Monday, July 29, 2013

Makeup Artist Starter Kit List

Work not by me, please let me know if you know the artist 

I put together a list for a Makeup Artist kit, I share what you can purchase to start off with and what I currently use. Some products don't change much others do it's really all your prerogative but I hope this helps some of you curious about starting your own kit. If you want to see a list without the explanation scroll down to the end of the post to download your free PDF.

Makeup Case
The first thing you need is something to carry all your products, I prefer a case that is made of fabric and has wheels. The reason I don't like the hard cases is that with time they can get scratched. As a MUA often times you will be shooting on location and wheeling around your case all over your city. Anything can make a scratch on the hard cases from desk corners, to car doors, or any sharp furniture. When I first started I bought a $20 tool box from Wal Mart just to have something to carry my products in.

This was my favorite case for a few years 

I currently use the Zuca and their backpack, I love how compact everything is

Makeup Brushes 
Makeup brushes are essential to creating a makeup artist kit, I would recommend starting off with brushes that are affordable and decent quality like the Sonia Kashuk line fromTarget. She has some great brushes and actually I prefer some of them over my more expensive brushes. It's important to have both synthetic brushes and naturalbrushes. This section of your kit is definitely one that will continue to evolve as your experience grows, you will figure out what line of brushes you like best. Other companies I recommend when you are first starting out are E.L.F.Sigma BrushesCrown Brushes, and Real Techniques (Now sold in some Wal-Marts). I would even say to check out your local arts and crafts store and buy a few painters brushes to start off with.

Makeup Remover Wipes
Makeup remover wipes are an absolute necessity for your kit from cleaning your clients face to fixing your mistakes or switching looks. I actually buy mine at Big Lots of all places! They sell them at $2 for a pack of 60 wipes. Almost everyone that I use the cucumber wipes on wants a pack to take home because the scent is really soothing. I know they also carry these at the 99 cent stores too. It's all personal preference here because you can find makeup wipes at CVS, Target, or even make your own. I know Maurice Stein from Cinema Secrets buys the baby wipes from Costco and simply puts them in containers for his kit, it's all preference here. I also carry a container with liquid makeup remover for additional support with stubborn makeup.

 Brush Cleaner
You can never have enough brush cleaner! I always buy the large 32oz. cleaner from Cinema Secrets. I have tried MAC, Monda Studio, Parisian, Baby shampoo, the CVS brand, and for me nothing compares to the Cinema Secrets brush cleaner. Monda Studio has similar packaging and is probably the closest to CS but it's definitely not the same formula. I like CS brush cleaner for a few reasons, first of all it doesn't only clean your brushes but it will also sanitize them which I cannot stress the importance of a sanitized brush set. Secondly it cleans the brushes really quick I don't have to leave them to dry for hours and this is important when I am working on various clients like at a fashion show. I can work quickly and rest assured I won't be passing pink eye or acne. Lastly if you've ever had the chance to use this cleaner you know how good it smells, I've had  many clients ask me what that delicious scent that was. I haven't had a person tell me they don't like it (yet!). Another reason I like the scent is that I can tell which brushes are clean by taking a quick sniff. A quick tip: I stock up on brush cleaner on Cyber Monday CS always does a 50% off sale no code necessary.

Alcohol is used to disinfect product and your materials, the FDA states that alcohol must be 70% or higher to kill 99.99% of bacteria. Most makeup artist keep their's in a spray bottle which makes it easier to use. Make sure to label your bottle, you don't want someone to accidentally use it for something else. Also I recommend using 99% Alcohol which you can find at your local beauty supply, I like it also because it dries much faster than other percentage alcohols.

White Makeup Cape
A cape is absolutely necessary to do makeup, it keeps product off of your clients clothes. I know that there are many colors and patterns to makeup capes but I always use a white one. I picked up this tip from Cinema Secrets founder Maurice Stein he is one of the original MUA's for Planet of the Apes (1969) and has over 50 years of experience, so he knows a thing or two. A white makeup cape will reflect accurate light on your client's skin, a black cape may make the skin appear sallow and a patterned one even worse. It's the best way to ensure you are applying correct makeup on your client's skin. 

Tweezers can assist you in shaping the unruly hairs on your clients face. I also love using tweezers to apply fake eyelashes. I swear by Tweezerman tweezers, they may cost a bit more than your regular tweezers but you won't need to invest in another pair for many years to come. They also come with a lifetime sharpening warranty. 

Eyelash Curler 
The majority of the time I use fake eyelashes so I like to pre curl the lashes a little bit to mimic the curl of the fake lashes. I also like to use the curler to fuse the fake and real lashes together. Even for a natural lash look an eyelash curler can really help open up the eyes. I love mine from Tweezerman or these from Shu Uemura.

 Cuticle Scissors or Beard Trimming Scissors
I use scissors to help trim eyelashes, open new products, and occasional tag cuttings. It's important to keep these sanitized and dry to prevent rust. I usually buy them at the 99 cents store or my local beauty supply store.

Palette and Spatulas
A steel or plastic palette is extremely important to help maintain a sanitized makeup kit. The palette will also allow you to mix foundations, lip colors, and other products.You can even buy a painters palette at your local craft store for $2. I use this one from Monda Studios which again I purchased at Nigel's. I also have many plastic disposable spatulas. I've seen makeup artist use popsicle sticks too since they are disposable as well and pretty inexpensive.

 Hand Mirror
This one's pretty self explanatory and you can purchase one at any local beauty supply, Target, Wal-Mart, or even 99 cent stores. Here are a few in a variety of round, oval, and square shapes.

 Hand Sanitizer
Again self explanatory, sometimes you will be on location in places where you will not have running water. Sanitation of your kit and your client is very important. Always keep hand sanitizer near buy, you can buy at Target, Walmart, Sally's, and even 99 cent stores.

Tissues can be used to catch fall out, as blotting paper, dry eyes and sneezing of course. I like to buy the ones that come in a small pack. I usually buy them at the 99 cent store.  

Q-tips can be used to correct your mistakes, to apply makeup, or to blend product. I love them because they are disposable and help me maintain a sanitized kit. I always buy the travel pack and a large pack to restock it.

Disposable Applicators and Wedges
It's good to have a variety of disposable applicators like disposable lipstick applicatorsmascara wands are must haves, and makeup wedges or sponges. I usually buy mine from Beauty Headquarters in Rosemead they import directly from China so their prices are extremely competitive. You can generally find these at any local beauty supply. 

Cotton Balls and Rounds
I use cotton balls to apply toner directly to the face, the rounds I use to soak with anti inflammatory toner for puffy eyes, and I use both to help store pressed powders for travel. I don't recommend skimping on cotton, get a name brand product. Inexpensive ones dissolve or pieces come off and get stuck on your clients face.

Powder Puffs
Powder puffs are used to really set your makeup job with powder and to touch up your clients throughout the photo shoot or film. I buy them by the dozens at Nigels.

Cleanser, Moisturizer, and Toner
Hopefully you are working somewhere that you have running water so that your client may wash their face before and after depending on the makeup style. The most important part of applying your makeup is having the best canvas you can have. It's best to start with a fresh and clean face. After removing makeup you must care for the skin by applying toner and moisturizer. I usually carry Cetaphil (Target) for cleanser or Le Mieux Phyto-Marine Cleansing Lotion. For moisturizer I also carry Cetaphil (Target), Aveeno (Target), or Le Mieux Essence Moisturizer. Toners I also like to carry Le Mieux Essence Toner. I usually buy my Le Mieux products from Nigel's to receive a discount. I carry these products in travel containers from CVS.

Visine or Red Eye Drops
There's nothing less attractive than yellowing or red eyes. I always make sure to add red eye drops before doing makeup even on myself. Also it's good if you are on location and the weather is windy or dry. 

It's important to have a good variety of colors for foundations. As a makeup artist you must always be prepared for your clients needs. You may have people from all over the globe in your makeup chair. I always recommend artist to start off with a foundation palette from RCMA or Graftobian. I started off with the RCMA Shinto Palette, again I purchased mine at  Nigel's and received 20% off the tag price. This palette has 18 colors but you will use your spatula and palette to mix these colors together and you will always have the exact color you need. Also you can get whatever coverage you need if you need sheer coverage you can moisten a beauty blender with Fix+ and apply a sheer coverage or apply a thicker coverage by using it alone. The price is great too, one palette will cost $72 minus (20% off if you have a MUA discount) vs. most single foundations cost about $30-$40ea. multiply that by 18 that's about $540-$1900.

Graftobian: $60.70

It's good to have both loose and pressed powders I would say 80% off all makeup artist start off with Ben Nye loose powders, the banana powder is a cult favorite and considered the holy grail by many makeup artist. I would recommend getting a neutral, fair, banana, and topaz the prices range from $5-$7 for 1.75oz which is a good starting point. 

Another great product is MAC's Blot powder to help prevent shine, photographers hate shine and stray hairs because it means more editing time for them.

Blush is another product that can be layered to achieve the look you are trying to achieve. I recommend artist that are starting out to purchase La Femme blush palettes. You can order a 12 blush palette for $50 from Camera Ready cosmetics. La Femme can typically be found at specialty makeup stores like NigelsNaimie's or Cinema Secrets. I also like using my matte eyeshadows as bronzers or blushes, don't be afraid to give products multi uses. 

Concealers and Correctors
Concealers are often used under the eye or to cover acne or scars and can really help enhance the look of your client. Correctors are often used to hide scars, tattoos, bruising, or other unflattering skin markings. You can get both from brands like Cinema SecretsBen Nye,  or Graftobian to start off with. Eventually you can add other products like Tarte Cosmetics has an amazing concealer its the Maracuja Creaseless concealerMake Up For Ever HD concealers, Benefit's Erase  Paste, or other ones you hear about.

Eye shadow is an important  part of your kit, I would recommend not skimping on quality here. There's nothing worse than having your eyeshadow disappear a few hours after application. I would shop the sale section of companies like Tarte or Stila they have a year round sale section on their website. You can score on eyeshadow palettes that are 50% off sometimes more. Also some amazing palettes are the Urban Decay Naked Palettesthe Lorac Pro Palettes, or Create your own from companies like Inglot or Make Up For Ever. Personally I have a 32 color MUFE palette, 12 color Stila Palette, and loose eyeshadows from many different companies. 

I feel incomplete without eyeliner, for the most part you can get away with buying a mixing medium or eyeliner mixing medium and dipping an angle brush into an eye shadow to create your eyeliner of choice.

Other than that I highly recommend MUFE's Aquablack it last all day! I also recommend Stila smudge pots which come in various colors and Tarte's Amazonian clay waterproof eyeliner. These potted eyeliner can also double as an eyeshadow base or as an eyeshadow itself.

Eye pencils I recommend are also MUFEMACStilaUrban Decay, or whatever brand you feel most confident in, just make sure to always use alcohol and a pencil sharpener to sanitize them. 

This is one area where I don't mind using drugstore brands I love my L'Oreal Voluminous Mascara, the classic Maybelline Great LashCovergirl Lash Blast or Falsies. My local Costco's carry Covergirl so I can pick up 3 mascaras for $20. I also carry other mascaras from StilaTarte, and MUFE but these are great to start off with

Fake Eyelashes and Adhesive

I use Red Cherry Lashes and Ardell I recommend having a mixture or both strip and individual lashes. I usually buy mine by the dozen and have a variety of short, medium and long. What may appear perfect to you may be too long for your client not everyone is used to having fake eyelashes. Of course you can't put on lashes without adhesive so invest in a good one, no one will hire you if their lashes fall off halfway through their wedding ceremony. I recommend DUO eyelash glue you can find it at any beauty supply, CVS, or Target.

Lipstick and Lip Liners
Again just like foundation you can carry about a dozen lipstick colors to start off and use your palette to mix colors to create the one you want. I started off with 12 colors from NYX and a clear pill box until I was able to build up to Kevyn AucoinStilaLip Tars, and Tarte

Very similar to my very first palette

If your interested in a premade palette I would recommend the Graftobian Lip palette which will run you $67.51 for 18 colors it's the same palette size as the foundations.

Lip liners you can get from NYX, Wet n' Wild, or keep an eye out for makeup sales from high end companies they tend to be on the less expensive side.

If all else fails and you can mix the color you need to customize colors. Always have a clear lip gloss you can mix with an eye shadow to customize a lip gloss. I started off with lip glosses from NYX, ELF, and Wet n' Wild. 

Other Items to have on hand:
Gum or Mints
Hair Clips to pin clients hair off their face
(they are thicker than regular paper towels I buy a box at Costco once a year)


IATSE Kit Requirements
This is the kit required by the IATSE to be a part of the Makeup Artist Union and to be approved to work on film. It will give you a good idea what to work towards if being a Union member or on set is part of your dreams.


This is not the makeup kit list for every single makeup artist, it is a general guideline. Go out and try different products and brands. Your kit is a reflection of what YOU represent as a makeup artist. 

Click to Download a PDF list without the explanations

Do You Want to Know Where I Buy My Kit Supplies?