I don’t know about you, but I am fascinated by the concept of downsizing and depotting your makeup kit. Whether you are a makeup artist or not, one thing is true… our skincare and makeup products take up a lot of space.
As a personal traveler, it’s comical how much we downsize our skincare and makeup bags as to not have to check in a bag or pay for luggage. We go to extreme lengths condense our products into a tiny quart sized plastic baggie.
Heck, one of my most popular episodes of all time on the podcast is my personal guide to packing makeup for leisure travel!
And for those of us makeup artists, well, sometimes we have jobs in which we have to be prepared for just about anything and everything. I mean, our kits get real heavy, real fast. Plus we sometimes work with little to no counter space – so any opportunity we have to make our kits lighter and more efficient, the better.
I first learned of Grishan during my interview with the multiple Emmy-award winning makeup artist Melissa Street, when I asked her how she prepares her kit for a film or large production. She told me, “just watch Grishan” And I did!
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At that moment after seeing Grishan’s work, I knew I wanted to invite her on the show and interview her on her meticulous and mesmerizing depotting and kit splitting process. Aside from being an accomplished makeup artist, she has also become an accomplished kit curator.
She has downsized some of the most famous makeup artists kits, ever to include Beyonce’s MUA, Sir John, Rihanna’s MUA, Priscilla Ono, Ariana Grande’s MUA, Michael Anthony and many more. (Don’t worry, I’m going to ask her about what that was like in the interview!)
Grishan has also had some big collaborations with MYO Cosmetics, a household name in the makeup artist world and I want to ask her what’s yet to come. So whether you are a makeup artist, aspiring to be a makeup artist, or simply curious in how to approach downsizing or depotting your makeup kit (or what the heck a “kit-split” is), you’re in for a real treat.
Depotting your makeup kit involves going through and taking things out of their original packaging to make it smaller and lighter. A makeup artist carries 50 different foundations. Imagine carrying all the bottles of that. It takes a toll on our backs. A 100 colors of lipsticks. Even just knowing what’s inside because you can’t see the color, it’s ridiculous. Taking it all out allows us to bring more but in little quantities. Allows us to kit-split!
Kit-splitting is dividing a product 2 or more. Say you split three ways, one for you, the second you can gift, trade, or share with another makeup artist or even keep the third for yourself. You don’t bring the entire product, just the amount you might need for the year before it expires.
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To make a long story short, I’m a shopaholic, so I like to have all the newest products all the time. But I’m also one of the laziest people I know! I refuse to carry stuff. They say my child started walking at seven months because I wouldn’t carry him. But I also have a bad back, so when I discovered depotting and downsizing, I went all in.
I was able to take everything that I wanted to take with me. And then the rest of the stuff that, for example, (I have brown eyes) looks good on fair and blond and blue eyed clients was sitting at home. I started making kits for them and that’s how I was able to make money even though I wasn’t able to do application. I curated kits for my personal clients so that they were able to do their own makeup if I weren’t available. That’s how this all started!
And it blew up! Everyone was at home I guess. That’s how people got to know me. I wasn’t doing it professionally until Fiona Stiles asked how much I charge to do a kit. She posted about it and then everyone heard. I am very grateful to be here. I am very fortunate to even get a sneak peak at kits for artists that I really look up to. Never would I have even dreamt of reaching out to them in the DMs, or commenting or liking their posts, I was just fangirling. The fact that they trust me to do their kits and trust me with their livelihoods, I am very grateful for.
I force my clients into this. Before I agree to do their kits, I require them to do a kit edit. It means 1: they have to go through all products and make sure its clean. I do not want to depot, decant, downsize if it’s going to expire in a few months anyways.
When you depot lipsticks, say 24 lipsticks into 1 container, make sure they’re all the right age. If one is used and expires before the rest, it contaminates the rest! I try to organize creams by brands, because you will know more or less when they expire at the same time.
I have them separate their “Clean beauty” from the PRO-grade products because clean beauty has a shorter shelf-life. It forces them to think about their purchases or what they want to add to their kit.
Celebrity MUAs receive so much product, but forcing them to kit edit, the words they use is: “it makes me gag” at the amount of blacks and taupes and browns that all look similar. I also give them the option of them helping me organize them into palettes. They always think they want to do that, but when they see everything depotted, they always want to run away.
No one realizes how much makeup they have and how much makeup they do not use until they see it depotted. When they’re trying to put it in palettes and it cannot fit, then they kinda want to walk away and pay more. It teaches them in the future to be more selective of what deserves to be in their kit. Seeing when things are depotted and done well, it’s hard to go back to the old lifestyle. So next time they want to replenish their kit, they look for someone to kit-split with. So I’m not directly telling them, but I help guide them into making better choices.
My goal, I hope, I’m manifesting, is for companies to reach out to me and ask, “how can we help you, the pros, who are peddling our products, how do we make your lives easier without losing our luxury status”. Some artists have shifted. Charlotte [Tilbury] is doing it. She’s going to start selling singles. Denona does it. There’s a way to do this that doesn’t affect pricing and will still be appealing to consumers. We need to get them to listen. If I have to depot everything, then I will do it.
You’re helping the planet because if 3 people share 1 bottle of foundation or lipstick, you are getting rid of twice the packaging you’re not buying. When you buy a lipstick, drugstore is just in plastic, but if you buy luxury, there’s an outer box, velvet box, and that’s just the outer packaging.
Really, really thick foundations, like ones in jars, such as Cle de Peau, or Charlotte Tilbury’s Flawless Airbrush Filter. Some formulas are really thick, so the trick is finding the right containers for them. I don’t think of the price. That’s what holds people back, they think how much this costs. At the end, it’s just glue on the pot that just needs heat to get off.
I have to say are pro products or luxury products designed by pros, except Pat McGrath. I depot a lot of Pat McGrath because everyone wants it but the packaging is so heavy that no one wants to carry it. It’s one thing to depot for yourself, but it’s totally different when you do it for someone else.
I believe skin care should be left alone. I do not decant skincare.
Skincare should be left in original packaging unless it’s going in the brands travel size. I use a lot of Sisley and La Mer. I’m not going to spend that much money only to decant and ruin its efficacy. Some formulas are in opaque packaging because they’re not supposed to see daylight. Put them in really cheap plastic transparent stuff – it may cut the efficacy or stability in half. So I always say leave those alone, or put them in their original small packaging unless you can find an identical small size version.
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I just wish they just did a glue dot. A removable glue dot. No magnets. Basically mixed media automatically makes it not recyclable. Compacts with a mirror are already not recyclable. And then the screws and then the magnet.
Armani does it well. They have a glue dot underneath, you can just poke the glue dot and you can save the packaging.
I wish each brand had a recycling program. Instead of having 250 shades of foundations with 50 pieces each, if they just had a pump for refill. It would not kill them. We bring our Armani bottles and refill them. Even just in the major cities for now (Paris, London, LA, New York). They don’t even have to lower the price. People will pay the same price just to lessen the guilt. People will pay the same price without the compact.
I think this thing didn’t really blow up until I started labeling. When you see the actual brand…I think that propelled my career. It’s an expensive machine but it’s worth it. You can label things with the brands logo for information purposes. I do not sell just the labels.
Seeing things in a smaller packaging with the actual brand logo is pretty and a good compromise between wanting the luxury feeling and the downsizing process. Especially with covid. A lot of artists realized it was time for a smaller kit. I think covid forced it on them. Plus at that level, your clients will already know what brands you’re using, so you do not really need the original packaging.
People that know Tom Ford do not need the Tom Ford packaging. They will know what a Tom Ford shadows looks like. It looks a certain way. It’s undeniable. The brand is embedded on top.
It’s good to invest in showpieces – there is a market for that. But don’t count out the drugstore. Drugstore products are killing it.
A lot of it is made in the same labs. I can tell by the glue. I can tell from the smell, the way it melts. The way it spreads. I can tell who makes the same stuff.
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You recently started condensing makeup for high-profile makeup artists like Sir John. Have you noticed anything similar or interesting about their kits?
And how do you tackle condensing these high-profile makeup artist kits?
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They came to my house! I don’t fangirl with celebrities, but with MUAs I zen out because they’re people I admire and look up to. A lot of them are really lovely and they are like my friends now. The way I do their kits, I make it easy for them to maintain. Meaning when they’re ready to depot, they can do it themselves. I build them a system based on how they work. I give them some homework and it helps me to think like they do. Some of them ask me to go on set with them so I can observe the way they work.
I don’t know how else you can make it super custom and tailored to them. That’s why I ask them to come when everything is depotted and they decide where everything goes. It gives them the experience of what depotting your makeup kit entails. Some clients who have never depotted think it would be ready in 6 hours. They’re like, “why did it take 20 hours?” We removed 100 pounds from your kit, what do you mean? Basically I’m teaching them what’s not so obvious, I want them to keep doing this. The goal is not for me to depot every month or whenever something new comes along. I encourage them.
What I noticed about all the elites is that it is technique over product. You can see the OGs in their kits, like Ben Nye Powders, RCMA concealers, or Cinema Secrets, etc. They have existed forever for a reason. They don’t have limited stuff.
We did a companion palette. I got them to do bigger and deeper palettes, you know for bigger makeup items. Not everything needs to be downsized. Maybe they need to be depotted, but not smaller. Especially film, TV, press powders, backgrounds. But then because of covid and because they are concerned about staying eco friendly, sustainability and they come from different parts around the world, so it is delayed. BUT it is going to come out soon.
Another brand I’m collabing with is Bags for Makeup. It is very padded, lightweight, and easy to clean (you know, covid), and it also fits the MYO pallets perfectly.
The website is launched :
Finally there is an option for the waitlist for courses in LA and NY. We’ll do more cities and countries once they start to open back up. Hands on classes, one on one or small group.
There are certain things I cannot show you through video. Classes like proper posture so you can do this for a long time. So there is no risk that you can’t still do makeup tomorrow. Or pressure, how much pressure do you need to apply something. It’s hard to show this on video.
If people do this around the world, then brands will have no choice but to listen.
There are always at least 3 pieces that make clients want to add an extra 0 to the check. I use mainly luxury products because that’s at the store they shop at.
There is no award for the most stuff. The goal is to take care of you so you can do this longer. Take care of your clients by keeping your things clean and organized. A lot of people copy, but that doesn’t always work. You have to do what is best for yourself.
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Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself. You can't put on make-up, or dress yourself, or do you hair with any sort of fun or joy if you're doing it from a position of correction.