No makeup-lover worth their salt would deny the importance of a good makeup bag. Makeup, unfortunately, is not indestructible or made of concrete, and, as you know, things happen. Sometimes the elements are just working against us or we just get a little overzealous in consuming that pizza, leaving our faces negatively affected. That’s why we need the help of a few good men, er, beauty products. But, figuring out which items to carry around with you can be an overwhelming process. So, we decided to help you out and take out the guess work. We consulted with one of our most-trusted makeup pros and compiled a list of the items we absolutely need at all times … and the ones that can be left at home.

makeup bag essentials

What SHOULD Be in Your Bag

Sunscreen Moisturizer

Contrary to popular belief, proper sun protection requires you to apply SPF multiple times a day. So, that quick AM slathering of sunscreen will just not cut it if you want to avoid sun damage and premature aging. Keep your face protected throughout your busy day by keeping your makeup bag stocked with a solid SPF of 20 or higher. And if you’re worried about messing up your flawless face, just follow these tips.

BB Cream

You never know where the day will take you or how it will impact your face. Often, our constant movement and activity can take their toll on our complexions, so it’s good to be prepared with a decent formula that will both nurture your skin and give it some coverage. This little foundation alternative is invaluable in that it keeps skin looking fresh and lovely without too much effort. Just dab a bit on your forehead, cheeks and chin when you feel like your skin could use a little pick-me-up. Blend it in with your fingers or cosmetic sponge and you’re ready to roll.


Like we said, you never know what the day holds for you or your makeup, so it’s good to keep a solid beauty warrior in your bag in case those blemishes and imperfections start to peek out. Keep a small-but-mighty concealer on-hand and your face will be flawless no matter what trouble you get into.

Brow Pencil & Brush Combo  

Beautiful brows are of utmost importance and we can’t risk them getting messed up wihtout being properly equipped to restore them to their perfect state. Which is why a good brow pencil/brush duo (like the NYX Micro Brow Pencil) is a non-negotiable. No wayward hair or sparse spot is safe when a good brow pencil is standing watch.


Sad, limp lashes can make your eyes look tired and lifeless, and we just can’t have that. Keep those peepers looking bright and wide awake by storing a solid, tried-and-true mascara in your bag. This way you can reapply at the first signs of a lash emergency.

Cheek & Lip Tint

No makeup bag would be complete without a good multitasker. Kill two birds — cheeks and lips — with one stone tint. Get yourself a nice, lightweight formula that will blend nicely on your cheeks and give your pout a perfect pop of color.

What Should NOT Be in Your Bag

Loose Powder

Every makeup-lover dreads a messy, dusty makeup bag and loose powders are often the biggest culprits of this crime, says celebrity makeup artist Emily Oliver. “They get everywhere — opt for a pressed powder if you want color, or a pressed, blotting powder for oil control.”

Powder Eyeshadows

While eye shadows are the apples of our eyes, they just don’t fit into our makeup bag blueprint. “They can easily crack and end up in your bag rather than on your eyes,” says Oliver. “Choose a waterproof cream stick shadow for touch-ups.”

Full Brush Sets

In a perfect world, we’d be able to carry our entire makeup arsenal everywhere with us so we could create the perfect look at the drop of a hat. But, alas, the world is not perfect, so we need to learn to simplify when we’re on-the-go. “Brush sets take up way too much space,” says Oliver. “Bring an eyeliner brush; an angled brush that can work with your powder, blush, bronzer and highlighter; a fluffy concealer brush that you can also use to blend eye shadow if it creases; and a fluffy eye shadow blending brush. If you're into perfect lips, choose a retractable lip brush with a cap to keep your bag clean!”

Individual Blush & Bronzers

Blushes and bronzers are miracle workers, that is certain. However, when it comes to makeup bags, they’re total space-takers. Embrace the power of the twofer products. “Look for an on-the-go duo set to save on space in your makeup bag,” says Oliver. 


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