One of the biggest challenges I have faced as a professional makeup artist is curating a kit that can service the needs and desires of every client. There are times—fashion week for example—when I have no idea who is going to be sitting in my chair ahead of time. As a professional, I must be prepared with the right products for anything and everything. 

The sheer volume of products currently on the market and the near-constant release of “must-have” beauty products is overwhelming to even the most seasoned of makeup experts. Choosing the right products for a  kit is not only a daunting task, but necessary so that we don’t break the bank (or our backs from carrying it all). 

One of the most interesting observations I have made in my years as a makeup artist is that very often, the more experienced the artist, the smaller their kit. My own kit has considerably decreased in size since I started out, from an enormous rolling suitcase to a backpack. The reason? Over the years, I have learned that there are several products that can be used in multiple ways. The beauty industry would have us believe that there is one purpose for every product, but that is simply not the case. 

I am happy to share some of my own tricks that I have learned as a professional makeup artist (and a professional cheapskate) to not only save you money, but also enable you to make more informed beauty purchase decisions.  

‌‌‌‌One Spray Three Ways

One of my secret weapons for a beautiful complexion is rosewater with glycerin, and the Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin Mist is the best of the best. The first thing I do with any makeup application, whether on myself or someone else, is mist the face with rose water to soothe and hydrate the skin. This initial misting is the first of three times I use rose water in any makeup application. 

The second time is immediately after foundation when I will spray rosewater onto a brush or a sponge and apply it directly over the foundation to help it melt into the skin. And the third time is after I apply setting powder. The rosewater gets rid of any powdery finish and also sets the complexion in place. Rosewater is the workhouse of my makeup kit and I go through several bottles a year.

‌‌‌‌A Secret About Primer

Another of the most important products in any makeup application is a moisturizer and, contrary to belief, not just for skin hydration. A good moisturizer can also be used as a primer for foundation. Am I saying that you don’t need to use a separate foundation primer? I am absolutely saying that. 

Most primers are basically just moisturizers and are only necessary if they serve a specific purpose, like mattifying or pore filling, or to keep makeup on under extreme heat. More often than not, regular moisturizer works beautifully, and not only can it be used as your primer, it can also provide sun protection. SPF should be worn on the face year-round, but during the summer months, it’s non-negotiable.

‌‌‌‌The Only Foundation Formula You Will Ever Need

If your favorite moisturizer does not contain an SPF, fear not, there are a number of wonderful foundations that not only give beautiful coverage but also protect your skin from sun damage. I almost always use a cream foundation that contains SPF. It not only offers sun protection, but a cream foundation is the only foundation formula you need. Wait, what? Yes, you read that correctly. 

There are thousands of foundations on the market that offer various levels of coverage and finishes, but you can achieve all of those with one good cream foundation. Cream foundations contain much more pigment than a liquid, and by mixing them with an oil or moisturizer, you can adjust your level of coverage all the way down to sheer. I carry only cream foundations in my kit and with manipulation, I am able to create any level of coverage or finish. 

To use them, simply take a small amount of the foundation and mix it with a face oil or an emollient moisturizer on a clean, flat surface. Test out your foundation and if necessary, adjust the ratios. This is a great trick to have up your sleeve if you have any problem areas that need a bit more coverage than others, or if you're like me and need all the coverage during the winter months and need to only even out your skin tone during the summer.

The same principles of versatility also apply to many other cream products, For example, you can use a cream blush as a lipstick or a lipstick as a cream blush. Another tremendous benefit of cream products is the ability to mix them to create anything you’d like. If you are really feeling creative, you can take cream colors in the three primary colors, plus black and white, and create your own cream foundation, lipstick, and blush shades.  

‌‌‌‌The Versatile and Essential Pressed Powder

For years, makeup artists have been using techniques like contouring before they became fashionable and did so without specific contouring products. How? Easy. They used pressed powders, usually a complexion setting powder or eyeshadow. 

It is well-known that one of the most useful and necessary products to have in your stash is various neutral matte brown powders. They are used to sculpt and contour the face and eyes as well as fill in the eyebrows. I am sure you have seen some of the seemingly infinite numbers of contour, highlight, and eyebrow palettes. Every single one of them can be replaced with an eyeshadow. 

A contour palette typically has a few different mid-tone neutral matte browns, and brow palettes generally contain a selection of cool browns and taupes. An eyeshadow palette containing various neutral matte browns can cover all of these bases. 

Conversely, many of the available contour palettes can be used as the all-important contour, or “transition'' shades in eye makeup application. Eyeshadow also can easily be used as a highlighter, and because they are available in varying degrees of finishes—from matte to metallic and everything in between—it is easy to find your own personal perfect glow. 

It can be really easy to get caught up in the hype of all the makeup products available and there are so many that you just do not need. Trust me on this—for a long time I was someone who bought all the palettes that did all the things and now, many of those products sit unused in my makeup graveyard drawer. Powders are incredibly versatile and most makeup enthusiasts, without realizing it, buy the same shades over and over simply because they are marketed for different purposes.

‌‌‌‌More Double-Duty Products

So, what are some other products that can have multiple uses? Would you think that mascara is one of them? One of my favorite tricks is using waterproof mascara as an eyeliner. Just load up your favorite eyeliner brush, or my favorite bent eyeliner brush by Bdellium Tools, and apply. Your eyeliner will be waterproof, tear-proof, sweat-proof, and all the other proofs. 

Do you use eyeshadow primer? You don't need it. Eyeshadow primer creates a barrier between the eyelid and the makeup to reduce sebum for a more even application. You can use your foundation or concealer to prep your entire lid area, powder, and apply your eye makeup as usual. If you are using a “pop” of color, meaning that you are placing eyeshadow in only one spot, place a bit of concealer where you want your shadow and pat, do not swipe, the shadow on top of the sticky concealer and it will not move.

These are only a few of the tricks I have picked up throughout my career. I hope that you are inspired to go through your own stash of makeup and experiment with using your products in new ways.