How to Build an Everyday, Essentials-Only Makeup Kit

These are the only five products you truly need.

If you're like celebrity makeup artist Jillian Dempsey, then you believe that less is more—especially when it comes to makeup. But with ever-expanding product categories and a seemingly endless array of options, finding the key formulas necessary for an effective, streamlined beauty regimen is no small feat. That's why we chatted with Dempsey and a few other experts about curating an essentials-only makeup kit. So, if you're looking to downsize your current collection and pare down your routine, you have come to the correct place—ahead, discover the five products you truly need in your bag.

makeup products on bathroom counter
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Brow Pencil

While you might not think that grooming the tiny hairs above your eyes can make a difference in the context of your entire face, celebrity makeup artist Jenna Kristina considers your brows to be one of our most notable features. "I view brows as a frame to the face, your face being the ultimate perfect piece of art," she says. "Giving the brows extra attention—brushing them up, filling in any gaps, and using something like a gel, soap, or spray to hold them in place—helps frame it perfectly." Looking for a pencil that's up to the job? Try out Kevyn Aucoin's True Feather Brow Marker & Setting Gel Duo ($28,


As Kristina points out, it's those tiny nuances that have the biggest impact, which is why a quick coat of eye-opening mascara does wonders. As for which to choose? Dempsey recommends finding a formula that has a wand capable of coating even the smallest lashes at the corners of the eyes; DHC's Mascara Perfect Pro Double Protection ($19, is her go-to.


Concealer is a great option for anyone, but especially for those who aren't looking to apply a full coat of tinted moisturizer or foundation. When selecting your concealers—because yes, multiple are recommended—Kristina has a method. "Your skin tone most likely isn't the same all over," she says, noting why multiple concealers are necessary. "For a spot cover-up, I always use the exact tone of my skin. To brighten an area, I go one to two shades lighter. To create depth or dimension, I use one to two shades darker."

Formulation matters, too: For spot cover-ups, she prefers a dry concealer, which stays in place longer. Conversely, for under the eyes, she recommends opting for something creamier and more flexible—like Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer SPF 25 ($73,

Cream or Gel Blush

As much as you may love the powder blush currently in your collection, Kristina recommends swapping it for cream or gel options, like Rituel de Fille's "Inner Glow" Crème Pigment ($29, Her reasoning? "It mimics the natural texture of the skin and can be used in multiple ways," she says, noting that it can be applied to the cheeks, lips, nose, and eyelids for an all-over sun-kissed glow.

Lipstick or Tinted Balm

A Global Pro Lead Artist at Smashbox, Lori Taylor Davis says that if you had to choose just one product to feel put together and polished, it should be lipstick. "Pair it with your favorite sunglasses on Mondays when you just can't shake off the weekend shenanigans," she jokes. In all seriousness, however, she says that, in general, lipstick is a great way to change up any look while adding moisture to the lips. Her favorite? Smashbox's "Be Legendary" Prime & Plush Lipstick ($24,

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