As a makeup artist and overall product junkie, I get asked all the time what my favorite products are. It’s a hard question to answer. There are products I love that have the same function but different price points and finishes. This is not to say that my favorites are the only great ones out there! I am always trying new things and taking suggestions from other makeup artists, the internet, and people in my life.
The products that I love and stand by make it into my kit and onto my clients faces. Before anything gets a permanent home in my kit, I have to love it myself first!
I have never used a drugstore primer I loved. I know there are good ones out there, but .. this is one of my few categories that I can’t skimp on. There are SO many great primers, but there are four that are staples in my kit, each for a different reason.
Spray: Smashbox Primer Water ($32). A refreshing mist of priming water to start off a makeup application. This is always the first thing to touch any client’s skin, and I will also use it on a more mature client or one with dry skin as a finishing/setting spray (otherwise I love Urban Decay All-Nighter).
Best for normal to dry skin or mature skin: Becca Backlight Priming Filter ($38). This primer blew me away the first time I tried it and I knew it would be not only a staple for my clients, but also for myself. It feels like a moisturizer going on, but the pearl finish gives your skin the healthiest glow. Makeup layers beautifully over it, but I even wear this on no-makeup days just to give my skin some luminosity. I use this on almost every client, though I choose where to place it based on the client’s skin type.
Best for oily skin: Benefit Matte Rescue ($28). Mattifying primers are not all created equal. Many are thick and goopy and leave a strange layer of product on top of the skin. I’ve found that this one, which is more of a gel formula, mattifies the skin without making the makeup on top of it look cakey.
Best for filling in pores and uneven texture: Benefit Porefessional ($31). Porefessional is a long-loved product by people in the industry and the every day makeup lover alike. It fills in pores and smoothes skin to leave it even and ready for makeup. It is great to use with either of the other primers- when I use two together, I use Porefessional first in the T zone and the other one everywhere else on the face.
Drugstore: Wet N Wild Photofocus ($5.99). The only foundation I carry with me. It is AMAZING. It has a thin viscosity but the coverage is completely customizable. I can use a small amount for super sheer coverage or layer it for full coverage. It is a makeup artist’s dream foundation. It has no flashback in photos so it is perfect for weddings and special events. It feels weightless on the skin, which makes even the clients who aren’t used to wearing foundation feel comfortable. The ones who love a full coverage look love it too. So many clients who have had this foundation put on them have run out and gotten it. Best part? The under $6 pricetag!
High-end: Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick ($46). While I never carried a ton of shades because of the price tag, this stuff is amazing. It is by far my personal favorite high end foundation, but I no longer use it in my kit since discovering the Wet N Wild foundation. I was extremely skeptical about the stick formula at first, but this stick in particular is super creamy, blends like a dream and looks like second skin. I love it for foundation and loved having a shade or two darker to contour with. It was also surprised by how long one stick lasted. I definitely used this for a few months before running out.
Drugstore: Maybelline Fit Me ($7.49)
This. Stuff. Is. GOOD. It has a light to medium, but buildable coverage. One layer gives you natural, fresh skin but can easily be layered up to a medium to full coverage if necessary. Only downfall is the lack of color options- I use 10 (light) or 20 (sand) on most clients, because the few other shades are kind of strange. I wish the Fair and Medium shades were less pink-undertoned.
High-end: Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer ($28)
My ride or die, holy grail, soulmate product overall. This stuff is creamy GOLD. I’ve come across only few people who dislike it, though I maintain that with the right application it would be anyone’s favorite. The coverage is medium to full, the shade range gets an A+ and the finish is natural but can be set down with powder. I can get away without setting it under my eyes for a quick pick-me-up on a light makeup day. I’ve even used this product as foundation on myself for a no-makeup-makeup day. It is just beautiful. I keep a few key shades on hand. The shade “Custard” is almost identical to the Maybelline color “Sand”.
Drugstore: Coty Airspun ($7.99)
For this crazy low price tag and large size, this powder is pretty great. The packaging is huge and the product works well. Downsides: the smell and the dry feeling on the skin. It smells like your grandma’s old perfume and it can feel very tight and dry on the skin. The dry feeling disappears shortly after but I really dislike how it feels immediately after it’s applied. That being said… it absorbs oil and sets makeup for long wear, but whether you like this product depends on how you feel about the scent and feel. I will note that I use this constantly, and haven’t had to buy a new one in close to two years. A little goes a long way and because the product is contained, you never have to touch or contaminate more than you need.
High-end: CoverFX Perfect Setting Powder ($35)
This one is a new addition, taking the place of my well-loved Laura Mercier Translucent Powder. I loved the LM one for a long time, but the CoverFX product recently took over due to two things: the finish and the packaging. This powder leaves a smooth feel to the skin without a white cast in photos, and the packaging includes a plastic cap over the dispensing holes to aid in keeping the jar less messy. This is so appreciated when so many products are stored together in a makeup kit! I like this to bake the face and also dust everywhere to set.
Powder: Too Faced Sun Bunny ($30). Ugh. This stuff. I am OBSESSED. This product does have shimmer in it, so I recommend it for an all-over bronzed look rather than as a contour shade. It is so beautiful as a bronzer, but I will use it also as a blush if I’m going for a monochromatic bronzed look- my summer go-to. It is a split pan: one side is a darker bronze and the other is light, although my favorite way to use it is to swirl both sides together. This has been a longtime favorite of mine and I love it for so many different looks.
Cream: Maybelline Fit Me Gel Stick Foundation in 355 Coconut ($9.29). While technically a foundation, this shade works so well as a cream bronzer on almost all skin tones. One shade lighter- 330 Toffee – works for super light skin. I like to draw it on right from the stick and blend it out with a brush for a suble tanned look.
Powder: Kat Von D Shade & Light Palette ($49). This palette has three highlight and three contour shades that pair up to suit each skin undertone: warm, neutral and cool. The powders are smooth and blendable, and the banana toned powder is the best pressed banana highlight powder that I’ve found.
Cream: Smashbox Step-by-Step Contour Stick Trio ($45). This trio comes with a matte contour stick, matte bronze stick and matte highlight stick. They are only sold in the trio, which is a bummer because I only really love the contour stick. It is the perfect shade, so creamy, and blends like an absolute dream. It looks so natural when it’s blended out and is my hands-down favorite. The other shades are nice, but don’t necessarily blow me away. I keep repurchasing this trio JUST for the contour stick. It is so good. Smashbox: PLEASE SELL THESE STICKS SEPARATELY!
I don’t have a favorite blush. However, the most used ones in my kit are the Revolution palette in Hot Spice ($10), the Hourglass Ambient Blush ($38) Palette (this was limited edition, but I’ve linked the blush formula that is in the palette ), and the Urban Decay Afterglow 8-hour Blush in Video ($26). I’m not really a huge blush person, and I honestly only use it to tie a look together and make sure the cheeks stand out in professional photos.
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector ($38). Highlight is so on trend right now. I always have three colors on hand that can be used separately or mixed for almost any skintone: Moonstone, Champagne Pop and Opal. This is the original highlighter favorite for just about any makeup lover out there, and it has (in my opinion) never been topped. The colors are gorgeous, the formula is smooth and pigmented, and the finish is never chunky. I use it on the browbone, cheekbones, nose and cupid’s bow on every client.
Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade ($18) and Anastasia Brow Wiz ($21). I always have multiple shades of each product on hand and love them both evenly. The dipbrow is waterproof and more pigmented, so while I sometimes use it on it’s own I also will use it for precision work like drawing small lines to mimic natural brow hairs before filling the rest in with the Brow Wiz. Anastasia’s shade range is fantastic, with everything from the lightest blonde shade to auburn to ebony.
Another incredible brow product is the Benefit Gimme Brow ($24) which is a brush-on product that adds color and volume to the brows. I can sometimes get away with using only this product on a client with already full or perfected brows. Lately, this has been the only thing I use in my own brows for my everyday look.
Lastly, I always set brow hairs in place with Anastasia Clear Brow Gel ($22). They might as well rename this product “Superglue For Brows” because it DOES NOT MOVE.
Anastasia (Individual shadows $12). Hands down. Her shadow range is hundreds of colors deep, and they are buttery smooth and mega pigmented. You can buy her shades in single pans, but also in premade palettes. She frequently collaborates with popular makeup artists to create palettes that are gorgeous and user friendly for everyone. I personally love the Modern Renaissance ($42) and Makeup by Mario (which was limited edition and sadly no longer available) palettes.
Kat Von D Ink Liner in Trooper. ($20) So black, so easy to use, and one liner lasts me an entire wedding season. The Stila Stay All Day ($22) liner is a close second, but I prefer the dried down finish of the KVD and it’s a couple of dollars cheaper.
Loreal Lash Paradise. ($9.99) If you haven’t had a chance to try this stuff, stop reading and go get it now! I have used dozens of mascaras, both drugstore and high-end. There is nothing on the market that compares to this in my opinion. It is inexpensive, but works just as well (and I would even argue better) than the top high-end mascaras. It is super black, coats every lash without being clumpy, thickens, volumizes and lengthens. It is a super-mascara. I can’t do my makeup or a client’s makeup without it. One downside- I do feel like it dries out quickly. At this price, it doesn’t bother me to buy a new one every few weeks.
I always have multipacks on hand of the Ardell Wispies and Ardell Demi Wispies. They are super versatile, easy to put on and look the best of any inexpensive lash on the market. They can be layered for a thicker look or cut apart and placed for a super natural look. For a higher end lash, I love the Velour Silk Collection at Sephora. I was a lover of the Velour Mink lashes, but the silk collection stole my heart. So many brides have chosen to wear a higher end lash for their wedding and not one has been disappointed by these on their big day.
Duo Clear Brush On Adhesive. ($6.49) If you’re still using a squeeze tube of white Duo adhesive, it’s time to switch! This glue dries faster than the squeeze glue so you don’t have to wait forever for your lash to become tacky before application. It has a strong hold for all night wear, but your lashes will peel off effortlessly when your night is over.
Anastasia Liquid Lipstick. ($20) Tons of beautiful shades, and I am not kidding when I say these are LONG wearing. I normally don’t need to reapply for 6 hours, and a touch-up at that time will last the rest of the night. It is perfect for a long wedding day, or just for a night out.
Anastasia Lip Gloss. ($16) So pigmented and long lasting without being overly sticky or tacky. They smell like frosting and are perfect either on their own or as a topper to a lipstick.