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How to Build a Beginner’s Makeup Kit, According to the Pros

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If you’re on the beauty side of TikTok, you know there’s a new viral makeup product every day. Hey, maybe even every hour. Beauty trends are also constantly changing with a different makeup look deemed “fresh” all the time. It can get overwhelming trying to keep up. Beauty supply stores and drugstores aren’t any easier to navigate. The rows and rows of eye makeup, face makeup, and skincare—how do you possibly know what to choose?

Having a makeup starter kit can help. This will help you keep all the makeup essentials you need as a newbie handy for whenever you feel like giving yourself that extra glam moment. Once you gather the basics, keep them in a cute makeup bag, so you’re always prepared for glam time. When you’re out of something, it’s easy to replace. And when you want to upgrade to a more dramatic glam, you know what to look for.

To help you get started on building a beginner makeup kit, we enlisted makeup artist Kristen Fortier.


About the Expert:

Kristen Fortier is a makeup artist and product development lead at Crunchi.

FENTY SKIN Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen with Niacinamide + Kalahari Melon
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FENTY SKIN Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen with Niacinamide + Kalahari Melon

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SPF to Prime and Protect the Skin

“If a beginner doesn’t even have a skincare routine in place, I always recommend a daily SPF,” Fortier says. FENTY SKIN Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen is a moisturizer that doubles as a sunscreen, so you’ll get all the benefits in one step. It uses invisible SPF 30 to help shield your complexion from UV rays, while hyaluronic acid, aloe, and niacinamide help fade dark spots, smooth pores, and defend against pollution.

TOO FACED COSMETICS Hangover Replenishing Face Primer
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TOO FACED Hangover Replenishing Face Primer

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Face Primer for an Even Canvas

“A good primer to look for is one that is formulated for all skin types and that can smooth the appearance of fine lines and pores, creating an even canvas for effortless makeup application that lasts all day,” Fortier says. We love TOO FACED COSMETICS Hangover Replenishing Face Primer for dull, dry skin and ELIZABETH MOTT Thank Me Later Face Primer - Matte Primer for oily skin.

PÜR 4-in-1 Sculpting Concealer in MN3 | Medium
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PÜR PUR 4-in-1 Sculpting Concealer

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Concealer to Achieve a Flawless Base

“Concealer is a must-have to brighten and conceal dark circles, blemishes, and any imperfections,” Fortier says. It’s also totally versatile. You can use it all over your face as foundation in a pinch, or a deeper shade than your skin tone as cream contour. Fortier likes CRUNCHI My Alibi Concealer + Eye Primer because “it conceals and preps the eyes for eyeshadow that stays in place all day.” We also love the PÜR 4-in-1 Sculpting Concealer because the buildable formula is infused with retinol, lactic acid, and antioxidants to help improve your skin tone and texture while you wear it.

IT COSMETICS Lash Blowout Salon Volume Lift Mascara in Black
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IT COSMETICS Lash Blowout Salon Volume Lift Mascara

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Mascara to Make Your Eyes Appear Brighter

“Mascara is great for a beginner because it’s an easy way to play up the eyes without having to do a full eye look,” Fortier says. Choose from bold, dramatic mascara for tons of volume, or go for a more natural makeup look. The choice is yours. IT COSMETICS Lash Blowout Salon Volume Lift Mascara in Black is the best of both worlds because it delivers long, voluminous lashes while helping the health of the hair with biotin.

L.O.C.K. COLOR Waterproof Pencil Eyeliner in Pearl Black
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L.O.C.K. COLOR Waterproof Pencil Eyeliner

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Eyeliner to Accentuate Your Eye Shape

“Like mascara, eyeliner is a quick and easy way to enhance the eyes without needing to spend too much time doing so,” Fortier says. “I always recommend when starting to apply eyeliner to the upper lash line and blend with a small brush for a softer look.” We love a waterproof and smudge-proof eyeliner like the L.O.C.K. COLOR Waterproof Pencil Eyeliner in Pearl Black for beginners because of its stay-put formula.

UNFILTERED BEAUTY CO Wake Up Call Eyeshadow Palette in Morning Brew
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UNFILTERED BEAUTY CO Wake Up Call Eyeshadow Palette

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An Eyeshadow Palette for Fun Pops of Color

“An eyeshadow palette can be overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be!” Fortier says. “It’s also fun to play with different eye looks to determine what you love.” For a makeup newbie, a neutral eyeshadow palette is the easiest. The UNFILTERED BEAUTY CO Wake Up Call Eyeshadow Palette in Morning Brew has neutral shades in a mix of matte and shimmer finishes for whatever look you want.

MOTD COSMETICS Seas the Day Makeup Brush Set
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MOTD COSMETICS Seas the Day Makeup Brush Set

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Makeup Brushes for Your Best Application

“Tools are an important part of making sure your makeup applies and looks its best,” Fortier says. “A few good staple brushes are all you need. CRUNCHI’s Luxury Vegan Makeup Brushes have soft, synthetic bristles, [which are] not as porous as animal hair and therefore absorb less product during application, reducing waste, and resulting in longer-lasting cosmetics.” We also love the MOTD COSMETICS Seas the Day Makeup Brush Set because it features everything you need to blend, diffuse, and detail your looks. An added plus: The brush set is vegan, cruelty-free, and seriously pretty.

COMPLEX CULTURE Sun Bath Baked Bronzer in Just Right
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COMPLEX CULTURE Sun Bath Baked Bronzer

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Bronzer for a Sun-Kissed Glow

Bronzer is a must have in any makeup routine,” Fortier says. “It instantly adds definition to the face and adds a beautiful sun-kissed glow.” Choose from matte or shimmer bronzer—there’s truly no wrong choice here. We love the COMPLEX CULTURE Sun Bath Baked Bronzer because of its blendable, buildable, powder formula that’s totally fool-proof.

SPACE CASE COSMETICS Seen From Space Highlighter in 1-E
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SPACE CASE COSMETICS Seen From Space Highlighter

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Highlighter to Brighten Your Features

Highlighter is the perfect product to add a glowing finish to the look and can really help the appearance of the skin look youthful and glowing,” Fortier says. “CRUNCHI’s Luminescence Highlighter has a smooth, silky texture that delivers luminous pigment to brighten your favorite features.” For a more champagne shade, we love the SPACE CASE COSMETICS Seen From Space Highlighter in 1-E. It’s a shimmery pressed powder that makes skin look lit from within.

BEAUTYBLENDER® ORIGINAL BEAUTYBLENDER Makeup Sponge
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BEAUTYBLENDER® ORIGINAL BEAUTYBLENDER Makeup Sponge

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A Makeup Sponge for Easy Application

“Makeup sponges can be great for a beginner because they can easily apply many products,” Fortier says. “But be sure to keep your makeup sponge clean and wash daily so they do not harbor bacteria.” Use a damp sponge like the ORIGINAL BEAUTYBLENDER Makeup Sponge by BEAUTYBLENDER to quickly and easily blend tinted moisturizer, BB and CC creams, foundation, and more.

ANASTASIA BEVERLY HILLS DIPBROW® Gel in Taupe
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ANASTASIA BEVERLY HILLS DIPBROW® Gel

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Brow Gel to Set the Brows in Place

Brow gel is a great product to set the brows and keep them in place all day,” Fortier says. “It’s also great for those who have naturally gorgeous brows and do not need to add any product [like an eyebrow pencil].” ANASTASIA BEVERLY HILLS Dip Brow Gel has a long-lasting, waterproof formula that sticks to your brow hairs to build natural dimension and fullness, all with a natural matte finish.

BENEFIT COSMETICS Precisely, My Brow Neutral Medium Brown 3.5 Eyebrow Pencil
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BENEFIT COSMETICS Precisely, My Brow Neutral Medium Brown 3.5 Eyebrow Pencil

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An Eyebrow Pencil to Make the Brows Appear Fuller

“My number one tip is to fill in your brows following the natural shape of your brow bone,” Fortier says of this must-have brow product. “If you draw on brows that aren’t natural to your face shape it can easily throw off your entire makeup look.” She also says to look for an eyebrow pencil that’s easy to apply, keeps the brows tamed, and can easily be sharpened for precise application. We think BENEFIT COSMETICS Precisely, My Brow Eyebrow Pencil is a perfect contender for this.

SOPHIA + MABELLE SET + PREP Setting Spray
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SOPHIA + MABELLE SET + PREP Setting Spray

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Setting Powder and/or Setting Spray to Lock It All In

“I recommend using a setting powder to keep your cream and liquids in place,” Fortier says “Look for a translucent powder that looks great on all skin tones like CRUNCHI’s Translucent Finishing Powder.” You don’t need both, but Fortier likes to have both a setting spray and setting powder in a makeup routine. Powders tend to work better for oily skin and setting sprays, like the hydrating SOPHIA + MABELLE SET + PREP Setting Spray, often work well on dry skin types.

INC.REDIBLE COSMETICS Jelly Shot Lip Quencher in Ex Revenge
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INC.REDIBLE COSMETICS Jelly Shot Lip Quencher

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Lip Gloss and/or Lip Balm to Finish the Look

Lip balm can help keep your lips healthy and help prepare them for other lip products, including gloss,” Fortier says. “ Lip gloss is the perfect and easy lip product to enhance your lips and provide a subtle shine and hydrating moisture.” INC.REDIBLE COSMETICS Jelly Shot Lip Quencher in Ex Revenge has a hydrating but glossy finish so it’s kind of like a lip gloss and lip balm in one.

Want in on even more beginner beauty products? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started with your own beauty subscription. Already a member? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and TikTok @IPSY.

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About the author
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Elizabeth Denton
Elizabeth is a freelance beauty writer. Previously, she was a beauty & fashion editor at Time Out New York, Seventeen, & Allure. She has more than a decade of experience in the beauty and fashion world, writing for Nylon, StyleCaster, Cosmopolitan & more.
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Article Last Updated April 17, 2023 12:00 AM