How To Build An MUA Kit According To Makeup Artists

So, you’ve decided you want to take your passion for makeup a little more seriously — congrats! Before you can get painting the faces of friends, family and clients, you first need to build a makeup kit. 

A makeup kit is obviously an essential to being able to do the job but it’s also important that this is very different to your personal thrown-together makeup bag, likely with more dirty brushes in there than you care to admit. If you’re serious about your future as an MUA, you’ll need an entirely separate bag of products and equipment that’s full of makeup artist essentials for professional-use only. Plus, you’ll need to stay on top of hygiene. 

It can be pretty intimidating starting a makeup kit from scratch so we’ve called in the help of two expert MUAs to give you the lowdown on how to build a makeup kit to set you up for success. 


There are thousands of products out there to choose from so it can be totally overwhelming knowing what exactly is an essential and what you don’t need right away and instead can work your way up towards. From the get-go, both of our experts, Andrew Denton and Rose Gallagher, recommended choosing good quality essentials that have stood the test of time rather than opting for trend-led items. “Go for reputation over popularity,” says Rose. 

To get you started, there are a few key categories to consider when building out your kit. 

Complexion products

No matter the makeup look you’re doing, you’re going to need complexion products. “You could do the most beautiful eye and lip but if the skin doesn’t look good, nothing will,” says Andrew. Starting with skincare, Rose recommends only getting sensitive skin safe products that aren’t going to cause irritation and works for all skin types. Because aside from tailoring the session to the client, let’s be honest, the last thing you want is them getting a reaction from a product you used. 

When it comes to base products, both MUAs suggested palettes versus individual foundations. Andrew suggested the RCMA VK 18 Part Palette, “that way you know that whoever sits in your chair you know you’ve got their skin tone covered.” You’ll also want to pack a translucent powder.


Nowadays, there are lots of good quality brush sets that mean you don’t need to spend an absolute fortune on them. Get a set that covers you for complexion, eyes and face so you’ve got a bit of everything. You’ll learn which brushes you prefer and can invest more in those further down the line. 

Eyeshadow palette

“A neutral-toned, multiple shade palette is your best friend, as you will use this all the time to contour the eye and add depth and definition,” says Andrew. He recommends the BEAUTY BAY Neutral 42 Colour Palette, as it has a mix of matte and shimmer shades and “will stand you in good stead to create multiple looks on numerous skin tones.” Rose echoes this and also suggests getting some pigment mixer like Inglot’s Duraline and MAC’s Mattifying Primer and even some Vaseline to mix together bases and shades to create various finishes. 


You don’t need to go wild with trendy eyebrow products, just “3-4 pencils ranging from taupe through to ebony shades are essential,” says Andrew. “MAC’s Eyebrow Styler pencils are iconic and reasonably priced as well as high performing.” 


Rose recommends getting a peach, pink and plum that are sheer in finish, that way you can work them into most looks and they are more adaptable across various skin tones. Andrew also says you can opt for a palette here too, something like the Makeup Revolution Ultra Blush Palette Sugar & Spice.


You also won’t need to go over the top on getting lots of shades for the lips because the beauty is in the mixing. Once you have the basics, you can mix colours together to create bespoke shades. Rose suggests a few browns, pinks, peaches and plums will cover all bases and then a statement red. Andrew echoes this reaching for neutral and nude tones for lip liners and lipsticks. “BEAUTY BAY’s Nude Lip Liner Quad is a steal as is their Nude Matte Lipstick quad.” As for red? You can’t go wrong with MAC’s Ruby Woo, “It’s a must and universally flattering,” Andrew adds. 

Volume-boosting mascara

Last but by no means least, a reliable mascara to finish off every look. Andrew loves the MAC Cosmetics’s In Extreme Dimension 3D Black Lash Mascara as a great all rounder. Rose also recommended a waterproof formula on hand is helpful. 

As for equipment, you’ll need:

Eyelash curlers 


– Cotton pads and buds 

– A good quality sharpener 

– Tissues 

– Couch roll 

– Clear storage so that you can clearly see your products 


Now onto budget, an important and often overlooked aspect. When starting out in a new industry, it can be tricky to know what sort of costs you’re going to be facing. Rose recommends a budget of around £300 to get started with a basic kit. You can do it for much more and you can do it for a little less too. It really depends on what type of kit you need (the types of job you’re carrying out) and how soon you’re going to be making a return on that investment. This should allow you enough money to cover the basic products and equipment needed to feel confident in carrying out various jobs and not slack on the necessary hygiene between clients. 


As we mentioned briefly earlier, hygiene plays a huge role in your kit and shouldn’t be overlooked. We don’t want to see unwashed brushes and products thrown haphazardly into a bronzer-stained makeup bag! Firstly, it reduces the risk of any cross-contamination and bacteria spreading, which you never want to happen between clients. Aside from that, it also just makes you much more professional. But being clean doesn’t have to be really complicated, you just need the right products. 

Rose recognises that it’s tricky to be both hygienic and eco-conscious but when it comes to a professional service, safety and hygiene has to come first. She explains that while you can be mindful of what you’re using, you need to be as sterile as possible and the reality of that is single-use. 


These are the basics you’ll need: 

– Hand sanitiser

– Anti-bacterial wipes 

– Single-use mascara wands 

– Kit and makeup disinfectant spray

– Brush cleaner spray

– Single-use lip applicators 


As for brush cleansers, Rose says she’s asked a lot of makeup artists over the years what they use and she’s settled on blue fairy washing up liquid. While it’s a somewhat controversial choice (with some MUAs suggesting it can ruin the brushes) she said that some of her brushes from 10+ years ago are still going strong. We love this suggestion because it’s anti-bacterial, easy to get hold of and saves those pennies. If you’re struggling with stubborn foundation, Rose says to use a little cleansing oil once in a while to break down that grease and follow this with some washing up liquid. 

The key takeaway? “You never forget if someone has a dirty kit. Make sure everything is immaculate, and that way the client also knows they’re about to have an immaculate service,” Rose advises.