5 Essential (And Inexpensive) Pro Makeup Artist Tools

Building up a makeup kit for the first time is hard – believe me I’ve been there! You need to make sure you have the tools and products for any job you might be asked to do and clients expect you to have the best (read: most expensive) products out there.

It’s tough when you’re just starting out and you’re not earning the big bucks. But there are a few little things that cost only a few pounds but help make your kit look worthy of a professional.

Pop Up Bin

It sounds daft but this has to be hands down the best thing I have in my kit. How many times have you been out on location or even in a studio that doesn’t have a bin at the makeup area? You end up with all those used tissues and cotton buds floating around amongst you’re lovely makeup – not a great look!

So imagine how happy I was when I spotted some pop up bins on a stall at IMATS London a few years ago. Unfortunately by the time I went back to buy one they’d sold out! It took me a bit of digging around online but I soon found they’re also sold in art shops as portable water pots.

These pots work perfectly as portable bins for on set and location. Mine flattens down small enough to slide into the side pocket of my Zucca case, then pops up like an accordion when I get to work. No more floating used tissues!

Teeny Tiny Cotton Buds

Getting graphic eyeliner symmetrical can be enough to stress out even the steadiest of makeup artist hands. These tiny cotton buds are a must-have for your kit. They make it so much easier to correct mistakes and smooth out wobbly lines.

They’re much smaller and less fluffy than everyday cotton buds, making them perfect for detailed work. Once they’re dipped in gentle cleanser it almost feels like using a pen.

Once upon a time you could only get these from Japan or one or two specialist makeup suppliers. But now you can pick them up cheaply from loads of places. I like the ones from Muji (£3.50 for 200) or you can get special extra pointed ones from My Kit Co that are more expensive at £4 for 50.


A bar of soap? Really? Yes! This is how makeup artists get those lovely big fluffy brows that were so hot back in the 90s and again today.

To use soap for brows you’ll also need an eyebrow brush or spoolie and some water (I carry a little spray bottle) but the good news is that you can pick up all this for under a fiver. I even have a great soap brows tutorial if you’ve never done it before.

Lipstick Palette

As your kit grows and you find yourself dragging an ever heavier case around, you’ll soon become obsessed with how you can lighten the load. Decanting your makeup into smaller containers is a way to save space but it can also keep your kit really organised and professional looking.

My Vueset lipstick palette was actually a Christmas gift from my friends Bethany and Simon over at The Vintage Beauty Parlour. It holds 24 lipsticks so that’s 24 tubes that are no longer rattling around in a bag. Plus, I can now see all the colours clearly – no more checking the end of each bullet for the colour name.

It’s also a really fun little job decanting all your lipsticks into their new home. Just make sure you use a sterilised tool to keep everything clean and hygienic.

Velour Powder Puffs

I used to think powder puffs were outdated. After finishing college I only used them to set camouflage concealers. But while assisting makeup artist Michael Richmond a few years ago he showed me how useful they can be if (like me) you’re the sort of makeup artist who does base first.

I used to really struggle to keep the base perfect whilst doing eye makeup because at some point I’d inevitably rest my hand on the model’s face and smudge my carefully layered foundation / concealer / highlighter.

This is where the powder puff comes in. If you hook one over the little finger of your brush-holding hand it acts as a barrier between you and the model’s face. The soft velour won’t smudge the makeup it touches, plus it’s much more pleasant for the model you’re working with. Now I always keep a couple of freshly washed powder puffs in my kit.


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Hi I’m Rebecca

I’ve been a makeup artist and hair stylist in the fashion industry for 15 years. Welcome to by blog where I write about all things beauty, makeup and skincare. Check out my Instagram below for daily content and mini tutorials.