color themes for quick reference with labels.
- As for eye pencils, get a variety of the basics in matte finishes with some in waterproof formulas to start with.
- If you are skilled enough, get liquid liner or pen for greater control. I personally favor gel liners with a slanted brush.
- Get a brow filler for helping clients with thin brows in ash and medium browns; don't use black for brows—it can be aging and too harsh. Nobody wants to look like the little old lady at the grocery checkout with a surprised look from her drawn-on brows.
- Lip products can take up a lot of space in a makeup kit just because there are so many to choose from, not to mention the gloss, plumpers, and stains.
- A few key colors can stretch out a small budget by mixing on the metal palette to create the desired pigment. Most women can tell you in an initial consultation if they are a pink, red, or brown and from there, a makeup artist can decide on which nudes in that color range can be stocked along with coordinating lip pencils for making perfectly lined lips and longer wear.
- A clear gloss can give any lip look depth and a pouty shine.
- An often overlooked product for makeup kits is finishing or setting spray. New skincare technology can help applications look more hydrated, reduce creasing, and slow down oil production which holds the makeup on the skin better.
- Some miscellaneous items to consider putting in your box of tricks are a color wheel, handheld mirror, tiny body jewels, breath mints, single-use toothbrushes, and eye drops for relieving red or dry eyes in small travel sizes.
If you plan to be portable and travel to clients, a well-organized kit will be your best companion. Otherwise, a stocked case can be kept at home or used at a salon station, boutique, or home salon and easily taken to any location for special events. Clean the products and the box itself of excess powder or mishaps regularly and wipe down compacts to show clients that you care about everybody's health and have value in your service.
I hope you've enjoyed reading my recommendations; don't be intimidated into thinking you need to have tons of products by big makeup companies. Make your choices wisely and use what you know. Test new brands privately, not on clients, and lastly, have face charts on hand to write down what is used for reference or to be given to clients during lessons.
Most of all, remember to have fun! Beauty is natural, glamorous, uplifting, or dramatic and makeovers can even be life-changing experiences in some cases. Always keep your stock fresh and keep on learning. Let me know how you like my topic, and I'll write more in this category.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Naeem shah on March 25, 2020:
Leslie Nickell on November 25, 2018:
Id like to go in to mack up do you give samples
Faces by vee on March 18, 2018:
Sandcat80 on August 21, 2016:
I am planning to go into doing make up as my career and this has honestly been so helpful, thanks!
Lisa Moffa (author) from Long Island NY on April 28, 2016:
I've had an update to my makeup website if anyone wants to message me via there, www.LisaMoffa.com and my social media id is @TimelessLisa on most everything, let me know you read my hub if you find me!
Vinslookbook on June 14, 2014:
OMG, I used to think that I should just grab all the pretty, sparkly makeup that I can get my hands on for a makeup kit but you opened my eyes to the stuff that I will really need. Thanks :)
John on September 28, 2013:
Could you please send me a online store where i could buy a pro kit to start my girlfriend off for her first special effects kit; she wants to start doing effects for faces with scars like those seen on zoombie movies etc; please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org - just a starter kit so we can add to
Lisa Moffa (author) from Long Island NY on January 21, 2013:
Thanks for the wonderful comments! I really must take more time to write some more hubs. The makeup case is branded by the company I work with through their supplier. Contact me at my site for info: www.MotivesByLisa.com.
Some beginner MUAs get a case from the electrical department at a home improvement store, believe it or not! Otherwise you can go to a local beauty show to find vendors so you pay pro prices and not full retail. Good luck to all!
larp on January 21, 2013:
what kind of make up case do you use? I have been looking for something like that.
April on November 29, 2012:
Thanks for the article.
I'm not a makeup artist, but I do LARP and I've wanted to make a kit for special effects. This isn't exactly for that, but some of the basics I imagine are the same or similar.
Pamela Taylor Makeup Academy of New York on April 09, 2012:
Great Article! I will recommend to others as well! In the event anyone is interested in becoming a Professional Makeup Artist, please visit us at www.makeupartist.co Pamela Taylor Makeup Academy of NYC 212-620-5792
EPRO makeup & fashion school on March 13, 2012:
So great of you to share this with your readers, we are sure it is a tremendous help to so many starting out as makeup artists who haven´t gotten the training from their beauty college- sadly that part is so often missing from the curriculum...
If anyone is holding a dream of becoming a professional makeup artist, but just don´t have a professional school near by or can´t go class everyday due to work and/or family- don´t worry, we have designed a certificate program especially with you in mind:
keep up the great work!
Natasha on March 02, 2012:
I'm planning to go to a beauty trade show soon, your article is helpful. Thanks!
Michelle on January 15, 2012:
eventsyoudesign from Nashville, Tennessee on March 22, 2011:
Good article. I am not a makeup artist, but I found your article interesting. Teresa
kate on February 27, 2011:
great article. Really informative.
chantelle on November 29, 2010:
thank you for taking the time to write this article it has been very helpful :)