What Every Beginner Needs in Their Makeup Kit, According to Experts

Girl with long brown hair looking at herself in the mirror while applying makeup
Photo: Deagreez/Getty Images

Putting together a good makeup kit can be quite challenging and overwhelming for even the most seasoned makeup connoisseur — let alone a makeup beginner. With thousands upon thousands of products to choose from, it can start to get a bit confusing when figuring out which ones work best for you.

But don't panic, because if you're just starting out and looking for a good guide (or maybe an avid user looking to shake things up a bit) we've put together a list of all the makeup staples, products, and tools you need in your cosmetic bag.

And it gets even better — we consulted experts in the makeup industry to find out which products are the best of the best. NYC-based makeup artist Sharon Becker, as well as the Emmy-winning makeup director for HBO's wildly popular show Euphoria Donni Davy, both weighed in on all the essential products for your makeup starter pack.

QUIZ: What's Your Style Personality?

You can trust us that not only are they easy for newbies to use, but they've also been put to the test and have quickly become pro favorites.

Discover exactly what you need to have on hand with our selects below.

01 of 10

Skin Prepping Products

Skin prepping products, including Aveeno cleanser, Evian Facial Spray, Embryolisse moisturizer and Elta MD sunscreen.
Courtesy

Great makeup begins with great skincare. So of course, a clean palette is always important. Davy recommends to start by washing your face with a gentle cleanser, like Aveeno's Positively Radiant Brightening Cleanser ($12; walmart.com). Then follow it up with a moisturizer, like Embryolisse Face Cream and Makeup Primer ($16; amazon.com). And in case you're wondering: Yes, you need moisturizer! No matter what your skin type — dry, oily, acne-prone — we all need moisturizer, says Becker. Then always (yes, always!) follow your moisturizer with some SPF. Davy likes Elta MD UV Clear ($37; amazon.com). Right before application, Davy suggests adding another layer of hydration with Evian Water Facial Mist ($14; sephora.com). Now that your skin is clean, moisturized, and prepped, you're ready for makeup application.

Pro tip: Davy says you can also use the Evian facial mist to wet sponges to avoid any chemicals, like chlorine, in tap water.

02 of 10

Concealer and Foundation

Concealer and foundation products, including Make Up Forever Ultra HD foundation, NARS concealer and Kevyn Aucoin concealer
Courtesy

Because your skin color will change from season to season, Davy recommends having a range of foundation shades. But you don't have to break the bank buying every shade — you can mix a couple of shades together to get that perfect match. She suggests Makeup Forever Ultra HD ($43; sephora.com). Bonus: It lasts for 24 hours and comes in 50 shades.

Dark under eye circles or blemishes? Don't fret because a high coverage cream concealer like the Kevyn Aucoin Senusal Skin Enhancers ($48; amazon.com) or the NARS Radiant Creamy liquid concealer ($31; sephora.com) can both create buildable coverage that looks completely natural — sans any kind of cakey finish.

03 of 10

Brown Pencil, Powder, and Gel

Brow makeup items, including NYX Eyebrow Mascara, Covergirl eyebrow pencil and Anastasia Powder Brow Duo
Courtesy

Among the most important features on your face: Your eyebrows. We weren't all born with perfectly shaped brows, but that doesn't mean you can't have them. Becker suggests shaping the brows and filling in any bare spots with the vegan CoverGirl Micro Fine Fill +Define Eyebrow Pencil ($9; ulta.com). Next, you can tint your brows and fill in remaining gaps with Anastasia Powder Brow Duo ($23; sephora.com). Finally, finish shaping and hold your brows in place with the NYX Eyebrow Mascara ($9; ulta.com).

04 of 10

Eyeliner and Mascara

Multiple eyeliner and mascara products, including both dark colors and bright colors
Courtesy

For a beginner, skip the false lashes and go straight for an all-star mascara and liner combo. Both Becker and Davy swear by L'Oréal Voluminous Mascara ($11; ulta.com). (Becker adds that you "can't go wrong" with this "most consistent" mascara). In terms of a cream eyeliner with staying power to last on even the longest days on the set of Euphoria, Davy swears by Chanel Cream Eyeliner. ($35; chanel.com). If you're more of a pencil person, she recommends Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeliner ($23; ulta.com).

If you want to play around with some color — a la Euphoria's Emmy-winning makeup looks — Davy recommends the ColourPop Gel Liner Vault ($45; colourpop.com). Finish your the look with a colored mascara, like Benefit's Bad Gal Bang Mascara in blue ($27; ulta.com).

"To level up to even brighter colors, try lining just your upper lashes with an electric blue, orange or bright purple," says Davy, who is obviously no stranger to color. "I also love a bright-colored water line, which is probably the easiest and quickest way to add a pop of color."

05 of 10

Lip Balm and Lip Stick or Color

Multiple lip balms and lipsticks, including Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Swivel Stick, Mac Pro Lip Palettes and ColourPop lipstick
Courtesy

When you're going for a bold lip, just as you prep the rest of your face, you'll want to have a good base. Davy uses the Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Swivel Stick ($7; amazon.com). Then for a bit of color, Davy loves the Mac Pro Lip Palettes ($27; maccosmetics.com), which have six color options in one. Becker's favorite are ColourPop's vegan and cruelty-free lip sticks, which are also incredibly budget-friendly. ($9; colourpop.com).

06 of 10

Brushes, Sponges, and Q-tips

Makeup brushes of various sizes and shapes, along with Q-Tips
Courtesy

In order to apply your makeup properly, you'll need to use the right tools. The Beautyblender ($20; sephora.com) is perfect for effortlessly blending foundations, blush, and concealer. Davy also recommends a good set of quality brushes — her favorite is the Luxie brushes ($45; amazon.com). For precise eye makeup, Davy recommends the Eyeconic eye set ($45; revolve.com). If you're looking for a cheaper option, Becker says that e.l.f. brushes are "great entry-level brushes." Try the Flawless Face Six Piece Brush Collection ($15; ulta.com).

For any mistakes or precision work, Davy says pointed Q-tips ($6; amazon.com) are a great tool to have in your kit.

07 of 10

Blush, Bronzer, and Highlighter

Blush and bronzers, including Makeup Forever Ultra HD Cream Blush, Glossier Haloscope Highlighter Stick and The Balm trio pack
Courtesy

Add healthy color and a subtle glow to your skin with a classic blush, bronzer, and highlighter. Davy loves Makeup Forever Ultra HD Cream Blush ($20; makeupforever.com) followed by a swipe of the very-glowy Glossier Haloscope Highlighter Stick ($22; glossier.com). If you're looking to simplify, Becker recommends The Balm blush, highlighter, and bronzer trio ($28; thebalm.com) that has all your needs in one, on-the-go compact.

08 of 10

Eyeshadow Palette

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion and ColourPop eyeshadow palette
Courtesy

Before applying any shadow, be sure to prime your lids. The Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion will keep your eyeshadow in place all day and prevent any creases. ($25; sephora.com). If you're just starting your makeup collection, Davy says you really just need one good eyeshadow palette with lots of neutrals. She recommends ColourPop's palette in Bare Necessities ($34; colourpop.com).

09 of 10

Setting Products

Makeup setting products, including Indeed Lab's Nanoblur, Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, Urban Decay's All Nighter Setting Spray and NYX Matte Finish Setting Spray
Courtesy

You just spent all this time doing your makeup so you're going to want it to have some lasting power. If you tend to have an oily T-zone, Davy recommends Indeed Lab's Nanoblur ($19; ulta.com). "This is a mattifying cream that can be dabbed on top of makeup with a beauty blender," Davy tells us. "I use this in the T-zone when actors get a little oily and shiny." If you would rather use powder, keep the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder ($40; sephora.com). Finish it off with a spritz of setting spray, like Urban Decay's All Nighter Setting Spray ($33; ulta.com) or Becker's favorite, the NYX Matte Finish Setting Spray ($8; ulta.com).

10 of 10

Makeup Remover for Washing It All Off or Mistakes

Makeup removers, including Simple Cleansing Wipes and Simple Cleansing Wipes
Courtesy

Even pros make mistakes — so it's always good to have some type of makeup remover in your arsenal just in case (paired with those pointed Q-tips to completely erase any makeup mishap). Plus, at the end of the day, you're going to want some gentle makeup remover that will swipe away every last trace of makeup. Davy likes these Simple Cleansing Wipes ($6; target.com) and L'Oréal's Clean Artiste Eye Makeup Remover ($8; ulta.com).

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles