Friday, 17 December 2010

Makeup Artist Starter Kit

Hello my lovelies,

A lot of makeup artists starting up feel under a lot of pressure to buy the best stuff, that all the celebrity or youtube makeup gurus have, and that nothing else is good enough. I felt exactly the same, and used to end up feeling really down that there was no way I could ever be a makeup artist because I couldn't afford the kit! This is so far from the truth though, and now I've finally broken into the industry I know this - so here's a post all about what kit I actually think a makeup artist needs to begin with. You can build your kit from there, but at the end of the day, no makeup artist needs blushers that are £40 each, or mascaras that are £30 - it's just not neccessary! Now don't get me wrong, these products are probably great, but you are often paying a lot for the brand's name, and also for the luxe packaging. As a makeup artist, you often will probably never look at the packaging again of a product, as you need to be fairly quick off the mark when doing someones makeup - you can't spend time cooing over how nice your stuff looks! Take it from me, it does not matter what your stuff looks like or what brand it is, it just needs to do the job.
So here's my list of what I recommend for if you're starting out :)

First off, you're going to need something to pop all your stuff in and cart it around! This needs to be sturdy, waterproof, and have wheels! You don't want to hurt your back carrying your loot! This is something you should think about wisely and shop around for, cos it'll probably be the most expensive part of your kit. Also you don't want to spend £50 on one that's too small, or that is not going to be satisfactory in a months time. Instead, get a slightly larger more expensive one that you can grow into. I recommend Zuca bags, they're £129 each, have a look on here...

You can get them in lots of different beautiful designs, but note down near the bottom, the Zuca 'Pro' bag. This one is designed especially for makeup artists! It has lots of pockets and pouches in it ready for you to fill it up and organise your stuff! :) However, the fun pink ones don't have these pouches, but I'm sure Superdrug or somewhere like that will do them for a couple of pounds each! :)
These are my favourite designs...
Zuca Skate Bag Black/Mystic & Rhinestone TrimZuca Skate Bag Pink/Green&Pink SpotzZuca Skate Bag Pink/Mystic & Rhinestone TrimZuca Skate Bag Pink/Hot Pink & Rhinestone Trim
Look on the ZUCA website if you're from America, they have a few more designs there too and you can customise it yourself! I especially like the zebra one with a pink frame :)

MAC Pro has also commisioned for Zuca to make them a case exactly the same, but with the MAC logo on it, and with the MAC logo on the pouches. If you really fancy this one, it's around the £200 mark, give MAC Pro a ring in London and ask them about it.
Before you buy, I recommend noseying on youtube at reviews of them and perhaps of other makeup train cases, then you can decide if you defintiely fancy one! I've seen a lot of youtube reviews about them (I made sure I was clued up before I bought one) and every person that had one recommended them! And I love mine, I couldn't be without it! :D
Oooh and the wheels light up different colours as you pull it along!

Next up, you're an artist! And you can't paint a beautiful picture without your tools! So you'll need some brushes! :) Now I've tried the whole shebang.. MAC one's, cheapy superdrug ones, No. 7 brushes, artist brushes, Crown brushes... But the brushes I'd tell all you aspiring makeup artists to get are Crown Brushes, or simple old artist brushes!

First up, artist brushes. You can get these for so cheap! Some are like 50p each, and do the job just as good as £30 brushes. Because they're so cheap, you won't worry so much if you misplace some - cos trust me, your brushes will go walk about a lot! I have these babies from Rymans, 4 brushes for £2.99 - you can hardly go wrong!

I use the really thin brush for eyeliner, the fanned brush to get mascara down at the lash roots, and the other ones to apply lip gloss and lip stick! They're the perfect size - just wonderful! And so cheap! They also have a gel grip for the fingers, which I haven't seen any makeup brushes have, so you can be super precise and have comfy fingers! :) I'd recommend trying out a few brushes from various stationers and paint shops, try them out on yourself first, and your hand - you don't want your brushes to be scratchy or itchy on someones face. But if you like them - then use them! Some of the best makeup artists only use artist brushes!

For my other brushes I love love love Crown Brushes. Crown brush manufacture so many professional makeup artist brushes, such as MAC, Make Up Forever, Coastal Scents, and they also supply brushes to many colleges and beauty schools - my kit I received when I started my BTEC in Makeup Art is by Crown Brush. I've tried lots of different Crown Brushes, and have honestly loved them all. I detest foundation brushes, but I fell in love with there's and often use it on jobs! They are honestly wonderful, and I would have no problem turning up to do makeup on the most famous person in the world with only Crown brushes in my kit :) I doubt very much I'll buy MAC again (unless I get presents! :D ) as Crown brushes are so much better, and do the same if not sometimes a better job :)
I'd recommend getting a set, as you get more for your money, but if you can't quite afford that yet, just build your collection up one at a time :)
Find them here...
At Kandee Johnsons Glaminar, she said her favourite EVER brush was this flat bronzer brush :)

You need to keep your brushes hygienic and clean between clients, or you'll spread infection between them, as well as looking incredibly unprofessional by having unclean brushes. Cleaning them also prolongs the brushes 'life expectancy' and means less hairs will fall out. Think of your brushes like your hair - after all that's what they're made from, they get gross and mucky and need cleaning, and if you rubbed your hair on someones face and in products every day - you'd definitely want to clean it!
I've tried many different brush cleaners like MAC, elf, olive oil, shampoo.. and my favourite is elf's brush shampoo. At £3.50, it's a bargain for what it does - if you didn't have clean brushes on a job you could be sued! It lasts abseloutely forever too, as you only use a couple of pea sized squirts in with a big mug of warm water to make a lovely lather - and it smells delicious - and your brushes do too! Clean them by dipping them in the mug of warm (not hot) water and the shampoo, and then use your fingers to really rub it into the brush hairs, wipe out all the muck onto kitchen roll, and do this till your brushes only give out clean clear water. When cleaning/drying them do not ever hold them or let them dry with the hairs facing upwards like this..
The dampness and water will run down into the ferrule (the silver part) and loosen the glue that holds the hairs in place, as well as loosening the silver part - and all your brush may fall apart! Even high end brushes will break - so as a general rule, do not let anything other than the hairs get wet!
I like to then dip the hairs in cold water to close the little pores of the hair up - this makes them extra shiny too! :) Then lay them out to dry on a flat clean surface. They should be dry within about 12 hours.
Get the brush shampoo here;

However brush shampoo is sometimes not enough - if you're doing five peoples makeup consecutively, you need your brushes to be clean and hygienic in between people, and you can't wait 12 hours for your brushes to dry! So elf have another great product that means you can clean your brushes between clients, and there'll be dry super fast! It's in a spray which is so helpful, and it smells so wonderful - not like some other brush cleaners that just smell like disinfectant, gross! Get the elf daily brush cleaner for £3.50 here...
Daily Brush Cleaner
Although not necessary, if you fancy getting yourself a brush belt, elf do one for £15 that's basically exactly the same as the MAC brush belt. It might make you feel a little more like a makeup artist and keep your brushes organised, but it's not necessary, keep your brushes wherever you fancy as long as you keep them safe! :)
Makeup Artist Brush Belt
Get the brush belt here...

OK, so now you're kitted out with a case and your brushes, next up I recommend getting some of these disposable sponges from Superdrug :)

I really dislike putting powder and foundation on with brushes, I much prefer these sponges :) You get about 20 in a pack for around £3, and I love them! The sponges help your application as they press in the makeup where its needed, and glide over the places where it's not with thin coverage - lovely! Also, if you use them on jobs, you can just chuck them away to keep hygienic.

When you're on jobs, lots of girls will have come unprepared with lots of makeup on and their hair down all in their face. To counteract this, grab yourself some baby wipes - I love the Johnsons ones :)
Grab this deal on Boots, and you get the big box of wipes - so you won't run out for ages!
I've tried MAC wipes and I do love them, but at £18 for a large packet they're just too expensive - and baby wipes to a brilliant job and won't cost you the earth :) Save the MAC ones for yourself :)
Also get yourself a few hair bobbles, grips and bands to make sure no hair's going to get in the way while you're doing makeup. When you're getting hair bands, make sure they're the material ones and not a hard plastic one, that way they'll fit everyones head and they won't dig in and hurt your clients heads! :)

Now I like to moisturise my clients face before I apply makeup. Not all makeup artists I've seen do, often they just go straight in and do the makeup - especially on photo shoots, but I think it's nice to give the model a fun experience of skin care, as well as to make sure their skin feels at its best. Cheap unfragranced moisturiser will work fine here - if you're super embaressed by the cheap bad packaging of cheap products then just take some out with a spoon and pop it in a clear pot like this - sorted! :)
The is £1.69 from Boots :)

However, I have a top tip - go to the high end counters like Clinique, Elizabeth Arden, Chanel, MAC, and say you're really interested in buying a moisturiser, but have super sensitive skin so don't want to commit to such a high price, and can you have a sample. If they're nice people, they should give you one! A lovely lady at Clinique gave me one of their Dramatically Different Moisturiser, and I love it, I use it on myself and on clients, it's a tincy tiny bottle so doesn't fill up or weigh down my kit, and it's lasted me ages! :) And best of all, it was FREE! :) Go try it! The worst they can say is no!

Now you're going to need some foundation you can really on, and you need atleast three different colours. If you're on a super tight budget, get the palest shade, the darkest shade, and a medium shade. I strongly recommend Loreal True Match foundation. It comes in loads of different shades, and covers all manner of skin undertones and problems. I don't even use concealer as this foundation is so good at covering stuff up! Also, it's buildable, which is really neccessary for a makeup artist, as some clients will have perfect skin and need barely any foundation, but some may need a great deal more - so if you have one foundation that can cater to them both that's great. I get mine from Boots, they're about £10 each but Boots often have 3 for 2 deals on - so keep your eye out :)

Next you'll need some powders - however beware that you don't make clients look cakey. Now if you really can't afford much, get a translucent powder. This powder has no colour pigment in it, so should blend in to the skin with out changing the skins colour - and take away any shine and set the makeup underneath. For this I recommend elf's High Definition Powder that's £6 each. When you use it, don't use the fluffy white pad that it comes with, instead use a powder brush to lightly dust it on.
HD Powder
Get it here :) for £6 - lovely!
This is also useful as loose powder, pop some on under the eye, then apply eyeshadow (this often has fall out onto your cheek no matter how hard you try, there'll always be some!), then the loose powder under the eye can be swiped away with a big brush along with the eyeshadow fall out to real the fab foundation underneath :)
However, as your kit builds up I would recommend investing in a few different powders - I love the MAC Mineralise Natural Skin Finishes - get one in light, medium and dark if you can :) They're lovely.

Now for the bronzers, blushers, eyeshadows, it's really your own preference. You don't need a specific brand or an exact set of colours, but it's always nice to have a selection!

When you're choosing a contouring bronzer/blusher (ie a dark brown/grey shade that you'll use to contour cheekbones and other parts of the face like along the sides of the nose) - be 100% sure it has no shimmer in it! I've done contouring with a bronzer with shimmer in, and honestly it looked ridiculous! I've also used MAC bronzers and blushes, but I still choose this palette over my MAC stuff! I recommend elf's Cool Bronzer, it has two of these contouring shades, then a blush that honestly suits anyone and everyone, and a white powder, which I use to highlight.. Lovely! Get it for £3.50 here...
They have a few other bronzer palettes on there which are super cheap, so perhaps develop your kit with a few more! :) The warm bronzer looks lovely, and has a delicious peach shade in it - perfect for a Kim Kardashian style glow!
elf also do a great set of blushers at £1.50 each, at that price you can't really go wrong, so try out some different colours and see which ones you think suit certain skin colours best! :)

You'll need a nice selection of eyeshadows too, now be careful with these. You need them to be blendable - so you can shade them in and smudge them in too, this is really important. You also need them to be really pigmented - they need a lot of colour in them. Go around makeup counters and places like Superdrug and Boots, and try the testers out on your hands, you'll immediately see how good the colours are at showing up, some are just a pale wash, and as a makeup artist your really don't want that!
Sleek Makeup
I recommend Sleek palettes from Superdrug, they're £6.99 for 12 eyeshadows. They're super pigmented and have a fab colour selection. They do loads of different palettes to choose from, have a nosey :) or go and see them for yourself in Superdrug..
Also, though I've never tried it, this palette from elf at £15 seems like good value and has loads of colours to choose from.. if anyones tried it, let me know what you think! :)
Get it here :)

You'll also need some eyeliners. Black is definitely the colour you'll use most, but if you fancy getting a few different colours then do! Be creative! :) I've used MAC Fluidline liners, and I do love them, but they do exactly the same job just as well as elf Gel/Cream Liners, and they are a tonne cheaper! elf offer lots of different colours, and a free brush, for £3.50. A lot of people find it different to use these kind of liners, but practice makes perfect, so practice practice practice! On yourself, friends, family, colleagues, anyone that'll let you! You'll get the hang of it eventually! The best trick is simple - just find a brush that's thin and easy enough to use :)
Cream Eyeliner
Get the Cream Eyeliner here...

Eyeshadow primer, though not essential, as you can use foundation and powder on the lid, is always great to use on brides - you need to ensure there's no creasing of their eye makeup all day, and that their eye make up looks exactly the same at night as it did in the morning. I, and many makeup artists, strongly strongly recommend Urban Decays Eyeshadow Primer Potion - it's £12 from Boots, House of Fraser or Debenhams, or any other store you can find it at - and is honestly worth every penny!
Make sure you get the original purple tube like the one below, and not the gold one which is in shade 'Sin' as this has pigment in it, and can change the colours of the shadows you put on.

A fun product to have in your makeup kit are Barry M's dazzle dust and glitters. Beware when you're applying them, you will get them EVERYWHERE, but the effects you can create with them are beautiful :) I even use the pale pearly gold shade as a highlighter. Check all the shades out on Barry M's website;
Then scoot on down to Superdrug or Boots if you fancy investing. Though definitely not an essential to your kit, they will sure come in handy and keep your creative juices flowing!

You're going to need mascara, now I would only ever tell a makeup artist to get cheapy stuff anyway. Often most of the media hype about mascara is based around the brush, not the actual black liquid inside. As a makeup artist, you can't use the brush that comes with the mascara on your clients, or you run the risk of spreading infections. Therefore you have to use disposable mascara wands, so what's the point in you spending £20 on a mascara that is all about the wand! You just need a mascara formula that is waterproof, (especially for wedding tears!), long lasting, and just something you can rely upon, so use any mascara you fancy, cheap or expensive. Barry M do some good ones, or maybe just opt for the classic Maybelline Great Lash?
Personally, I use and abseloutley love Loreal Double Extension Mascara, it makes my lashes sing with joy! When I use this on clients, I use one disposable brush for the white primer, then another disposable brush for the black mascara end.
Other mascaras I love are Urban Decay Big Fatty Mascara, which is about £15, but it's honestly fab - gives you such good volume and length! On the picture below it's the one in the middle that has a purpley lilac lid and a super funky colourful body, with big retro patterns, and pink writing :)
One I use often in my kit and love is the mascara next to Urban Decays one in the picture below, the pink tube with blue writing; Maybelline's Falsies Volum' Express Mascara. This stuff is brill! And I prefer it to Maybellines classic pink and green tubed Great Lash mascara.

Also make sure you get a clear mascara such as something from Natural Collection or Collection 2000, for about £2. You can use this on guys, even on their beards! It works great as brow gel to just keep them a bit better in place :)

Now to extend on eyelashes - get some fun false lashes in your kit! Again, you really don't need expensive lashes in your kit - any will do, as long as you have a good glue. The only thing I'd say about false lashes is that they're much easier to pop on when the line you glue to your lash line is clear, and not black...

Can you see how the one's on the left have a clear lash line, the ones on the right have a dark line - if you have the choice get the clear ones! :) They are so much more flexible and pliable!
False eyelash brands I love are Red Cherry Lashes, and Ardell lashes, these are both available from and are about £3 each. The brands do a broad and fun selection, have a nosey!
When using lashes, I don't recommend using the eyelash glue the companies provide at all. Instead, opt for DUO Lash Adhesive, available from a variety of makeup shops, but it's easiest to get ahold of from MAC. It's £8.50 which is steep, but it's honestly the best glue on the market, and will last you forever. I wouldn't put false lashes on myself or anyone else using any other glue than this!
Get it here;

Your also going to need to get yourself some lipstick, there are so many products and shades out there! Try testers on your hand first to see how pigmented or glossy they are, and just try some out, have fun! Barry M do fairly cheap lipsticks in such a fun range of colours - I love this lilac shade;

Barry M Lip Paint Palest Lavender
They also do super pigmented lip glosses that taste and smell like strawberry milkshake! Yummy! I love their lipliners too.. So for all your lip needs go to Barry M at either Superdrug or Boots, or online here...

You're going to be right up in peoples faces all day, so you don't want to be breatheing gross smells onto them! Instead always make sure you smell good (so have great personal hygeiene), and that you have gum! This is an essential part of my kit - and make sure it is yours too!

Another important thing hygienically is hand and cosmetic sanitiser (note, these are two different things). On your way to the shoot, or wherever you're off too, your hands are going to have touched lots of things, you might have had a few snacks - so who knows what's on your hands! Make sure everytime you do someones makeup your hands are super clean and germ free by using a hand sanitiser. These are available in so many places, supermarkets, Boots, Superdrug, chemists... and are usually about a pound each. Some of them smell really strong but you can get fragranced ones too that take the strong alcohol smell off (the alcohol is killing the germs!) :) Use a good squirt to ensure your hands are thoroughly cleaned! :)

Last of all, keep up to date with skills and top makeup artist tips and tricks by reading their blogs and books. I love Alex Box's book, and Bobbi Browns are fun too.

This one is my favourite, it has tonnes of inspirational pictures, mostly done by top makeup artists :)

The internet is also a great source of makeup information to keep you up to date with the new trends - so have fun checking out youtube videos, blogs, anything you can :)

So now you've got a fun kit to start out with, and hopefully this kit will make you lots of money, and you'll have lots of fun! :D
I hope this list has been helpful, let me know if you have any questions!
And good luck with your career as a makeup artist :)

All the best,



  1. Cream blush is mandatory if you want to keep that natural make up look out by the pool or at the beach resort. No matter how many times you go into the water, your cream blush will never wash off. It’s a great thing. But I couldn’t find a good makeup artist who works with cream blush make up. makeup artist

  2. Thanks for all the info!
    It helps me a lot since i felt kind of shame using cheap products but with good reviews.
    I'm on a budget right now.
    About teens for proms, and sweet sixteen do i really need to use foundation on them?

  3. It all depends on the client - what their skin is like and what they request. They might want the whole makeup experience so in that case do! If they have bad skin I would aswell, but they might request not to have it, or may have super perfect skin anyway :) But generally I use foundation on everyone :) Thanks for your comment lovely! Ask away if you have any more questions :) xxxxx

  4. Hi Em! Thanks for the great post, I'm just starting to develop my makeup kit and was looking for a little help - all my makeup artist friends insisted on an entire MAC lineup but I just can't afford it yet, so this was really really helpful.Thanks again, lovely!

  5. This was super helpful and extrememly informative. Thanks you for the time and effort you have put in to this. I got some great ideas. Some things I hadn't even thought of!

  6. This really helps for a starter like me! Thank you sooo much Emily! <3

  7. What a wonderful blog!! You really have a love for people And your business!! Love the pink hair too!! Xxx Juliette

  8. Well, this is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us valuable information to work on. You have done a marvelous job!....
    Makeup Artist Jobs

  9. Have found this info so helpful thank you!!!!I am just about to start my second make up course and want to start building up my kit before i qualify next year and was dreading the cost but with all this info i feel so much better and clued up.Love that your so passionate about it as i feel exactly the same!!Thanks Emily


if you've got a question,
i'll try and get back to you asap,
emily x