Maybelline Queen

{December 12, 2013}   “Building Your Kit” Recap




Developed for film and popularized by the ’60s Mod movement, faux lashes hit it big when supermodel Twiggy made them part of her trademark look. These days faux lashes are still super popular, but often abused or misused. Many makeup artists and consumers don’t seem to comprehend that the primary goal of a faux lash is to make people think it’s real, rather an exotic caterpillar taking up residence on your face.

With lashes, I prefer subtlety—something that allows me to make the eye look its best without looking obviously faux. Of course, there are times when you may want a more extreme look. But whether you want to accomplish an exaggerated, dramatic eye or just add on lashes for more volume, faux lashes take practice to master.

Four Basic Types of Lashes

Falsies come in three materials: human hair, animal hair, and synthetic fiber. (The latter was overlooked in the past, but the latest crop of synthetic lashes are completely believable.) There are four basic types of lashes available.


A standard, one-piece faux lash attached to a band that comes in a variety of lengths and styles.


Single faux lashes, attached separately; each mimics one individual hair.

“Clump” or “Cluster”

A small clump of individual lashes bound together, usually in a V shape, to give more volume.


Individual tips that are applied to give the illusion of a real lash, but just longer.

Individual and clump lashes also come in both “knotted” and “knot-free” versions. Knotted lashes are bound by a knot, which creates more surface area for glue and makes them easier to attach; knot-free lashes don’t have a knot joining them. As such, they are more difficult to apply, but also look more natural. Within all of these types, you’ll find everything from undetectable, natural-looking bands to basic individual lashes to fantasy looks adorned with feathers or crystals. Lashes in other-worldly colors and exaggerated lengths or shapes are easy to find these days, too.

Three Faux Lash Ground Rules

Whether you want to apply a few individuals for subtle volume, add clumps on the outer lashes, or do  a complete set of full lashes for sexiness or drama, here are some ground rules for getting the most out of this gorgeous—but tricky—beauty regime.

1: Find Your Size

Fit and finish are important to the overall eye makeup design, as you don’t want the lashes to overwhelm the face. So, first things first: make sure you select the appropriate style, size, length, and intensity for the eye shape that you’re working with, as well as the overall look you’re going for.

2: How Faux Can You Go?

One rule of thumb is to look at length and thickness. The longer the length or the closer the lashes are packed, the more likely it’ll be obvious that your faux lashes are false.

3: Customize Your Eyes

Lashes can be cut into the right shape for any eye. I prefer to customize faux lashes by choosing several different shapes that fit my client. Then, I combine them in the application.

Application Tips, by Lash Shape

Here is a basic breakdown of the many shapes available so you can determine when, where, and why to choose a particular faux lash. This can also help you identify what you need to carry in your makeup kit.

Natural, Sparse, or Evenly Spaced

The lashes that might fall under these categories are an ideal option for adding fullness or featuring a natural look with a little more finish. A great trick to keep the look natural is to cut off the outer part of the lash and use the middle piece at the outer corner of the eye. The end of a faux lash can sometimes look much more exaggerated than the middle piece.


Spike lashes—those that are thicker at the base or sharp or pointy on the end and clumped together—can help you get a retro or vintage eye look. Spikes work equally well for period-inspired makeup (especially a ’70s look) as they do when layered with individuals for a modern red carpet look.

Crisscross or X

Some types of eyes, like smaller eyes or shallow-lidded ones, can’t carry several sets of lashes. If you want to add drama and extreme dimension without extra weight, a crisscrossed style lash, in which hairs overlap into an “X” shape, can be your best friend.

Swept, Angle, or “Hollywood”

For Old Hollywood excitement or to complement cat-like eyeliner, these shapes are seamless. They’re an excellent addition to liquid liner and can really give leading-lady eyes to any ingénue.

Dense, Bulky, or Full

When you want drama that does not necessarily look natural, these lashes are for you. Whether you want to portray the aforementioned Twiggy look or a super-lashy look like those favored by Real Housewives and Kardashians, these lashes pack a punch.


Wisps are bands comprised of faux lashes of different lengths, grouped together in varying layers and sections. It’s a versatile shape that can be glamorous, elegant, or simply give a lift to a natural, romantic eye.

Clumps or Clusters

Sometimes you want to get detailed with your look. Whether you are wearing knotted or knot-free versions, clump lashes can be worn on their own or layered with a strip. Either way, they can make eyes appear more open and draw attention where you want it along the lid.


Single lashes are fantastic for a really natural look. I use a stronger glue and apply these below the actual lash to add length and volume. Even your closest friends won’t notice.

I like to carry an assortment that allows me to achieve whatever comes my way—from a Florence and the Machine video to a morning television makeup job. For me, that means carrying a pack in my kit that includes knot-free individuals, spikes, and wisps in brown and black. I feel like if I always have these on hand, I can make them into anything I need. I also add lashes in for specific jobs if I deem it necessary. A music video might require something more fantastical, while a photo shoot might need something retro-inspired. Regardless of your work or looks, here’s something I do know: faux lashes allow us to take ordinary makeup and make it extraordinary. That is most definitely true.

Eye shadows offer endless creativity. They just may be the most exciting product for both makeup artists and makeup lovers to buy. These days, the number of colors, textures, and formulations is near infinite. But with all the choices, compiling a makeup kit or adding to your everyday shadow regime can get a little mind-numbing. Here are a few things to think about as you build your perfect eye kit.


Even in the basic powder shadow category, brands can be very different due to the amount of pigment versus filler they use, as well as the process in which they press product into pans. Experiment and find the formulas that work best for you and deliver the results you desire. For instance, you might prefer a highly pigmented powder with a small amount of filler that feels dry to the touch, or favor a shadow that feels soft and creamy on your brush and has a lighter pigment load and color payoff. It’s all about discovering your preferences and finding your favorites.


Putting a Palette Together


I’ve found that palettes are the perfect way to carry makeup for professional work, and they also fit well into a tote or makeup bag. You can purchase pre-made palettes—available in pretty much every price point—from many brands, or buy brand-specific empty palettes and build your own customized collection within one color range. You can also buy empty palettes or containers that allow you to add in pans of eye shadow from multiple brands.


A word of advice: keep it simple. When compiling your palette, don’t get caught up in the excitement of buying the most daring shades. So many artists want to get all of the brightest and boldest colors and textures, but basic shadows will be the basis of your application and lay the groundwork for great makeup.


Check for Quality


I recommend checking the quality of the product before you purchase. Look at reviews online and speak to other artists about what they love or perhaps dislike about the product. I’m not a product snob, but the difference in quality between pro and prestige versus mass products can be obvious and measurable. A few key questions to ask yourself:


• Does the shadow allow you versatility in application? Meaning, can you apply it both sheer and with more full coverage?
• When using a variety of brushes, will it have a smooth consistency?
• Is it durable for high-intensity jobs and situations? In other words, does the product cause a lot of fallout on the face during application?


1. The Highlighting Palette


A highlighting palette made up of lighter shades and base shadows is an absolute must-have. This group includes white, light beige, cream, vanilla, peach, and buttercream shades, as well as soft pinks and apricots. The lighter colors can be used to draw attention to a feature, cause a certain area to pop, or simply make a part of the face look more dominant.



I prefer to keep these shades in matte or satin consistencies, because you don’t always want your highlight shades to have texture. Base shades should always be matte, or else the shimmer or frost will show through.


2. The Contouring Palette


Next, to build in shape and definition, think about a contouring palette which include darker colors that will recess an area or make it appear smaller. You can also use contouring shades to line and define brows, eye lids, or any area that needs depth or dimension. This group of shades should contain matte shadows in various cool and warm browns, deep burgundies, rich greys, and neutrals on the darker side of the spectrum—including black.



3. The Color Palettes


Once you have your fundamentals for shape and form, let your creative side come into play by building your color palettes. Here, let your imagination run wild. But still, be strategic and think about what you can combine for unlimited possibility. 




I prefer to separate palettes into warm and cool, and then arrange into common color families. I also like to keep matte and satin textured shadows separate from frosts, shimmers, and glitters so loose particles don’t end up compromising your flat shadows. Think about what works on your clients and what you need to complete the job at hand. Represent all of your primary and secondary colors, tints, shades, and tones. Then, go crazy with an endless array of your faves: deep rich reds, bright yellows, cool blues, greens, pinks, violets, indigos—whatever your heart desires in both soft and strong colors!


4. The Texture Palette


You will also need a texture palette—something made up of various frosts that highlight, change the surface, or add impact. Metallic eye shadows also fit well into this group and allow you to transform any eye into numerous looks. Stay aware of seasonal trends and what’s on the red carpet and runway for the latest must-have shadow shades.



Now you know how to meet the needs of any client. Eye shadows can lay the groundwork for a look’s shape, texture, or tone, from traditional to bold. Be smart about your palettes and arm yourself with the right shadows, so you can truly transform any application with a simple swipe.


Eyebrows are one of the most misunderstood areas of makeup artistry, and having an artist’s understanding of eyebrows is crucial to impeccable makeup.

As a makeup artist, you need to be situational when correcting, filling in or shaping a brow — making decisions based on the needs of your client and the final look you trying to create. Many makeup artists want to add a dramatic eyebrow into every makeup application, but an inappropriate eyebrow can age your client, distort the shape of the face, provide an unwanted emotion or take away from the desired focal point of your makeup design.


Tweezers and scissors are your first line of defense against offensive brows. With these tools, you can create shape as well as adjust thickness and length. Every artist should have a great pair of slant tweezers (some artists favorites are Tweezerman and Lavaque) as well as safety scissors, which are essential for trimming and adjusting.


For a true artist trick, try a pair of “twissors” (a scissor-tweezer hybrid) from Alcone or Cinema Secrets. Because they can cut hair really close to the skin without cutting the skin itself, twissors make eyebrow sculpting even easier: you can get rid of hairs that are too long or growing in the wrong direction without the time commitment of tweezing, or redness it can cause. I also recommend carrying a brush or comb for setting the brow hairs into place.


Many artists leave eyebrow pencils out of their makeup arsenal, but don’t make that mistake—pencils are a must-have. Pencils work perfectly on brows, because the marks sit on top of the skin and add dimension, providing volume to a flat or thin brows. Use them to fill in sparse or patchy eyebrows with a natural look that mimics missing hairs. I prefer mechanical pencils, as the thinner tip allows for precise application and appears more natural. My favorites include Kevyn Aucoin’s The Precision Brow Pencil, MAC Eye Brows, and Anastasia Brow Wiz.


Shadows and other powder-based products bring dimension and depth to brows, especially those that might are on the too-full side. They are also ideal for long wear and allow a range of effects from natural to dramatic. I prefer those that are dense in pigment and have a matte finish. I recommend carrying powders from soft taupes to rich browns to complement natural eye and hair hues, as well as burgundy and burnt sienna for matching processed hair colors.


Gels and waxes are wonderful for lightening a darker brow or holding a disorderly one in place. Softening or sculpting the brow can take years off of the face and can help spotlight certain elements of the face. For example, if you want the focus to be a smoky eye, lightening up the eyebrow a few shades can direct attention where you want or need it. For a collection that’s as universal as possible, carry brow gels or waxes in clear, blonde, ash, and taupe.

Pro Tips

For a modern brow, you need to see skin and individual hairs. I also aim to have high and low points in every brow look I create. A great pro trick is to use a brow pen or gel liner with a small precision brush to mimic the look of individual hairs. Just a few subtle strokes can make even the thinnest or most over tweezed eyebrows look terrific. I love pens specifically designed for this purpose, but a brown gel liner from any line will do.


Great eyebrows are a secret essential element. When applied correctly, an eyebrow frames the eye, flatters the face, and provides balance without competing with the rest of your makeup. Be prepared to deliver the perfect eyebrow with every application, and your makeup will always be beauty page perfection.



When it comes to buying the right concealer, a lot of people get nervous. Some don’t know how to find their shade or even where exactly to apply it on the face. Others think they have it figured out, and then end up looking like a reversed raccoon, with white rings around the eyes.


But that doesn’t have to happen. Once you know the professional tricks for choosing a shade that’s right and putting it on correctly, concealer is your best friend. It can brighten a tired face, cover a blemish, bring attention to a focal point, and camouflage under-eye discoloration (without the reversed raccoon effect). Used with foundation, concealer can also change or refine any complexion with dramatic, painterly effect.


Old-school concealers are still a part of every person’s makeup arsenal. They tend to be cream or opaque-liquid formulas and come in a variety of forms—pots, wands, and sticks. Traditionally, concealers are dense by design and can feel a bit like your grandmother’s makeup, or the kind of product favored by rich octagenarians in Palm Springs.


As such, I am not always a fan of traditional concealers. When not applied correctly, they can look cakey and heavy. They also tend to be yellow in tone, which gives you limited color-correction capabilities. That said, a traditional concealer can be useful for its density and opaque pigment. When you need true camouflage or heavy coverage, it generally does the trick. 


Yet in place of traditional concealers, I tend to prefer the newer, more lightweight-formula products on the market these days. The sheerness of these newer concealers allows me to combine them with other formulas and foundation, so that the skin looks flawless both in photos and in person. And today’s concealers aren’t limited to yellow—they come in a wider range of undertones like peach, coral, or orange. The trick with color correction is to choose a concealer with a base which has an undertone opposite of the discoloration you’re trying to cover up. For example, to disguise blue-toned under-eye circles, try a concealer with a peach or coral undertone.


Carrying my concealers in palettes means I always have the perfect shade with me. In my go-to, I usually keep a peach tone, along with an apricot, deep orange, bright orange, plus a yellow and a pink or red—and all in a light, medium, and dark shade. Of course, not all skin tones work with yellows and pinks, so I also carry a palette of primary colors plus concealers in white, dark brown, and black. This allows me to custom-mix any shade I might need. For darker skin, sometimes a bright orange and a deep orange concealer can save you from having to use a large amount of foundation.


Here’s some more time-tested advice. Now go conceal with confidence!


To get the perfect highlight, choose a concealer one or two shades lighter than the complexion. To contour with perfect depth and dimension, choose a concealer one or two shades darker than the complexion.


For under-eye shadows and bruises, I prefer a soft, creamy formula that stays put. It’s important to find something that does not dry out or settle into creases and separate.


For under-eye bags or discoloration and puffiness, I prefer a product that also has color-correction properties. I love creams in peach or coral for light blue under-eye discoloration and orange for darker and deeper skin tones. (Mineral powder concealers are great, too, because they stay set and work well over highlighted areas.) The trick with under-eye concealer? Choose one that is one or two shades lighter if you need a bit of lift. Match the complexion completely if you want a smooth, even skin tone all over. And for protruding skin or puffiness under the eye, go with something one or two shades darker.



For spot concealer over blemishes or broken capillaries, I love a concealer that can be applied in sheer strokes and built up in layers for more coverage. A formula with a satin finish will also look more like real skin, rather than accentuate texture like a matte product might.




For scars and cuts, it is important to remember that concealer and makeup do not hide texture. But you can trick the eye by using darker shades to recess or deepen a protrusion or a lighter color to pull something forward. Simple tricks can draw attention away from what you want to keep secret, and spotlight another area of the face.


Lighter concealer shades are ideal for making lips look larger and opening up small areas. Try a concealer one shade lighter around the lip line to make lips look kissable and pouty, while achieving the perfect size and shape.


Achieving a flawless face isn’t just about the makeup, it’s also very much about how it’s applied. Any makeup artist will tell you that the secret to their application is what they work with. The right tools can help you achieve your makeup goals precisely and effortlessly, transforming a basic makeup job into a look worthy of a beauty editorial.


Probably the most important tool in your kit are your brushes. A good selection of these essential instruments will help you add depth and dimension, and give you precision in every part of your application. As a makeup artist who works every day and in all areas of the industry, I’ve discovered brushes can provide endless possibility in my artistry, and it’s crucial for you have the right tools in your arsenal as well.


With so many options available, it can be difficult to know what brushes you actually need. But don’t worry, I am going to guide you through the process of building a basic brush set and help you choose what brushes are best for you.




Makeup brushes will be the most important tools you use, and getting the right ones together in your brush roll requires consideration, investigation, and evaluation. Many artists choose to start out with a prepared brush set available from any number of makeup brands, but in my experience, choosing to assemble your own brush set allows you to tailor choices made to your individual application style. This à la carte approach to acquiring brushes helps you really understand how and why one brush might be a better option for you than another.


In choosing your brushes overall, it is important to take into account the material they are made from and the benefits of those materials. The brush hair, how it is manufactured, and the name on the handle all factor into the price, so you will need to be realistic about how you spend your money. An expensive tool can sometimes be jarring at first glance, but you should realize that your brush set is often a lifetime investment. With proper care, you can use the same tools for your entire career—I’ve had some of my brushes for 17 years and they haven’t failed me.


Natural vs. Synthetic


Traditionally, natural hair brushes were thought to be better for dry products like powder blush and eye shadow. The many varieties of hair (including badger, pony, goat, sable and squirrel, to name a few) all have their own specific attributes.  For example, sable is a versatile hair that works well with wet or dry product, while badger is perfect for picking up and allowing control of pigment.


Synthetic brushes were thought best for cream or liquid products such as concealer or foundation because they absorbed less product than natural hair, but things have changed. Advances in manufacturing and technology over the past decade have made synthetic brushes a viable alternative to natural brushes for almost all application needs. Many artists choose synthetic brushes over animal hair because of the cruelty-free aspects. Many popular brands such as Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics take a firm stand on being a vegan line, while full-range collections such as Crown Brush have entire range of synthetics in every shape and form.


Brush makers are also addressing the concerns of the green movement. Bdellium Tools Green Bamboo series is ideal for the artist with a conscience. Bamboo is an excellent green resource and alternative to traditional woods because it’s repaid regrowth makes it one of the most sustainable resources on the planet.


In terms of performance, don’t worry so much about whether your brush hair is natural or synthetic—just as long as it can accomplish the artistry you desire. No matter the brush, bristles should not be rough or stiff and should have some flexibility to allow you to work with the contours of the face and eyes. A firmer, denser brush will deposit more color than a softer, fuller brush, so when choosing your brushes, remember you will need a combination of many textures.


Brush Shape and Size


When it comes to brushes, size definitely matters—meaning, you will need small, large and everything in between for your work. When making a choice, think about the size and shape of facial area where you are using your brush. For example, you would not use the same size brush to apply foundation over the entire face as you would to apply concealer under the eye.


Also think of your brushes in terms of their versatility. I do not tend to label a brush as I find they each can have many uses. For example, instead of labeling brushes specifically for foundation, concealer or lips, just consider them as three firm oval brushes in a large, medium and small size. This allows you to imagine using each brush in the manner you choose. Most brands will label a brush for one particular purpose, i.e. foundation, powder, concealer, etc…but I find that if you ignore the label and look at the possibility of the brush itself, you can really use each tool to achieve any effect you need in your application.


Let’s go through some of the basic must-haves when building your brush and tool kit in their traditional labeling. Listed below are a few of my must-have suggestions.


Foundation Brush


Foundation brushes have many uses, but the large oval brush has become accepted by many as a must-have tool. Ideal for applying and blending liquid or cream foundation, it is a staple tool that puts product on the skin without the worry of it absorbing into the sponge or leaving behind fine lines. Another option that has become popular is the duo fiber brush which can create softer layers. The circular application style buffs the product onto the skin for a beautiful finish.


Concealer Brush


This medium-sized oval brush is available in a multitude of bristle options including sable or badger to name a few. The brush is used to place cream product over blemishes, imperfections or under the eyes. Many artists have moved away from using a firmer version, but this is a great basic brush for your kit as it allows for detail. Plus, the shape is very versatile.


Powder Brush


A soft, round brush has always been the go-to for applying powder product. These brushes vary in price depending on the hair or fiber that is used and whether or not they are hand made. I am not a fan of large powder brushes, so I use smaller brushes to gain more control, but, nevertheless, the classic powder brush is a staple in most makeup artist kits. Dip the brush, tap off the extra product, and then buff, press, and roll the powder onto the skin to remove shine and set.


Blush Brush


This brush is customarily a soft, medium-sized dome shape or flat brush. The longer, softer bristles allow you to apply powder product without disturbing the foundation underneath. It’s ideal for blushes, bronzers or powder product in larger areas which need more precision.


Shadow Brush


Shadow brushes come in endless amounts of shapes, sizes, and hairs. There are a number of these brushes created for the eye area, but a basic set of three is enough to allow you to create any desired eye. A soft, stiff, flat, natural brush is brilliant for depositing all over shadow because it will pack the color onto the skin. A small, soft, fluffy brush is ideal for the eyelid area and lets you build your product to your desired intensity. Lastly, a dome shaped shadow brush with a soft bristle is great for getting rid of hard edges and blending or spreading soft color into the crease. You will find that eye shadow brushes are unlimited and you will be adding more to your arsenal as you develop your own preferences for application, but these three brushes will get you started on your way.


Small Angled Liner


This multi-purpose synthetic or natural brush is a great option for eyeliner and eyebrows. The size and shape allows you to mimic natural hair in the brow or bring product along the lash line like you would a pencil. As you build your kit, you will want to pursue a firmer, harder brush for brow and a softer bristle for liner, but the two can be interchangeable as you build. For use as a liner, place the brush on the inner corner of the eye and press into the lash line, pulling the brush across to create a perfect line. To use it for the eyebrows, fill in sparse brows with powder or cream by making short strokes over your natural brow shape.


Lip Brush


A small, flat, square, round, or oval brush can make a lip application easier. Coat the brush with lipstick. Then, starting at the center of the lips, blend out to the edges. Using the tip of the brush, define edges by using short, precise strokes to blend liner and lipstick together. Finish by applying more lipstick where you think you want depth or impact.


Liquid Liner Brush


An extra fine tip brush that can deliver a precise, even application is great for liquid or cream liners or applying any product where you need accuracy. For eyeliner, sweep the brush across the lash line from the inner corner outwards in an even motion.


Brow Comb or Spoolie Brush


For separating clumpy lashes or combing through an eyebrow, this brush is a great finishing tool.



Extra Brushes


As your career grows, your brush roll will get bigger and you will come to find those brushes that are a must-have in your own application. For me, some of those brushes include small fan brushes, metal lash combs and specific brushes from specific brands. You will also want to have more than one of each brush on set with you in case you are working with multiple clients or colors.


Brush Care


Once you purchase your brushes, you need to learn to protect your investment. Do this by cleaning, sanitizing, reshaping and drying properly. Cleaning and keeping your brushes sanitized on set is simple with a quick dry brush cleaner. For a deeper clean in between uses, try a stronger brush cleaner like Cinema Secrets. I also recommend shampooing your brushes in between clients when you have time to allow them to dry. Use a mild shampoo and rinse the brushes in warm water. Shape them back into their original silhouette and lay them flat to dry.


As you build your kit you will start to make decisions on what product and tools make you the best makeup artist you can be. Let these basics chart you on the right course and keep your eyes and mind open to all possibilities. Always remember to make the decisions that are right for your own artistry and your own style of application. I am constantly discovering new versions of brushes or learning new techniques that require a different tool, even after my many years in the industry. As you work as a makeup artist, you will develop your own signature style and you will learn what brushes, products and must-have makeup items are right for your application. You’ll learn to make the decisions to keep you working and looking like a pro.

Now that you have your basic bag system(part 2) set up, it’s time to figure out how you can compartmentalize. The most important thing to think about in organizing your kit is to think about what you can do to make carrying, locating and working from product as easy as possible. If you closely observe your own makeup application methods, you will see the patterns emerge in the order of your products, and organically devise the perfect way to keep them accessible. 

With any makeup kit system, I suggest separating into multiple categories, keeping like with like. I divide the product and tools in my kit into the areas of application, for example: foundation with foundation, powders with powders, and all brow products together. I also like to combine my product in the order in which I tend to apply makeup. Example—I keep complexion with complexion, and then subdivide color correctors, foundations, concealers, and powders into their own sections. I find this helps me to be the most organized and efficient. Now that you’ve organized your product it’s onto the fun part—storage! Check out some of my favorite makeup storage ideas below.


There are many options available for dividing and organizing your product into separate sections. My preference is to use clear plastic bags that allow me to see everything and set up only what I need on my makeup station. Ziploc bags are an inexpensive option for arranging and organizing your kit. They will allow you to separate your categories into sections and make it easy for you to find product.

I, however, prefer to carry sturdier vessels than Ziplocs to hold my makeup. There are many options available at all price points. My favorite are The Powder Group’s clear soft packs which come in various shapes and sizes. They are great for storing in your kit or carrying right onto set. They are resilient and work well to put into any bag, making the most of small spaces.

Travel Sizes

Travel-sized bottles are a terrific way to make your kit more lightweight. Pouring liquids into generic 2 or 3 ounce bottles allows you to travel with your kit and provides more than enough product for any and every job. Decanting creams from their original containers and putting them in smaller sized plastic containers can also guarantee that you are preserving your product longer by exposing smaller amounts. And finally, these label free bottles allow you the freedom to assemble your kit based on what you need and not by brand awareness. With generic containers, your client doesn’t  get all caught up in the label or fancy packaging and you can use less expensive drugstore brands along with pro and prestige brands to your discretion.  

Palettes as Organizers

Palettes are an ideal way to keep all of your product together and carry a maximum amount of product, taking up minimal space. You can purchase palettes pre-made or you can buy empty palettes and fill them with your own product. Whether you are depotting powder and cream products from their pans  or cutting down lipsticks, you will find a number of empty palette options in every price point from companies like Z Palette, Frends Beauty, Alcone NYC, and Japonesque.

Other Organizers

To get organized, you can always pirate products from other industries and then adapt them for makeup containers. Sectioned pill containers and bobbin boxes are ideal options for producing your own palettes, and pencil cases are great for carrying just about anything. I also love scouring craft stores, hardware stores, and office supply stores to see how I can transform other industry storage options for my kit. Those hard plastic containers used to carry tools are great for protecting precious product in my kit from rough and tumble travel, and the airtight jars for craft glue are ideal for creams that tend to evaporate over time.


Besides brushes, there are a few other tools that every artist needs to carry with them. These are tools that allow you to prepare and perfect every makeup application including tweezers, spatulas, curlers, and on-set disposables—all of which are crucial to your artistry. Most of these items are available at drugstores, makeup boutiques and online. Here are some of my favorite essential tools and disposables.

Wedge Sponges

While I am not a fan of applying makeup with a sponge, I do love a wedge sponge for erasing mistakes, buffing out edges or blending down makeup. My favorite is the Alcone Non-Latex Wedge. The softer non-latex material leaves no lines behind when you are working.

Disposable Mascara Wands

You can avoid contamination and danger of infection by using disposable wands to layer mascara on your client’s lashes. A great pro tip: Since we buy and love most mascaras because of the wand, you might want to save your applicators from your mascaras when you throw out the tube. You can clean and disinfect them after each use in place of your disposables.

Powder Puffs

Powder puffs work with powder, help absorb oils, and create a shine-free, poreless looking finish. These are great for setting makeup and can help with keeping your hands off your client’s face, breaking down your makeup application.

Cotton Pad and Cotton Swabs

These items are inexpensive and great to have on set for blending, shaping, or removing makeup for quick changes or to clean a face.

Slant Tweezers

For easy clean up of a brow or the application of a faux lash, these tweezers work wonders. Their slanted tip offers precision, making them great for removing unwanted hair on the lip or anywhere on the face. Like brushes, they are available in many price points.

Eyelash Curlers

This tool is an easy way to open up the eyes and make them appear brighter and wider. Every artist has their preference with lash curlers.

Metal Spatula

Keeping your kit hygienic requires a steadfast commitment to refrain from double dipping your brushes, thus contaminating your product. A spatula can help you remove what you are working with from its container. Then, you can place it onto a palette and have fresh, unpolluted product at the ready.

Mixing Palette

For mixing and custom matching as well as for health and safety precautions, a mixing palette is an invaluable tool.

Safety Scissors

For lashes or any other cutting that comes up, these can be an on-set lifesaver.

{September 24, 2013}   Building Your Makeup Kit (Part 2)

Do you want a kit that works best for you? Then let’s start with the bag. A makeup kit may be all about the product, but how it’s stored and transported are huge factors to consider. The life of a makeup artist is often location-based, and lugging an oversized kit around only to use a few items is a common, easily avoidable problem among young artists.

When first thinking about makeup storage, ask yourself two questions: 1. What is reasonable for you to carry? And, 2. Are you bringing product you really don’t need? I try to address these questions by using three different bags for my work: one for New York, one for Los Angeles, and one internationally. My NYC kit is much smaller and portable compared to my L.A. kit, which I can easily drive around in the trunk of my car. My international kit is always durable and in-flight ready; made up of slim, easy-to-pack palettes and TSA-approved sizes that stand up to the rough-and-tumble life of travel.

There’s a Caboodle case and piece of Louis Vuitton luggage for every kind of artist’s lifestyle, but often the appearance of the bag itself can lead clients and co-workers to make assumptions about your experience in the industry—unfair yes, but a reality. That aside, remember that professional makeup cases are not purses, and you don’t have to carry an expensive designer label to lead a successful career. Rather, clear functionality, ease of portability, convenience, and price take higher priority than aesthetics. When in doubt, keep it simple and keep it clean.

Your kit’s organization system should work for you in the present, and still accommodate future career (and product) growth. Options abound from bags and briefcases to old-school tackle boxes and tool kits, but once you decide what fits into your budget and artistry, you’ll have the foundation on which to build not only your kit, but your career as a makeup artist. Let’s review a few industry standbys below.

Train Cases and Tackle Boxes

When it comes to organizing makeup, people have adapted anything from scrapbook cases to tool boxes. When I first started doing makeup over seventeen years ago, the old fishing tackle box or Caboodle concept was big in the industry. A tackle box’s basic structure is a compartmentalized container that has sectioned-off areas of different shapes and sizes—allowing you to keep yourself as organized as actual fishermen. The great thing about a tackle box is it does not take up much room and forces you to make decisions about every item you buy and bring on a job. I love the Camera Ready Pro Makeup Case by Japonesque or the Sephora Embossed Train Case.

Carrying Cases and Backpacks

If you’re looking for an option to hand carry instead of roll, opt for a special artistry briefcase or backpack. Unlike wheeled alternatives, these bags are great for travel and transport because they prevent less wear and tear from the constant hauling and lugging of frequent travel. The carry-on sizes are engineered with multiple pockets and pouches for maximum storage space, and are easy to separate into categories while keeping your makeup safe.

But it all comes down to preference. A backpack can be great in a city setting with mass transit, but it does not allow you to carry much more than your must-haves on your back. A carrying case or briefcase allows for easy organization, but keeps your hands full and can be a heavier to lug around all day. Most come with a protective shoulder strap, but back or neck strain may be an issue as well.

Popular brand briefcases such as the Make Up For Ever Make Up Bag and MAC Cosmetics Carry All, or many of the hands-free backpacks such as the NC Squared Bag and Zuca’s Artist Backpack are all excellent options for the makeup artist who understands how to edit his or her kit.

Luggage and Roll-Aboards

Any piece of luggage can be converted into a makeshift kit holder if you commit to editing down your product and using some imagination. I prefer suitcases that are waterproof with hard construction and durable wheels, ideal for protecting your product—snowboard brands like Burton or Etnies make great options. These cases stand up to wear and tear and can take a beating for hardcore travellers. Their designs feel young and fun, and they have enough room to fit anything I need and want with me. You can bring your luggage to any office supply outlet and create your own variety of boxes and holders, or you’ll find many options from makeup artist brands such as the Clear Soft Packs from The Powder Group or the Clear Actor Bags from Stilazzi (more on this in Part 3).

Professional Artist Cases

On the other side of the cost spectrum are professional artist cases. These makeup cases have become a common sight in the industry. Companies like Zuca provide many options to protect and organize the tools of your trade and travel in style. The best part is the inside of the case is organized for you and you need only add in your product in a way that best fits your makeup application and clients. Many brands including MAC and Inglot Cosmetics have developed their own versions in partnership with Zuca that have added artist details. Companies like Stilazzi are changing the way artists think by providing them customizable kits to fit every need and every price point. These can come designed in hard or soft materials and can be tailored to meet the needs of every artist and every job. Each of these options allows for maximum organization with minimal effort.

Premium Cases (The Professional Cabinet)

And then there is the Rolls-Royce of makeup kits—the professional, big-sized, all-in-one cabinet. These traditional cases are perfect for large jobs, like in film and television, or for the artist that wants to have all of their product on set with them. The largest cases have tiered drawers and cabinets to organize tools and product. Traditional options are available from companies like Kryolan and pro resource boutiques like Alcone, Cinema Secrets, and Frends and can be found in countless shapes, sizes and materials, allowing you to master your own kit set up.

{September 19, 2013}   Building Your Makeup Kit

When it comes to being a savvy makeup artist, the big secret is: it’s all in the kit. Like your portfolio, your makeup kit is constantly evolving, expanding, changing, and what you have or don’t have in your kit can separate an expert from an amateur. Sometimes the hardest reality of putting together the perfect group of products is letting go of personal favorites and instead focusing on those practical essentials with time-tested benefits, versatility, and value.

Whether you want to work as a professional makeup artist or just put together a complete collection for yourself, an understanding of the industry’s processes and procedures will help you develop and maintain your kit like the leading artists.

Getting Started: Think Big!

Building your kit is an exercise in decision-making. Before you even think about buying product, you need to ask some larger questions about your artistry: What kind of makeup will you need for the jobs you’re working? How will you carry this makeup and organize it on set? How will it travel?

There are a lot of concerns to face all at once, but just relax and let your mind think through your kit creatively. It takes time, resources, and planning to create a master collection of artistry staples you can always depend on. While complete starter kits are available for purchase, I believe the ability to get your own custom gear together allows you to work as a true professional.

You’ll undeniably need to assemble a selection of various products, pigments, tones, textures, and tools, but it’s not about buying every eye shadow or lip pencil available.  Most important rule: only buy what you know will have the versatility and durability you need. Once you have this set of basics, you can then learn to edit and refine for each job—bridal, editorial, HD or FX, etc.

It’s important to think about your clients, too. What are the specific demands of shoots and locations? How about direction or themes your clients are aiming for—do you have the products to achieve them? Do you really have what you need to design, apply, and maintain this particular makeup?

Putting together a kit plan might take you a day or even a few months, but a huge investment like this is no joke. To help brainstorm various scenarios and answer the above questions, get a designated kit notebook. Draw your fantasy bag. List your dream career and goals. Write down 10 new products you’re excited to test out. Your kit is a reflection of your artist self—think big and ambitiously about your potential and the products that can help make that happen. And when you’re ready, let’s dive in.

Ready to get started? Stay tuned for Part 2: It’s in the Bag!

et cetera