How to Build a Makeup Kit, According to Three Celebrity Makeup Artists

Whether you’re an aspiring makeup artist or looking to elevate your personal beauty stash, everyone can benefit from learning what tools the professionals swear by. With access to every palette, brush, and lipstick on the damn planet, makeup artists can be trusted for expert opinions on the goods worth investing in. Ahead, find out what essentials build the makeup kits of celebrity makeup artists Mai Quynh, Beau Nelson, and Tobi Henney.

Mai Quynh


You’ve seen her work on: Keira Knightley, Tessa Thompson, Thandie Newton, Chloe Grace Moretz

What do you think are the essentials for building a makeup kit?
Good brushes! They can be pricey, but they will last you awhile. They have to have soft hairs because they touch people’s eyes and skin, so they have to be gentle and not “stabby” or painful.

What are your favorite makeup brushes?
Nars Yachiyo for blush, Claudio Riaz Foundation Brush, Kevyn Aucoin Concealer Duet Brush, Stila #15 Eyeshadow Brush, Chanel Powder Brush, Charlotte Tilbury Eye Blender Brush.


What are your most valued products in your makeup kit?
A lot of my favorite products are things that brands have discontinued or things I’ve gotten in Japan that are rare. My favorite contour powder is from Clé de Peau, but it’s discontinued! It’s the perfect shade for a natural contour. Also, YSL used to make an amazing semi-loose powder, also discontinued. The packaging and powder itself was perfection.

What other beauty tools do you love?
BeautyBlenders for sure! Shu Uemura Eyelash curler, Tweezerman tweezers, Q-tips from Vietnam, disposable mascara wands and a metal palette for my foundations and mixing purposes.

What are your most-used makeup products in your kit?
La Prairie Skin Caviar Moisturizer, Clé de Peau concealer, YSL mascara, Bioderma Eye Makeup Remover, Tatcha Eye Patches and lipsticks—I give them all away!

Beau Nelson


You’ve seen his work on: Kristen Stewart, Emma Roberts, Elizabeth Olsen, Alessandra Ambrosio

What do you think are the essentials for building a makeup kit?
Brushes are the most important thing, without question. So many companies make great brushes at all price points.

Next, is a great foundation and concealer. These are ultra-essential to create flawless skin. I like Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk, Koh Gen Do liquid, and Tom Ford stick foundations. For concealer, I like Laura Mercier and Nars.

You need a natural blush and lip color—look for a color that is found in your lips naturally. I love Stila or convertible colors which can be used on cheeks and lips, but if you prefer separates, I like Nars and Charlotte Tilbury for both blush and lip color.

What are your favorite makeup brushes?
Real Techniques [brushes] are an amazing value for the price, and have so many great shapes. For higher-end brushes, I love Surratt Beauty—you cannot get a more luxurious brush than these Japanese, handmade brushes.

Artistique Face Brush

What are your most valued products in your makeup kit?
My Chanel eyelash curler is an absolute essential—it opens up eyes and makes them more beautiful and awake. I’m always using my Laura Mercier secret camouflage palette I made from all the shades. Vueset containers are essential for me to put lip and cream colors in to save space and make them more portable. These are amazing for travel as well.

What other beauty tools do you love?
Laura Mercier makes a pair of tweezers I love.

Tobi Henney


You’ve seen her work on: Ashley Graham, Georgia Fowler, Helena Christensen, Poppy Delevingne

What do you think are the essentials for building a makeup kit?
Invest in great makeup brushes. I have kept some of my key brushes for many years. My go-to brands are M.A.C Cosmetics, Rae Morris Brushes, Charlotte Tilbury, and Zoeva. They are the tools which will serve you for a long time. Also invest in great skincare and foundations—clients want their skin to look amazing and you must have the products to produce the results.

My makeup light is so important! Especially in New York, where light in hotels can be super dim. I also can’t live without Armani Luminous Silk, Tom Ford Lipsticks, and my Charlotte Tilbury lash curler.

What are your favorite makeup brushes?
I love the 217 Mac Cosmetics Brush for any type of eye look. I have about seven in my kit. I also love the Rae Morris Blush Brush. It Cosmetics #7 Brush is my go-to brush to create an amazing makeup base.

Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection Brush #7

What are your other favorite beauty tools?
I can’t live without my lash comb to ensure lashes are super separated and look their best. I always carry BeautyBlenders and tweezers by Tweezerman to be able apply lashes.

What are your most used makeup products in your kit?
Armani Luminous Silk for the perfect base! La Mer Renewal Oil for a gorgeous glow. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector to make the skin look super healthy. Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate to contour naturally. Dior eyeliner for a sharp graphic eye. M.A.C Cosmetics Paint Pot for the perfect eye base, and Nars eyeshadows for a smokey eye look.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *