If you’re a Self Employed MUA, then your Makeup Kit defines you and how you brand yourself. As a working MUA with over 15 years of experience under her belt, my makeup kit has had to evolve through the years. I wish I knew now what I should’ve known when I first started as a makeup artist. Not only would I have had saved a crap load of money, but I also would’ve had a more efficient makeup kit.  Find out on how YOU too can build a Successful Makeup Kit like the PROs behind the fashion and bridal industry.

Over the past decade, I have worked alongside some amazing creatives in my field along with newer MUAs on fashion weeks, shoots, makeup group appointments etc. The first thing I always peep is their Makeup Kit. If I’m heading a Fashion Show, as the Key Makeup Artist, I need to make sure my team has all the makeup essentials they need and they are ready for quick touch ups backstage. If I’m hiring an assistant to bring alongside with me on my super busy bridal events, I need to make sure that their makeup kit and mine is impeccable.

First off, time is money ! This is especially true if you’re a Makeup artist that gets booked on several locations through out the day. Carrying a luggage of makeup around, packing and unpacking all those eyeshadows, lip pencils etc within a certain time frame, will absolutely drive you nuts ! Trust me, I’ve learnt the hard way.

Why is it so important to have an organized Makeup Kit?

I can guarantee you that if you’re reading this post, you have way too much makeup already in your kit. And I can absolutely guarantee that by the time your done reading this, if you carefully apply all the tips below, not only will you have removed and changed over 20% of your kit, but you will have invested in products that save you time. Saving you time on packing and opening your kit will be less stressful. It’ll also be easier and faster to get to your next client. Having more time on your hands will allow you to take in more clients throughout the day, if needed.

Remember, your Makeup Kit is your brand identity. Your makeup kit will let your clients ‘feel’ if your a professional or not. If they feel otherwise, it’s going to take you a lot longer to win their trust. In an industry where you are your own boss, TRUST is everything. It’s what gets your clients to remain loyal to you. Their trust in your professionalism will push them to express how happy they were with your services to family and friends, which will in turn, create more revenue for you.

How do I organize my Makeup Kit ?

Depot, depot, depot !

If you don’t know what depotting is, it is a game changer ! Depotting means removing your eye shadows, lipsticks, foundations, concealers, powders from their actual packaging into empty palettes. The Pros have been doing this for years now and brands are finally listening.

Look, I get it ! Makeup isn’t cheap ! Some brands have such great packaging that the thought of breaking into a lipstick or squeezing a foundation out, does seem quite nerve wrecking. But what would you rather have ? A stress free makeup kit that ups your game or just a pretty makeup kit. If the Pros like Jordan Liberty, Danessa Lyrics, Pat McGrath are doing it, then so can you !

5 years ago makeup brands hardly had refills but they are listening to the smarter consumer. Makeup brands like Anastasia Beverly Hills, Motives, Makeup Geek , Colour Pop, NARS, Inglot to name a few, are creating eyeshadows, blush and even powder refills ! Yes there are a lot of pre-made palettes but do you really use every eye shadow in these palettes ? Don’t get me wrong, I love my NAKED palettes from Urban Decay, but there are about 5 or so eyeshadows that I hardly ever touch. That’s a waste of space. Pack what you need ! And only YOU can determine what your Makeup Kit needs.

Why you need to Depot ?

Firstly, refills are cheaper that full sized products. Secondly, when you can see all the colors you need, finishing that makeup application is going to be so much faster. Thirdly, palettes take up less space ! Your makeup kit will be lighter and easier to carry.

If you’ve been doing makeup for a while then you’ll know that it is a very physically tiring job. Your on your feet for hours on end. The last thing you really want to think about is how heavy your makeup kit is when going up and down a flight of stairs !

how to organize your makeup kit
*images found on Pinterest and Z Palette website

I discovered Z Palette over 7 years ago and they are a staple to my makeup kit. The palettes are very reasonably priced and come in different sizes and shapes to fit anything from, lipsticks to dome shaped powders. If you’re based here in the UAE, check out Ezeenah, that stocks them. My Z Palettes consist of eyeshadows to concealers from Kevyn Aucoin. Most of the palettes come with magnetic backing. You can stick these behind non magnetic eyeshadows and blush. This will prevent them from falling off the palettes when you open them. Use a sharpie to write down the names at the back in case you want to restock in the future.

How else can I save on space ?

Depotting is only one quarter of decluttering and organizing your kit. Your other best friend is empty stackable containers and clear liquid pumps/sprays.  Muji and Daiso here in the UAE have a good selection of these.

Loose powder, glitter, pigments, these usually take up a lot of space in your kit and God forbid if any of these open up in your kit! Cleaning a glitter spill is no easy task and  a complete heartbreaker. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; pack only what you NEED. I love my Bioderma makeup removers but these guys are pretty big ! Fill your makeup removers, lotions and creams into smaller bottles if possible and DO NOT forget to label them correctly.

How clean is your Makeup Kit ?

Right, you’ve figured out what your makeup kit needs and you’ve finally managed to narrow things down but what is really going to set you apart from other MUAs ?

The answer is in the details ! Pay attention to the little stuff.

Are your brushes and sponges clean ? Do you double dip your brushes on lipsticks and cream products ? When was the last time you changed your mascaras ? Do you sharpen or sanitize your lip and eye pencils prior ?

There is nothing professional about a Makeup Artist  who doesn’t have hygiene standards.

The one thing I make sure I have excess of are makeup brushes, sponges and applicators. I always wash my brushes the night before a heavy makeup day. It’s not possible to always clean my brushes between applications, so I make sure I have extra foundation and eyeshadow brushes.

What do I need ?

Steel Palettes, spatulas, disposable brow/lash wands, cotton buds, rubbing alcohol are essential to maintaining a clean and sanitized makeup kit. Clients are watching you when you un pack.

Remember your clients are paying for a service. A service that shouldn’t cause them to have a break out or rash after they’ve seen you. Taking extra caution of sanitizing your hands and your makeup before you touch a client or model’s skin, will bring you miles ahead in your career. You will not only again trust, but also respect. If you show your clients that your putting their interests first, you can be sure that the recommendations of your craft will only double in time.

Makeup Kit Essentials
Makeup Kit Essentials to Keep your Kit sanitized

Storage is Key

The secret to a great Makeup kit is in how you store and fit all your makeup essentials in one space without weighing you down.

I pack everything in clear Zip loc bags or clear cases. You can go the extra mile and label everything as well but because I pack and organize my kit every 3/4 months, I know exactly where everything is.

makeup kit storage essentials

ZUCA makeup bags are a great option. They are cabin friendly and great if you need to travel with and super sturdy. I do find them on the slightly heavier end not the easiest to lift around. They now have a Artist backpack which I feel is a better option.

I now use location set bags from KAT KIT ROAD. You can find them on Ezeenah and they also provide Makeup artists with up to 30% if your registered on their Pro Artistry Program here in the UAE. I love my Makeup forever Brush pouches. I have 3 of them and have divided them into Face, Eyes, and Powder brushes. The rule of thumb is to be able to save space and see everything you need clearly !

Create the perfect Makeup Studio set up

Alright, we’re almost there. Your Makeup Kit is officially organized; its lighter, cleaner, and contains all the essentials needed.

What’s next ?

If your a MUA that travels to various locations, I can assure you that not every home or studio will have the right lighting. I remember the days of working in dim hotel rooms or bathrooms with strong enough fluorescent lights to incur a migraine. It would take me forever to finish up and pack because I could barely see what I was doing. And no, taking off the cover of a head lamp does not constitute for correct lighting ! There is no way that you can create a flawless makeup application if you simply cannot see the features that you are working on correctly. You will end up taking longer than necessary and over time if your client leaves to check her makeup in another room, she will be returning with corrections for you to make.

Walking into a studio or client’s home with your set of Makeup Lights, lets them know how serious you are about what you do. As you unpack your lights, your clients will sigh a sense of relief. I discovered Glamcor Lights on one of my travels to The Makeup Show in NYC. I fell in love with them so much that I had to make sure I carried them at Ezeenah, my online makeup & beauty store. When I started my Youtube channel, I was already sorted because I had a portable lighting system that I could carry to any part of my house ! Good lighting was the last of my worries and it should be for you and your clients as well. Remember, it’s the details that will set you apart from the rest. And once you leave your client, you’ve created a standard for yourself.  If they ever end up using some one else, trust me when I say, they will question an artist that doesn’t have a set of lights for themselves.

the perfect makeup set upLast but not least, and believe me when I say I’ve learnt the hard way, get yourself a durable and lightweight stool that suits your height. Half way through my makeup career, I invested in those Makeup director chairs. They look great when you open them up in a studio or client’s home. Downfall, they are super heavy and there’s been plenty of times, I’ve had my fingers crushed trying to close them up. They are great to look at but not practical at all. They take up way too much space at the back of your trunk and you will always need some form of assistance when carrying them around. I quit using a makeup chair after because I found it extremely inconvenient. The problem is, most people’s furniture are way too low and after countless acupuncture and chiropractic sessions, I went on the hunt for a better alternative.

The IKEA Franklin Bar stool has been the best option for me. They stand the test of time and have been able to accommodate even my more broader clientele 😉

Save yourself from back ache and money spent on back & neck massages !

Organizing and building your Makeup kit is definitely an art taught through time and experience. I have shared my absolute essentials to get you through your career. If you would like me to do more on this topic, leave a comment below ! I love hearing your feedback and reading your comments always let me know if I’m headingin the right direction !







  1. Hi Zareen,
    This article was sooo helpful and informative. I have recently started as a makeup artist. Thank you for this 🙂

    • zareenshah

      Hi Saniha I love hearing that ! I really hope it helps make things easier for you ! Good luck with your journey as a MUA. It is such a fulfilling career !

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