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How to Create a Capsule Makeup Kit


Last Updated on May 13, 2024

A capsule makeup kit is an amazing way to still use your favorite makeup products without contributing to a ton of waste!

Keeping a simple makeup capsule collection prevents you from over-consuming but doesn’t require that you go makeup free! By using multi-purpose and sustainable makeup brands, you can reduce waste and still feel beautiful. A capsule makeup bag is perfect for travel, every day makeup, or just for cutting down waste. Create a makeup starter kit with these multi-purpose basics and feel put together without all the chemicals.

A photo of a scattered makeup kit with overlay text reading "my zero waste makeup capsule collection"

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makeup capsule

A few weeks ago, I decided to dish on my low-waste beauty products in a ‘get ready with me’ style IGTV video.

I was heading to UC Berkeley to guest lecture, and I always wear a bit more makeup when it comes to being on stage with lights.

I thought it was the perfect time to go through my makeup capsule collection and I got a TON of questions and requests for a full blog post about my makeup kit staples!

sustainable makeup

As many of you know, I have struggled a lot with skin problems.

I have tried numerous zero-waste skincare routines. A lot of the “zero waste” skincare products I was using were still low waste.

Yes, they come in a glass bottle, but they almost always have different plastic parts.

After years of searching, I think I’ve finally found a few items that are really working for my skin, thanks to the recommendation of my esthetician — but they do come in plastic.

I’ve decided to stop sweating it.

I figure if I’m able to reduce 99% of packaging waste but finally found a few green products (that are working!), then that’s fine by me.

I send my makeup and skincare empties back to Terracycle so I know that they’re in good hands.

Many places like Credo and l’Occitane have programs where you can drop your beauty products off and they’ll send them back to Terracycle for you. By investing in natural, sustainable makeup and recycling waste, I feel as though I’m doing my part for the environment and for my skin.

the beauty industry and climate change

The beauty industry is infamous for its waste production. Just the packaging alone produces 120 billion units of trash per year worldwide. That’s a lot of plastic, paper, and more ending up in landfills every day from just one industry.

Aside from the waste it produces, many beauty products also use natural oils (like mineral oil or petroleum) that lead to extensive degradation of the environment and harmful harvesting practices. In 2020, 10.4 million tons of water was used in the beauty industry — much of which was discarded and went on to contaminate fresh waterways.

All of this leads to a need for less consumption and products that prioritize ethical and sustainable practices and clean ingredients.

the one in, one out rule

I don’t know how or why I used to accumulate so many beauty products. My makeup kit consisted of dozens of products.

I’m not sure if they bred at night, but man, I wound up with so many different colors of eyeshadow that I never wore.

Tons of different lip shades and eyeliner too, and I hardly wore any of them! Buying sustainable makeup only goes so far if you’re still over-consuming them.

So when I started going zero waste, I really started to pay attention to how I was accumulating items and what I actually used.

I noticed that I wore the exact same products every single day.

I also noticed that when I was halfway through a product, I would run out and buy a new one.

When I was at the store, I would also pick up one or two other items just because they looked cool.

I would wear those “cool new products” once or twice and then they would languish in my makeup drawer constantly being passed up for my old faithful products.

So, I simply decided to cut all of that out.

Now, I don’t go out and buy a new product unless I’m really, really close to being out of it, and I buy one item to replace the one that is out, not a handful of others.

What I find most fascinating about this is that even though clean beauty is more expensive on the whole, I’m saving money because I’m not buying a BUNCH of products. I’m only buying a few. And my new makeup starter kit became my only makeup kit.

A makeup starter kit including eyeshadow, lip products, tint, and a comb.

buying in person

Another way I drastically reduce my waste in my beauty routine is to buy in person. I can see the colors, and I can see what the product feels like.

Since I have sensitive acne-prone skin, I can often tell what’s going to work and what’s not.

Almost any time I’ve ordered something new online, I’ve been really disappointed in a color looking slightly off or the product not performing well.

Credo Beauty is one of my all-time favorite places to shop, but I know Sephora has expanded its clean beauty section quite a bit.

related: 10 Zero Waste Makeup Brands

Credo Beauty - a great place to buy sustainable makeup.

creating a makeup starter kit

When it comes to creating a capsule makeup collection, my best tip is to simply pack like you’re going on vacation.

You’ll typically bring your go-to day look and then one or two extra elements for a bit more of a dramatic evening look.

After whittling everything down, I’ve found that’s all I need.

Now, I’ve tried a bunch of different green mascaras and I’ve tried a lot of lip products.

If you would like for me to review each kind I’ve tried, let me know in the comment section down below!

Finished makeup done with a capsule makeup collection.

my capsule makeup kit:

Since I use the same handful of products every day, I decided to invest in quality, sustainable versions of those go-tos and that’s it. Here are my favorites that I recommend for your own makeup starter kit:


I do really like to prime my face. For an everyday look, I like to combine a little bit of primer and foundation together.

This gives the foundation thinner more natural coverage, and it stays pretty much all day.

I currently have the Juice Beauty Primer which has a nice glow to it.

Since I have oily skin, sometimes the glow can be a bit much. But, I certainly don’t have to worry about using any highlighter.

The Juice Beauty Primer comes in a glass bottle.


I have tried a few concealers.

I’m currently still working my way through my RMS concealer which I think is good.

I’ve enjoyed using it and I really like the packaging. It’s packaged with a metal top and glass bottom!

However, I really like the Ilia concealer more — but it is packaged in plastic.


I used to exclusively use the Marie Veronique Tinted Sunscreen as my foundation, which I love!

But, as I’ve started doing a lot more work on camera, I’ve needed something a bit more heavy-duty.

I saw somewhere that Shailene Woodley used the Vapour Foundation when on set.

I thought it MUST have a great matte finish for camera, so I ordered some online and have been sooooo disappointed.

It is so greasy and oily.

Since I have oily skin, my face is subject to non-stop shine all day no matter how much powder I put on.

I am going to try and finish using the product, but honestly, it’s so bad, I don’t know if I can.

After I run out of Vapour, I think I’m going to try the RMS foundation which just came out.


Once again, having oily skin, I typically finish up with a powder to prevent any excess shine.

I’ve been using the AU Natural Skin Food Powder.

I have really enjoyed using this and how well it travels.

I got it because they offered refills which I think is super cool! But currently, I’m not seeing where they sell the refills on the website.

They might be sold out?

But, I think the premise of the powder and how it’s refillable is really cool.

The powder also has an SPF of 25 which is a great addition.

Top view of a makeup capsule.


I’ve been using the Ilia Multi-Stick in the shade At Last for blush, plus on my lips if I’m going for a very nude lip.

I really like products that can pull double duty. It’s great to have something that works for both my lips and cheeks!

One of the things I love about Ilia is that they package their products in recycled aluminum.


I have two eyeshadow palettes.

I have one with more neutral summery colors and I was gifted the Aether Eyeshadow Palette in Amethyst Crystal which is really nice for winter and the holidays.

Even though I’m not a huge fan of the color purple, a lot of the colors in the palette are very subtle and I really like wearing them!

The palette is made completely from paper.

You will have to remove the small tins and elastic band from the palette before recycling, but it’s really cool how they took their packaging into consideration.

eyelash curler:

This has to be one of my favorite tools in my makeup kit. I was so excited to find a really good eyelash curler that comes with pad refills.

My previous eyelash curler was from high school, but it broke this summer.

I used the opportunity to try and find a really heavy-duty curler that should last me for the rest of my life.

Replacement pads used to be very common, but they can be difficult to find these days.

When you buy the curler it comes with refills, but if you run out you can purchase them separately.


I have tried quite a few different types of eyeliners.

I’ve tried a few of the pencil eyeliners, but they haven’t done very well staying on my face.

I have tried the Juice Beauty Liquid Eyeliner which comes in plastic but works very well, as well as the Ilia liquid eyeliner which is packaged in recycled aluminum.

I would say the Juice Beauty is a little more difficult to control because it’s kind of like using a small very flexible paintbrush, whereas Ilia is a bit more difficult to get a smooth line because it’s like a rigid felt tip pen.

If the Juice had a bit more structure and the Ilia had a bit more flexibility, they’d both be perfect!

So, for now, I’m just accepting almost perfect and am pretty happy with that!


I have tried five different green, low-waste mascaras and I have to say: Ilia has knocked it out of the park.

Their mascara is packaged in recycled aluminum like the rest of their products.

The mascara stays on all day, it doesn’t flake or run, and it washes off easily at night.

The best part is the brush!

Half is a comb and half is a brush. It also has some really nourishing ingredients to strengthen your natural lashes.


I like to buy smaller fragrances so I can change them up pretty often. I haven’t found a clean signature scent just yet, but right now I’m really liking MCMC Maine Perfume.

It comes in a cute roller bottle that I plan on upcycling once I’m done with it.


I have tried countless lip products and I’m still looking for THE one that can stay on for a few hours.

With so many of these green beauty products, it’s gone after I take one sip of water.

If I ever find something that stays on longer than 20 minutes, I’ll be sure to let you know.

And, if you want me to compare and contrast the 10 lip products I’ve tried, let me know in the comment section down below!

Currently, I like the Ilia Multistick in a fine romance. I keep this one in my purse, which is why it wasn’t featured in the video.

I have the tata harper in very popular which I wore for my wedding. It’s a great color, but as far as performance goes, it’s just OK. The Ilia Multistick is about the same color, and I think it lasts longer.

I also have the Kari Gran Lip Whip which is a good clear gloss like lip balm. It works pretty well and is a staple basic.

Spread out makeup capsule, along with a boar bristle brush and wooden comb.

That is my 15 product capsule make-up beauty collection! I feel like it can pretty easily take me from day to night and through any situation.

I would really like to try some of the 100% Pure Products and maybe a few of the Besame products?

And, I definitely am dying to find some lip products that can stay put. If you have any recommendations please let me know!

faqs about capsule makeup kits

how many products go in a capsule makeup collection?

Makeup routines vary, so each person’s capsule is personal! I have a friend whose go-to makeup routine consists of mascara, blush, and tinted lip balm. If she has spots, she’ll use some concealer. But that’s it! So her capsule makeup collection is even smaller than mine.

I would aim for fewer than 20 products. That would allow you to swap out certain products depending on the day’s events.

how do you store a makeup capsule?

However you are currently storing your makeup is probably fine. I keep mine in a small makeup bag so I can toss it into my suitcase when I travel with zero effort. I love storing my items in tins or decorating storage in my bathroom too.

if you could choose just one product to wear, what would it be?

Mascara, easily! There’s something about a plain face that looks fresh rather than flat if there’s some mascara on my lashes. With just a splash of mascara, you can easily achieve that ‘no makeup makeup’ look — because you’re hardly wearing any at all!

how much money can be saved by purchasing less makeup?

In the United States, American women spend an average of $313 per month on cosmetics. And Americans spent $483 billion in the cosmetics industry in 2020. I don’t know about you, but I’m spending much less than $313 a month on cosmetics with my capsule kit.

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  1. Have you tried any of the "Wild with desire" lipsticks from RMS? They have a lovely dense, matte finish and will stay put. You may need to reapply after eating, but I think that’s pretty much par for the course. Also, I LOVE their new foundation. Best thing i’ve ever put on my face. Thanks for the Ilia mascara tip – I’m always on the search for options (most are awful), and have enjoyed the blackberry color mascara from 100%pure!

  2. This is just my opinion, but I have tried a few of the 100% Pure products and wasn’t a fan. The popular mascara was sticky and flaked all day and it was tough to get off. The liquid eyeliner required multiple applications to be noticeable and felt like I was pulling glue or tape off my eyelids. 🙁 However, other people have had success with them by the comments I read before buying!

  3. The mascara from Kjaer Weis is awesome & refillable! It stays on through tough workouts and washes off easily. The packaging is steel & you can recycle the empty cartridges!

  4. I’m currently enjoying Elate Cosmetics makeup. I made my own palette and can get refills for highlighter, eye shadow, blush, brow filler, etc. in recyclable aluminum tins. I enjoy their mascara and eye shadow as well although I found the packaging a little less than ideal.

  5. Have you found any similar more affordable options for concealer or foundation? $52 for the RMS you link too is prohibitively expensive 🙁

  6. I really like Kjaer Weis products, their makeup is refillable. The refills come in paper packaging that you can recycle, and you can wash and recycle the tins once you use up the product. Unfortunately, the compact itself is not steel and not recyclable. The founder says it’s made of a mix of metals that cannot be recycled. But of course, if you refill and use them forever then it’s better than throwing out years worth of packaging!

  7. I love the Axiology lipsticks. They also have a really good philosophy for their packaging. And I swear by Jane Iredale makup, their powder products do not expire since they are pure minerals.

  8. I’ve been using 100% Pure for a couple years now. I really like the powder foundation, primers, and mascara. Many of the products are packaged in metal or glass, but some of the eye creams that I like to use do come in plastic tubes–although 1 tube tends to last me me for about a year. This brand has worked very well for me!

  9. Thanks for this! Would love to see more make up posts, especially as there are so many brands to choose from now and we can’t go out to the stores to try them before we buy!
    I’ve been trying some jane iredale, the pure pressed powder is good and I like the clear eyebrow gel 🙂 I’ve also got the ilia tinted lip conditioner in Forever, lovely colour but they never last long on my lips!