:Creativity / Equipment and tools

The 5 essentials in a professional makeup artist’s bag

Michelle Spieler creator month Michelle Spieler creator month

The following is a guest blog post from Michelle Spieler, a professional makeup artist with 25 years in the business and Teachable creator. Her course, Mature Makeup Masterclass teaches people, specifically those over 40, how to do their makeup with their slightly more mature skin in mind. In this guest post she discusses some of her favorite makeup items she keeps in her makeup bag as an artist, and personally. Take a look to learn more about Michelle’s passion and how she’s used her experience over time to improve at her passion, and help others along the way.

In order for you to consider me an expert in my field, let me introduce myself. I am Michelle Spieler, a makeup artist with over 25 years of experience. I’m the creator of Mature Makeup Masterclass, a series of videos I created for women over 40 teaching them about mature techniques and product recommendations that work on my 55-year-old face and in my pro kit. 

I entered the world of TV and commercials in 2003 and by 2005 the world of HD cameras changed the game for the makeup artist. No longer could we cover skin imperfections—the HD camera showed every pore, hair, blemish, line, and wrinkle. We all scrambled to learn how to make the skin pretty first, so the makeup looked untraceable. This is my philosophy today, skin first, makeup second. I don’t do “social-media” makeup. I do makeup that looks lovely closeup. Below are five items I use to achieve this look. 

The 5 essential items in my makeup bag

Hyaluronic acid serum

Before I do makeup on myself or my clients, I always love a hyaluronic acid serum to plump and hydrate the skin. HA serums can only be applied on damp skin, so I always have an Evian misting can to apply before serum. Serums are a game changer and the one that works well across the board on clients is Vichy Mineral 89, only $30 on Amazon or Target. It doubles as a moisturizer too for combo or oily skin types but drier mature skin will require a moisturizer of choice. And of course always end with SPF, even on cloudy winter days. 


Primers can be quite controversial, but as a professional, I use primer 100% of the time on clients. Pore filling and blurring primers work beautifully on mature combination skin types and give women more confidence on camera and in person for special occasions. I use Dermablend Pore Saver or Laura Mercier Blur Primer. For drier mature skin I love a glowy primer, on myself too, and use RMS Radiance Locking primer, KEYES Illuminating Let It Glow Serum, or Natasha Denona’s I-IY-Gen Skinglass. Remember to always wait several minutes for primer to set before applying makeup. 

Setting spray

Another product often debated among artists and influencers: Setting sprays. For my 55-year-old face and for my clients of all ages, it’s a must! Setting spray makes makeup last longer. I even use it in layers. I will mist a face after foundation, once dry I will powder, and at the very end of finishing the makeup after the powder has warmed up to the face, I will mist the face again. My top tip is for using setting spray for concealer. I never use powder under mature dry eyes. I will conceal the eye area, allow the concealer to set, pat out any creasing, then add setting spray to a sponge and press it under the eye. The concealer won’t budge! I love this trick on my own face and once I tell other women about it, they are always converts! 

Tubing mascara

For years I used waterproof mascara in my pro kit so I wouldn’t have to touch up smudges during long production days or for special occasions when I wouldn’t be at an event all day to touch up. But waterproof is tricky to remove and I always felt bad knowing the client would have trouble taking it off once the day was done.

That’s why I now prefer tubing mascara. Tubing mascara creates a little tube around each lash and can only be removed with warm or hot water. No cleanser or eye makeup remover necessary, in fact, they don’t even work on tubing mascara. Be warned, it leaves a mess in your sink, but I’d rather clean a sink than clean smudges under my eyes. Tubing mascara can be pricier, but worth it. My top pick is Thrive Causemetics Lash Extension Mascara for $24, but there are more now in the drug stores so that is what I stock my pro kit with. For options under $10 look for L’Oreal Double Extend, or Essence Bye Bye Panda Eyes. For a strong midrange contender, look for CLIO Kill Lash Superproof 04 Mascara on Amazon. Remember, I swear by tubing mascara! 

Cream highlighter

Depending on skin type and weather conditions, I pack my kit and my own makeup bag with both powder blushes and creams. Either can work on any skin type. But I insist on cream highlighters, insist! Powder highlighters have too much mica and can show all the texture on mature skin. I don’t even love it on younger skin. I can always see it. But cream highlighter, even on oily skin, strategically placed, will cheat that perfect-skin look. 

Place it on top of cheekbones, down the center of the nose, over eyebrows, and possibly inner cheek if you still have an apple. Stay away from the upper lip where younger artists and influencers place it, as it’ll make the mature gal look like she’s having a hot flash! My top picks are Victoria Beckham’s Highlighter Stick in Reflect, NARS Copacabana, and for a liquid but equally gorgeous option, I love Saie Glowy Liquid in Starglow for light skin, and Sunglow for deeper complexions. 

Stock your own bag

And there you have it! I could go on and on about so many wonderful products but these top five picks didn’t even require thought, they are hands down my go-to products and techniques and even with trends change, and they will, these top five will still remain!

Things we can learn from Michelle’s online school:

  • The value of learning from experience
  • How to fit your audience and client needs 
  • Mastering Instagram videos 

Author: Michelle Spieler, Michelle Spieler, is a professional makeup artist with 25 years in the business and she's a Teachable creator. Her course, Mature Makeup Masterclass teaches people, specifically those over 40, how to do their makeup with their slightly more mature skin in mind.