Building Your Kit Part 5: Tools of the Trade


Besides brushes, there are a few other tools that every artist needs to carry with them. These are tools that allow you to prepare and perfect every makeup application including tweezers, spatulas, curlers, and on-set disposables—all of which are crucial to your artistry. Most of these items are available at drugstores, makeup boutiques and online. I find many of my disposables at Alcone in New York City or Cinema Secrets in Los Angeles, and both stores offer online and toll-free ordering as well. Here are some of my favorite essential tools and disposables.

Wedge Sponges

While I am not a fan of applying makeup with a sponge, I do love a wedge sponge for erasing mistakes, buffing out edges or blending down makeup. My favorite is the Alcone Non-Latex Wedge. The softer non-latex material leaves no lines behind when you are working.

Disposable Mascara Wands

You can avoid contamination and danger of infection by using disposable wands to layer mascara on your client’s lashes. A great pro tip: Since we buy and love most mascaras because of the wand, you might want to save your applicators from your mascaras when you throw out the tube. You can clean and disinfect them after each use in place of your disposables.

Powder Puffs

Powder puffs work with powder, help absorb oils, and create a shine-free, poreless looking finish. These are great for setting makeup and can help with keeping your hands off your client’s face, breaking down your makeup application.

Cotton Pad and Cotton Swabs

These items are inexpensive and great to have on set for blending, shaping, or removing makeup for quick changes or to clean a face.

Slant Tweezers

For easy clean up of a brow or the application of a faux lash, these tweezers work wonders. Their slanted tip offers precision, making them great for removing unwanted hair on the lip or anywhere on the face. Like brushes, they are available in many price points.

Eyelash Curlers

This tool is an easy way to open up the eyes and make them appear brighter and wider. Every artist has their preference with lash curlers. Many lean towards the Shu Uemura curler, but my favorites are the Kevyn Aucoin The Eyelash Curler and the Billy B Lash Curler. Kevyn actually designed the Shu Uemura curler and wanted to develop something bigger to accommodate eyes of all shapes and sizes for his own line. His curler allows for any kind of contour, but uses the same silicone technology as the Shu Uemura. Billy B’s Lash Curler is the perfect size and does not have the metal bits on the outside that prevent you from curling an entire lash.

Metal Spatula

Keeping your kit hygienic requires a steadfast commitment to refrain from double dipping your brushes, thus contaminating your product. A spatula can help you remove what you are working with from its container. Then, you can place it onto a palette and have fresh, unpolluted product at the ready.

Mixing Palette

For mixing and custom matching as well as for health and safety precautions, a mixing palette is an invaluable tool.

Safety Scissors

For lashes or any other cutting that comes up, these can be an on-set lifesaver.

Check out Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 4 of James Vincent's Building Your Kit series, and stay tuned for Part 6: Skin Care on Set

As Director of Artistry for The Makeup Show, The Powder Group and On Makeup Magazine, makeup artist James Vincent has touched every facet of the industry with his talent. With specialties in film and theatre, television and celebrity work, editorial and runway work, James is foremast a passionate educator, training for brands such as MAC, Stila, CNN and Lancome. He continues to inspire the next wave of artists with his beauty expertise. Follow James on Twitter @JVincentmakeup.