Your professional makeup kit is your #1 business tool! After all, without your kit, how can you do your job? Building a good kit takes significant investment, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Don’t worry if you’re toting a kit that isn’t blessed with products from Charlotte Tilbury or Tom Ford. Not many MUAs can jump straight into offer luxury makeovers as a new grad. These $$ products cost more than a pretty penny, and likely won’t contribute to versatility in your kit.

Start by building a workable versatile kit before adding in pricier statement products. A drugstore kit can be just as effective as a luxury kit but at half the cost. But how do you know when to make the upgrade? Keep reading for a few tell-tale signs that you’re ready for a kit-upgrade and some suggestions on building the perfect beginner’s kit!

Versatile professional makeup kit

First things first…

You don’t need expensive products to have a good kit! When you’re first establishing yourself as a makeup artist, set your eyes on building versatility. It is true that some expensive products make your job as an artist easier! The likelihood of finding creamy, buttery shadows that blend like a dream increases as you move up in price point. But it’s not always the case!

Your clients may see those Maybelline products in your kit, but they’ll be impressed if you can use drugstore products to create luxury-level makeup looks. The moral of the story? Keep practicing and building your skills. You can have all the Natasha Denona eyeshadows, but if you can’t apply them properly, your clients will notice. Your technical application skills are what warrant a higher salary, not your products!

What should you look for?

Build a kit that focuses on versatility. Becoming a reputable artist in your local industry means being equipped to work with clients from all different backgrounds. Many makeup artists make the mistake of not stocking makeup that suitable for a diverse clientele. Don’t be caught unprepared! Start by investing in palettes—almost every area of makeup has palette options. Foundations, concealers, lip colors, eyeshadows, blush, etc.—there are palettes readily available for them all!

Let’s use foundation palettes as an example. Foundation palettes have a range of shades from fair to deep while also offering a variety of warm, cool, and neutral undertones. Many makeup artists make the mistake of not stocking makeup that suitable for a diverse clientele. But it is possible to be inclusive in your makeup services with a cream foundation palette. An added plus? The lighter and darker shades can be used to create dimension on the face— subtle highlighting and contouring without having to invest in any additional products!

The ultimate perk of having a palette? Once you’ve trained your eye for color, you’ll be able to mix your own custom blend. The 20 some-odd colors in a foundation palette aren’t a catch-all and adjustments need to be made. Beyond color, you can also adjust the coverage. Cream foundations usually offer medium-full coverage. This means you can build on the coverage or sheer it out using moisturizer. When you have so many different ways to play with a single product, it’s up to you to get creative!

Makeup artist working with a client

Know your clients!

You’ll start to notice a trend in your clients’ application requests. Yes, for special occasions like prom, pack some shimmery shades in your kit. But most clients will request neutral and smoky eye looks. The majority of your shadows should be a spectrum of neutral, matte shades. Sure, you could build a smoky eye using just shimmery shadows, but glitter doesn’t translate well on the crease work!

Good, blendable matte eyeshadows are notoriously difficult to find. Sometimes they’re chalky, other times they go onto the eyes patchy. At this point, you probably think you’ll have to scour the shelves of Sephora to find the best shadows at the lowest price. Here’s where your expert research skills come in.

If you take the time to do your research, you can find some affordable products online from indie brands. Makeup Geek has an impressive collection of matte shadows that sell for just $6 a pop! You won’t have the luxury of swatching them, but you can see how well they perform by watching the reviews of other gurus. This goes for every single product on your kit. There’s always so much more available online than what you would see at your local mall. Plus, if you have access to makeup discounts from your alma mater, you can try out a variety of trusted brands at affordable prices.

Making the upgrade

The great thing about becoming a freelancing makeup artist is that you decide your salary! When you were first starting out and completing your makeup artistry course, you probably did makeup on your models for free. As you gain more experience and master the art of blending, you can start increasing your rates!

When you’ve calculated your budget and carved out the exact amount you can afford to spend on your tools while still making money, you can dive right into luxury products! Ideally, you’ll want to have a good mix between your drugstore and your prestige brands. After all, why waste products that are still good to use?

Launching a successful makeup YouTube channel

Although it’s not a route we recommend relying on, many makeup artists grow their makeup collection by working with sponsors. If you’ve made strides in building your online network, makeup brands might see you as a great ambassador for their brand. Learning to leverage your reputation properly, may lead to you securing free press kits to replenish and add to your kit!

As we said, we don’t recommend relying on this avenue! Finding success in such a saturated online beauty community is one-in-a-million. It takes a lot of hard work and it’s hard to fight for exposure when thousands of videos are uploaded to YouTube every day. But if you want to try your hand at taking your talents online, here’s how you can use your makeup training to launch a successful YouTube channel!

Got any tips for building an affordable makeup kit? Let us know!

You shouldn’t just spend all your income just on makeup. Check out our ultimate spending guide for your makeup salary!

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