The Only Makeup Tools You’ll Need to Do Good Makeup Everyday

Having a proper set of makeup brushes can really up your makeup game. It can spell the difference between streaky amateur application to well blended, expert looking glam. But buying a good set of brushes isn’t cheap — I once bought a set of makeup brushes in the noughties that I thought was a bargain until I showed up in college with a blue tinged face. Turned out my still damp powder brush was bleeding some blue black dye after I had washed them. It was a humiliating experience to say the least.

But what do you do if you want quality makeup brushes but can’t get a full set just yet? I say, pick a few quality brushes to begin with and build your collection as you go along. I know what you’re saying, a full set can be more cost effective than individual brushes, but hear me out. Sometimes a full set of brushes will come with pieces that you don’t need for your normal daily glam.

I’ve rounded up the 5 tools that I consider essentials to doing a beautiful daily makeup routine that will help make sure that you look fresh and polished no matter what you may face during the day. I’ve chosen them based on their versatility above all other considerations. And if I’m asked if I would give up all but one brush, then the first on the list would be the one I would keep. I feel I could do a full face with just a medium tapered face brush.

The five makeup tools I would keep in my kit for a full daily glam are:

  1. A medium tapered face brush
  2. A small tapered eyeshadow brush
  3. A small flat eyeshadow brush
  4. A small flat liner brush
  5. An eyelash curler

You might notice that I didn’t include a beauty blender or foundation brush for foundation application. The reason is because my own daily routine involves applying foundation with my fingers. I can see some beauty gurus grimacing right now because they feel hands are dirty. I would disagree with that. I feel that fresh correctly washed hands can be cleaner than any brush or sponge that could potentially be harbouring bacteria from staying damp longer than my hands.

A discussion of the tools I’ve picked follows below.

Medium Tapered Face Brush

My everyday makeup can be as simple as blush and bronzer over some sunscreen. So on most days, I use only this one brush.

A tapered powder brush can:

  • set your foundation
  • blend your contour
  • apply your blush
  • apply your highlighting powder
  • apply powder for baking
  • remove your bake

Tapered Eyeshadow Brush

My first makeup kit in college just had one tapered brush and I did my makeup with it almost everyday, washing it about once or twice a week. I didn’t notice any obvious muddling of colors, but I never did use anything too colorful black then. I stuck to a duo or trio of neutral shadows.

A tapered eyeshadow brush can:

  • apply your main eyeshadow color
  • apply and blend your crease color
  • go into the inner corner of your eyes for that pop of shimmer
  • blend out your eyeshadow primer
  • blend out your highlighting concealer
  • brush away your baking powder

Small Flat Eyeshadow Brush

Even though flat eyeshadow brushes have fallen out of favor and replaced by fluffy blending brushes as the apple of every one’s eye(makeup), there is still a place for this densely packed, firm brush.

A small flat concealer brush can:

  • apply concealer under the eyes and hard to reach areas
  • can act as a flat eyeshadow brush to apply product more heavily
  • can get under the eyelashes for smudging eyeshadow in the lower lashline
  • can smudge at the upper lash line up into the crease for a dramatic smoky eye look

Small Flat Liner Brush

A small flat liner brush can:

  • tightline with eyeshadow or gel eyeliner
  • create a solid dramatic classic or winged eye liner
  • can draw and blend eye brows using a gel or pomade

Eyelash Curler

The eyelash curler is the only tool on here that isn’t multi-purpose but it makes the greatest impact. In my early days as a makeup wearer, all I did was curl my lashes, put on some mascara and I was out the door feeling I was all that.

Depending on the products you buy, you may or may not even need all these tools since a lot them would come with an applicator of some sort. As you get more experienced with makeup, you may want to expand your collection or buy new and better brush sets as you’re able to afford them. But not having a large number of brushes need not keep you from doing your makeup well.

What are your essentials? Do they line up with what I have listed above?

Classic Professional Brands in My Kit and Why I Continue to Carry Them

Few, if any, would argue with me when I say that it’s a great time to be a makeup enthusiast. Brands new and old have nearly perfected their formulas and a beautiful skin like finish is now the norm. Even so, it doesn’t mean that any makeup brand will end up in a professional makeup kit, no matter how great the formula may be.

What makes makeup “kit friendly”

Aside from the obvious — that is, the makeup I have in my kit should be good — the products I pick for my kit should be “kit friendly” and that could mean anything depending on the makeup artist. For me, that means it should be these things:

  1. It should be compact. A 30mL bottle of liquid foundation doesn’t seem like much, but if you think about how many shades of foundation one must carry in order to match any skin tone, it could get very heavy. So I prefer foundations that are compact and that would allow me to carry multiple shades while taking as little space and weighing as little as possible.
  2. It should be versatile. I appreciate professional makeup brands for their simple formulas that allow me to use a mixing medium to convert them into anything I might need. Most high pigment color creams for instance can be used on eyes, cheeks, and lips — that dramatically cuts down on the things I need to take to work.
  3. It should be neat. For this, I tend to stick to cream formulas and avoid liquids in glass bottles as much as I can. Imagine the monumental mess you could create if a bottle breaks in your kit… I know right? Perish the thought.

The following are the foundation brands that I’ve carried in my kit for 8 years and they have continued to be reliable to this day.

RCMA Color Process Foundation

Clockwise from top left: Kryloan Derma Color Camouflage Creme, RCMA Color Process Foundation DTC Makeup 6 Part Palette, Graftobian Glamour Creme, Graftobian Glamour Creme Blush, RCMA Shading Kit

RCMA was developed in 1963 primarily for the TV, movie, and theater industries and were so designed to withstand the heat of studio lights and the scrutiny of cameras coming up close. While there have been a lot of new developments in the makeup scene, they continue to have the highest concentration of pigment. To compare, RCMA is made up of 55% pigment while most full coverage foundations are just 18% to 35% pigment. This translates to versatility since I can thin out the product if I want a sheer application or use it full strength if I need more coverage around an area.

In my eight years of using this brand, it has remained stable — never darkening or changing after application — and reliable no matter what primer or finisher I use underneath or on top. Their shade range is also so extensive that there is virtually no skin tone they can’t match. Hands down, RCMA is hard to beat in my kit.


Graftobian is the brand I started with when I learned to do makeup professionally. Like RCMA it was designed to be durable for work on and off camera and the shade range is comprehensive. When I’m working, I tend to reach for Graftobian when I want a semi-matte finish.


Kryolan’s Derma Color 6-part Camouflage Cream has been my go to concealer and color corrector for a long time. It goes without saying that I’ve stuck it out with this brand because it works, but I find that my favorite thing about the product is its high adherence to the skin. (Nothing annoys me more than laying down a concealer only to have it move out of place upon laying foundation or powder on top). Because it is highly pigmented, I can easily thin out the product with a primer if I want a lighter application.

Not all makeup artists carry the same foundations that I do for a number of reasons and there’s no right or wrong — only what’s right for the individual. The above are my personal choice because they have worked for me and my clients through the years.

What is your favorite foundation? If you’re a professional makeup artist, what are your kit favorites?

Navy Smoky Eye with Mauve Lips

Dr. Cristina Diaz is a vision in blue so we decided to compliment her dress with navy blue smoky eye makeup and mauve lips.

Products Used:

Primer: Cover FX Mattifying Primer with anti acne treatment

Concealer: Kryolan Derma Color Camouflage Cream

Foundation: RCMA Color Process Foundation, RCMA 4-part Shading Kit, Graftobian Glamour Creme Blush

Eyebrows: Zoeva Graphic Brow Fix, Ben Nye Eyebrow Pencil

Eyes: Too Faced Shadow Insurance, Makeup Forever Starlit Palette, Makeup Forever Aqua XL Eye Pencil, MAC Fluidline Gel Liner (dipdown), Max Factor False Lash Effect

Face: Graftobian Foundation Powder, JCat Love Struck Blusher + Bronzer, Ben Nye Invisible Set Colorless Powder, Laura Mercier Secret Under Eye Powder

Lips: JCat Freedom Creator Mix Lip Palette

Finishing: MAC Prep + Prime + Fix Matte Spray

Hair: Toni & Guy Finishing Shine Spray