Makeup Artist Kevin James Bennett: What’s in YOUR Kit?

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Let me introduce you to Kevin James Bennett, a Multiple Emmy® Award winning makeup artist whose experience in the industry includes: retail cosmetics, photo, runway and celebrity makeup. He has also worked in television on the Law & Order franchise and daytime dramas, Another World & As The World Turns.

Kevin has many other contributions to the beauty industry and in my opinion, he is first and foremost an educator and mentor.

It’s safe to assume Kevin has seen it all when it comes to the skincare and makeup products an artist may need in their professional kits. Because of this experience I think he is the perfect person to talk about some of the challenges new artists (or even experienced artists) run into when creating their first kit… or for those of us that get a little carried away, over-filling our kits with a bunch of things we don’t need.

I’ve had the honor of attending a workshop Kevin hosted in my hometown Chicago, and it was amazing to see how he had condensed his kit down to a Zuca Backpack… and still he had everything he needed!

I’ve also been a huge fan of his website, IN MY KIT, for several years. From the beginning of my career until now I still use it as a reference for my kit needs. If you have not been to, visit it today! The reviews and references are very helpful.

I asked Kevin to share some advice and tips on common questions makeup artists often have when it comes to products and building a kit. Here’s what he had to say:

What made you create IN MY KIT?

As an educator, I realized how confusing and expensive it is to pull together your first professional makeup kit. There’s just too much product out there to choose from and when you’re a new artist…it’s overwhelming.

In My Kit™ was a way to get the correct information to new artists and hopefully save them some stress and costly mistakes.

You announced not too long ago that the IN MY KIT website would be re-vamped. What can we expect?

The “new” In My Kit™ will become interactive. You’ll be able to add comments/reviews on products and categories. We’re also contemplating adding a rating system. There will be Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest integration also.

But we’ve hit a few technical glitches on the way there, so the re-launch has been pushed back to late September 2012.

Artists (or more often, clients) assume expensive, well-known brands are better. How have you dealt with this issue, when the asked the dreaded questions “do you use _____ in your kit”? Or “Are you a ______ Artist”?

We’ve all dealt with this issue. I respectfully remind the client that I’ve been hired because of my experience and technical expertise. I carry the highest quality professional makeup and tools designed for use in multi-media projects (photo, film, video). This insures the finish and durability of my work. My clients not only know they look their best when they step out of my chair – they know the makeup will stay that way until they remove it. I will gladly step aside if they feel more comfortable with an artist that features a kit full of consumer makeup products. It’s their choice.

What is your advice for artists who have gotten into a cycle of only using a brand because of the name, and not the quality?

It’s a funny phenomenon. Many of those artists are skeptical of products that don’t have a “name” or a lot of advertising behind them. They often look down on those of us that choose to use more no frills, “pro only” products. I simply cannot understand why you would spend $60 for a one ounce bottle of “designer” liquid foundation when there are pro products with triple the pigment at about one-third the price.

Can an artist REALLY use drugstore brand products in their kit and still achieve the type of results needed in a professional setting?

Yes, but only with certain items. I would never use drugstore complexion products (foundation, concealer, etc). I use drugstore mascara (Covergirl LashBlast and L’Oreal Voluminous). Besides, real pro products cost about the same as drugstore items…so why not buy the higher quality?

Can you share with us a few ways makeup artists can slim down their kits and still have everything they need?

Easy: palettes, and travel bottles or jars. I transfer everything into smaller containers and palettes to save space and weight. I’m a Z-Palette junkie and I order a lot of containers and disposables from I also scour the hobby/craft stores for storage solutions.

What are some of your favorite products? And how do you get multi-use out of them?

Everything I carry is FULL strength – I carry extreme coverage cream makeup and dilute it to whatever coverage I need. I carry heavily pigmented cream and powder colors that I can mix and transform into anything I want (eyeshadow, cheek color, lipstick, etc). I also have a severely edited collection. I only carry products that can be transformed in to many things. We’re makeup ARTISTS – artists create colors and textures. You don’t need to carry a dozen shades of gray if you’ve got white and black…right?

Kevin, you often share on Facebook and Twitter the misfortune when traveling of flight delays at the airport. Have you ever had your kit not show up with you?

I have. It was found and delivered to my hotel a day later. In the meantime, i hit the local stores and bought what I needed immediately (including the drugstore). The key is to not freak out. You’re still expected to do your job, so you have to be analytical – what do I need to do to get this done?

You have traveled all over the world, what one tip could you share on how to easily travel with a kit?

I pack it carefully and check it. I’ve had too many hassles getting through security and one time almost missed a flight. It’s not worth the headache.

The most important tip is to make sure everything is stabilized and nothing is bouncing around – so make sure you use enough bubble wrap. I also keep things in sealed pouches and wrap my palettes in plastic wrap. That way if anything shatters or explodes, it remains contained and doesn’t destroy the entire kit.

We’d love to know what you’re up to next. Can you share with our readers any upcoming appearances or workshops where they can check out your work?

I’ll be heading to Australia to present at IMATS Sydney, and I’ll be doing workshops in Sydney and Melbourne afterwards. Then I’m off to Brazil in October to do more education.

There’s always new things happening, so follow me on Facebook (kevinjamesbennett) and Twitter (KJBennettBeauty) to get updates!


Article by Nicole DeMet

Nicole DeMet is a Chicago makeup artist specializing in commercial, print and fashion. For more information, please visit her website: