*This post contains some press samples and affiliate links under the full makeup kit list. 90% of this is purchased by myself. Please see my disclaimer for further information*
One of my most popular posts of all time on this blog is ‘Makeup Artists: Building Your Professional Kit‘ from way back in 2011. This needs updating and refreshing as such much has changed in just 9 years so here we are : the 2020 version and the full makeup kit list.
This is a good look into (some of) my professional makeup artist kit, mainly some of my key products, most-used and favourites.
I hope this will be a handy guide to what you need in your professional makeup kit as a working makeup artist, particularly useful if you are a new makeup artist and looking to start investing in your kit. I’m not saying you need ALL of these products and colours, but my full makeup kit list for shopping below will pick out my most-used and loved shades to get you on your way.
A professional makeup kit is a business investment. It’s a reflection of you as a makeup artist and should be inclusive, professional and well thought out. I have always used mid-luxury brands in my kit as this is a personal choice to me and the areas that I worked in required it. I feel like as a professional makeup artist we have certain standards and expectations to have a decent selection of products and brands. No, you don’t need a whole kit of Chanel and Tom ford but definitely think about what needs more investment and were you can get away with spending a little less. When I open my kit I want my client to feel like they are in good hands, feel assured by the quality of my products and feel a little special!
I have THREE (yes) suitcases for my kits of differing sizes. I try and use my medium or small where I can, but there are shoots / occasions where you will need a full kit with EVERYTHING in. It’s good to have maybe a couple of kit sizes to save your back. PS if you think 3 is a lot, some of the big MUA’s (ones you will all absolutely know) will travel will 10 + suit cases to shoots and shows. For smaller storage bags, set bags etc, definitely check out My Kit co who do some incredible makeup artist products.
I don’t think it needs saying but just in case you haven’t thought if this – GET YOUR KIT INSURED. Get it insured ASAP. If you’ve shopped a full makeup kit list such as this phew….an initial and basic start-up kit cost would be around £2000+ and an ‘established’ kit a lot more…way over the £10,000 mark.
* PLEASE NOTE* : I actually took all these photos / edited them back in 2018 ready for this blog post. I then got quite sick in my pregnancy and only just got round to finishing it. I’ve tweaked it as best I can but some of these products have been discontinued or packaging updated since then – I’ll try and include alternatives where I can.
The most important part one could say. Make sure you have disposable applicators, spoolies, hand sanitiser, mixing palettes. Keeping your kit clean is of upmost importance and application to your client needs to be hygienic ; no double dipping, no transferring of germs from one client to another and that means be really rigorous in your hygiene methods.
Always sanitise brushes in between clients, if you can’t do a full wet wash then use some alcohol spray to do spot cleaning on set.
*TIP* Use coloured tape or nail polish to name/mark your brushes so they are easily identifiable as yours*
Honestly, I have over 400 makeup brushes….maybe more. You need maybe 30. I always end up using my same old worn favourites and you can buy decent start-up sets and bundles for reasonable prices. Don’t go crazy and invest hundreds on brushes when you are starting up, just slowly build them up as and when you need. I have built up my brush collection over 15 years of being a makeup artist and I will only invest now if there’s something really unique and new on the market I think I need (or I lose a favourite brush!)
REAL VS SYNTHETIC.
Ok so back in the day, the only synthetic brushes you could really get were of terrible quality. So I do have a lot of real hair brushes in my kit which I use still. Real hair = anything from goat, pony to squirrel hair. After researching and being more educated on this trade I would really say to NOT buy real hair brushes. The quality of synthetic brushes has come on in leaps and bounds in the last 5-10 years and honestly, there isn’t much need for a real hair brush, but that’s just my opinion.
I always carry a pretty big bag of skincare as skincare prep is so very important for beautiful makeup application. Be prepared for all and any skin type!
I carry oil cleansers, micellar waters, a good face oil, a lightweight face cream, a good multi-balm, face serum, eye cream/gel and eye drops.
Don’t forget your men’s grooming bits such as shave cream, razor (disposables), after shave balm etc.
More often than not, the skin will be perfectly primed if you do a great cleanse, facial massage and skincare application. I only use a primer maybe 30% of the time and that will be for occasion, weddings and red carpet when you need it to stay put AF.
I carry maybe 5 primers on me for different skin types.
Foundations and tinted moisturisers. You need a few different brands and of course ALL shades for ALL skin tones. I cannot re-iterate this enough. The amount of times I’ve done fashion shows and other MUA’s have to come and borrow my bases as they don’t have darker tones is….there’s been a lot of times.
Different brands are important as sometimes you may get a model/client sit in your chair who may be allergic to a certain brand (most common = MAC / YSL) so you need options.
If you are clever you can decant bases into smaller containers and pack small, so you are still prepared but don’t have 50 bottles of full-size foundation in your kit.
I like to pack full coverage, creamy / under eye and then light-reflecting. Again, you need to cover all skin tones and have different options of brands.
A lot of models will not use the YSL Touche Eclat so have other light-reflecting options.
CHEEK COLOUR / BRONZERS / HIGHLIGHT
I have a few custom palettes I have made from MAC and NARS blushers. You can save a lot of space by using larger palettes and getting rid of the singular packaging. If you want a demo on this do let me know. You can remove pretty much any pan product from it’s packaging to put into a custom palette. I have z palettes and MAC palettes.
Setting both loose and pressed including translucent and darker tones. Translucent will work on most skin tones but I will still like a deeper tone on darker skins to really avoid any flashback.
If you are on a photography set, TV / filming under bright lights etc it can get very hot and the the skin will really show up the shine from all angles. I always would use a pressed blotting powder for that to really eliminate the shine and make the touch ups a lot quicker and easier for you.
I also have under eye specific setting powders and have actually used these in my kit for 10 years + now. You can use normal translucent for this but honestly, they can be a little too heavy for under eye, especially with the whole baking thing ; I wouldn’t ever use this technique unless it’s full glamour / drag makeup. YOU DO NO NEED TO BAKE FOR EVERY DAY MAKEUP.
Make sure you change your kit mascara at least once every 3 months. I like to have at least 3 different formulas depending on the look I want plus some layer really well for certain looks. If it’s red carpet-style makeup, I will use a fresh mascara an often leave it with the client. Mascaras tend to apply better straight from the tube but if you are doing this, you need to crack open a fresh one and then leave it with that client.
Keep your eye pencils sharpened and clean. A lot of MUA’s keep this in a roll-out brush holder which is a great idea! I don’t have one of these I just tend to keep them in a big pencil case and use elastic bands to keep them in colour groups so they are easy to locate.
Powder and pencils for me, with a few gels for good measure. With a good brow powder palette and a few pencils you kind of have it covered as brows aren’t TOO many shades. Blonde, auburn, brunette, black. Always have ashy blonde in your kit too ; nothing too warm!
Pear’s soap is always a kit must-have and again, this is something I have had in my kit for many, many years. Great for brow grooming and male models.
lipliners, lipsticks, lip gloss, lip balm. I love decanting lipsticks down into palettes so you can carry a lot of shades in minimal space. If you google makeup palettes/mixing palettes you will find loads of brands who do these types of container. Mine is the Japonesque 36-well.
Lipglosses I don’t tend to carry *that* many as you can always use lipstick and clear gloss over the top to get pretty much any gloss shade you like.
Concealers (full coverage), body makeup, colour correctors, body bronzers / oils, shimmer and moisturiser. I have always use the MAC Face + Body for body makeup in my kit.
I tend to use most of my body makeup kits for London Fashion Week and editorial shoots where there is a lot of body on show. Also great for red carpet/legs ; just ensure no makeup will be transferring onto expensive outfits. I try to avoid any body makeup for brides unless really essential.
FULL MAKEUP KIT LIST
*NOTE* Some of these products since I took the photos, have been discontinued. I will try and add and update and provide alternatives where I can!
This is your basics and minimal, and a few of my most-used and top picks…key shades and recommendations. I initially invested something like £1500 on my basic kit when I was starting out. Please be realistic with your budget and just get the essentials and the basic frame of your kit initially. Build it up as you get paid work and within years you’ll have a really decent and full makeup kit. A full makeup kit list would probably have around 400+ products.
Crownbrush & Zoeva do great brush starter sets.
My most-used makeup brushes:
NARS Kabuki Artisan Yachiyo Brush
NARS Wet/Dry brush
Bobbi Brown Full Coverage Face Brush
Bobbi Brown Eyeliner Brush
Laura Mercier Eye Crease Brush
Laura Mercier Powder Brush
Louise Young LY38
Lash Curlers : Kevyn Aucoin or Surratt
Q-tips, cotton pads, tissue
Bioderma Sensibio micellar water
Nuxe Reve De miel lip balm
Elizabeth Arden 8 hr cream
Bepanthen (nappy ointment- it’s great for dry skin & lips!)
Caudalie beauty Elixir
Ren Evercalm face cream
Laura Mercier Foundation Primer
Becca Ever Matte Priming Perfector
NARS SPF 50 primer
BASE / FOUNDATION
Illamasqua skin base white (I use this SO much to customise and lighten foundation or concealer)
Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancers (key shades: SX1, SX2, SX6, SX8, SX11, SX13, SX14, SX15, SX16)
Laura Mercier tinted moisturisers (key shades: Porcelain, Nude, Sand, Almond, Tan, Mocha)
Kevyn Aucoin SSE (as above) can also double up as concealers
Dermacolor Camouflage mini palettes – These are great. They cost £20 and each have 16 shades. You could buy two and be pretty much covered. This is what I did at the start of my career.
NARS Radiant creamy concealer (my most used shades are Vanilla, Custard, Caramel, Amande)
NARS Copacabana & South Beach
Becca Shimmering Skin Pressed Highlighter : Opal, Rose Gold
Cover FX custom enhancer drops Celestial, Sunlit, Rose Gold
MAC strobe cream
Kevyn Aucoin sculpting powders (shades : light, medium, deep)
Benefit Hoola (original, Caramel, Toasted)
Laura Mercier 03 Radiance Baked Bronzer (a personal fave!)
Chanel Soleil De Tan
Stila Convertible (cream) Colors in shades Peony, Lilium, Poppy, Petunia.
NARS blushers : Orgasm, Amour, Gina, Exhibit A, Seduction, Mata Hari, Deep Throat
Laura Mercier translucent & translucent medium-deep
Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder 01
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish powder (fair / medium / deep)
Kevyn Aucoin brow pencils in shades dark brunette, brunette & blonde.
Zoeva Brow Spectrum palette
Eyeko Brow gel
Pear’s soap + container to keep it in
MAC smouldering, Teddy, Prunella, Phone Number
Charlotte Tilbury Cheat for bigger eyes, Midnight Blue, Barberella Brown
Bobbi Brown Long-wear Gel Eyeliner : Black Ink, Expresso Ink
A good neutral MAC custom palette would have shades such as : Naked, Shroom, Soba, Omega, Brule, Omega, Twinks, Orange, Woodwinked, Smut, Blacktied & bronze.
You can actually de-pot pretty much ANY single eyeshadow and fit it into a custom palette. I can do a post another time to show you how. I have de-potted all my NARS eyeshadows as you can see in the pictures ; it saves A LOAD of space in your kit and is a lot easier to work from.
MAC paintpots : Painterly, Layin Low, Groundwork
MAC Naked, Vanilla, Melon, Tan, Grape, Chocolate, Rose, Blue Brown, Reflects Antique Gold, are my most used
Kevyn Aucoin Volume mascara
Benefit Bad Gal Bang
Ardell Demi Wispies
KISS various (my favourites are Trio lashes, Chiffon, Muse)
DUO Lash Glue
LIPS: Lipliners, lipsticks, lipgloss
Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk, Pillow Talk Medium, Pillow Talk Intense
MAC Spice, Stone, Cherry, Plum, Nightmoth
MAC Ruby Woo, Whirl, Cyber, Russian Red, Lady Danger, Myth
NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencils (can be used as lipliners and lip colour) Dragon Girl, Cruella, Dolce Vita, Train Bleu, Bahama
By Terry Baume de Rose Gloss, Clear lipgloss, various shades of nude/pink
Kiehls Creme De Corps
MAC Face & Body foundation – mixed shades
Liquid highlighter to add into body cream (a cool silver / A warm bronze – inexpensive such as Revolution will do!)
Concealers (I double up the dermacolor palettes to use on body)
GOSH Sun Powder
NUXE Body Oil
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