How To Tell If Makeup Is “Professional”

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The cosmetics industry has changed a lot in the last couple of decades. Our grandmothers had much fewer options. There was inexpensive drug store makeup on one end, and on the other, limited luxury brands like Chanel. There wasn’t much in the middle. Today, with stores like Sephora and Ulta and new cosmetics lines coming out regularly, it might be difficult to determine what is high quality enough for a professional makeup artist’s kit.

There isn’t necessarily a clear-cut check list, and every artist will have varying opinions (Kevin James Bennett shared with me at IMATS this year that he regularly uses L’Oreal Carbon Black mascara in his kit, an inexpensive drug store brand.) but I will give you a few tips that determine whether or not something makes it into my kit.

1. Long wearing. Hiring an experienced and trained artist is not inexpensive. If a client is investing hundreds of dollars in makeup for an event, it simply must last. For this reason, I lean toward long wearing. Waterproof mascara isn’t ideal for daily use, but is a must in a pro kit. Lipliners and lipsticks in formulas that have staying power. Makeup artists will usually share their favorite long wearing products, but at the end of the day nothing is better than trying it on for yourself.

2. Pigment. This has become a popular buzzword on social media, but what exactly does it mean? Makeup is composed of 2 elements: the pigment and the vehicle. The vehicle is the physical substance of the makeup. The most common vehicle for most makeups is plant waxes and oils for lipsticks and foundations. The Pigment is the amount of color that is packed into the vehicle. So when we say an eyeshadow is extremely “pigmented” we mean it is packed with color power. This is of utmost importance in a professional makeup kit.

3. Texture. This one is a little more difficult to describe, but is easiest to recognize in a foundation’s skin finish. These days skin is in, and a combo of high pigment with a gorgeous skin finish is ideal. RCMA foundations are known for their coverage (they are 50% pigment!) while giving the artist a texture that looks like skin. Kryolan and Graftobian are also industry standards for beautiful coverage and texture.

These are just the beginning, and it takes many artists a lot of trial and error to build the ideal professional kit. Attending a professional certification program like Academy of Makeup Arts Advanced program or our new night class will start you off with the right products and save an aspiring artist time and money.

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