You may have noticed some posts from our friends at the Strategist on the Cut. They’ll be dropping in every now and again, sharing their expertise on the basics you don’t have time to research and the weird and wonderful things you don’t yet know you need.
Whether you subscribe to the no-makeup makeup look, and use little more than concealer and some Boy Brow, or the yes-to-makeup look, and own an arsenal of products, everyone needs a way to keep their beauty regimen, well, regimented. Unlike a travel makeup bag or dopp kit, which travels with you only on vacations, makeup bags stay put on bathroom counters, occasionally getting tossed into a gym bag.
To find the best ones — the ones designed to hold all manner of brushes, compacts, and bottles, and stay clean in the face of spills and lost caps — we tracked down some notable makeup artists to find out about their preferred storage techniques. From a Prada pouch — recommended by Daniel Martin, who did Meghan Markle’s makeup on her wedding day — to a $15 Monda Studio pick from Gigi Hadid’s go-to artist, here are recommendations in a range of styles, sizes, and price points.
Best makeup pouches
A maximalist bag for a makeup minimalist: this single zipper option from M.A.C. (judging from this list, it’s never a bad idea to buy a bag from a makeup brand — you know the dimensions and material will be just right for products) is a favorite of Nick Barose, Lupita Nyong’o’s makeup artist. “I like something with bold colors—a bit flashy,” he says. “All black is nice, but it tends to get lost in the bottom of your bag.”
Erin Parsons, who has worked closely with Gigi Hadid, recommends transparent bags like this one from Monda Studio. “Because it’s clear, you’ll be able to find the products you need quickly,” she says. Good point.
Makeup artist Andrew Sotomayor has uncovered the perfect vegan bag. “They’re beautiful and just big enough to hold your most important products,” says Sotomayor of the Urban Decay pouch. It has black-and-white floral pattern across the plastic front for a stylish touch but is still transparent enough to see your products inside.
Yet another transparent option we like: this tropical water-resistant PVC single-compartment bag. This one still lets you see all your makeup tubs and compacts, but comes with a dose of color. Also comes in an aqua-blue, a bright pink, and an opalescent shimmery finish.
“I’ve had my Prada pouch for years, and they withstand the test of time. Chic and classic,” says Daniel Martin, who did the makeup for the duchess of Sussex, née Meghan Markle, on her wedding day. The leather trim adds a refined touch, but the workhorse material here must be the Prada nylon.
This makeup bag has a Dusen Dusen–like print on it and contains a neat trick: “It has a plexiglass smoked gold mirror on the bottom,” says makeup artist Fiona Stiles, “to add a bit of light while you’re digging around for your favorite lipstick.”
Best freestanding makeup bags
Sonia Kashuk makes reliably good and affordable bags in all manner of bright and colorful prints, and Dana Delaney, the makeup artist responsible for Solange’s celestial look at the Met Gala, likes this one for the three compartments that keep tools and products separate. “Perfect for traveling,” Delaney says.
“I love this beautiful case,” says Sotomayor of this limited-edition Bobbi Brown kit with two separate levels. “Made of luxury faux-leather materials, it separates products to keep everything organized — if you’re traveling with it, you’ll arrive at your destination with a proper makeup station.”
“I personally love the Muji Nylon Makeup Pouches,” says Georgi Sandev, makeup artist. “They fit a lot and the size seems just perfect for almost everything. Grab a couple and you’re good to go.” This case also has a mesh pocket under the flap, perfect for keeping smaller products safe from getting lost.
Best makeup bags for makeup obsessives
This traveling case was actually designed by a makeup artist, and accommodates all kinds of particular needs: “It has two large mesh compartments that I usually use for face products like skin care or any larger items,” says Delaney. “There are also two clear removable vinyl bags that I use for eyes, cheeks, lips. And it fits in the overhead, so I don’t have to worry about it getting lost or stolen.”
The Professional Bag from Make Up for Ever is the briefcase of the beauty world. “It’s compact and has the perfect amount of makeup compartments inside to stay organized,” says Ashley K Holm, who frequently works with Ariana Grande, as well as members of the Kardashian clan. It can be carried cross-body or by top handles and has removable mesh pouches.
This train case from Amazon can be worn as a messenger bag, and features three separate layers for ultimate organization. “I absolutely love it for storing my personal cosmetic products,” says Parsons. “It has amazing organizational compartments and is extremely affordable.” It is also super lightweight and easy to transport with a strap that can be fixed to a suitcase handle.
Best sporty makeup bags
“I carry so much stuff for a living that I do my best to carry as little as possible when I travel,” says Stiles, who swears by her Eagle Creek bags. They are durable, affordable, and come in different sizes for your varying needs. Plus, each pouch has a clip so they are perfect for those prone to losing things.
And last, from Sandev, a recommendation to just go with a middle school throw back: the Five Star Stand ‘n’ Store Pencil Pouch. “They are absolutely perfect for all of your cosmetic pencils, makeup brushes, mascaras, sponges, and puffs, come in a variety of colors, and are really easy on the budget.”
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best women’s jeans, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, ultraflattering pants, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
Every editorial product is independently selected. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.