A Top Make-Up Artist Shares Her Beauty Kit Staples

A Top Make-Up Artist Shares Her Beauty Kit Staples

Where better to find fresh beauty inspiration than a pro make-up artist’s kit? In this series, we ask industry insiders to spill their secrets. Known for her extensive beauty knowledge – not to mention the fresh, elegant and youthful looks she creates for clients – pro make-up artist Cat Parnell reveals the tools and products she wouldn’t be without.
Photography: @CATPARNELL

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“Like most make-up artists, I have a real mixture of brush brands in my kit. Some of my favourites are Zoeva, My Kit Co, MAC and Tom Ford. It’s good to have several, because every brand has different shapes and sizes to suit various face shapes and personal preferences. Always invest in is good brushes. You’ll never regret it – and providing you look after them properly, they’ll also last for years. In terms of sponges, I always keep a BeautyBlender handy – if I use them on a client, I tend to give them to them afterwards because you need to be careful with hygiene. Triangle sponges are great, too – they’ve been around for years, and you can find them at most cosmetic stores. Small and compact, they’re brilliant for under the eye application – use the smallest, flat side against the skin and blend concealer or foundation with that. You’ll find it gives a really sharp shape under the eye.”


“Every kit needs a good setting spray – my go-to is Charlotte Tilbury’s Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray. It helps lock everything in place, as does Urban Decay’s All Nighter formula. Often, people find these products become tacky – the key is to build it up slowly and gradually, rather than spraying lots on in one go. Primers are also permanently in my kit – they’re the best way to make your foundation go the distance, providing you use them in thin, sheer layers. Bobbi Brown’s Vitamin Face Base is a must-have – it’s both a primer and moisturiser in one and the scent is incredible.”


“Eyeshadows are one of my favourite beauty products, but to get the most out of them, you need to use a good eye primer first. Think about how thin the skin is here – it’s easy to see why the skin drinks up product so quickly and in turn, causes creasing. It’s why I always keep the BareMinerals Gen Nude one in my kit. They have a variety of shades which not only create a good base, but also help anything that’s applied on top to last. In my opinion, everyone should own at least one of the Charlotte Tilbury Eyes To Mesmerise Cream Pots – they’re so smooth and easy to work with, plus they’re really pigmented, so you get real, vivid colour.” 

Inglot’s Gel Liner combined with Duraline is a secret I swear by. The liner is the best one on the market, while the Duraline makes it waterproof. It’s a really versatile product and helps to loosen the liner up if it’s gotten a little bit dry – you can use it on anything really. If I want to create a glossy eye, I use Surratt’s Lid Lacquers. They’re not sticky at all and catch the light beautifully. My favourite shades are ‘Kogecha,’ ‘Komugi’ and ‘Satou Ume.’ In terms of colours, my kit always has warm and cool neutral shades in it – think browns, greys, mauves and beiges – they’re versatile and work on all skin tones. Tom Ford’s Quads are some of my favourites too, especially ‘Mink Mirage’ and ‘Sous le Sable’.”


“Lip crayons are always in my kit because they’re so easy to use. NARS’s Velvet Lip Pencils are brilliant, with a range of vast colours that suit everyone. There’s a lot to be said for a good, tinted lip balm, too. They’re a beautiful way to add a light flush to the lips without looking like a heavy colour – it’s very much a ‘your lips but better’ effect. Eve Lom’s Kiss Mix and Dr Lipp’s Tinted formulas are the best. On clients and on myself, I enjoy creating a blurred, powdery effect on the lips and to do so, Dear Dahlia’s Lip Mousses are best – they’re so soft and plumping.” 

“Custom palettes are what I usually dip in and out of. I use Vueset palettes to house various shades so I can create all types of statement lips. That said, I have some favourite colours I’ll always use from the bullet, including Givenchy 333, MAC Ruby Woo and Tom Ford’s Ruby Rush. For nudes, I love Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk and Very Victoria, while MAC’s Velvet Teddy works for everyone. As for textures, again, I keep all sorts in my kit, but creams are by far my favourite. They suit everyone, keep lips looking hydrated and provide a good fade that never feels tight or dry. Matte lipsticks can look incredible, but you need a very smooth mouth to pull them off.”


“Lash curlers are essential, but they’re the kind of tool that often gets neglected. If you use them but find your lashes don’t stay curly, use waterproof mascara afterwards to maintain the lift and definition – everything will last so much longer. A product like Duraline – which I mentioned earlier – is great for boosting longevity as it repels water.”


“You can buy tiny, thin swabs with pointy tips that are typically used for microblading, but I swear by them for creating sharp, feline flicks. Simply dip them in micellar water to clean everything up – the same goes for cleaning things up around the lips and brows. Another thing I am never without is my Glamcor Mirror – it’s a godsend whenever I’m on set and need some natural light to work with. It allows you to adjust the light to make it warmer or cooler, depending on your surroundings and the set.” 

“Everything in my kit is heavily sanitised – hygiene is so important, so I always keep ISOclean products nearby. I swear by the Emel Brush Soap too, which really gets rid of dirt and bacteria. Likewise, I love disposable wands for mascara to keep everything clean and prevent germs from transferring from eye to eye. Finally, my kit always has Jillian Dempsey’s Gold Bar in it – it’s brilliant for prepping skin as it de-puffs and smooths the face.”

Follow @CatParnell

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