Essential Cosmetic Tools: 14 Makeup Must-Haves

by Lisa Ledoux

No matter how much makeup you own, or how many times you’ve been told that less is more, there are still some essential makeup and makeup tools that every woman needs in her kit.

Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, these items will help you create any look you desire – from natural and understated to bold and dramatic.

Close up of unseen woman opening lip gloss while doing make up at dressing table

So what are they? Read on to find out!

Why Do I Need These Tools?

Creating the perfect makeup look can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t have the right tools.

There are certain essential items that every woman needs in her makeup arsenal to ensure she’s properly prepared for any beauty situation.

This includes items like cotton swabs and tweezers, eyeshadow and blush brushes, beauty blenders, a makeup mirror, etc.

Making sure you have these basic necessities can help guarantee your makeup looks flawless every time you put it on!

Essential Tools for Your Cosmetic Toolkit

1. Foundation Brush

A foundation brush is a must-have tool for applying foundation evenly and smoothly. There are many different types of foundation brushes available, but synthetic bristles are typically the best choice for liquid foundations.

make up brushes kit with smashed lipstick eyeshadow on white background.

2. Powder Brush

A powder brush is another essential tool for applying makeup.

Powder brushes are typically made with natural bristles and are designed to evenly distribute powder products, such as setting powder or bronzer.

3. Concealer Brush

A concealer brush is a small, dense brush that is perfect for applying concealer to small areas, such as under the eyes or around the nose.

Synthetic bristles are typically the best choice for concealer brushes as they provide good coverage without absorbing too much product.

4. Blush Brush

A blush brush is a medium-sized brush with soft, natural bristles. Blush brushes are ideal for applying blush to the apples of the cheeks for a natural-looking flush of color.

5. Eye Shadow Brush

An eye shadow brush is a small, flat brush that is perfect for packing on color or creating a smoky eye look.

Eye shadow brushes can be made with either synthetic or natural bristles, but synthetic bristles tend to work better with cream or powder shadows.

A nude eyeshadow palette and makeup artist's tools on a marble vanity. Brushes for powder, blush, eyebrows, shadows and sponges for concealer and foundation.

6. Eyeliner Brush

An eyeliner brush is a thin, pointed brush that is perfect for creating precise lines with gel or liquid eyeliner.

Eyeliner brushes should always be made with synthetic bristles in order to prevent the product from being absorbed into the brush.

7. Lip Brush

can easily create a precise application with your favorite lipstick or lip gloss.

Lip brushes are ideal for defining the lip line and blending in the color. Choose one with soft bristles to avoid irritating your lip area. For a more precise application, use a smaller-sized brush.

Or Instead of purchasing brushes individually,

8. Purchase a Good Makeup Brush Set

A good makeup brush set is one of the most important tools you need for applying makeup.

A quality set will include a variety of different brushes for different purposes, such as a foundation brush, powder brush, blush brush, and eyeshadow brush.

Investing in a good quality set of brushes will make a big difference in the way your makeup looks.

9. An LED Makeup Mirror

Middle-aged blonde female looking in mirror while managing with makeup and applying lipstick

A good makeup mirror is another essential tool for applying makeup.

A mirror with magnification will help you to see your face more clearly so that you can apply your makeup more evenly and use your tweezers more effectively.

A mirror with lights is also helpful so that you can see your face in different lighting conditions.

10. A Gentle Makeup Cleanser

A good cleanser is a vital step in your skincare routine, for taking off your makeup at the end of the day.

A gentle makeup remover will help to avoid irritating your skin while a waterproof makeup remover is also helpful for removing waterproof mascara and eyeliner.

Check out The Skincare Routine of Korean Women: What You Need To Know for great skincare tips such as the two-step cleanse, for gently removing impurities from your face.

11. Cotton Balls or Pads

Cotton balls or pads are useful for blending and removing makeup.

Cotton balls can be used for applying toner to the face, and they can also be used for removing nail polish.

They can also be used for applying foundation or concealer if your beauty blenders are gone, dirty (see cleaning tips below), or you’re in a pinch.

12. Cotton Swabs (like Q-Tips)

Q-tips are useful for cleaning up around the eyes after applying eye shadow or liner, or for removing excess lipstick from the lips. Q-tips can also be used for applying lip balm or gloss to the lips.

Q-tips are also make-up applicators with a pointed end that can be used for precision make-up – such as drawing the perfect winged eyeliner – or cleaning out small make-up spots or blemishes.

13. Mascara Wand or Spoolies

A mascara wand is an essential tool for applying mascara evenly, avoiding clumps by separating eyelashes and brushing and shaping your eyebrows.

Mascara wands come in different sizes and shapes, but it is important to choose one that fits comfortably in your hand (some can be short and flimsy) and has soft bristles.

happy and beautiful black American woman applying makeup using beauty blender looking herself in the mirror

14. Beauty Blenders or Makeup Sponges

Beauty Blenders are useful for applying foundation, concealer, and powder to the face.

Makeup sponges help to create a smooth, even application and can help to avoid wasting products.

15. Makeup Setting Spray

Makeup setting spray is a helpful tool for keeping your makeup in place throughout the day.

Setting spray helps to prevent your makeup from smudging or melting in warm weather conditions.

They can be somewhat harsh in their ingredients so it’s best to use them sparingly for special occasions, when your makeup look may be more dramatic.

16. Eyelash Curlers

These allow you to shape your lashes and give them extra volume and length, creating a dramatic look.

Eyelash curlers come in different sizes to fit any eye shape, and they are usually made of metal with rubber pads to prevent tugging and pulling on the lashes.

tweezers, spoolie, eyelash curler on white background with yellow flowers next to them

Invest wisely and don’t be fooled by cheap colorful ones. A strong stainless steel curler will last you for years and years.

17. Tweezers

Are great for removing stray hairs on the face and body, and having a reliable pair with a good grip will make sure those annoying little hairs stay away!

18. Eyeliner Sharpeners

These make-up essentials ensure that your pencils stay sharp and precise.

It is especially important if you prefer using traditional wooden pencils since these need to be regularly sharpened for the best results.

A good sharpener should provide accurate points, with the minimal wasted product, to make sure your pencils last as long as possible.

Tip: put your pencils in a fridge to keep the tips cool- this will make the tip harder and sharpening easier and more precise. A mini-makeup fridge will come in handy here.

How To Use Each Tool

Learning to use the many tools available can seem intimidating at first, but the key is to take things one step at a time.

Start by familiarizing yourself with each tool, learning what it is and how it works.

Then, practice using each of them in order to get comfortable with how they work.

As you become more comfortable, experiment with each individual tool and gradually try combining them together until you’re able to masterfully create your desired results.

With enough practice and dedication, you will be using these tools like a pro!

Don’t Forget…

Mini Make-Up Fridges

Looking for the essential makeup toolkit? A mini make-up fridge might be the answer!

Pink mini fridge with cosmetic products on grey vanity table indoors

Having a designated and temperature-regulated storage space for essential beauty items like makeup, brushes, moisturizers, masks, and serums will not only help keep them in optimal condition but also allow you to store perishable products without worrying about spoilage.

Investing in a mini make-up fridge may be a great solution if you’re looking for ways to organize and store essential makeup tools while keeping them fresh and ready to use.

Cosmetic Bags

Cosmetic bags are a great way to easily store beauty essentials and keep them handy. These handy items come in all shapes and sizes, so you can find something to fit your style and needs.

Whether you’re looking for a classic zipper clutch or an expandable bag with compartments, there is something for everyone. They’re perfect for organizing makeup brushes, lipsticks, beauty blenders, and more.

Their water-resistant fabric makes sure your beauty essentials are safe from spills, making them a perfect solution for any beauty lover’s collection of products.

It’s a good idea to have a mini cosmetic bag strictly for your purse- so your touch-up basics are handy at all times!

See 30 Essential Items Every Woman Needs in Her Purse for all your other purse must-haves!

Beauty products and flowers in a gold and glass cosmetic organizer.

Cosmetic Organizers

These are a great way to easily store beauty essentials and keep them organized, allowing you to quickly find exactly what you need fast.

Cosmetic organizers are available in many different sizes and materials, so you’re sure to find something that fits your personal style and budget.

Choose from clear acrylic storage boxes or multi-compartment makeup cases, perfect for traveling, or setting up in your mini-makeup fridge.

The Short List

1. Brushes

2. Mirrors

3. A Gentle Cleanser

4. Cotton Balls or Pads

5. Cotton Swabs

6. Mascara Wand or Spoolies

7. Beauty Blenders or Makeup Sponges

8. Makeup Setting Spray

9. Eyelash Curlers

10. Tweezers

11. Eyeliner Sharpeners

12. Mini Make-Up Fridges

13. Cosmetic Bags

14. Cosmetic Organizers

Don’t forget to check out our Make Tool Checklist. A beautiful, free, printable for your shopping convenience. 🙂

How to Clean Your Tools

Finally, it is important to remember that all tools should be cleaned regularly in order to keep them free of germs and bacteria and extend their longevity (this is also precisely what mini-fridges do).


Start by washing the bristles with a gentle shampoo, such as baby shampoo, or mild soap and warm water.

Gently massage the soap into the bristles and rinse until the water saturating the brushes runs clear and all the makeup has been removed.

Blot the excess water with a towel or paper towel and lay flat on a clean towel to air dry.

Women's hands wash a makeup brush, with soap.

Beauty Blenders and Sponges

These should be washed the same way you washed your brushes, with a gentle cleaner, and rinsed until the water runs clear.

Air dry before using again.

Eyelash Curlers

These can be initially wiped down with a soapy cloth or cotton swab to remove any makeup or other particles.

Next, sanitize the tools by dipping them into, or wiping them down with a cotton swab or pad, dipped in rubbing alcohol.

Wipe off any excess liquid.

Tweezers, nail clippers, and eyeliner sharpeners can be cleaned the same way.

Allow air drying time before use.

By following these simple steps, you will be able to keep your tools in top condition and have them ready whenever you need them!

No matter what your skill level is, having the right tools and knowing how to use them properly can make a huge difference in achieving beautiful results.

Now that you know what’s on the short list of beauty tools and how to use and care for them, you’re ready to take your makeup game up to the next level!

What’s the Real Deal with Make-Up Wipes?

Make-up remover wipes may seem convenient, but the fact is that they may contain alcohol or other harsh ingredients which can be very drying to the skin.

Even worse, if flushed down the toilet or drain, these wipes may adversely affect local plumbing systems as they may not biodegrade in water treatment facilities.

What’s more, you may even find yourself with a yucky residue left on your face after using them resulting in an unclean feeling.

All in all, make-up remover wipes are not a good idea and alternative options should be considered instead- like a good old face wash!

Woman using eyelash curler in the morning, closeup half face

Where to Find the Best Deals on Make-Up Tools

If you’re looking to get the best value for your money when purchasing makeup tools, there is a range of options available.

Online retailers such as Sephora, Amazon, MAC Cosmetics, and drugstores are also great resources – most of these usually carry items from multiple vendors at discounted prices.


Now that you know which tools are essential for your makeup kit, as well as how to use them, you’re one step closer to becoming a makeup pro!

The benefits of using the right tools can’t be overstated – from saving time to achieving a flawless finish.

Whatever the final effect, it will be well worth it. You’re gorgeous any which way!

Thanks for Reading!

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