Building a makeup kit can be an incredibly expensive and confusing process. In order to create a huge number of looks on a global spectrum of people, one needs to be prepared with an impressive amount of products. The cost associated with starting a makeup career can be daunting, which makes it very tempting to go the cheap route.

When it comes to choosing your products, costs should be less important than performance. It is very important to know how to get the most bang for your buck on the product you fill your kit with, so let’s chat about when to grab what you need from the drugstore, and when not to!

Lipstick brand for professional makeup artists


When it comes to foundation, you will eventually need a variety of products to meet the needs of each individual skin type, while also complementing tones and undertones. Having liquid, powder, and cream foundations that range from light to deep, with warm, cool, and neutral undertones, is likely not in the budget of a makeup artist beginning their career.

One of my best recommendations is to start with a foundation palette. Not only will this meet your needs from light to deep, palettes also contain a variety of undertones. This variety allows you mix any necessary shade to meet your clients’ needs. One benefit of palettes is that they are cream foundations, which can be very effective on every skin type.

If you need a lighter level of coverage, you can blend a cream down with a beauty blender or mix the foundation with a moisturizer. Embryolisse is a perfect moisturizer to mix with your foundations.

Starting with a cream palette will also allow you to meet the needs of a wide array of clients and, as your business grows, you’ll be able to purchase more formulations. I always recommend people consider professional foundations. The vast majority of drugstore brands have drying agents in them which allow products to not require an additional setting powder. When people sweat, or the oils from their skin mix with their makeup, their look can often darken, creating the dreaded makeup mask.

Best professional foundation brands for makeup artists

When you use professional foundations, and set them with professional powders, you’re far less likely to have this oxidization. Drugstore foundations are usually less pigmented and less long-wearing. To start the perfect base, I always recommend professional primers, and there are a number of brilliant companies that make beautiful ones including Cover FX, Tarte, and Smashbox.


When it comes to powder products, my opinion is split. I have found that the vast majority of drugstore eyeshadows do not give me the level of rich pigment I’m hoping for. Professional eyeshadows are far more pigment-rich and deliver a much more satisfying lay of color to the eyelids. If more expensive shadows are not currently in your budget, you can invest in a really amazing eye primer, and you’ll get a better read of color from the less expensive eyeshadows. However, I do recommend that you eventually graduate toward those professional brands.

Whether or not you are using drugstore or professional eyeshadows, primer truly is an essential – it will make the eye makeup last longer, prevent creasing, and deliver richer color.

As for blushes, I’ve never been a fan of aggressive blush, so having the lighter pigment of drugstore brand blush might not be such a bad thing. You can get a beautiful, light, effortless glow with a few swipes of your drugstore brand, whereas some of the richer, more pigmented brands can leave a harsh streak of color (unless you have mastered the art of the light touch).

Powder makeup products for a makeup kit

I have some drugstore brands that I am proud to recommend. The mascara I cannot live without is Voluminous by L’Oreal, and depending on where you live, it can range from $5.00-$8.00. The gel liners, lip liners, and lipsticks at the drug store all deliver beautiful and long-lasting color. I have found that in many cases, I can get the same results at the drugstore as I can from some of the iconic professional brands.


My biggest piece of advice is that you dedicate yourself to a lifetime of exploration. From my experience, I would not use drugstore foundations on a client, but I would not hesitate to use drugstore liners, lipsticks, and blushes. You should always do your own research for two reasons:

First, you might find a product that you love even more than the one you’re currently using, and second, by doing research on both professional and drugstore brands, you can formulate an opinion that you can share with all of your clients. People will always have questions and will rely on you for guidance. The more you know about the industry, and all the products in it, the more likely you’ll be to have an answer for them. There is no right or wrong with the products you choose, it’s just important that you find the ones that make the biggest impact on your artistry.

I would really love to know your thoughts on the subject. Are there any products you’ll only use professional brands for? Are there any drugstore products you swear by? Let us know in the comments!

Take Nathan’s advice and follow this guide to building your makeup artistry kit on a budget!