Pastels are getting more surface notability then before. They are fast and convenient, especially for the artist on the go. Wearing latex gloves help, they will protect your skin against chemicals and irritations. Paper stumps are a great way to blend pastels onto your surface. Pan pastels are getting recognition, by putting soft sponge tips onto your pallet knife will allow you to be more flexible. Chamois skin rags also give you a smooth blending power to your pastels. One of the main tools which I think is useful is mineral spirits for blending use soft brushes. As for papers to use there is a whole spectrum out there. From textures to colors, the variety is up to your discretion.  Please remember that there are two kinds of pastels, oil and chalk.