Why you might need to do this
“My co-worker left her makeup kit in her car overnight. When she went to get it the next morning, everything was gone.”
Other such nightmare scenarios for makeup artists might include – traveling by air only to discover your case of makeup has mysteriously gone AWOL. Or even more sadly, your gear gets stolen out of the makeup trailer – when the trailer is parked on a busy street, in an even busier town. Or heaven forbid – parked on a studio lot, and somehow gear goes walking overnight.
The sad truth is: it happens.
So how do you rebuild when your kit is reduced to next to nothing?
I decided to create this guide of kit essentials, not only for the unfortunate ones among us who may have experienced one of the above dire situations firsthand. But also if you’re just beginning in your makeup career.
It can be incredibly overwhelming to work out what you need and what you don’t need (but may just desperately WANT, because, well, MAKEUP!)
So please, before you burst out of your skin to your local Sephora, enjoy my guide to the makeup essentials that will put you forward on the right foot when you’re starting from scratch.
What Are the Essentials You Need in Your Makeup Kit?
It can be tricky to rebuild from scratch, particularly if you are unprepared. And in most cases this is likely.
But with this guide, hopefully, you can make light work of your kit-building, and feel reassured with a simple yet solid kit. To go back to work with confidence, and get started on then re-building for all of your makeup kit creature comforts in time.
I’ve broken things down into bite-sized topics to help you categorize what you need and what you don’t need to create a brand-spanking new makeup artist’s starter kit.
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Find the Graftobian Foundation Palette here.
Pro Tip: Face Atelier offers a very special sample size via their website where they offer all shades of their foundation range at just $1 each. That’s 26 shades for 26 bucks!
Can’t go wrong, right?
And while I’m usually not a fan of small throwaway packaging, the Face Atelier tiny sample jars are PET so be sure to recycle!
While these are obviously gently inspired by the beloved MAC Concealer Palettes, these are a great low-cost option, to get you started from scratch. Hovering somewhere in the vicinity of ten dollars, they are a great starting point.
I recommend you invest in at least the medium, dark, and corrector palettes to begin.
Find the NYX Concealer Palettes here.
The perfect starter-kit loose powder option, the Cover FX loose powder is available in this economical travel size for a little over ten bucks. Available in two shades – light and deep gives you enough versatility with shades to get you started again.
A brilliant value-for-money palette, this is a wonderful neutral eyeshadow palette to get you started.
And if you want to browse even more neutral eyeshadows, look right here to find my faves.
If you’re in the midst of kit-building, this Lorac beauty will get you on your feet with lovely finishes at a reasonable price.
If you happened to take a look at my best blush palettes post from a few weeks ago, you would’ve seen this contender feature there, too. I love these palettes.
The pigments are just gorgeous, and Vol. II is a brilliant first cheek palette when you’re kit-building.
So I know this is not the most affordable item on the list, but I just couldn’t leave it off. Honestly, if there is just one single brow product in your kit, this should be it. Without doubt. The Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Pro Palette will provide you with any shade and depth you’ll ever need. These palettes last forever, and are well worth investing in. Hence why it’s here.
Lips are a bit more tricky. As it’s hard not to spend a tonne of money on your favorite brands of lippies and pencils. So I hope these products help you build up a solid kit easily and without breaking the bank.
I have decided to include a substantial collection of budget pencils, and then you can add one or two of your must-haves.
And then, just start simply with a lip palette that you can build on over time.
Basic Lip Pencils
Here’s a solid lineup to give your lip products a good color range to begin with. A very affordable way to get you back in the makeup game.
Your Favorite Lip Pencil
MAC Soar is probably the lip pencil I use more than any other at the moment. I love it. Hence why I’ve included it here as my go-to and guilty-pleasure. But you get the point – if you’re more of a NARS fan, or MUFE user, then grab your fave, but the plan is, save on a bulk set and then splurge on one or two of your more pricey must-haves. Because, well, you simply must have them!
Find MAC Soar here.
Why not forgo pencils altogether? well, you can with these Maybelline beauties. The Superstay crayons have become something of a favorite product of mine in recent times. Love em. Available in 32 shades for epic kit building.
Find out how much Maybelline Superstay Ink Crayon Pencils are going for here.
Basic Lip Palette
Find the Kryolan Lip Palette here.
Nail Polish Remover
I have these in my makeup kit and onset kit as well. They are so efficient, quick, and easy to use. And one little square goes a long way. I highly recommend these convenient beauties.
Find the Nail Polish Remover Wipes here.
Find this fantastic Manicare Nail Kit here.
Find Wet Ones here.
Disposable Mascara Wands
Find Sponge wedges here.
Vita Liberata is a lovely, easy-to-apply body bronzer. Available in 5 shades so you can easily pick your desired depth of bronzing.
If you’re after more options, take a look here at my in-depth exploration of bronzing makeup, too.
Find the Kryolan Aquacolor Palette here.
Alcohol-Based Ink Palettes
When you’re starting from scratch, these staples are a great idea, to begin with. Purchase the on-set palette size and save money, while still being able to access the industry standard shades and palettes from Skin Illustrator.
If these are new to you, grab yourself a fine introduction to the world of alcohol-based makeup here.
This is the perfect begin-again spirit gum/spirit gum remover combo set. Be sure to get the matte version.
Spirit gum is most widely relied on the adhere lace hair pieces and lace wig fronts to a performer’s face and sometimes, body. It can be used to adhere prosthetic appliances and nose and scar wax as well. I have used it to seal in eyebrows after covering them.
Another standard that should have a place in your makeup kit.
Pros-aide is a water-soluble, medical-grade adhesive. It’s definitely an industry standard among makeup artists and is non-toxic and water resistant when dried. It provides the base for what has commonly been known as PAX paint, thanks to the Godfather of makeup Dick Smith) who created PAX paint when he was on the search for a budge-free makeup to use on necks without it rubbing off onto the collars of the performer’s costumes.
It should be in every makeup artist’s kit, in my opinion.
Find the original and best pros aide here.
Telesis 8F is the silicon-based adhesive I use most often at the time of publishing this article. PPI are, however about to release their Telesis 9, so keep an eye out, as it will, undoubtedly be an improvement on this one.
They are constantly improving this product’s formulation and searching for ways to recreate the beloved, and now defunct Telesis 5. (tears here)
In the meantime, Telesis 8F is fine, you just have to get familiar with its working time.
Silicon-based adhesives are used to apply silicon prosthetic appliances and at a pitch some hairpieces. I also use it to flatten down eyebrows underneath appliances that lay over the person’s own eyebrows.
It is an incredibly strong medical-grade adhesive and should only be used on someone else if you are familiar and knowledgeable about its properties and how to remove it correctly.
Be sure to pair it with Telesis Thinner anywhere you take it, too.
Removers and Solvents
Isopropyl Alcohol 99%
Another industry standard solvent/disinfectant that you should always carry a small bottle of in your kit.
Its uses include, but are not limited to: cleaning brushes, wiping down your station, activating your alcohol-based makeup palettes, thinning down cream makeup products, thinning down spirit gum, disinfecting palettes after use, and so many more…
Isopropyl alcohol is probably the product I use more than anything else on any given day at work.
So just get some!
Isopropyl Alcohol 70%
This is a water own version of 99%. The chemistry gets kinda complicated (and obviously this is not a chemistry site) but in layman’s terms, you can ensure to sterilize your brushes and makeup by cleaning them 70% alcohol.
The water present in the 70% alcohol allows for more efficient penetration of the alcohol into any bacteria cells. So 70 is the way to go when a final sterilizing of your brushes and makeup is taking place. I always do bot 99 and then 70, but perhaps we’ll explore this in a later post.
Just be sure to have some 70% in your kit!
Find 70% alcohol here.
Oil Based Remover
There are A LOT of prosthetic removers on the market these days. The PPI made Super Solv is probably one of the most widely used ones that I recommend to you.
This is a good size to start with and will be enough to get you going in your kit, provided you’re not doing full body makeups each day!
I like it because despite being an oil-based remover, it’s not super oily like some other prosthetic removers.
Silicon Adhesive Thinner
The companion solvent to your Telesis 8 adhesive. This works to keep your glue brushes active and usable and thinning down the telesis glue when needed.
Anywhere you have Telesis, be sure to have e it’s matching Thinner as well.
Dishes for Alcohol/Water/Makeup Removers
Find these small non-slip silver bowls here.
Water Spray Bottle
Find the continuous water spray bottle here.
And last but sorta first, really.
If my kit could have one thing in it, Opsite Tape would probably be it. I know, not doing much makeup with some clear tape, but honestly, and without a hint of exaggeration, this is the most versatile, dependable medical tape there is and should be in every single makeup artist’s kit.
It’s incredibly thin, very flexible, and sweat resistant. It’s almost as if it gets stronger when your performer sweats. Insanely good.
If you do makeup, get this in your kit now. It’s that good. I’m so excited to round up my list with this product, and happy to introduce you if this is a new thing. I promise it’s the start of a beautiful friendship!
Here’s Your Ultimate Kit Building from Scratch Shopping List
Cream Foundation Palette
Banana/Dark/Light Setting Powder
Neutral Eyeshadow Palette
Lip Pencil Set
Favorite Lip Pencil
Nail Polish Remover
Disposable Mascara Wands
Skin Illustrator Inks
Skin Illustrator Palettes
Spirit Gum Adhesive
99% Isopropyl Alcohol
70% Isopropyl Alcohol
Telesis 8F Adhesive
Telesis 8 Thinner
Water Spray Bottle
And there you have it – my bare bones makeup artist starter kit list.
Hopefully this will take some of the stress and strain out of your kit building. And I hope yu never need it!
Featured Image by Dmytro Lopatin