As a makeup artist, your professional makeup kit is your best friend. It’s your tool of expression and your source of income.

Professional makeup kits take time to build and are a financial investment. Makeup artists spend lots of time researching their products, selecting their brands, and determining how many colors of one product to carry with them. Which products are worth the money? Which brands offer the best quality makeup?

Your best strategy when you’re first starting out is to concentrate on quality, aim for mid-range pricing, and stick to the essentials. You want to build a kit that lets you do great makeup applications in a range of styles without breaking the bank.

Here are some tips for piecing together a great makeup kit that is affordable enough for a beginner makeup artist but still professional enough to complete the best makeup applications possible.

1. Analyze and assess

Consider whether bright colors and sparkly products are what you really need, or whether you’re better to invest your money in neutral matte shadows and natural colors.

Start choosing products for your makeup kit based on your target client base. If you’ve been hired by a modeling agency to do creative makeup for avant garde photo shoots, you’ll need different colors and products than if you specialize in bridal and prom makeup.

Makeup Blog Building Makeup Artistry Kit- Professional Makeup Artist Choosing Makeup

2. Choose products carefully

Saving money doesn’t have to mean buying poor quality products. Despite the tempting prices, avoid poor quality discount brands that have a reputation for applying poorly and wearing off quickly. You will encounter extremely affordable brands that are good quality, but they’re the exception and not the rule.

At the same time, don’t fall for the illusion that higher prices guarantee better quality. Some expensive designer brands are cream of the crop, but there are also affordably priced brands that produce makeup of equal quality. As a beginner, these are the products that you should invest your money in.

Remember that professional makeup artists deal with clients who have all different skin types and tones. You’ll need products in a range of shades, so consider palettes rather than individual pieces. Eye shadow, concealer, blush, and lip palettes, for example, can be much more cost effective than buying 12 shades of every single product individually.

3. Read/watch reviews and seek advice

Since you won’t have the chance to sample every foundation under the sun before you choose which ones to buy, research what people who have tried them had to say! Seek advice from more experienced makeup artists and read or watch product reviews on reputable blogs and vlogs. Find interactive makeup artistry forums or social networking groups and discuss products with other professionals before you purchase something you’re unsure of. You don’t have to base your decision on other peoples’ reviews but they can certainly be helpful to beginners who haven’t been exposed to a wide range of products or brands yet.

Makeup Blog Building Makeup Artistry Kit- Professional Makeup Artist Researching budget makeup tools

4. Buy in bulk where its beneficial

For safety and hygiene reasons, makeup artists use several kinds of disposable tools during each application. Even though these aren’t cosmetics, they’re a necessary part of your professional makeup kit. Re-stocking your disposable tools is a regular cost, so consider buying in bulk. You’ll need mascara wands or spoolies, cotton swabs or Q-Tips, cotton pads, and foam sponges. Purchasing your disposable tools in bulk is often more cost effective than buying individual packages at full prices every time you need to replenish your supply. The less money you spend on disposable tools, the more you can save to invest in quality makeup products.

Cover your bases

Saving money is important, but your makeup artistry kit must have the essentials you’ll need during professional contracts. Check out this list of basic products that are good quality despite being very affordable.


You need: Medium and light shades

Try: Ben Nye Conceal-All cream concealer wheel, available from Frends Beauty for $13

Pro-tip: QC Makeup Academy students & graduates receive up to 40% off with Frends Beauty!

Liquid foundation

foundation colors for a variety of makeup clients

You need: A range of at least 5 shades, as well as a lightener and a darkener

Try: Maybelline Fit Me Dewy and Smooth for $8

Setting powder

You need: Translucent and medium tinted fine powder to set foundation

Try: Cover Girl Professional loose powder for $7

Blush and bronzer

You need: A range of about 6 blush shades for different skin tones and at least one universal bronzer

Try: BH Cosmetics 10-Shade Professional blush palette (including a neutral bronzer!) for $17


You need: Black and brown mascara for clients with different hair coloring

Try: Maybelline Express Falsies mascara for $5

Makeup Blog Building Makeup Artistry Kit- Professional Makeup Kit on a budget

Eye shadows

You need: At least 12 powder eye shadows in a range of colors, shades, mattes, and shimmers

Try: NYX Cosmetics Dream Catcher neutral shadow palette for $15


You need: A combination of pencils and liquid liners in black and brown

Try: NYX Cosmetics Super Skinny eye marker for $9

Brow products

You need: Cream, powder, or pencils in a range of brown shades for filling and shaping eyebrows

Try: E.L.F. Cosmetics brow kit $3


You need: About 8 pigmented lipsticks in a range of shades, including pink, peach, brown, and red.

Try: Coastal Scents 32 lip palette for $15

Pro tip: Liquid lipsticks are the latest trend. They’re more expensive than some regular lipsticks and they’re not available in palettes, but their velvet finish and extremely long last makes them worth it. Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics has a wide range of natural and novelty colors that are completely vegan and very high quality. Each “lip tar” or liquid lipstick costs $19, but a little goes a very long way. QC Makeup Academy students receive a 20% discount with OCC!

Lip glosses

You need: A range of lip gloss shades, including clear, pink, red, neutral, and spice glosses

Try: Revlon Super Lustrous lip gloss for $6

Lip liners

You need: A variety of lip liner pencils to match your lipsticks and glosses

Try: Rimmel London 1000 Kisses Stay On lip liner for $3.99

Other items

Makeup Blog Building Makeup Artistry Kit on budget- Makeup brushes

Building a professional makeup kit calls for more than just makeup! You’ll also need:

  • A complete set of quality brushes (sets are more cost effective than individual brushes)
  • A travel-friendly case to store your makeup and tools
  • Hand sanitizer
  • False lashes and lash glue

Get building

Cost effective quality is your top priority. As a beginner, you should aim for products that are mid-range in price but still blend, color match, and last on the skin well. Do your research, cover your bases, and invest in smart products. You won’t regret building a makeup kit that enables you to do professional makeup artistry without emptying your savings account!

Comment below with your suggestions for affordable makeup artist kits, and check out what goes into a makeup artist’s budget!

Corina Wan

Author Corina Wan

More posts by Corina Wan

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Jan Cross says:

    Where can I order some of these make-up essentials and disposables?

  • nimra says:

    As a qc student do you give discounts?

  • nimra says:

    And from where I can buy these things with discounts?

    • Ana Scholtes says:

      Hi Nimra, thanks for your comment. Many cosmetic brands offer discounts to studying and/or working makeup artists. If there’s a brand you particularly like, check their website for discount programs that you can apply to. QC students and graduates are eligible for discounts to various cosmetic brands. You can check out the list here.

  • Ria says:

    I am a student. When I go to one of these sites what do I have to do to get the discount? Do they need anything from me? Like they need the certificate for certified makeup artists. How about students?

    • Ana Scholtes says:

      Hi Ria,

      Thanks for your comment! Instructions on how to apply and what you need to apply are on your Online Student Center. When signed in, go to Course Resources and select Makeup Discounts.

  • Mayra says:

    What are the best set of Brushers to buy?

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