To be a successful makeup artist is to be as fully prepared as possible at all times. Once you are out in the working world it is no understatement to say that you never know what situations you may run into. Oftentimes what you may be asked to do that does not *seem* like a makeup artists job, but on that day in that situation it is.

As such, in addition to my cosmetics makeup essentials I have a lot of non makeup kit essentials. Some – while not being cosmetics specifically – are easily related to a makeup artist’s kit but some might strike you as odd or coming out of left field. One of my personal sayings is “When you need it, it’s too late to go get it…”, and all of these items fit that bill. All have proven to be Right On Time at some point or another in my career so far…


1 ) Eye Makeup Remover Swabs
It is no exaggeration – in fact it is a literal truth – to say that I use at least one of these on every single job I do. Every. Single. Job. These ingenious little swabs have oil-free, fragrance-free makeup remover inside the swab. They allow for precise clean up of any smudges, mistakes, or when you need to make a change without destroying the rest of your makeup. Lifesaver item. I tend to get the swabs formulated for waterproof makeup so I am covered for any situation. I specifically use the Swab-Plus brand which is the first brand I knew of to make this product. Andrea Eye-Q makes pre-moistened swabs which are similar but in my opinion not quite as good and I’m sure there are some Swab-Plus knockoffs out there, but I stick to the original brand. NOTE: Swab-Plus brand also makes swabs with nail polish remover! 🙂


2 ) Butane Curling Iron
Many is the time I have been told I was not doing hair only to arrive on set and be asked if I could “do a little hair”. Many more is the time that I was booked for both makeup and hair and but then we were shooting on location with no trailer, no generator and no hope for plugging in traditional hair tools. I paid I think $20? for this probably about a decade ago. Still heats up fast, works great and has saved my life many MANY times. I don’t know if this specific model is still in existence but if you see a Braun Butane Curling Iron, get it! You will not regret owning it. (Conair and a few other companies also make cordless curling irons)


3 ) Basic Nail Care
I am not a manicurist, I do not claim to be, nor have I – to date – run into a client who expected me to be. However, I routinely run into instances where the models hands were bare and/or she was wearing an inappropriate nail color, etc. Having a few nail polishes, some implements and some nail polish remover on me has proven to an asset in my kit time and time again. In addition to polishes, having some type of quick-dry – be it drops or a spray or quick drying topcoat – is also essential on set. Not only do you not have time to wait for things to dry but you don’t want to risk getting wet polish on any of the wardrobe. Lastly, I use acetone-free nail polish remover. Yes it takes a bit longer, but if the model/talent has acrylic nails acetone remover can be damaging. Acetone-free is just a safer route.


4 ) Basic Shaving Tools/Product
Artists who are known as men’s groomers such as Diana Schmidtke are, obviously, expected to have a full array of tools and products for men. Makeup artists tend to forget these things, but trust me I have never been sorry to have some razors and some shaving cream with me in my kit. My preferred Shaving Creme is the Dermalogica product pictured however it is not necessary to buy expensive. I got the Gillette Sensitive Skin foam in a pinch on a job talent said it was excellent and gave him a smooth shave. Likewise the razors don’t have to be special, they need to be good – the razors pictured are dual-blade with a moisturizing strip for a smooth shave – and the need to be NEW. Most nicks and cuts are caused by trying to work with a dull blade. Afterwards I offer my men a soothing spray of my Toning Mist (also Dermalogica but any good NON-alcohol toner will work) and some moisturizer and they are good to go.


5 ) Shielded Facial Razors
Speaking of razors, I love these little things. I get this specific brand at Sally’s but you can get different brands at pretty much any beauty supply and they are just wonderfully versatile tools to have in one’s kit. The longer ones are for bigger surface areas and the smaller ones are for detail (they call them “brow” razors). I’ve used these for men’s grooming, kids grooming on faces, under-arms, legs, etc. They really are shielded and really will not cut the talent unless either you or talent do something stupid (the one time *ever* I cut talent using one of these razors, I was getting rid of hair around is ankles and he lifted his foot to show someone his new shoes 😐 ).


6 ) Mini Powder Puffs
For years artists have been using powder puffs as kind of a “placemat” underneath their hand while working so as to not accidentally touch the talent’s face and mess up any makeup already applied. What’s awesome about these new mini-puffs is they are much less awkward than trying to work around a full size puff. Just slip the ribbon over a finger and you have the rest of your hand free to work. Pictured is Eve Pearl’s mini puff which I picked up for a great price at IMATS. I do prefer it because it is made specifically for this purpose to it is a bit thicker and more cushioned than a regular small puff but I am sure any small puff would work as well.


7 ) Contact Lens Accouterments
Uncomfortable contact lenses can literally ruin a shoot. If you are shooting in the desert and wind blows dust into the talent’s eyes, unless they can take those lenses out and clean them, they are miserable and cannot half open their eyes for the rest of the shoot. Even in less dramatic scenarios, I have often been praised for having lens care in my kit. I use a mini-set similar to the one pictured here (I need to get another one, I’m out) which contains the essentials; Cleaning/disinfecting Solution, wetting drops, and a lens case. They are readily available at any drug store/pharmacy, they are inexpensive and you’ll be ready should contact lens disaster strike. NOTE: I carry regular eyedrops as well for non-contact lens wearers in case of dry and/or red eyes.


8 ) First Aid Kit
Because you never know when talent is going to need to show off those new shoes, I carry a little first aid kit with me. If you are working on production, the “crafty” aka craft services will likely have this but on most still photo-shoots there is no crafy. I like to be prepared so I just carry one myself. This is just a very basic kit with anti-bacterial wipes, a variety of bandages, etc. This is a total “just in case” item. It rarely gets used but when it is needed, I’m glad I have it. (NOTE: I also carry extra feminine products on me “just in case”)

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