Building A Professional Makeup Kit: Part 1 (Overview)

Recently I was on location, doing makeup for a bridal party & my clients began commenting on the size & components of my makeup kit. We all giggled as the girls 'oohed & ahhhed' over all the beautiful products. This happens often; probably about once per week. People generally ask me how much I've spent on my makeup, how long it took me to accumulate so much makeup, or make jokes about the sheer quantity of products I carry in my kit (usually a fella). A few weeks ago, one of my clients' husbands compared my kit to his toolbox (which is a pretty fitting comparison, if you ask me). Anyway, all of this got me thinking about my kit, what I've spent, & the nitty-gritty of what I've got in there. Here are the basics of the case I use to store all the glamorous & wonderful makeup goodies. I am using a professional rolling makeup kit with the dimensions 27.5"H x 12.5"W x 8.5"D. Empty, it weighs about 11 pounds. It has some heavy duty locks with dual keys (which I often do not use because I almost never find a situation where I am not within arms reach of my kit at all times). The case also has a telescoping handle, similar to a lot of large rolling luggage. It also had wheels to help with transport. I purchased my case used online at an amazing deal. These cases usually cost about $100-$200 new & can be found many placed online, including EBay. These cases generally come in black, but can also be found in silver, grey, or pink. I would have preferred a black case because I feel that it would be more professional looking, but I like pink well enough & couldn't beat the deal.

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As you can see from the photo, this case has lots of buckles & hinges; that's because the whole box comes apart or opens up for ease of use & versatility. The top third of the case detaches completely & can be used alone or with a shoulder strap. The interior of the small upper box has two pull out shelves & a deep bottom for a variety of differently sized products. For a simple event where a huge number of products are unnecessary the top box is perfect. If you decide to use the two separately, this case comes with a second box lid that you can attach to cover the lower compartment. The lower compartment works very well for larger items & I have packed it with all the little extras that I've learned to bring with me 'just in case'. I will go into more detail about what exactly I keep in my kit further down.  Inside the larger bottom box, there is a shelf & a pull-out compartment that rests atop the shelf. This portion of the box also features a drop down wall for ease of use (so you're not having to reach from the top all the way down to the lowest items). Here are some more photos to help illustrate.

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Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with how well this case fits all of my products, particularly once I got good at taking advantage of all of the vertical space by organizing all of the products standing with the tallest side up & down (smaller organizing baskets have been very useful with this).

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This is a birds-eye view of the very bottom of this case, with the top & middle sections removed.

Ok... so now that I've explained the case that I use, I'll talk a little bit about what's inside & my suggestions for building your own kit. Starting with the top, moving down; I use the removable top case to hold & organize eye shadow, pigments, mascara, disposable mascara wands, gel eyeliners, eye primers, & dusting powders.

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Opening these shelves reveals the lower compartment where all of my palettes & lip pencils & eye pencils are stored. I also have tweezers &  small scissors here (small scissors have come in handy for me more times than I can count).

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The next compartment contains all of my foundations (tipped upside down so that the colors are visible to me from their labels which are on the bottom). I also keep a hair stylist cape in this compartment in case I'm working on someone who is wearing their event outfit. The rest of the items are Beauty Blender sponges, concealer palettes, makeup setting spray, bronzers, blushes, HD setting powder, illuminizers/highlighters, skin primers, & facial moisturizer & cleanser. Essentially anything that could be needed for a client's skin.

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At the very bottom I keep replacement & backup items.  Washcloths so I can clean & sanitize as I work. Makeup removal wipes, nail polish removal wipes, hair clips, extra sponges, oil blotting sheets, a nail file, hand sanitizer, mints, makeup brush sanitizing spray, instant tanning spray, rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle (to sanitize makeup between uses), extra mascara wands, cotton pads, gentle eye makeup remover, small empty containers, my makeup brush roll & brush belt, band aids, a hair brush, travel size hair spray, business cards, a credit card scanner, a pen & small notebook, small empty bags for trash, a mixing palette, & a small hand mirror.

Here is a basic list of what a beginning makeup kit might require:

  • Foundations of multiple colors & tones (rose, gold, olive, neutral). Fewer are needed if you are skilled at custom blending colors; however this method can be wasteful &/or time consuming if you are unfamiliar with custom blending.
  • Multiple concealers or a concealer palette. Creams work differently than liquids; depending on your clientele you may want to have a variety of formulas.
  • Foundation primer (clear or green are my most used)
  • Basic skincare: Cleansers, Moisturizers, Gentle eye makeup remover, cleansing cloths, cotton pads, acne cream. Again, choose according to your clientele & build up as you expand.
  • Blushes of multiple colors & tones
  • Highlighter. A light yellow/gold is often the most versatile. I prefer loose powder, but these also come in cream formulas.
  • Bronzers. Typically I only carry one or two. Often time, a versatile shade can work on many, many skin tones. Matte bronzers are more versatile than those that contain shimmer.
  • Eye primer. I typically only carry one or two of these; one dark & one light or white. They do makeup skin tone shades, but a skin tone shade wont enhance the color of the shadow like white or black primer.
  • Eye shadow: This is something that you might have many, many of depending on your own preferences. I suggest starting with a palette that contains many neutral shades (browns, greys, blacks, whites, & nudes) & another palette with brighter colors. Brown & grey shadows can also be used for eyebrow filler.
  • Multiple eye liner pencils & gel eyeliner (my most versatile & commonly used. They can also be used as primer for eye shadow). I do not use liquid eyeliner because it is impossible to properly sanitize.
  • Mascara, both waterproof & a standard formula. Disposable mascara wands are a necessity for sanitization.
  • A variety of false eyelashes, if this is a service that you would like to offer.
  • Lipstick, lip liner, lip gloss. I personally feel that lip primer is unnecessary, lip balms are sufficient.
  • As for random/generic items that you might consider adding to your kit: hair clips or bobby pins, a nail file, nail polish removal wipes, I have heard of makeup artists carrying feminine hygiene products, but I personally don't; a razor, instant tanning lotion, washcloths, a cape, small scissors, safety pins, & aspirin.