Building Your Freelance Makeup Kit
I said I would do a more in depth blog post about what you might need & what I have in my freelance makeup kit - so here it is! I’ll try not to make this too long winded, but also try to cover as much as I can. There are hundreds of Youtube videos out there of makeup artists showing what they have in their freelance kit, and I watch those all the time as I find them very helpful. Its always good to keep in mind that your clientele may be very different from someone else’s, so choosing products that you will get a lot of use out of is the best idea.
As for my Freelance Kit, it is not anywhere near finished or complete. I have all the things I need for my clients, as typically they range from 15-30 years old and are of similar skin tones, but with every new client I take on I go back through my kit and add anything else I think I might need for them. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I like to have everything ready and organized, so they day or night before seeing a client I sort through everything and have all the colors on hand I think they might suit or need.
Keep in mind that I did go to school for makeup, so I have a bit of stuff from the kit we were given at my college (most of it was for SFX Makeup, so the only things I still really use are some brushes & a few foundation/concealer palettes). The rest was purchased myself, and it was NOT cheap. I have saved up a lot and bought things in monthly splurges, and the cost of my kit is well into the thousands. I am very grateful to have my staff discount for MAC, and without it I definitely would not have ever been able to afford all the makeup I have!
A good tip I picked up from working at MAC is that you definitely do not need every single color of a product. Mixing products can be time consuming, but it saves money as well as space in your kit. If you are just starting out, then aim to get three shades of most everything - eg. a very light shade of foundation, a medium shade of foundation, and a dark shade of foundation. That way you can mix and match the colors to suit the client and don’t have 45 bottles of foundation to carry around with you. This can apply to anything, including lipstick, powder, concealer, brow colors, and blush. It ends up saving you a lot of money and space in your kit, but only do it if you are comfortable with color matching and the different undertones of foundations.
The most important thing to remember is that you should base your prices off of the products you are using, as well as your level of skill and experience. You don’t have to start out your freelance kit with all MAC and other expensive products, I started off with a mixture of high and low end products and my prices reflected that. I’ve included several photos of my kit over time, and you can see how it has grown and changed. I only choose products I know work well and last, whether they are from Superdrug or Harvey Nichols.
The easiest way to make sure you have everything in your kit that you need is to think about the order in which you would apply your own makeup. Think moisturizer, primer, foundation, concealer, powder, brows, bronzer, etc. Thats how I always pack makeup when I travel or go away because then I don’t miss anything out or forget something essential like mascara or lash glue. I have done that before and it is a nightmare and you start to panic, so try to avoid it at all costs by being thorough!
MOISTURIZER & MAKEUP REMOVER
You don’t need to go crazy with this area, but make sure to have ones for different skin types (dry, oily, sensitive) and ones that work really well. I have all travel sized ones from MAC in my kit, they are super cheap and tiny so they don’t take up a lot of room. I use Studio Moisture Cream and Oil Control Lotion, and the Pro Makeup Remover for cleaning up the edges of eyeshadow and removing any existing makeup. I also have a travel size of the MAC Wipes as well, which are good for cleaning up any mess you’ve made on surfaces when you are finished as well as removing makeup they might already have on.
PRIMER & SETTING SPRAY
I did a whole blog post about my favorite primers, and all the ones pictured are ones I use myself as well as in my kit. MAC Skin Base and Strobe Cream are the two I aways carry in my kit as I find them to work the best for either oily or dry skin types. You also need primers for eyes (my favorite being MAC Paint Pots) and lips (MAC Prep & Prime Lip). As for setting sprays the best one I have ever come across is the All Nighter Spray from Urban Decay. It actually makes your makeup last longer, whereas contrary to what a lot of people think - MAC Fix+ does NOT make your makeup last longer. Its a refreshing mist with Glycerin in it, so things will adhere better to the skin but nowhere does it claim to prolong the life of makeup. Saying that, its still one of my most used sprays for adding dewiness and intensifies eyeshadow colors. I literally bathe my face in it on a daily basis and couldn't live without it, so don’t think that because it doesn’t make makeup last longer that it isn’t an absolutely amazing product!
This is the most important area in my opinion, as a beautiful base compliments any eye or lip look. Once you’ve got the skin right your client instantly feels amazing! I use a large selection of foundations which isn't necessary, but I’m a foundation junkie and like to reflect that in my freelance work because I think there are so many good formulas out there that work amazingly. The main ones I use are MAC Studio Fix Fluid, MAC Prolongwear Nourishing Waterproof Foundation, MAC Face & Body, and Estee Lauder Double Wear. They do not budge, photograph beautifully, and you are able to manipulate the coverage and finish depending on the clients needs. Having a range of foundations with varying textures and levels of coverage is essential, as you never know what you might need or your client might want.
Again going back to the ‘Rule of 3′, I have 3 colors of each ranging from light to dark as well as neutral, warm, and cool undertones so that I can get the perfect match every time. I also like the Graftobian Warm Palette for foundation as well as contouring/highlighting as they last really well and are undetectable on the skin. Another good tip is to get samples of foundations to keep in your kit, and every MAC counter will happily give these away for free. You are allowed 3 at a time, so collecting a few sample pots of colors you might not regularly use is always a good idea. Keep in mind these samples do go off after a few weeks, so make sure to throw them away after they have expired (you will be able to tell when they have expired when the color, texture, or smell changes).
I almost always use MAC Prolongwear Concealer as it does the job every single time. I have a range of colors but don’t find I need to mix as much as I do with foundations as one color can suit a range of skin tones. I also like the LA Girl Pro Concealer as its similar to MAC PLW Concealer in terms of wear and texture, but the formula is more thick and creamy. I always say to people, do not use the generic concealer palettes that many cheaper makeup companies sell as they are terrible and crease and move on the skin in a matter of minutes! I've been through o many and none of them work Save your money up and get something better! I like the MAC Studio Finish Concealer Palette better as it lasts and has tons of colors to choose from.
POWDER & BRONZER
I like to use loose powders as its more sanitary and lasts a lot longer than a pressed one would, but you can use whatever one you like best. For my kit I mostly use Laura Mercier Loose Translucent Powder and MAC Studio Fix Powder. There's actually a pressed one from Rimmel that works really well and a loose one from MUA which I used to use and found them to be great. I am also a bronzer junkie and have far too many in my kit. I use ones like MAC Mineralize Skinfinish, Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Bronzer, The Balm Bahama Mama, and Bobbi Brown ones.
Finally I can make a valid point on why makeup artists are really the only ones who truly NEED a contour kit! A lot of people who are new to makeup or don’t really wear a lot ask me which is the best contour kit, and I try to explain to them that essentially it is a waste of money as they will never use all the colors in them as they are designed to be used on multiple different skin tones. However they are super hyped up at the minute so my argument is often ignored. Anyways, the best ones are Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit and the Kat Von D Shade & Light Palette. I did a whole blog post on my favorite ones, so check that out. I also use my Graftobian Warm Palette to cream contour with.
HIGHLIGHTER & BLUSH
Again I have way too many highlighters in my collection, but the ones I have in my kit are all pigments from MAC (Vanilla, Melon, Naked) and Soft & Gentle MSF. If I’m being honest I would say Soft & Gentle is the only one you will ever need. It suits every single skin tone I have ever come across and is really a gorgeous product. I also have the Too Faced Candelight Glow Highlighter in my kit for more fair clients.
I am not a huge blush person myself, so initially I struggled with finding ones that I wanted to add to my kit. I have a MAC blush palette with a few colors in it, (Peaches, Melba, Warm Soul, etc) but the one I get the most use out of is one from Morphe called the 10D. The colors are more unique and they are beautiful on the skin, and they last ages. Its very compact and thin so it takes up almost no space in my kit. They don’t actually sell the one which I have anymore, butthis is the newer version and I’ve read some really great reviews on it.
EYESHADOW PALETTES & BROW PRODUCTS
Palettes are really the only thing you’ll want in your kit, as they have so many colors and are typically quite thin and lightweight, so are easier to carry around than a ton of individual ones. I have so many, but the ones I use the most are my MAC ones, which are a mixture of pre-made ones and ones which I made myself. I also like the Too Faced ones, Morphe ones, and Anastasia Beverly Hills. I have one from Ben Nye which I also get a lot of use out of.
I am so fussy about brows, and on myself will never use anything other than Dipdown Fluidline from MAC. However my personal preference for brows is different to what my clients want, so I have all the colors of the retractable brow pencils from MAC in my kit and some DipBrow from Anastasia Beverly Hills. I also have clear brow gel and a brow brush to comb through the hairs first. I also tend to use matte eyeshadows from MAC like Coquette, Brun, etc. for a more natural look.
MASCARA & LASHES
To be completely honest I use whatever waterproof mascara I can find with my clients. I ALWAYS use disposable wands, and because the wands are just generic then the brush on the actual mascara wand is irrelevant. I use waterproof as it holds curl better and obviously won’t move if their eyes water or they cry. Seeing as 99% of my clients always want false lashes, then the mascara underneath doesn’t matter too much. For lashes I use either Red Cherry, Stardell Lashes, Miss Adoro, Kara, or Creme Lashes. These are all very affordable, good quality lashes which can be purchased here. I rarely use House Of Lashes as they are more pricey, but have started to more so recently as I really love them and they last for ages - meaning the client can use them again and again. I always use either Duo Glue or the House of Lashes glue as it is latex free.
BRUSHES & TOOLS
My all time favorite brushes are from Zoeva, and its painful to say but I actually prefer them to my MAC ones! Obviously working for MAC I can only use their brushes on counter, so I have accumulated quite a few since I’ve been there and tend to only bring my work brush belt with me and use those on clients. I always bring a flat top foundation brush as well as a few other Zoeva ones I can’t live without. A brush belt is a must have for a MUA, and you can purchase an exact dupe of mine (minus the MAC logo) on Amazon for under a fiver here. I love to use Beauty Blenders, as they give a flawless finish and help to take away any excess product, giving a more natural look. For brush cleaner I use the MAC one, purely out of convenience - I really want to pick up some of the Cinema Secrets brush cleaner soon as I’ve heard amazing things! I always carry paper towels, hair clips, cotton buds, disposable wands for mascara and lip gloss, a spatula, and a mixing palette.
I carry my entire kit in 2 of the MAC Travel Makeup boxes which are incredible. I can’t find them online, but I got mine from the MAC Store In Cardiff. They both have a large mirror inside, with tons of pockets and places to store lipsticks, powders, etc. I have an array of clear makeup bags to organize products inside, and most are from MAC but I’ve recently discovered that Superdrug sells similar ones for very cheap. My next big purchase will hopefully be the MAC Zuca, which is only available to Pro Artists on the MAC website. Its not cheap so I will be saving up for a while! For the longest time I carried my kit in 2 cheap makeup cases I got off ebay, but they broke really easily and were very hard to hold and travel with. A lot of MUA’s I know carry their kit in suitcases, which is an equally good idea.