My makeup has to be clean or I don’t want to use it, so when it comes to bags, I’m a utilitarian and pragmatist
am exacting when it comes to makeup bags. I’m routinely horrified by how the smartest, most together-seeming people have filthy makeup bags full of splayed brushes and useless sponge applicators, all caked in the ashen remains of an eyeshadow bought a decade ago and cracked soon after. My makeup has to be clean or I don’t want to use it, so when it comes to bags, I’m a utilitarian and pragmatist. I generally want something clear, so I can spot immediately what I’m looking for with minimal rummaging, wipe down regularly and get it through security, depending on the kindness of airport staff (there’s practically nothing you can do to please Luton’s, besides give them a quid for one of their own bags).
My favourite place for this sort of thing is Muji. Their Clear Cosmetic Case (£5.95) is ideal, and I have several in my kit. You can get transparent pencil cases that do the same job everywhere, but the expandable sides of Muji’s case make it more roomy and allow a foundation to stand straight, and I find the zip sturdier than most. For larger toiletries such as sunscreens, shampoo and so on, I use professional Zuca pouches (£13.50), which are way too big for handbags, but pack neatly and sturdily in suitcases to stop leaking or spilling on to clothes.
Neither of those is exciting to look at, however, and I’m hardly immune to pretty for pretty’s sake, so I’m taken with Asos’s clear lipstick print bag (£10), which is just as practical, but a bit more cheering to look at. Speaking of lipstick, I also love my canvas pouch by Lipgloss Is For Beginners (never a truer word spoken). It’s a great size for a night out (powder compact, blush, lipstick, phone battery), and I’m always asked where I got it. The annoying answer used to be Chelsea Market in New York City, but now the designer, Pamela Barsky, ships her huge selection of witty bags to the UK, for £11.91 plus postage.
You really needn’t spend the cash, but if you particularly want a fancy pouch to look good in an expensive handbag – and why not? – or if you want to buy someone a special makeup bag as a gift, my favourites are Comme des Garçons leather pouches (from £85). The colours, prints and leathers change seasonally, but all are extremely durable and so soft that they expand to become surprisingly capacious.