How Many Foundation Shades Should a Professional Makeup Artist Have?

Pro makeup artists must be prepared for every possible client and situation. How could you possibly carry a foundation for every skin tone? Palettes are your answer.

RCMA VK11 18pc Palette

The Bare Minimum: 5 to 10 Shades

As an artist, you know you sometimes need to mix colours to get the perfect shade. So if you have at least 5 shades of foundation on hand, you should be able to mix them to create an ideal match for each client. You can use bottles or a palette at this point, as your small shade range won't be too heavy or bulky.

The trick is to carry the following mix-in pigments to save room in your makeup case:

By blending your foundations with these adjusters, you'll almost always be able to match the client’s undertone and shade.

RCMA offers a wide variety of 5-pan foundation palettes. You can start with one and purchase more as your clientele grows.


RCMA Custom Australian 18pc Pan Palette

The Next Step Up: 10 to 15 Shades

If you want more than 10 foundations in your arsenal, you should include some varying undertones to accommodate warm, cool, and neutral complexions. When you reach this point, your shade range is reasonable enough that you shouldn’t have to do too much mixing to match your client perfectly.

If you're still carrying bottled foundations, you'll want to use small bottles. But now's the time when you really want to look at getting a comprehensive palette. The Kryolan HD Micro Foundation Cream Palette 15 contains 15 shades with varying undertones. All have a flaw-free HD finish to ensure supreme coverage.


Shop RCMA Custom Australian Foundation Palette 18pc

The Wide Variety: More Than 15 Shades

Although it isn’t necessary, you can keep expanding your shade selection. As discussed, palettes are great options because they streamline your kit. If you're still carrying around 20 or 25 bottles of foundation, you should definitely look into a product such as the RCMA Makeup 18P VK11 Palette to lighten your load.

This palette provides a full 18 shades, light and dark, to help match your client exactly. If you want to expand and get even more in depth, there’s also the RCMA 18P VK10 Palette, which is a more nuanced blend of shades.

Additionally, the RCMA Custom Australian Foundation Palette 18PC contains shades that suit Australian complexions specifically! How cool is that? We’re proud to rep RCMA, just as they’re proud to rep our home country.

With so many options available, you’re in great shape to choose the best sets to meet the needs of your client base! Best of luck, whether you’re just starting out or in 36-shade territory.


If you're looking for a professional foundation palette, check out our guide The 3 Best Foundation Palettes for Makeup Artists