Good tools are necessary for good makeup. Let's talk about the most important ones.
Brushes and Sponge Applicators
Sponge applicators 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.
Anyone who does makeup will tell you that brushes are the most important tool you can have. Their importance in the makeup world is clear: Every company has its line of brushes. Individual makeup artists sell their line of brushes. And all these lines contain a bewildering variety of shapes and sizes, and uses. They are so important they deserve their own article. We sort it out, at least a little bit in Brushes
Eyelash curlers are a requirement, even if you use false lashes. 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. Kevin Aucoin makes the best crimp curler in the world. 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. 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, off-label use for this curler is to help tack down your false eyelashes. It's quite useful for that.
UPDATE: I no longer use the Reveal Beauty curler. I have switched to the Japanese-style eyelash curler to do the corners of my lashes. You can get them from various places. I found mine at Muse Beauty
DETOUR: 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 not a good idea to do that. Always curl before using mascara. The idea of the eyelash curler is to turn what is pretty close to a straight line into a curve. The current method, where you squeeze the curler to death for 30-45 seconds and call it a day, is crazy! There's no harm to your eyelashes in squeezing like crazy, but it's a total waste of effort. And you don't want just one bend to your eyelash - you want a curl!
What is required is not one long crimp but many simple, firm crimps in as many places along the eyelash as you can do it. Closely spaced, multiple crimps will simulate a beautiful, elegant curve. One crimp will make a bend, like in a plumbing pipe in your bathroom.
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. Repeat this once or twice more if it doesn't seem curled enough. As you curl your lashes more often, they will start to hold their new shape and be prettier.
Sponges are a necessary item. A genuine Beauty Blender is one of my holy grail makeup items. I can't imagine how awful my life would be without my Beauty Blender. Beware cheap knockoffs, none of which work as well as the original. You can get a Beauty Blender for around $20-$30 U.S. They come in different colors, but pros universally prefer black.
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 prefer the latex ones, but some people have latex allergies, so beware. You can buy big bags from makeup shops or Amazon very inexpensively. The last bag I bought cost me $10 for about 45 wedges.
Also nice to have are powder puffs. These are sponges wrapped in some cloth. The best puffs use velour as the wrapping material. You can wash them out and reuse them. They have multiple uses. I never use the cheap, crappy ones that come inside of compacts.
If you do makeup on other people, 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 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, Eyelash applicator, Twissor, Crystal Katana
These are all miscellaneous items that you always need. A pencil sharpener is a necessity for keeping those makeup pencils sharp. Sephora makes an excellent one that has multiple sizes and is very sharp.
Nice sharp shears come in handy. They don't have to cost a lot.
I must confess that I don't use tweezers much. A common use is to tweeze eyelash hairs, which I do very rarely. I will yank out the occasional errant brow lash, however. You will need tweezers if you want to use your natural brows. Tweezers should have a slanted tip, not too sharp, so you don't injure yourself. Excellent tweezers will also have an address where you can send your tweezers to get sharpened.
An alternate to plucking brows is the Twissor from Alcone You can also use this for hairs around the lips, nose, etc. I find myself using this more often than tweezers these days. It doesn't hurt the client, and, especially with brows, the hair will grow back. Some clients worry about this.
Other uses for tweezers are to put on false eyelashes or place sequins on your face. Tweezers do work well for single eyelashes, and I use those sometimes. For strip lashes, I like the ESUM lash applicator, although I often just use my fingers. I don't think tweezers are the tool of choice for sequins. A makeup pencil does better picking them up than tweezers, although it can mar their shine. The best way to pick up sequins and crystals is the Crystal Katana! But many people love tweezers; they are a traditional tool and come in handy from time to time. So keep one in your bag.
That's it for now. Feel free to send me questions, comments, or anything you want. As long as it's friendly. I love to hear from you!