Good tools are necessary for good makeup. Let's talk about the most important ones.
These are tiny little sponges attached to tiny little handles. (Sometimes the handles are larger.) They usually come for free with drugstore eyeshadow and the like. It is possible to apply makeup with these, but most people eventually outgrow them. Brushes are the makeup tool of choice for anyone who really wants to do great makeup.
Anyone who does makeup will tell you that brushes are the single most important tool you can have. Their importance in the makeup world is clear: Every company has their own line of brushes. Individual makeup artists sell their own line of brushes. And all these lines contain a bewildering variety of shapes and sizes and uses. Let's sort it all out.
Eyelash curlers are a requirement, even if you use false lashes. I think everyone should have two: The standard "crimp" curler for the main part of their lashes, and a smaller one for the lash "corners" that the larger curler does not reach. The absolute best crimp curler in the world is by Kevin Aucoin (who, even after his death, remains my favorite makeup artist). It has a large curve that fits every eye-shape, and (pure genius) a red cushion that makes it easy to see your lashes and helps prevent pinching. You should replace the cushion every six-months and the curler every year. Sephora sells these curlers, as do many other places, for about $21 USD.
The mini-eyelash curler I use is from "Reveal Beauty" - I don't think it's available in stores, but you can get it directly from them for $12.99 plus shipping. They also sell a slightly more expensive rose-gold one (such a deal) but I use the black one. If you get one, tell them Pammy sent you. By the way, an off-label use for this curler is to help tack down your false eyelashes. It's quite useful for that.
If you don't like the look of the one from Reveal Beauty, there are many other designs available. If you buy a different one, please let me know which one you bought and how you like it.
How to use an eyelash curler
First of all, a word of warning: Mascara is sticky. If you use an eyelash curler AFTER you put on mascara, there's a good chance you will lose some eyelashes. And they may not grow back. It's probably not a good idea to do that. So always curl before using mascara. The whole idea of the eyelash curler is to turn what is pretty close to a straight line into a curve. The usual way curlers are used is to make one (or at most two) crimps on the eyelash, and you are also often told to hold it tight for many seconds.
I find no advantage to holding it tightly for 30-45 seconds and then releasing it. I also find no advantage to only one or two crimps. What is required is not one long crimp, but many simple, firm crimps. Do as many crimps along the eyelash as the length of your eyelash will allow. If you do only one crimp, you'll just have a bent, crippled eyelash. Multiple crimps, closely spaced together, will simulate a beautiful, elegant curve.
The procedure will be like this: position the curler as close as you can to your lid, then crimp and move it out a little, do the same thing again, and keep "walking it out" until you run out of eyelash. If it doesn't seem curled enough, just repeat this once or twice more. As you curl your lashes more often, they will start to hold their new shape and be prettier all the time.
Sponges are a necessary item. A genuine Beauty Blender (I must have pink!) is one of my HG makeup items (see Lingo if you don't know what HG means). I can't imagine how awful my life would be without my Beauty Blender. Beware cheap knockoffs, none of which have been found to work as well as the original. You can get a Beauty Blender for around $20-$30 U.S.
I also like to have triangular sponges around. These are small makeup wedges that you use once and then throw away. They have a multitude of uses. I personally prefer the latex ones, but some people have latex allergies, so beware. You can buy big bags of them from makeup shops or from Amazon very inexpensively. The last bag I bought cost me $10 for about 45 wedges.
Also nice to have are powder puffs. These are actually sponges wrapped in some kind of cloth. My favorite kind are wrapped with velour. These can be washed and reused. They have lots of uses and I always replace the cheap ones you get with face powder with one of my own.
If you do makeup on other people, you can use a powder puff to form a protective barrier between your hand and their face. Hold one in your hand with the fingers that aren't holding your brush or pencil. This way, if you need to rest your hand on their face, or even just brush it accidentally, the powder puff will protect their face from any oils and stray makeup on your hand.
They are easily available, and a reasonable price is around $2.75 per puff.
Pencil Sharpener, Scissors, Tweezer, Skewers/Toothpicks
These are all miscellaneous items that you always need. A pencil sharpener is a necessity for keeping those makeup pencils sharp. I like the ones that have two sizes, one for the usual "pencil shape" makeup pencils, and one for the larger, "Jumbo" pencils. Make sure you check the size before you purchase - I have one pencil sharpener with a large opening that isn't actually big enough for Jumbo Pencils.
Wooden cooking skewers have multiple uses. One of the most common is to use it place eyelash glue evenly on a lash. You can use a toothpick for this, but I find the nice long cooking skewers to be easier to use and more elegant. It's like smoking with a really long cigarette holder. I also use the skewer for making my own facelift tapes.
Nice sharp shears come in handy. They don't have to cost a lot.
I have to confess that I don't use tweezers much. A common use is to tweeze eyelash hairs, which I do very rarely. This is because I usually just cover them so I can draw in my own. I will yank out the occasional errant brow lash, however. If you want to use your natural brows, then you will definitely need tweezers. Tweezers should have a slanted tip, not too sharp, so you don't injure yourself. Really good tweezers will also have an address where you can send your tweezers to get sharpened.
Other uses for tweezers are to put on false eyelashes or place sequins on your face. I find it easier to use my fingers for the eyelashes. For the sequins, I have a special tool that works fabulously better than tweezers, at least for me. But many people love tweezers, and they do come in handy from time to time. So keep one in your bag.
That's it for now. As always, questions, comments or anything friendly can be sent to me on Twitter