You may think you're beauty savvy because you frequent Sephora more than the grocery store but girl, you’ve only scratched the surface. Professional makeup artists are the true experts, and they keep their secrets safely stored in their pro-kits.
If you’ve ever had an opportunity to snoop in a makeup artist’s kit as I have, you’ll see a lot of the usual culprits — MAC will always have a place in an artist’s heart along with Smashbox and Makeup Forever. However, you’ll also come across a few brands you might not have heard of.
Luckily for us, makeup pros are generous with their knowledge and are usually more than happy to share the mystery brands they swear by.
Here are just a few.
Face Atelier is mainly known for their Ultra Foundation, which is beloved for its light formula that can be built upon to offer a full coverage finish. It’s also silicone-based so you can wear it on the sweatiest of summer days. With this foundation, you can skip a few steps because the primer is built into the formulation and it sets without powder.
“I love Face Atelier for lighter skin,” Tami El Sombati, makeup artist for Jane Lynch, Keshia Chanté and Drake, tells HuffPost Canada. “I use their Ultra Pro foundations. They were one of the first ones I used in my kit and have stuck around.”
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The biggest fans of the U.K. brand are makeup artists who swear by its lightweight but full coverage foundation, like Toronto-based artist Irene Sy.
“I love her cream shadows because they blend very seamlessly into the skin and they don't dry out like the other brands,” she says. “I also love her Wonderglow Primer because it's not thick and you can mix it into the foundation with ease, no clumps or you can wear it alone and it adds a natural glow to the skin. I don't like products that are heavy or mask-like.”
It’s only a matter of time before Charlotte Tilbury isn’t so secret anymore.
Real skincare talk: I love trying new products (and it's part of my job!) but after a few years in my mid 20s with really frustrating breakouts, sticking with a semi-consistent skincare routine became really important to me. I've been using @embryolisseusa Liat-Crème Concentrè for over 5 years and it's the product I always go back to—it's rich but sinks into my skin easily, it's not overly fragrant, and I just love it! I'm always so curious about what everyone else is loyal to - what products are your "for-lifers"? —@loreleio
In France, Embryolisse Lait Crème Concentrate is fairly commonplace. The moisturizer is available at drugstores and comes with a fair price tag. In North America, word of mouth has made Embryolisse a secret weapon in the pro-kits of makeup artists like Allan Avendaño, who works with Zendaya.
The reason it has received such attention from beauty insiders is because of its versatility.
“It’s just a really great moisturizer for most of my clients and works as a primer as well,” says makeup artist, Sophie Hsin, who counts Selena Gomez and Jamie Oliver among the famous faces she has worked on.
The main ingredient is mineral oil, which isn’t particularly impressive, but artists love the soft texture it results in. After all, having a great base to work with before applying makeup is of utmost importance.
You won't find many beauty bloggers raving about Ben Nye because it was developed with film and theatre in mind.
Still, makeup artists like Mario Dedivanovic, who is one of Kim Kardashian’s go-to artists, knows the power of Ben Nye. While the majority of the line isn’t suited to everyday wear, the one product that everyone should own is the Ben Nye Banana Powder. The extremely affordable product is great for setting cream foundations and creating a super silky matte finish.
If you’ve never heard of RMS, we’re not surprised. The all-natural makeup line flies under the radar but is well known amongst the pros. Founded by celebrity makeup artist, Rose-Marie Swift, it has become a cult favourite amongst models and Swift’s contemporaries like editorial makeup artist Alice Lane, whose work has appeared in Elle, Glamour and Vogue.
The most iconic product from the line is The Living Luminizer but makeup artists also praise the Un Powder, which effortlessly minimizes pores and leaves your skin looking and feeling as smooth as satin. According to Marie Claire, Kanako Takase, who has painted the faces of Blake Lively and Tinashe, counts RMS Un Powder as one of her must-haves.
Inglot is a European cosmetics line that’s been exceptionally well received but hasn’t quite reached the fever pitch of brands like Kat Von D or NYX. Makeup artists, however, have been carrying Inglot in their pro-kits for years, unbeknownst to the masses.
The brand’s claim to fame is its utilization of the latest technologies in cosmetics development. It proved to be so good that notable Broadway makeup designer Brian Strumwasser opted for Inglot over MAC when he was working on "A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder" in 2016. Under hot lights and with a constant flurry of costume changes, Inglot simply performed better, according to Strumwasser.
Mehron is a high-performance makeup line developed to meet the needs of makeup artists who work in theatre and on a movie set. Long lasting, concentrated formulas are often required for gruelling days and working under bright lights. That’s what Mehron’s line caters to.
But, like all good things, they tend not to remain secrets forever. Beauty lovers caught wind of Mehron’s capabilities and some have started using the line in their everyday makeup routines.