The Essential Tools That Makeup Artists Have.. And Get Them On A Budget!

makeup artist 2

Lots of women in particular, are in awe of makeup artists.  When you find out that someone you know is one, our intial reaction is usually: “Oh you’re a makeup artist?  OOoo!”  There’s a part of me that gets it, but yet is baffled by it at the same time.  The only reason that I can think of is, because they have the gift of transformation.  No beauty or makeover transformation can occur without the talent of a makeup artist.

I seem to have this never ending fascination with makeup; and not too long ago I signed up for an online makeup course.  Not that I really want to be a makeup artist, but I just wanted to be more knowledgeable & have more skills up my sleeve.  They go over lots of makeup techniques, but they go over essential tools that makeup artists need!

If there’s one common complaint among artists, is that they complain their tools are quite expensive.  Some of the ones who end up working in a store, end up being furnished with employee tools.  But many of them are freelancers, looking to establish connections / projects that could lead to long term commitments.  And as a startup makeup artist, you will need to buy all the tools yourself, out of pocket.

Here is a list of items that you can get if you’re a startup makeup  artist, or if you would just like to get some tools to be more equipped & well informed!


Makeup Artist Tools

Makeup Brush Set: Clockwise: E.L.F. makeup brush set, $30 for 11 brushes, Ecotools 5 pc Brush Set, $15, Sonia Kashuk Limited Edition 10 pc Brush Set, $40, Ecotools Bamboo 5 pc Brush Set, $18

The same way a painter is just as good as his brushes; makeup artists are only as good as the brushes they have.  They are like painters, except that the face is the blank canvas.  And anyone can tell you that makeup brushes can be extremely expensive.  And if anything, you will probably need more than one set, because you’ll wash one, & you can have another backup set while you wait for it to dry.  Great, affordable brands that makeup artists use are Real Techniques, Ecotools, & Sonia Kashuk.  Real Techniques are a popular drug store brand; while I love Ecotools because they are so soft & fluffy!  To check out other affordable brands of makeup brushes, read The Best Makeup Brushes!! ..And the genius hack on how to clean them!


shany foundation concealer palette.jpg

Different Shades Of Foundation: Shany 15 Color Foundation Palette, $15

As a MUA (makeup artist), you might be doing makeup on people from all over the world! And you’d want to have a palette that’s versatile to meet those needs.  No need to spend a fortune on it, you can get this one for $15!


Makeup Wipes: E.L.F. Makeup Remover Cleansing Cloths, $3, Aveeno Makeup Removing Wipes, $6

You’d definitely want makeup wipes on hand, not just for removing makeup, but it’s great for cleaning up fallout, cleaning the face when you start (in case you don’t have the opportunity), & most importantly, if you make a mistake.  In the beginning you’d probably make mistakes, or sometimes a client simply just doesn’t like makeup.  It could be as simple as they don’t like a lipstick color; so you’d want to be prepared.


Brush Cleaner: Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap, 2 oz to 32 oz, $5-$18 Cinema Secrets Makeup Brush Cleaner, 8 oz, $24

Of course, you can’t have brushes & not clean them.  Usually it’s recommended that you wash your brushes every 7-10 times you use them.  When you work with different types of medium, i.e. powder, cream, liquid, gel; you’d want to clean them between changing.  I find Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap great for cleaning brushes & makeup sponges, but I read that Cinema Secrets Makeup Brush Cleaner is popular among MUA.



Rubbing alcohol & spray bottle: Rubbing alcohol, $2, Spray Bottles, $1 each

You might think?  What would I need this for & how is this related to makeup?  You’d be surprised.  You would want to sterilize all of your equipment, so that there isn’t any cross contamination.  Also constantly washing your brushes can be damaging to the bristles; so it’s best in between uses to give them a spray of alcohol.  (Washing is for more thorough cleaning.)  Also every once in awhile, you’d want to also spray down your palettes as well.


Tweezers & eyelash curler: Maybelline Tweezers, $5, Sally Hansen Eyelash Curler, $5

You might tweezers for the obvious: plucking loose hairs.  Also it’s another great tool to apply false lashes.  And every woman who has her makeup done, will want her lashes curled, with mascara.  No need to spend a fortune on eyelash curlers, get this one for only $5!


Powder puffs, cotton balls / pads, & Q tips: 10 pk Powder Puffs, $13

Powder puffs are great for setting makeup: applying setting powder.  Or if you want, you can get a big kabuki brush & not have to deal with powder puffs.  Cotton pads / cotton balls, are good for applying toner to the skin.  Q tips are good for correcting makeup, after it’s been dipped in makeup remover.  No need to spend a fortune on those either, you can pick those up at the dollar store!


Mascara, false eyelashes, & eyelash glue:  NYC Color New York City 24 HR Waterproof Mascara, $7, Maybelline Colossal Waterproof Glam Black Mascara, $5, E.L.F False Eyelashes, $2

It’s very rare to have a makeover & not use mascara.  Have some on hand; & it doesn’t even matter the brand you use, because there are lots drugstore brands that work even better than the high end ones!  Just make sure that it’s waterproof, the last thing you’d want is for a client to be sweating & have their makeup run all over their face.  That’s ruining your masterpiece!  And lots of women love false lashes so have on hand, just in case.


coastal scents 66 color lip palette

Lip Palette, lip brush, or pill box: Clockwise: Coastal Scents 66 Color Lip Palette, $18, Lip brushes, 2 for $4, Organizer Box Container, $2

Just like foundation, you’d want to have a variety of lip colors to choose from.  Have a lip brush on hand, clean & sterilize it in between clients.  If you already have a lot of lip colors, you can get a organized box container where you can cut off your lipsticks & carry it around like a palette.


Makeup Sponges & Applicators: Clockwise: Real Techniques Makeup Miracle Sponge, $6, Wedge Makeup Sponges, $2, 100 pc Lip Applicator, $8, 50 pc Mascara Wand Brush Set, $14

Makeup sponges are all the rage nowadays when it comes to applying foundation, and you’re bound to find a client who wants it done by sponge.  No need to shell out $20 for a single Beauty Blender, you can get the Real Techniques Makeup Miracle Sponge for only $6!  If you are the type of person that prefers to use a different sponge per person, it’s better to go with the disposable kind.  And no need to spend a fortune on those either; you can get a whole bag of them for $2!  However, if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of constantly maintaining a supply, or prefer to be more environment friendly, get the Real Techniques Makeup Miracle Sponge, for you could use one up to a couple months!

Lip applicators are good if a client wants to try different colors; disposable mascara wands you’d definitely want to have, because of the proximity to the eyes.  I do have a MUA friend who told me that he has seen someone get an eye infection from used mascara.  Ouch.  Be on the safe side & use a new wand every time you put mascara on someone.


Hand Sanitizer and Handheld / Stand up mirror: Soft N Style 2 Sided Mirror with Handle / Stand, $7, Hand Sanitizer, Purell Hand Sanitizer, $2

You don’t want to be stuck in the situation when a client asks to see themselves, & you simply don’t have a mirror on hand.  Get the one above, for it works handheld as well as standing up!  Also keep some hand sanitizer on you, in case you’re working in a place that doesn’t have a sink & can’t wash your hands, & to disinfect them in between clients.


Eye drops, & Tissues: Visine Advanced, $2, Kleenex 8 pack, $8

You’d always want to have these, eye drops in case a client’s eyes are red or irritated.  Another great use of eye drops is that if you mix it with an eye shadow, you can make your own custom shade eyeliner!  Tissues are always handy to wipe away sweat, tears, or if someone happens to sneeze.  You don’t want to be in the position of, “Sorry, I don’t have any tissues.”


Professional Tools:

These tools are really for the professional MUA; tools that the everyday woman wouldn’t need or use.  However, if you’d like some insight as to what they use & what they’re for, or if you’re a makeup artist looking to get some tools (at great prices!) keep reading!


Spatula, Palette, & Makeup Cape: Stainless Steel Spatula & Palette, $3, Makeup Cape, $6

What is this?  I know, most people have never seen these before, but only professional MUA.  This spatula & palette is great for mixing & blending colors!  Whether it’s blending foundation, or mixing powders to create a lipstick, etc.  It’s very important to  keep the both of them both clean & sterilized between clients.  The makeup cape is great for keeping any makeup fallout getting on their clothes.  And the great thing is that you can easily clean it & keep reusing!


Loose pigments: Kiko Loose Eyeshadow Pigments, $4.50 each, BH Cosmetics Loose Pigments, $7 each

And these?  These are probably the most interesting tools that MUA get to play with!  They are just like eye shadows / blushes, in powder form, instead of being pressed.  Using the mixing media, (see below) you can mix them on your palette to create cream eye shadows, lipsticks, or eyeliner!  Don’t be afraid to utilize the full versatility of your tools!  A popular place to get loose pigments are MAC, but theirs are at least $10 a piece!  It may not sound like a lot, but you’re not only going to buy one color.  If anything, you’re going to buy at least several of them, & believe me the prices add up!


Mixing Media:  Ben Nye Liquidset Waterproof Mixing Liquid, sizes & prices vary, starting at $6, Inglot Duraline, $11

Of course, if you get the loose pigments, you will need some mixing medium.   And the 2 I’ve listed here, are not only inexpensive but waterproof as well!



Makeup Artist

Have I piqued your interest?  I hope I’ve given you some insight into the fascinating world of makeup!  Or if you are a MUA, (or hope to be one) I hope I’ve provided you with some tools that won’t break your bank!  Leave a comment or any questions below!


Related articles:

The Best Makeup Brushes!! ..And the genius hack on how to clean them!

The Most Affordable Makeup Ever!


Drugstore foundations that makeup artists love




15 thoughts on “The Essential Tools That Makeup Artists Have.. And Get Them On A Budget!

  1. Lots of great ideas here! I never thought of using Dr. Bronners Castile Soap to clean my brushes. Having alcohol in a spray bottle to sanitize tools makes a lot of sense.


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