I have a few of my own must-have makeup tools, but I’m always on the prowl for more to complete my kit. To help me in my search, I turned to professional makeup artists Nam Vo, Amanda Shackleton, and Lindsey Jones to get the inside scoop on the essentials they can’t live without. Get down to the basics with our below checklist.
The best tools can pull double or triple duty.
Shiseido Foundation Brush. “The brush is cut and designed perfectly to glide on creamy makeup like magic,” says Vo. “Not only does it blend foundation seamlessly, it is perfect for cream blush and highlighters.”
Powder puff. “It sounds like a simple thing, but it is the best tool for blending eyes and cheeks, and setting foundation,” says Shackleton. “Use your puffs with a little powder to keep everything smooth and in place.”
Double-ended brushes. This is my secret for applying eye makeup flawlessly. I can lay down eyeshadow with one end, and use the other end to blend. My favorite is the Stila #53 Double Ended Brush.
Tip: Brushes work better when clean. Wash them weekly with gentle shampoo and water.
Even pros make mistakes. These tools help erase imperfections.
Disposable mascara wands. Wands are great for taming unruly brows and declumping lashes. “Hairspray on [a] mascara wand is the best way to get the brows to set,” says Jones.
Makeup wedge or sponge. Need to erase eyeshadow or mascara smudges? I simply moisten a wedge or sponge with liquid foundation and smooth over the mess.
The visual aids
Being able to see your work is key—the more detail, the better.
Good lighting. Working under good lighting is a top priority for makeup artists. “If you can’t see what you’re doing, it’s not going to look good,” says Jones, who brings portable Glamcor Lights with her to ensure proper lighting. She also uses the flashlight on her phone when touching up models backstage.
Magnifying glass. Even though I have perfect vision, I wear magnifying glasses when applying intricate eyeliner or false eyelashes. The visual boost makes the job easier and faster.
Tip: A wall-mounted magnifying mirror near your vanity is key for precise makeup application and brow grooming.