Building Your Makeup Artistry Kit on a Budget

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 makeup kit that allows you to do great applications in a range of makeup 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. What kind of makeup artistry do you want to do?

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. This means deciding whether to build a makeup artist kit based on neutral, matte shadows or bold and glittery products!

2. Choose your makeup products carefully

Saving money doesn’t have to mean buying poor-quality products. Despite the tempting prices, avoid discount makeup 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 purchasing palettes rather than individual pieces. Eyeshadow, 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

You won’t have the chance to sample every foundation under the sun before choosing which ones to buy. So take from your own experience and research makeup recommendations. 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 are helpful for beginners who haven’t been exposed to a wide range of products or makeup brands yet.

4. Buy in bulk where its makes sense

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 cost 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 to complete professional makeup jobs. Check out this list of basic products that are of good quality despite being very affordable.


Try: Ben Nye Conceal-All Wheel, available from Frends Beauty for $15

You need: Medium and light shades

Liquid foundation

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

Setting powder

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

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 Nude Blush Palette (including a neutral bronzer!) for $12


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

Eye shadows

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


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

Brow products

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


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

Try: NYX Pro Lip Cream Palette for $12

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 make them worth it. 

Lip glosses

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

Lip liners

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

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 perform exceptionally 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!

Other Necessary Items in your Professional Makeup Kit

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

Comment below with your product suggestions for building an affordable makeup artist kit!

Did you know QC students & graduates have access to discounts from some MAJOR makeup brands? Check out the makeup discounts here!

Author Corina Wan

More posts by Corina Wan

Join the discussion 16 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?

  • myglammpro says:

    I have used this product & I can say its awesome 🙂

    • Gemma Mannering says:

      I love this blog post, I have for sure got my makeup on a budget and have plenty for all looks needed. I buy all my disposables off of eBay and then I brought a set of lip liners in several shades form eBay too. I think the most expensive item in my kit is the Anastasia Beverly Hills lip palette, I chose this just so I didn’t have to carry a bunch of lipsticks round and then I can mix them to custom shades too which is amazing. The foundations I use are L’Oréal true match as I love their shade range, the coverage and finish and then the rest of my kit including powder, lip glos, brows, and highlight I use the QC makeup kit that came with my course. For shadows I use makeup geek, beauty bay and younique

  • Jordan Garcia says:

    I really appreciated this article because when I first started, I was so intimidated by the fact that I’d have to build a kit from the ground up. Thankfully this article puts my mind at ease a bit with the great tips it gives! I think I would’ve just bought things a lot of things individually too not realizing that I should buy them in pallets when I can. So that was a good tip for sure that I’m going to use moving forward! Also trying to build my kit that’s tailored to my services is another great tip that I will for sure be using!

    Thanks Corina for sharing!

    • Sarah-Lynn Seguin says:

      Building your professional makeup kit can definitely seem overwhelming when first starting out, but like we mention in the article, there are definitely cost-effective ways to stock up on awesome products – without going broke in the process! 🙂 We’re very happy to hear that you found this article so informative, Jordan. Thanks so much for commenting!

      All the best,
      The QC Team

  • sanjana says:

    This is so amazing article thank you so much for this keep posting!!

    • Sarah-Lynn Seguin says:

      Hi Sanjana,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and for commenting! We’re thrilled to hear that you enjoyed this article. Which tip do you find to be the most useful? 🙂

      All the best,
      The QC Team

  • Lola says:

    How much do makeup artist spend on makeup products?

    • Sloane Seguin says:

      Hi Lola,

      Thanks for taking the time to leave such a great comment. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as it depends on the makeup artist, the types of products they need/want to use, and their budget.

      That said, it’s 100% possible to become a professional makeup artist and stock your makeup kit up with tons of supplies – without breaking the bank. Honestly, the best thing we recommend doing is a bunch of research. Make a list of the products you’d like to have in your makeup kit, and then look around online. Compare the pricier products with their cheaper, more affordable counterparts. Read all sorts of reviews on the more budget-friendly products, to make sure that they’re still of good quality.

      Sometimes, it may also come down to trial and error – you might not know that a cheaper version of a product is good or not until you actually try it out. In many cases, there’s always some sort of cheaper version of a makeup product that can get the job done just as well as the pricier version. However, in SOME cases, it’ll be worth it to pay a bit more money for a more expensive product, if it proves to be the only product that provides the high quality you’re looking for.

      We hope this helps! x

      All the best,
      The QC Team

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