The Apprentice!

Recently, In My Professional Opinion has been receiving emails requesting information regarding beginner professional makeup kits. Questions we have been presented with include: What should an apprentice carry in their kit? Which products are good bang-for-your-buck and work in all types of genres? Where can I get a sturdy, but inexpensive makeup case? Where should I concentrate spending most of my money?

So even if you are not planning on becoming a professional makeup artist, are a YouTube How-to Star, novice, just curious about what is in a Pro’s makeup kit or if you love a good bargain, you will benefit from this blog post – so keep reading!

The Pro’s decided to use these questions when shopping for and testing products at the recent Makeup Show in Los Angeles and here are our suggestions for the Apprentice:

Makeup Cases: there are a few online companies that carry extensive selections of makeup cases made especially for the professional (and the novice if you are a huge beauty junkie). has a complete line of professional makeup artist cases and cases for everyday use. This Pro’s case is from Yazmo and is called the Pro Aluminum Makeup Case in Silver that sells for $169.95.

This case is able to carry all of the product this Pro uses on any type of professional shoot and comes with many trays and compartments you can customize to fit product or brushes. The case is on in-line skate wheels, which make it easy to maneuver and has a telescopic handle. The lower storage compartment is deep and can hold bottles, palettes or hair needs (blow dryer, etc.). Other online companies include: Alcone, which has a wide variety of set bags and Japonesque. If you are working with a very low budget you can always try a fishing tackle box or gardener’s tool bag – not very glamorous, but they get the job done!.

Brushes: it is the opinion of this Pro that a large chunk of your professional makeup budget should be spent on brushes. Please review the archive post called “Brush Off” for a listing of brush lines this Pro recommends. Remember, these are your “tools” to create a beautiful face and having the right tools makes all the difference in your application. For those on a tight budget check out Crown Brush, which has the largest selection of brushes for you to choose from in prices ranging from $1.99 to $15.99. Whether you decide you want to be a film, television, runway, theatre or editorial makeup artist, having the best brushes you can afford will help build your confidence and technique! Again, this is not the area in which to be frugal – you can take the time to build your brush arsenal by purchasing a few good brushes at a time. Take care of them properly and they will last you 20 years!

Apprentice Kit: every prepared apprentice should show up to the set or backstage with a kit that contains skin prepping products (moisturizers/primers), foundations, concealers and correctors, powder, color products, mascara, liners, lipsticks or gloss. Also, you should pack your kit with disposables such as orange puffs, q-tips, cotton puffs, wipes, lip wands, mascara wands and sponges. Don’t forget to have some brush cleaner and tissues. Your Department Head or Key Makeup Artist will look over your kit and decide which actors/actresses you are able to work on from the contents in your makeup case. The more prepared you are, the better chance you will have to assist with lead characters. If you have a sparse supply of cosmetics, that is okay too, you will most likely work with extras and that has its benefits – remember that all work is good experience and builds your resume!

Bang-for-your-buck: check out the professional industry’s beauty supply companies like Cinema Secrets, Frends, Naimes or Alcone, they will have products with good pigmentation such as lip liners, eye liners, lip sticks and color products at lower prices.

You should have a few palettes of eye and cheek colors in your kit too. Check out Coastal Scents or La Femme (carried at the stores listed above) for great matte and iridescent shadows and blushers. Cinema Secrets’ Translucent Powder will be sufficient for starters and mascaras such as Cover Girl Lash Blast or Max Factor 2000 Calorie work just as well as higher end products. Look for foundations, concealers and corrector lines that provide more than one color in a container, such as MUD (Make-up Designory) foundation and corrector/concealers, which come in palette form and are good if you end up working in HD. If you skimp on foundation or concealers, you will regret the coverage a drug store foundation will provide.

As you become more comfortable working in a professional environment and start making money as a freelance artist, you can begin to fill your kit with higher-end product that work miracles and are prestigious. To be honest, it does make a difference to some actors, actresses and models which cosmetic and product lines you choose to stock your kit with, but don’t let that discourage you. Just set aside a few dollars after each job and begin to build a makeup budget and then attend shows like The Makeup Show or IMATS for great deals on product lines such as Make Up Forever, Temptu, Eve Pearl, Gerda Spillman, Ve’s Favorite Brushes, and Smashbox or you can shop for brands like Dior, Benefit, Nars, Stilla, Cargo and Urban Decay at Sephora. Major cosmetic brands like MAC and Nars offer Pro discounts of up to 40% when you are able to meet their criteria as a professional, make sure to apply for those discounts.

Don’t forget to ask a photographer for a few professional pictures for your portfolio or bring a camera with you to the set (but be careful when snapping photos – some actors/actresses don’t like it and you can be kicked off the set.) Use your common sense and ask your Key Makeup Artist if it is okay to take photos first. Be professional, work quickly and efficiently and remember that no job is “off limits!” If you are asked to help with hair, wardrobe or even craft service – do it! Watch your language and don’t be obnoxious – remember you want to leave a good impression so that you will be asked to apprentice again. If you make a mistake, admit it, ask for help in correcting it and move on. If you are asked to clean the makeup room or trailer that is part of your job as an apprentice and remember, we all started out in your position!

Up next on In My Professional Opinion: Guest Blogger Jose Teneza, professional makeup artist in Baltimore, Maryland says he wants everyone to “Go Naked” or at least have the right information when seeking out natural moisturizers – if you are a natural product lover, you won’t want to miss this informative post!

Photo Credit: Kit photo above borrowed from The Education Blog.


  1. THANK YOU! I just started looking for this information a few days ago. I was asked to help a hair stylist with a wedding in October and think it's a great opportunity to get a kit together for some small-town freelance work.

    Do you have suggestions for any classes/curriculum books for someone who isn't interested in getting a degree, but wants the knowledge?

    Thank you!

  2. Hi Kelly! So glad this post helped you out! I am not sure where you live, but I would try to check out some YouTube Videos first - Eve Pearl has many how-to videos called Be-you-tified - great. Also, you can look at Tricia Sawyer's videos on YouTube or podcast her instructional videos too. If you wanted to take your artistry to the next level - check out MUA-TV that I mentioned above.