Armed & Organized!

When a makeup artist is hired to department head a new film or television show one of the tasks expected of the artist is to prep the makeup trailer or room. This endeavor is fun if you have good organizational skills and can be challenging for those who lack the expertise.

I am a total neat freak, which borderlines on the type of obsession that requires medication. I can’t stand a dirty counter, filthy brushes, abused powder products that are crusty and old or used tissues, sponges, orange puffs, Q-tips and makeup remover cloths that manage to find their way onto the floor of the makeup room instead of in the trash bin!

This Pro admits that I have the ability to drive fellow artists crazy and they laugh at me behind my back, but my power to keep my work environment sterile and clutter free has a benefit…my actress/actor or client love it! If you think I am a germ-a-phobe, you should venture into the world of the celebrity, can you imagine how many hands they have to shake or people that touch them on a daily basis?

I am always concerned with organization because being a well-prepped MUA helps me with speed of application, which in turn helps my client get into character quicker, which helps the director start the cameras rolling faster and ultimatly the scenes get produced in a more timely manner and sometimes, we (meaning the entire crew) can wrap for the day earlier!

My makeup room is always well prepped and stocked because it makes for good energy within that space. Actresses, actors and models begin and end their day in hair and makeup and as professionals we like to provide a comfortable environment for our clients.

This Pro’s location kit is always in tip-top shape and holds at least 50 different lipstick, gloss, eye shadow and blusher colors I keep in palettes, not to mention a wide range of foundations, concealers, powders, bronzers, eyeliners, lip liners, mascaras, primers, skincare, removers, false lashes and many different disposable makeup applicators and brushes!

I also carry several types of products that do not necessarily relate to makeup application such as; tampons, first aid kit essentials, sewing kits, pain relievers, breath mints, nail grooming supplies, shaving utensils, deodorant, stain removers and safety pins to name just a few.

Basically, my makeup kit is like a bathroom on wheels and it is constantly being perused by “lookie loos” and they are shocked to find out that I am able to carry a ton of product in a rather compact case!

Are you wondering how I am able to stay so organized and manage to bring all that “stuff” from one location to the next? Well, I am going to show you how I do it, but first I want to point out that it is crazy for anyone to have 50 or more single shades of eye shadow or blush when you can easily remove color and customize a palette. Palettes are the ultimate organizational tool and should be utilized as much as possible.

You can easily create a palette from cosmetic companies like M.A.C. directly at a store location or make your own palette by de-potting (removing) eye shadows and blushers from their original individual containers and popping them into an empty palette.

This Pro frequents a blog and YouTube channel called “Makeup Geek” and the makeup artist who is the brains behind those incredible posts has a fantastic how-to video featuring de-potting a M.A.C. eye shadow (blushers can be removed using the same technique).

I have linked the video below and please pay close attention to her emphasis on safety!

I love the fact that she mentions saving the empty plastic container and returning them to the M.A.C. store! This is called the Back to M.A.C. program and doing this can earn you a free lipstick, gloss or eye shadow, while helping to save the environment! Bonus!

It is important to note that you must return the container in its entirety. Notice when she removes the shadow pan (metal part) from the plastic pan, you should replace the plastic pan inside the container. If you do not do this then M.A.C. will not accept this component for redemption.

Please make sure you measure the metal pan and empty palette mold area in order to ensure a snug fit prior to de-potting.

At the recent IMATS Convention, our contributing writer Pro (and killer makeup assistant) was given several Z-Palettes to try while on set and she has kindly provided our IMPO readers with a little review:

“Some of my favorite products come in bulky packaging that is difficult to store for travel and even more difficult to keep organized. An efficient way to downsize is to put all your shadow products into palette form, which usually come with “uniform” sized holes, but what if your favorite blush doesn’t fit? Solution: The Z-Palette!

It is strongly magnetized and lets you combine square, round, big and small pans all together. You can combine all of your special occasion colors in one and your everyday face in another, or fit them all in one large palette. There are no pre-sized molds so the Z-Palette holds much more than the standard 15 pans.

It has a clear window, which is extremely helpful because it makes finding color easy and keeps it from becoming contaminated. If you are a professional makeup artist you will find the Z-Palette very useful when creating a character and it is compact enough to store in your “actor” bag for quick on-set touch up!"

For more information on where to purchase, as well as cosmetic lines that offer discounted refillable foundations, bronzers, blushes, eye shadows and powders without packaging, visit

The DLSH Actor’s Bag, which was also gifted to this Pro at IMATS is a wonderful storage and organizational tool that contains a non-molded palette that you can fill with all your favorite color, storage areas for brushes, pockets for compacts and a detachable clear zippered bag for cosmetics such as lip gloss or pencils. This bag is great for keeping all your makeup in one zippered component and makes traveling extremely easy while providing sturdy protection.

For more information on where to purchase go to

You should also consider taking your collection of individual lip color tubes and make your own lipstick palette, which is exactly what this makeup Pro does in order to carry and mix many individual colors together for a custom look!

What you will need:

*empty palette (japonesque palettes work best)

*putty knife

*disposable spatula (found at drug store)

*small glass beaker (with a lip – art supplies stores carry – must be able to use in microwave)

* lip brush



Here is the how-to:

1. Gently cut off the end of the lipstick with putty knife. Use spatula to scoop out excess color within the bullet. You will be amazed at how much color is left in the bottom!

2. Place color into the beaker.

3. Place beaker in microwave on high for one minute constantly checking if lipstick is melted. Continue in 20-second increments until lipstick is liquid in form.

4. Carefully remove the beaker and very quickly pour color into the palette using the lip brush to scrap the bottom of the beaker. The lipstick will harden in seconds so you must be speedy during this part of the process.

5. Clean beaker and spatula

6. Repeat the steps until all lipstick color has been successfully transferred into the palette.


Do: If you have several shades of nudes, plums, berries, reds, pinks and earth tones – use a separate palette for each color family or if you only have a few of each shade then combine your nude and earth tone hues into one palette and pink and red tones in another, etc.

Don’t: Do not be tempted to stick the entire palette into the microwave in order to save the time – you must follow each step because lipsticks have different formulas and melt at different time ratios. They will also “boil” over and spill into neighboring pans. UGLY!

When this Pro is on location or away from a makeup trailer, I carry my product in a special type of case, which comes in two parts. The top section of my kit is exactly like a “train” case and when opened has several compartments and trays for storing tubes, palettes, pencils and a deep middle section, which houses all of my foundations, concealers, powders and skin prepping/care products.

The bottom section of my kit is very deep and holds many clear makeup bags filled with other accoutrement, such as disposable applicators, brushes, tissue boxes, hair products, towels and makeup removers.

Now, by no means should you as a cosmetic consumer need this type of professional makeup kit, however there are many train cases that are available which are smaller in size and could easily organize your beauty products without taking up much needed bathroom real estate.

There are also many professional “set” bags that have several pockets and compartments, which would aide in storing and making your cosmetics easy to find when you are in a major rush in the morning! These bags are very durable making travel a breeze!

All bags shown above can be purchased online at

In this Pro’s personal space I use drawer organizers found at Target or The Container Store, whose original function was to hold kitchen utensils, but they work just as well in the bathroom and keep my makeup very well managed.

My teenagers use a type of plastic drawer system also found at major retailers because they share a common space and are able to maximize under the counter areas. We label a drawer for each girl, which keeps the bathroom counter uncluttered and neat! Hey! Don’t make fun of me: a makeup mom has to do what a makeup mom has to do in order to relieve her anxiety!


Don't you just hate it when your favorite pressed powder eye shadow or blusher breaks? Opening the component and having chunks of your coveted color spill into the sink or onto the floor makes this Pro crazy! Instead of trashing the entire thing, transfer the broken eye shadow or blusher into a container!


Up next on IMPO: Get the look! Are you a rocker chick at heart? Tune in next time when IMPO features step-by-step instructions on how to achieve a glam rock star look without the hooker vibe!


  1. Hey honey.I have the EXACT same's getting a little weak at the hinges though, you know? And DON'T: Put your brand-spankin' new "just delivered in the mail" Japonesque lip pallete into the microwave! So I ended up getting fishing lure circles!!.. (about 10 colors per wheel) and putting my lipsticks in those by color family..worked great!
    And those "actor" bags look awesome...maybe for my once weekly anchor girl!!
    And one word for de-potting. SUCKS.....
    Great article as always...makes me wish I was in L.A. sometimes...*sigh*..IMATS....

  2. Hey Josi!

    Surprisingly my kit has held up, but I will be replacing it with more of a cushy case next time - too heavy! As far as those lip palettes - do not put them in the microwave! Everyone has to go through those "step-by-step" instructions! You, like me, learned the hard way huh?

    De-potting is ok for me - I have mastered it, but now so many companies are starting to sell refills sans packaging that de-potting will be a thing of the past! Yay for the environment!

    Wish you were in LA too - we would have fun together!