10 Must-Have Beauty Products from a Makeup Artist’s Kit

Published in: Makeup, Makeup Tips/How To

makeup artist allison barbera

Written by Allison Barbera

Today Allison of New England-based Allison Barbera Makeup Artistry reveals the secrets of a professional makeup artist’s kit.


I recently went on a weekend trip and had to scale down my makeup kit (normally a 3-foot-tall, multi-compartment wheeled kit). I only brought the essentials — the products I most often use on myself and constantly find myself suggesting to clients.


I’ve tried a lot of products, and these 10 are the ones that I think can’t be beat.

1. Too Faced Shadow Insurance


Eye primer is always the first step in my makeup process. Because most people like to draw attention to their eyes, it’s important that the shadow stays on and doesn’t crease. Too Faced Shadow Insurance ($17) eye primer does exactly that, and a little goes a long way.

2. Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils

Talk about smooth! Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils ($17 each) truly does glide on, and it’s easy to work with when you want a smudged liner look. It’s also great on the waterline, and comes in a variety of colors.

3. DiorShow Mascara

It’s a cult favorite for a reason — it works. I use it on myself and on my clients because it lengthens, thickens, and doesn’t clump. I use the original >DiorShow Mascara ($24) for an everyday look, but I like Diorshow Blackout ($24) for a more dramatic look.

4. Benefit Hoola Bronzing Powder


A truly matte bronzer is hard to find, but Benefit has done it. I apply Benefit Hoola Bronzing Powder ($28) all over the face after foundation and powder, and it really evens out the skin. It can also be used to contour lighter skin.

5. Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder


I use this after foundation, and it really helps set it. I work with a lot of brides, and Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder ($30) is the product that keeps their makeup on all day. It gives a flawless finish to the skin and doesn’t feel heavy at all.

6. NARS Blush in Orgasm


The perfect peachy pink. NARS Blush in Orgasm ($25) flatters most skin tones and builds and blends with ease. That, and the compact lasts for a while, so it’s also a good value.

7. Make Up For Ever Camouflage Cream in Golden Beige 15

This peach concealer is does an amazing job of canceling out dark undereye circles. Make Up For Ever Camouflage Cream in Golden Beige 15 ($18) is thick, so just prep the undereye area with a thin layer of moisturizer first, and warm the product on your hand before applying with a concealer brush.

8. MAC Lipstick in Blankety


MAC Blankety Lipstick ($14), a pinkish beige, goes well with a smokey eye because it’s light, but it still gives a “finished” look to the lips. I like to top it with a little gloss since it’s also very matte.

9. Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer



When I want sheer coverage that still looks polished, I use Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer ($42) alone. When I’m looking for heavier coverage, I mix it with MAC Select Coverup. It’s available in a variety of shades, which is rare for tinted moisturizers. For those who aren’t quite ready to use foundation yet, this is a great product.

10. MAC Select Cover-Up


I usually put MAC Select Cover-Up ($17) on top of the Makeup Forever corrector, to give the ultimate coverage for undereye circles. You can also mix it with moisturizer to get a heavy coverage foundation.

If they discontinued any of these products, first, I would cry; then, I’d run to Sephora, Ulta, and MAC to buy them out!

Let’s hope they stick around. πŸ™‚

makeup artist allison barbera

Written by Allison Barbera

This post was written by Allison of Allison Barbera Makeup Artistry, a freelance makeup artist and licensed esthetician. Allison’s loved makeup as long as she can remember. In elementary school, she got in trouble for doing all of her friends’ makeup. A fan of NARS, MAC and Make Up For Ever, Allison also loves soft serve ice cream and Notorious B.I.G.


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So far, 58 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Shannon Steele says:

    I own 6 of your 10

  2. Sonja says:

    I own 3 but most, well almost all except DiorShow& TooFaced aren’t available in my country. I really want to get my hands on Laura M moisturizer and Nars blush though.

  3. Marce says:

    I also own 3 of the 10, but only MAC and DIor are available here from that list! I have DiorShow, TFSI and a couple of 24/7 Liners, all brought from the US. I definitely recommend the last two, not the mascara since it sorta flakes on me =/
    .-= Marce’s last blog post… Peacock Look – Tagged – Contests =-.

  4. Tali says:

    Lol personally I keep only 2 of those items in my kit im not such a fan of about 5 of the ones mentioned. I guess thats what makes us all different. πŸ™‚

  5. I already use Diorshow and Nars in Orgasm. I like the Benefit powders as well, but I prefer Dandelion (Hula comes off too dark on my skin). I might give the MAC lipstick a try next time I am near a store. I always have issues finding a “nude” lipstick.
    .-= Deconstruction’s last blog post… Build a Wardrobe: Black Pumps =-.

  6. amy says:

    I agree on the U/D 24/7 Glide on Pencils as a must have and I think Diorshow is a nice to have but not necessary must have, as I just jumped on to the beauty bandwagon to try this mascara. I have heard a lot of good things about Too Faced Shadow Insurance but I have yet to try it. I do really like UD Shadow Primer Potion though!
    .-= amy’s last blog post… Bling Bling Nails NOTD OPI Designer Series Nail Lacquer Coronation =-.

    • Allie says:

      There seems to be a divide between the Shadow Insurance and UD Primer Potion groups, I think because they are the best two eye primers out there. I say keep using whatever works for you!

  7. I have the Mac Select Cover-up but I’ve never thought of using a corrector first! I’ll have to try that.
    .-= Khalia Bentson’s last blog post… OOKISA hair products… Scam? =-.

  8. Christy says:

    MAC Select Cover-Up and Too Faced Shadow Insurance are fabulous. Both make me look & feel good when I do my makeup.
    .-= Christy’s last blog post… LA Colors Green Satin: A Bargain Hunter’s Answer to Chanel Jade Nail Lacquer =-.

  9. Barbara says:

    I have the Shadow Insurance, DiorShow mascara, Blankety lipstick (amazing nude colour!) and NARS orgasm blush. Very interested in trying the Makeup Forever HD powder – I’ve heard good things. Thanks for the post! I love learning what makeup artists use!

  10. Estella Iris says:

    I own 4 of 10, and Diorshow is a HG product for me…I think this is a great list btw! πŸ˜€

  11. Marina says:

    Thank you for sharing! πŸ™‚
    As for myself I agree about DiorShow mascara and Nars Blush. I have almost all of the products you’ve mentioned (7 out of 10) but some are not a must have for me.
    .-= Marina’s last blog post… Get Inspired for New YearÒ€ℒs Party with 10 Most Amazing Looks =-.

  12. sharon says:

    I own 2/10. Nars blushes are amazing. i don’t own orgasm but i’ve others and am in LOVE

    • Allie says:

      Hi Sharon,

      Just curious–which colors do you love? I love to hear what other people swear by, because I’m always adding to my kit.



  13. Lorna says:

    i have about six of the ten products.

  14. Julia says:

    I own 3 of the 10 items. I use Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer and HD powder everyday. I also have the Nars orgasm blush, but it has too much much glitter for everyday use. I’m not crazy about the HD powder; at this point I’m just trying to use it up so I can buy a different powder. It’s so light that it spills and makes a mess constantly. And the pot is too small for me to use my favorite sephora brush with it. I’ve been using Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer for about 3 or 4 years now. I’ve even gotten my mom to use it everyday too!

    • Allie says:

      Hi Julia,

      I know, isn’t Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer awesome? I love it.

      The HD powder is a little messy, but I’ve come across that with all the loose powders I’ve tried. Please let me know if you find a neat one!

      What’s this great Sephora brush? I want to try it πŸ™‚


  15. Gracie says:

    I have 4 out of the 10 items!! I own two full sized Urban Decay 24/7 Glide on pencils and one mini one, the NARS Orgasm blush, the Too Faced Shadow Insurance and the MAC Select Cover up. God I love them all! Good choices.

    • Allie says:

      Thanks, Gracie! Aren’t those pencils great? I have a bunch in my kit, and a few floating around in my bags. I’d be lost without them!

  16. Courtney says:

    I use Nars Orgasm and MAC select cover-up. I’ve been meaning to try Too Faced shadow insurance, I’ve only heard good things and I love their products! I’ll have to check out the rest on this list!

  17. As a fellow make-up artist I have 8 out of 10 of these products! They are great picks! I’ll have to try the Camoflauge Cream by MUFE & pick up Hoola when I finish my bronzer. I’ll be posting my annual Glammie Awards on my personal picks tomorrow:)

  18. Kim says:

    Great picks! I own 3/10 – primer, UD pencils and MAC concealer…. I hate trying out products for myself and rely heavily on recommendations so thanks for this list. I’m going to search some of these products for my own personal use even though I’m not an MA. Thankyou
    .-= Kim’s last blog post… **December Haul** =-.

  19. Allie says:

    Thanks, ladies! πŸ™‚

  20. sparklehead says:

    Is there a reason you like Shadow Insurance over UDPP? I have found that Shadow Insurance is easier to blend on top of, but that UDPP is longer wearing and I’m torn between the two. Also, would you even recommend using Hula on NC15 skin?

  21. Nika says:

    Hi, I just want to say that your site is so full of very useful information. I am a Freelance Makeup Artist and it is always to get tips and advice from other Artists! Well, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year’s!

  22. Lindsey says:

    NARS’ orgasm is a great color… but let’s face it, we all just love the name!!! The shimmer doesn’t always look good in pictures. Bobbi Brown’s pale pink is much more of a staple for makeup artists- it looks great on everybody.

    • Allie says:

      Hi Lindsey,

      Thanks for the suggestion–I’ll have to try that Bobbi Brown blush. I haven’t had any problem with Orgasm not photographing well, but I’m always looking to try other products.


  23. Tiffany says:

    This is such a great post! I have used 6 of the 10, and need to check the others out!

  24. SS says:

    I want all of those things! It seems as if I have all of the name, name-brand products, but I am using the wrong things! I have Laura Mercier cover-up, Too Faced shimmery bronzer, Urban Decay Primer Potion, MakeUp Forever eyeliners, and Benefit Blush.


  25. Allie says:

    Hi Sparklehead,

    I haven’t had any problems blending on top of the Too Faced Shadow Insurance–maybe I’ve just been lucky? πŸ™‚ I do let it sit and dry for a couple minutes before applying shadow, not sure if you already do that.

    As far as using Hoola on darker skin–it doesn’t really do the job. I haven’t found a darker matte bronzer that I love, so I tend to use different foundations to contour darker skin.

    Hope that helped!


  26. Allie says:

    Hi SS,

    Don’t worry, you’re not using all the “wrong” things (I love the Makeup Forever liners and Benefit blushes too). This was just a list of the products I use the most that tend to work on most of my clients.

    The great thing about makeup is that there are no rules! I’m just sharing what has worked in my experience. If you find a product or technique that works for you, then go with it. There’s no right or wrong, it’s just whatever you find that does the job. So please don’t overhaul your makeup bag if the products are working for you! πŸ™‚


  27. Allie says:

    Hi Kim,

    All of the products listed are available for non-makeup artists, so you should be able to find them. You can get the MAC products on MACCosmetics.com, and the rest on Sephora.com.

    Let me know if you have any problems!


  28. sparklehead says:

    I might not be waiting long enough with either Urban Decay or Too Faced Primer, I’ll try being patient! Thanks Allie!

  29. bagaela says:

    gosh, I love Blankety too! It’s my nude lips must-have! I will also try to mix the select cover up concealer, very good idea! πŸ™‚

    • Allie says:

      Thank you! Isn’t Blankety awesome? I always have one in my kit and one in my purse. It just goes with so many different looks.

  30. How much do we LOVE Nars Orgasm. Best blush ever! Im gonna try that shadow primer. I havent tried MAC’s lipstick Blankey yet but it looks fabulous for my bridal clients.

  31. sara says:

    i cant rave enough about Benefit’s dandelion- haven’t tried hoola yet, b/c as with coralista, i’m afraid it’s got too much of a fakey sparkley look. dandelion gives you that youthful flushed look. natural and sweet. i wear it everyday.
    i use MAC cream colour base (in hush) and bought one for my mom. i’ve done a full day of work + salsa dancing with only the morning application of the colour base and shadow, and no creases or anything. crazyawesome.

  32. sara says:

    *correction- i’ve got the MAC paint pot in bare study. looks great alone for everyday or as a base

  33. I must say I agree with the choice of blush! This really is a pretty colour that is so flattering on most skin tones and works well with many different eye & lip combinations. If you prefer to stick with a few statement makeup investments rather than clogging your kit with hundreds of products, I suggest investing in this cheek colour!

  34. Skye says:

    Those are way too expensive for me ]:

  35. Nicky says:

    The problem I have with foundation power is that I cannot find any that doesnt causes me to break out. Any suggestions?

  36. Allison says:

    Hi Nicky,

    I swear by Make Up Forever HD foundation. I’ve never had a problem with this causing breakouts for me or any of my clients. I’d suggest going to Sephora first and getting a sample of it to see how your skin reacts (which you should do with any foundation, if you are breakout-prone). Also, make sure you use a good cleanser to remove your makeup at night. This could help with the breakouts.

    Good luck!


  37. Zakiya says:

    Hey Allison,

    I’m starting out as a makeup artist myself. I just finished beauty school and well on my way to getting my license!

    Through my personal experience, I fell in love with a few more products:

    Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow Eye Primer Potion
    Urban Decay’s Razor Shadow Ultra Definition Powder

    Smashbox O-gloss Intuitive Gloss

    Have you used any of them and do you think they are good to be in my kit?

  38. Allison says:

    Hi Zakiya,

    Congratulations on finishing school! Being a makeup artist is a lot of fun, I’m sure you’ll love it.

    I used and like UD Eye Primer Potion, I just prefer the Too Faced because the packaging is more convenient (although I think they now have squeeze tubes for the Primer Potion). I haven’t used the other two, but if you think they are great, keep them in your kit! Any good makeup artist will tell you that there are no “wrong” products. It’s all about what works for you, or what you can make work.

    Good luck with your license πŸ™‚


  39. Kerry says:

    I already have 6 out of 10 so obviously we have similar taste! I will definitely be looking into the peachy makeup forever concealer for those mornings after late nights!
    Thanks for the great info!

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