There’s nothing worse than that feeling of being on your first professional makeup job, without an impressively stocked makeup kit. But it’s near on impossible to have all the expensive brands and luxe products when you’re just starting out. Take a look as I show you some of my secret workarounds, and industry insider methods to get you some of the best foundations around without spending a fortune on it.

7 best foundations for your beginner pro makeup kit
two labeled bottles

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • The best foundations that should be stocking your kit when you’re a brand-new professional makeup artist
  • How to get these products in your kit while saving money
  • How you can be smart and learn the best industry secrets to saving money on high quality foundations


Episode 66: Show notes

two labeled bottles

Foundation to professional makeup artists is like the foundation of a 1920s Victorian folk home to its new upscale owners, or the legs on the very chair you sit on as you read this right now.

It is the framework, the very backbone of what you are about to create. So it’s important that it is good, right?

But what does that mean?

That it is even in finish and texture, gives the exact amount of coverage you are after, and provides you – the artist, and the person wearing it that feeling of confidence, and that inner glow that only comes when they check themselves out in the mirror (or in their flipped to selfie mode iphone). Get off your phones, kids!

So what I’m desperately trying to get to is that your foundation is critical to the overall look of your makeup.

But when you’re fresh out of makeup school, (Frenchy’s anonymous, stand up – it’s your time to shine!) it can be altogether overwhelming, and just plain pricey as hell to have your kit looking like you just stepped off the red carpet touching up your faux-famous a-lister client with all the fancy schmanzy makeup brands you had been (ironically) gifted for said red carpet event.

It’s tough. I know, cause I was there.

If you’ll allow me to indulge a recent memory that was pulled from the back passage of my brain! When working on The Matrix a million and nine years ago, doing background performers and having to scrape by on two Joe Blasco Concealers – one two shades paler than Casper, and the other a peach under eye corrector (despite not even fully grasping what that meant at the time!)
And about 4 foundation bottles that looked kinda similar to a Beneton ad, circa 1992.

Anyway, with my natural eye, and a bit of blag, I scraped through and am still going now, 30 years later, so all is right in the world!

Where was I?

I guess I just want to hold your hand and walk away from the nearest mainstream makeup department store counter and let you know that there are workarounds.

There are things you can do and brands you can use that won’t be akin to paying off your student loans for the next 50 years.

We can find you decent makeup brands to stock your kit with right now – without costing two arms and a leg.

The Basics of a Good Foundation

As we brushed on (on purpose, you’re welcome) a good foundation should create an even skin surface.
It should allow all future makeup to apply evenly and easily and be streak and grab-free.

As you’re probably well aware, there is no end to the various shades, types and textures available today – your liquids, creams, powder, and versions of events by way of tinted moisturizer, tinted SPFs, BB, CC, DD’s all the letters, so many things simply designed to get you to spend. more. money.

But you don’t have to.

All you have to do is keep your knowledge close to your chest, and stock yourself with a range of liquids and a range of creams, or even simply 1 cream palette (I’ll tell you my fave soon, and how to be wise about buying it)

And the rest will come in due time.

Because, my friend, what is easily forgotten when you think you’ve got to have all the things, all the time, is how stupidly short the shelf life of our makeup is.

So ask yourself this: what’s the point of having all the things, all the time, when you’re going to have to replace them all in 6-12 months anyway?
The actual mathematical probability of using every bottle to the bottom, every cream til you hit pan is actually ZERO – from a logical perspective. It’s just not going to happen.

So get it out of your head that you need all that stuff, because you’re just not going to use it*

Okay, with that said, ahhhh, I want to share with you some of the best products, and a tidbit or twelve, about how to make wise decisions, be clever with your spending (and when), and stock your kit with just a few key products that will be the perfect support system for you to get by these early years of your pro makeup career.

Face Atelier Ultra Foundation Pro

IYKYK while I loathe this modern day acronym, it fits so perfectly for the Face Atelier Ultra Foundation Pro line. And those who know, KNOW! And love this foundation.

But what is not often thrown about in conversation is the fact that they kindly offer a 5g jar sample at just $1.50 a pop. Enough to do a face or two, and give you the perfect chance to stock up a great range for 10 or 20 bucks – to try before you buy. Such a brilliant move on FA’s part, if you ask me.

Another nothing short of brilliant strategy of theirs is the simple concept of relying on good old fashioned color theory, that if you’re calling yourself a pro makeup artist (remember, the pro stands for professional!) and you should know your color theory!

That being said, Face Atelier offers red, yellow, pink, blue, white, deep dark and olive adjuster shades which means that no matter which shade or shades you have, you can adjust them to perfection with these adjusters.

Nothing short of genius.

This silicon-based foundation has a soft, slightly dewy finish but provides coverage to rule all coverage. It is the perfect range to begin your professional makeup kit with.

Housed in strong plastic bottles with simple-Jack-proof pump dispens, you cannot go wrong at any part of the equation here.

Good range of shades and adjusters and while the full-size may seem steep in price, I havent finished yet. Keep reading to learn why.

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

Okay, so I’m guilty. I couldn’t help myself but include what is most undoubtedly my most all-time bestest foundation for me. And that I use for other people.
It just works. I trust Luminous Silk – it goes on almost all skin types like some wonderful perfect dream and it is reliable. Covers when covering is key, and blends like a socialite when I want something softer and sheerer.
Perfectly divine on mature skin and the perfect foundation for a full face of makeup.

Available in a solid 40 shade range and ready to mix and match should that take your fancy.

I have known the odd nose to crinkle at the fragrance, but to me that just smells like winning.

Now again, you’re probably starting to plant the seeds of objection as you KNOW that anything Armani has a pot-bellied pricetag, but again, I have an idea for you.
You may have even heard me mention one or two solutions before.

Keep reading – promise I’m going somewhere with all of this! 

I also promise that this probably won’t be the only luxury brand I speak of here…

MAC Pro Palette Full Coverage Foundation

Yes, I have included a palette in this lineup.

Yes it’s a MAC product. Skeptics, hold your comments til the end please!

And yes, this palette is short on shades at the extreme ends of light and dark, kinda like an early episode of 90210, but hang ups aside, this could be managed with a white, black, and perhaps your primary creams close by (which frankly, they should be anyway).

I chose to include this palette because I love it. Yep totally subjective here. It is great on less than perfect skin. Dry skin, spotty skin, combo skin, and every skin in between. It covers the most vertically impressive spots and blends beautifully.

If you’re a sucker for sleek clean packaging, then you’re also on the money with the MAC Pro Palette Foundation too.

I also wanted to mention this MAC palette – if you’re more heavily involved in sfx makeup, then this may just be the best foundation product to keep tucked in your kit for the odd occasion you do have to bust out a beauty make-up look or three.

All of these things make it a must-have product, in my eyes.

Read til the end to discover why this is worth the investment. Or else, just do this simple maths and deduce that 1 Armani bottle totals the cost (within about one dollar) to this entire palette.

Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless Foundation

“OMG – she’s finally mentioning a drugstore makeup!” Yes indeed. And its as good as it gets for less than 10.
Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless is the foundation noone wants to admit they love and wear.
But it is. 

And I think we should start shouting it from the back porch in winter. In the next monsoon.

You better sit down as I get controversial. This is on par with Armani Luminous Silk for me. (audible gasp excused) in almost every way. It is slightly more matte, as the name should suggest in droves.

And if that’s a deal-breaker for you, check out the Maybelline Fit Me Dewy and Smooth Foundation for your Armani makeup doppleganger in glowy finish terms.

And with the kind and sympathetic pricetag, there is no excuse NOT having this in your kit.

Well, there is just one. Maybe it’s the name.

Yeah…..noone wants to rave to their actress – “OMG Maybelline Beige is your color,” but alas, it is a great foundation.

So I say use it. 

Again, maybe not on your A-listers, unless they request it. Anyone, anyone? But on your dayplaying guest roles, background performers left, right and center, and anyone else, I say go for it!

Probably my most often bought and used of the affordable makeup products realm, if I do say so.

Elf Flawless Lightweight Liquid Foundation

40 shades of “hay!” in this lightweight crowd fave. Again, you can’t ignore it just based on the price.

e.l.f Flawless Lightweight is a smooth velvety makeup with a lightweight formula that never settles in the fine lines and creases. Sooo many people have said this about the elf foundation.

And pair this with one it’s sister setting spray products or sellout, knockout primer products you might just be onto a winner.

Where Maybelline may have it’s drugstore prejudices when you pull it out of your kit and put it on display (maybe you don’t care – I wish I didn’t) the e.l.f.  packaging design does blend in like a chameleon and will stand tall next to your more fancy items (NARS, Dior, Chanel, darling) in the standard black type on glass bottle.

So do it. Pricetag says so.

Flawless finish in under 10 bucks? A fine yet buildable coverage? You bet.

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer

What were we just saying about pricetag? Ha!

Hear me out – this collection has been a staple of my barebones, paired down kit – when I only can take 5 things, desert island mix kinda minimizing, my decantered Sensual Skin Enhancer filled Vueset is always present.

I recently did a 3-way with Kevyn’s SSE – me and two artists all got brand new palettes out of one collection of the new, improved range a little while back.
Such a great way to share the wealth, and save the money. Such a great product.

Plus a product such as this, that goes a long, long way to Tiperrary (hi my Aussie mates), you only need a pinhead under a magnifying glass amount to cover a whole face. All the while it will demolish dark circles under the tiredest eye.

Yes – I do use this as foundation sometimes. Its SO versatile!

Not for the faint hearted, or heavy-handed artists among us, as it packs a pigment punch, but oh how I delight in its coverage and blendability.

L’Oreal Paris True Match Super Blendable Foundation

And finally, rounding up the list, I couldn’t help but share a final drugstore fan fave, the Loreal True Match.
Some might say an Armani dupe, I might say, not quite, but regardless of opinions, this checks all the right boxes and all the empty back pockets.

And as for its ease of use, well True match is easy peasy breezy.

Coverage. Check. Blendable. Check. 47 different shades of true match colors. Check. Low price. Check. Well, that’ll be cash. Because you can!

Tips for Saving Money When Kit Building

Travel Sizes

Okay, so we’ve walked through my best 7 foundation makeup products to consider when you’re first building your kit to not only be impressive, but to look impressive too.

And I know I included some products that well, kind of contradict the whole point of the exercise. But bare with me, as we explore the best ways you can get more pan for your buck (ahhhhh how could I not?)

Okay, so Armani Luminous Silk costs around 70 bucks a bottle right?
Well, the good news is, they have a travel-size bottle which is (of course) smaller in size, good for your kit.
I have pretty much stocked my kit with travel sizes at the moment. And so far so good. I have only run out of one shade, which I just re-bought.

The travel sizes are over $20 cheaper than the full-size and that goes a long way when you’re stocking your kit.

Signing up for Email Lists is a Very Good Thing To Do

Next thing you should do is sign up for the Armani email list. (or even my very own – “The Blend – you can do that here – and I’ll even throw in a free checklist!”)

Once you’re on their email list, you’ll get emails whenever they have their big sales. And, boy do they have some sales. 

Which is when I suggest doing all your Armani makeup buying.

Phone A Friend

As I have already touched on, by going in with a friend or two, you immediately halve or cut into thirds the amount of spending you do on your makeup and then split the makeup between one or two other people. 

This is such a fab way to try new products, build your kit, and get way more for less.

Pro Membership Discounts

Do it now!

If you are out of makeup school, then you should be calling yourself a professional.

And there are perks that come with the label.

If you haven’t already, sign up for epic discounts with Frends Beauty, Nigel Beauty Emporium, Naime’s, MAC, Makeup Forever, Bobbi Brown, Charlotte Tilbury, Laura Mercier, are just ones that I’m rolling off the top of my head to start with.

You may just want to start with the industry makeup suppliers as they, honestly carry virtually everything you’ll need. And they provide great customer service.

Reaching out to Frends Nigels Naimies is a must for excellent discounts – often times, up to 40%. My suggestion is to place a bulk order all at once and have it slow-shipped to where you are.

Don’t Buy the Entire Range of Shades 

Again, color theory firmly in tow, I’m going to say this again.

You dont need to buy the entire range of shades to get by.

Just a dotting of shades from light to dark, and covering warm and cool tones and your mixing skills and eyes should do the rest.

Additional Supplies You May Need to Build Your Kit on the Cheap

Now, the methods I speak of won’t fix themselves.

Once you’ve made some deals, saved some cold hard, and done some friend trades and splits, you’re going to have to get some bottles and palettes to make your brand new customized makeups aren’t you? Kinda the best part.

I love the Vueset palettes for my decantered makeup. I do have a select few, and while sometimes the world of depotting can go a bit potty into overdrive, if you use it wisely, it can be invaluable.

But just know that not every single product in your kit requires depotting.

And I love Nalgene bottles for my foundations and these classy looking clear plastic bottles from Qosmedix look sleek as well. I’ll link to them all in the shownotes page for the epsiode.

You should also be sure to have a couple of palette knives, qtips and wet ones on hand to make sure your new packaging is clean and sleek after you’ve finished, also.

While it’s oh, so nice to have nice things, showcase the fancy brands, and lend an air of respectability to your presentation (especially when you’re meeting people for the first time), it’s nothing short of impossible to spend thousands of dollars for something that you simply can’t afford starting out.

So I hope these ideas, suggestions and workarounds give you a great big fat jumping-off point to get creative, and get cracking.

Your kit can look great, can hold great beauty products and allow you to do great work, too.

*unless you’re making up 507 faces each day for at least 23 of the 24 hours in said day

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