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Beginner Makeup Artist Kit Essentials

When starting as a professional makeup artist, there is much to buy. However, with so many products available, it’s easy to lose focus or waste money. Our guide lists the items you need in a beginner makeup artist kit. And remember, some products are multi-use – so use them creatively! Over time, you’ll naturally acquire more items. But to start with, only the essential makeup items are needed – and there are enough of them!

  • First, think about the industry you want to work in – this will influence what products you will need. For example, a film makeup artist needs camera-friendly products that last in all sorts of environments. A bridal makeup artist will need skin prep products, plenty of more neutral shades and waterproof mascara. 
  • Next, do your research, ask for recommendations and test as many products as possible. For example, you can try products in-store – and ask for samples to test later. There are plenty of YouTube videos showing products in action. Finally, don’t forget to ask the pros on a job what they like to use and why. 
  • Start slowly – no one expects a beginner to have everything. Be resourceful – many products can be multi-use. Also, understand and use colour theory – all sorts of new shades can be made by mixing. 
  • And finally, palettes are great for the beginner makeup artist kit – more on palettes later.

Disposables

  • Cotton buds.
  • Cotton pads.
  • Tissues.
  • Couch roll.
  • Makeup sponges – use latex-free.
  • One-use tools – including brushes, applicators, mini powder puffs and mascara wands (also known as “spoolies”). These are essential for hygienic working. Eco-friendly products with bamboo sticks instead of plastic are available.
  • Toothpicks – wooden picks individually wrapped in paper.
  • Razors.
  • Nail files – a packet of mini files can be handy.
disposable makeup tools
Disposable tools with eco-friendly handles. Useful for crowd work, using on someone with an infectious skin condition and for products like mascara and lip gloss.
Compartment boxes are handy to organise bits and bobs - and keep stuff protected.

Hygiene & Preparation

  • Hand sanitiser – one that is both anti-bacterial and anti-viral.
  • Soap – can be used for many things, not just hygiene. For example, it can smooth down or block out eyebrows.
  • Brush cleaner.
  • IPA – isopropyl alcohol. Used to clean metal tools and some brushes (but not anything with plastic such as mascara wands).
  • Makeup disinfectant spray – used to clean makeup products, including pressed powders.
  • Hairdressing cape – to protect costume and clothing.
  • Hair clips and spa headbands – to keep hair out of the way.
  • Small bin – for rubbish and dirty brushes/tools to be placed out of the way.
  • LED light wand or UV sterilisation box – useful due to the Covid-19 situation.
  • Storage pots or organisers – pots are useful for putting brushes, pencils, mascara and other such things in. They take up less space and keep each type of item organised. Plastic boxes with adjustable compartments are useful for organising small things (often found in art shops, DIY stores or places like Hobbycraft).

Skincare

  • Micellar water – can be used as a face wash and cleanser and is gentle on the skin.
  • Cleansers and toners – for different skin types.
  • Makeup remover.
  • Moisturiser – products without fragrance are handy.
  • Lip balm – use hygienically by removing a little from the pot with a new cotton bud.
  • Eye cream – again, use hygienically.
  • Eyedrops – that come in single/one-use pods.
  • Shaving foam/cream and aftershave balm.
  • Sun lotion – useful to prevent tanning and burning if working outside in warm climates.

Makeup Palettes

Palettes are the backbone of a professional makeup artist’s kit. They offer many colours in a compact format, making it easy to choose and mix. Additionally, palettes often work out cheaper to buy than individual colours. And when you eventually run out of a colour, that space in a palette is easy to refill. For a beginner makeup artist kit, palettes are excellent.

  • Empty palettes – are excellent for your favourite products. Vueset, Japonesque, MyKitCo and Z-Palette make great empty palettes. MAC do pro palettes for their own products.
  • Colour correcting and concealers – choose a palette offering various shades. 
  • Contouring – a palette will offer a range of highlighting and shading tones.
  • Cream foundation – a cream foundation palette is really useful. Remember, products can be mixed to colour match. Choose a palette with a wide range of colours.
  • Eyeshadow – including neutrals, mattes and some shimmery colours for creative looks. Remember, mix colours to create new shades using colour theory.
  • Blusher – to start with, a pink, peach, coral and plum will cover many needs. Matte and slight sheen finishes are good.
  • Lipsticks – you will need a selection of nudes, reds, pinks and browns in matte and satin finishes. Remember, colours can always be mixed. Lipstick can also be used as a blusher. Kryolan have excellent lip palettes designed for pro use.
makeup kit foundation palette
A cream foundation palette from Make Up For Ever.
Kryolan lipstick palette
Lipstick palette by Kryolan. The creams can also be used as blusher.

Makeup

  • Primer – a face primer for drier skin and one for oily skin will do (a mattifier). Either can be used for normal skin. An eyeshadow primer is handy.
  • Liquid foundation – in a couple of shades and finishes. Remember, you can mix colours to match skin tone. Make a tinted moisturiser by mixing liquid foundation with moisturiser. 
  • Mineral foundation – a couple of pure mineral foundations are great for men, “no makeup” looks and sensitive skins.
  • Setting powder – loose translucent powder is for the makeup trailer, and pressed powder is for taking on set. Most importantly, never take loose powder onto set.
  • Setting spray.
  • Mascara – a black one is essential, including one with a waterproof formulation. The triple cabinet mascara by Kryolan has a trio of colours (ivory, brown and black) that has many uses, including mascara, defining brows and eyeliner.
  • Clear mascara – or a clear brow gel is handy for “no makeup” looks and smoothing brows.
  • Eyeliner – black pencil or gel is essential. Pencils in different colours are nice to have. Liquid eyeliner is OK for one person, but can be a cross-contamination issue if used on more than one person. 
  • Bronzer – one in a cool shade and a warmer one.
  • Brow pencils – in shades of blonde, ash blonde, auburn, brown, and dark brunette. Brow palettes with powder colours are available too.
  • Clear lip gloss – clear is essential. You can also create a gloss in other colours by using the clear gloss over a lipstick colour. No need to buy lots of glosses!
  • Lip pencils – help to prevent bleeding, especially handy for brighter colours.
  • Blotting papers – handy for removing a sheen on set and not continually building up powder. Put one over a powder puff and press firmly into the skin.

Tools

  • Brushes – choose a small selection of good quality face brushes. Additionally, smaller brushes for eyes and lips allow for more detailed work and blending. Remember, brushes can be multi-use and it is likely you will have favourites. In other words, you will use the same small selection of brushes over and over for everything. 
  • Sponges – including those to apply foundation (for example, wedges and egg-shaped blenders), bath sponges (good to tear up for SFX and quick crowd applications), and stipple sponges (for SFX).
  • Powder puffs.
  • Scissors – including separate scissors for nails, general purpose and hairdressing.
  • Pencil sharpener.
  • Tweezers.
  • Eyelash curlers.
  • Metal spatula and palettes – to scoop out a little product for hygienic working.
  • Crystal/glass nail file – good as they can be disinfected.
  • Small hand mirror – one with a magnifying side are handy.
  • Set bag – a decent set bag is an essential part of a beginner makeup artist kit. Find one with pockets and other internal organisation to help you find stuff easily and quickly. It also needs to be weatherproof. Tool bags can also be good as set bags.

Find Out More

  • It is really important to have makeup insurance. Makeup kits are valuable!
  • Professional discounts are available from many makeup brands. From students to fully-fledged pros, making the most of discounts will save you money.
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