Our Favorite Makeup Bags That Pack Cosmetics Perfectly
Makeup bags and cases are game-changers for pretty much anyone who travels with cosmetics. Beyond simply housing your glosses and creams, they protect your favorite eye-shadow palette from busting open and dusting “rum raisin” shimmer all over your wardrobe, and they’ll keep a full set of blending brushes organized and at the ready. Plus, they’ll save you from fishing around the bottom of your purse for lost lipsticks. It’s an absolute crime that they’re considered an afterthought in the wide world of luggage, so we're giving them the recognition they deserve. After all, there’s a makeup-bag solution to suit every beauty fiend. Read on for the best of the bunch, from throwback Caboodles to polished Kate Spade.
Luxe Makeup Pouches
If you’re going to invest in a high-end makeup bag, why not get two for the price of one? The larger of the set can hold brushes and powdered products like blush and highlighter, while the smaller can go in your carry-on for lip balm and other in-flight essentials. And both are rendered in Cuyana’s signature luxe pebbled leather. For a short trip, each of these bags can also double as a clutch for a night out. Definitely spring for the monogram, which gives it a regal flourish.
Pro-Level Makeup Kit
If you’re facing a longer trip or a big event, it’s time to call in the big guns, and when it comes to makeup, that obviously means Sephora. This train case-style bag is really more of a packing system, with multiple cubes for larger items, a small removable pouch, and a separate brush storage bag. Basically, this is the Batmobile of makeup cases—tricked out with clever compartments. And it has plenty of superfans, with more than 20,000 “loves” on Sephora’s site.
Rad Retro Makeup Case
Caboodles are basically the Barbie Dream House of makeup cases—anyone who grew up in the ‘90s knows this was the case in which to store lotions, potions, and scented body sprays from the mall. While a full-size Caboodles case is a bit bulky for a carry-on suitcase, this travel-size version is small enough to be practical and holds a surprising amount of stuff—it folds open to reveal two trays, plus a mirror. The mint-green color and whimsical design are just the thing to add a bit of fun to a boring business trip.
Clutter-Proof Makeup Bag
Whoever invented the Lay-n-Go bag is the patron saint of unorganized packers. What seems like an unassuming black nylon pouch is actually a genius sorting system holding items in place with elastic loops. Fully unzipped, the Lay-n-Go becomes a flat mat, which means everything from hair accessories to moisturizer to the eyeliner that always gets lost in other bags is readily accessible with absolutely zero digging. And if your CC cream does spring a leak, not to worry; the whole thing can go in the washing machine.
Hipster Makeup Bag
From Mexico City to Lisbon to Portland, the Fjallraven backpack is a staple for the coolest of cool girls, and we love this matching makeup bag in an understated gray. In addition to being the kind of bag that would look right at home in a Brooklyn boutique hotel, it’s made from recycled polyester and coated in wax—environmentally friendly and easy to wipe clean. The interior pocket is big enough to hold a few full-sized products—this is definitely the bag we’d fill with dry shampoo, rosewater mist, and glittery eyeliner on our way to Coachella.
OK we’ll admit, L.L. Bean feels more like “hiking equipment” than “highlighter storage” on the shopping spectrum, but their travel bags are legit, and this bag is the one you’ll want if you’re in charge of packing up the shampoo, face wash, and sunscreen of the whole household—though we won’t judge if you want to fill up the whole bag with your own products. (Shout-out to the crowd.) Made out of super-sturdy waterproof nylon, this bag is virtually indestructible. It also functions as a hanging bag, perfect for hotel bathroom doors, cruise-ship bathrooms, or even tree branches, if you’re the glamping type.
See-Through Makeup Solution
Sometimes when it comes to makeup, less is more, and the same goes for makeup bags. Leave it to Target to offer up the perfect minimalist option. This clear plastic-pouch is perfect to take through the TSA line, but unlike your usual Ziploc baggie, this one is gussied-up with a thick gold zipper that will keep your glosses and lip crayons secure. A flat bottom ensures it’ll stand up on virtually any surface and the see-through PVC means you can spot that stray brush at the bottom. All that, and it’s under ten bucks to boot.
Multi-Pouch Makeup Bag
This gingham pouch set is as sunny as a summer picnic, and while you could technically use these bags to hold a laptop, an iPad, and a Kindle, they can also easily tote around sparkly eyeshadow palettes and avocado face masks. The biggest of the set can even hold hair dryers, straighteners, or big ol’ paddle brushes. Made from a heavier nylon, this set is also totally machine washable (a lifesaver if ever you experience a dreaded in-flight shampoo explosion). Fill them with girls’ trip essentials; the cheery gingham makes the perfect backdrop to spread out your beauty finds and share them, potluck-style.
Adorably Girlie Makeup Bag
This makeup bag’s pink-and-red kiss-print is so cute, we want to plant our own pucker on it. Not that we’re surprised—the folks at Kate Spade know how to do girlish exuberance to a T, which is exactly the emotion we want to channel when we’re playing with brushes or dabbing on a bit of . This durable nylon bag also holds a lot of stuff for its petite size, and a smaller insert makes it easy to separate stains from glosses.
Budget Cosmetic Case
If you’re looking to save money on a makeup bag, you won’t do better than this vegan leather weekender from budget beauty brand e.l.f. Coming in at less than twenty bucks, this case has all the bells and whistles of something a lot pricier—brush holders, zippered compartments, elastic to keep bigger bottles in place—with none of the sticker shock. You might find yourself chatting up your fellow travelers just to brag about your own thriftiness!
Roll It Up Makeup Bag
Makeup rolls are the Kondo-fanatic’s dream, and they hold a ton of product. Seriously, this one has slots for 12 brushes and a compartment that’ll fit a slim palette plus a few lipsticks and other assorted fancies, and it takes up virtually no space. We like this one in the uber-trendy banana leaf print—throw it in your carry-on and head out for a spontaneous island getaway. Don’t forget to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bronzer).