As full-blown beauty obsessives, we all have products that we straight-up refuse to leave the house without. Whether it’s a super-pigmented black eyeliner, or a perfect, creamy red lipstick, there are always a few non-negotiables permanently residing in our bags—whether we actually have the space for them or not. And the other day, as we were bitching about the eight billion lipsticks taking up the better half of our bags, it hit us: How the hell do makeup artists do it? Because in addition to lugging around a fully stacked kit for clients and gigs, they’re also tasked with curating an on-the-go selection of their personal favorites.
So, we went to five makeup wizards themselves to find out their absolute favorite beauty products—not only their go-tos on set, but their desert-island items that they’ll always make room for in their kits. Including a moisturizing facial oil that moonlights as a highlighter, and a dual-ended lipstick for day-to-night wear, we found 12 products that are so damn good, we’re completely rethinking our personal collections. Ahead, shop the 12 products that makeup artists can’t live without, alongside tips and tricks for getting the most out of each formula.
A super-hydrating facial oil...
“Rodin’s face oil has so many different uses. First, it’s a non-irritating moisturizer that dies down without a greasy residue. I’ll also use it as a cheekbone highlighter, or even add a few drops into foundation for sheer coverage.” - Quinn Murphy
Rodin Olio Lusso Jasmine Neroli Face Oil, $170; at Rodin Olio Lusso
Rodin Olio Lusso
An oil-minimizing setting powder...
“I feel like a lot of people forget that there’s a difference between looking really dewy versus looking too shiny. A solid setting powder not only allows makeup to last longer, but it cuts down excess shine. Plus, setting powder can be used as an eyeshadow primer, and it’s a great way to blend out blush.” – Q.M.
M.A.C. Set Powder, $33; at M.A.C.
A universally flattering eyebrow pencil...
“Benefit’s brow pencil is really waxy, so it’s super precise and doesn’t get melty on the skin. I use No. 6 basically every day, because even though it’s the darkest shade, it can also be used on fair skin tones if you have a soft touch. I’ve tried to dare myself to use something else, but I always come back to this one.” - Ashleigh Ciucci
Benefit Precisely My Brow in No. 6, $24; at Benefit Cosmetics
A creamy, non-glittery highlighter...
“My all-time favorite highlighter is Topshop’s Glow Pot. It’s a cream highlighter that comes in two colors—Polished, for fair-medium tones and Gleam, for olive-dark tones. The cream is super thin with gel undertones, and it leaves skin with the perfect, non-glittery highlight. I think I use it every, single day in my kit, as well as on myself.” – A.C.
Topshop Glow Pot in Polished, $14; at Topshop
An easy, multipurpose balm...
“I use Lano’s balm on my cuticles, my lips, and if I want a quick gleam, I’ll swipe it on my cheekbones. It’s just super easy to use, and it’s not formulated with petroleum, so it’s really healthy and natural.” – Katie Jane Hughes
Lano Lips 101 Multipurpose Superbalm, $16.95; at Ulta
A soothing, lightweight facial mist...
“I really love a good face mist, and Glossier’s rosewater spray is super refreshing. The weight of a product is something that makeup artists always think about, and even though most mists come in heavy glass bottles that weigh down your bag, Glossier’s plastic bottle is light enough to bring on the go.” - K.J.H.
Glossier Soothing Face Mist Rosewater Spray, $18; at Glossier
A day-to-night lipstick...
“I love the versatility of a double-ended lipstick. With Misbehave you get a deeper, browner shade that’s great for the evening, and Girl Boss is a perfect nude to pair with a smokey eye. It’s also light enough to throw on your cheeks, too.” - K.J.H.
Wander Beauty Wanderout Dual Lipstick in Misbehave/Girl Boss, $30; at Wander Beauty
A moisturizing lip primer...
“Even though it’s a little pricey, Hourglass’s lip oil is fantastic. We often use lip balms to prep, but most formulas sit on top of the skin without really penetrating it. This lip oil seriously moisturizes, so it creates a nice, soft texture. Even if I’m just using a lip pencil, I’ll start with a layer of this oil.” – Amy Strozzi
Hourglass No. 28 Lip Treatment Oil, $44; at Hourglass Cosmetics
A layerable bronzer...
“Charlotte Tilbury’s bronzer is really soft and layerable. It looks awesome on a red carpet, but it’s also great for doing a subtle, natural look and contour. It’s perfect for framing the face, especially if you’re pulling your hair back.” – A.S.
Charlotte Tilbury Film Star Bronze & Glow, $68; at Charlotte Tillbury
An easy-to-apply eyeshadow...
“This cream eyeshadow is super sheer, but it can be layered for intensity. I’m known for having a lighter hand, but I love pops of color that are pretty and wearable, like New Moon. You can literally smudge it on your lids with your finger and be done. I love it on its own in the summer, and as more of a base in the fall.” – A.S.
Chanel Illusion D’Ombre Long-Wear Luminous Eyeshadow in New Moon, $36; at Chanel
A natural-looking blush...
“Stila’s cream blush is one of my all-time favorites for natural-looking color. Instead of sitting on top of the skin, the creamy formula really looks like you’re blushing from within. As a bonus, it’s a two-in-one that can also be used on the lips.” – Kateri Giehl
Stila Convertible Color in Peony, $25; at Stila
A creamy lip color...
“This pencil is hands down my favorite matte lip color. The formula is super rich, creamy, and loaded with vitamin E, so it doesn’t feel dry. Professionally, I think I own every shade, but Cruella is a no-fail blue-red that looks brilliant on everyone.” – K.G.
Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella, $27; at Nars