Personal Makeup Kit

Every serious actor should have their own personal makeup kit of essential tools and supplies. You can use any type of bag or box for your kit, but keep in mind that you may have very limited counter or table space in which to work. A flat box with removable lid may be the best choice.

Basic tools

All of these supplies can be had inexpensively at a drugstore or crafts store. A very useful kit can be assembled for less than US $25.

Bobby pins
For keeping hair off your face while applying makeup. You might also want a hairbrush or comb if you don't normally carry one.
A small (No. 2) artist's brush for detail work. If you do much animal makeup, or paint designs on the faces of other people, you'll acquire a wider variety of brushes.
Makeup remover
This is a very personal item, because skin chemistry is so variable. Albolene brand will remove anything, but some folks don't like it. Baby wipes actually do a pretty decent job. For clown or animal makeup, you probably will also want something specifically designed to remove makeup from around the eyes.
If you are near-sighted, you may want to include a small mirror with a stand so you can see what you're doing. You cannot wear your glasses or contacts while applying makeup!
Pencil and paper
A small note pad and pencil for making notes.
Pencil sharpener
For use with eye-liner and makeup pencils. A normal pencil sharpener will work for most things, but you can buy a cheap two-hole sharpener that accepts a wider variety of pencils and will make either a sharp or more tapered point.
Powder brush
A large stiff brush for removing excess powder. A shaving brush is ideal if you can find one; a soft one-inch paint brush will do. (The kind of fluffy powder brush sold in cosmetics isles is not what you want! Those are intended for applying powder, not removing excess.)
Powder puff
For applying powder. You can use an actual puff designed for the purpose, round disposable pads, or a square of shaggy fabric.
Small scissors with blunt points for trimming beards or whatever.
Sponge wedges
For applying makeup to large areas. Honestly, though, your finger-tips will do a better job.
Stipple sponge
A very coarse sponge used to apply beard stipple or animal makeup shading.
So many uses! A must-have item!
Not actually in your kit, but always take a box of sturdy but soft tissues with you when doing makeup.

Basic supplies

There are a few items you should have in your kit just so you're prepared for whatever happens. Unless you live in a large city, you'll probably have to order these from some place like International Fun-Shop. Around Halloween, you often can find useful supplies in the temporary Halloween-themed stores that open up around the USA.

A natural base that matches your skin tone. You may also want to have shadow, highlight, cheek and lip colors that go along with this natural base, for doing 'straight' makeup.
A translucent powder that does not alter the appearance of applied makeup. Unscented baby powder will work.
Soft black, brown and white makeup pencils. (White is useful for drawing a design on your face before applying colors.)

As you practice your craft, you'll add or subtract a few items to your kit based on the type of acting you do. I think you'll find that arriving for a makeup workshop or dress rehearsal with your own personal kit will be a big confidence booster!

In our opinion the best affordable stage makeup book is Stage Makeup Step-by-Step, by Rosemarie Swinfield, though it is unfortunately out of print. A good close second is Stage Makeup: The Actor's Complete Guide to Today's Techniques and Materials, which can be had for about US $25.

Always remember: have fun doing theater!

Copyright © Morgan Lees — — lees at