Your Guide to Makeup Bag Maintenance

Having a clean, organized makeup bag won’t just save you time, and trouble, it can actually save you money in the long run. Whether you’re a hoarder or more of a minimalist when it comes to your makeup stash isn’t important. What matters most is how long you keep your products and how you maintain them. 

We consulted with two expert makeup artists, Sonia Kashuk and Elena Perdikomati, for their insider tips on what makeup you need (and what you don’t), how to use it, and how long to keep it in your bag. Keep reading for their advice.

 

Time for a Makeover?

Time for a Makeover?

When: September 3, 2013
What: the contents of my rather pathetic and worn-out excuse of a makeup bag: 

  • One brand new pressed powder
  • One hot pink powder blush and 10-year-old retractable blush brush (uh-oh, have I ever cleaned this brush?)
  • Two worn down lip balms
  • Three limp Band-Aids (just in case)
  • One Chanel lipstick
  • One mascara that’s as dry as the desert
  • 67 cents in spare change

Do you identify with this scenario? If so, we’re not alone. We’re busy, and maintaining an organized makeup bag may not be at the top of our list. But it’s worth sparing a few minutes to take stock of your makeup inventory, and the shape it’s in.

Having a clean, organized makeup bag won’t just save you time, and trouble, it can actually save you money in the long run. Whether you’re a hoarder or more of a minimalist when it comes to your makeup stash isn’t important. What matters most is how long you keep your products and how you maintain them. 

We consulted with two expert makeup artists, Sonia Kashuk and Elena Perdikomati, for their insider tips on what makeup you need (and what you don’t), how to use it, and how long to keep it in your bag. Keep reading for their advice.

The Basics

The Basics

“Your daily makeup bag should include core basics just like a good wardrobe always has a white shirt or black dress,” says Sonia Kashuk, celebrity makeup artist. This list depends, of course, on what products you actually use. And while some of us may use more, and some less, in general a good makeup bag will always be stocked with:

  • Mascara
  • Pressed powder or a foundation (stick and creamy foundations that go on with a puff keep best in a makeup bag)
  • Neutral eye shadow palette — two to four colors max with brush
  • Lip balm
  • A good neutral shade of lipstick that works for you
  • A bright lip shade that can instantly wake up your look
  • Eye pencil
  • Powder or creme blush
  • Blush brush
  • Dental floss — not exactly makeup, but what good is a great lip gloss if you’ve got lettuce stuck in your teeth?
  • Highlighter pencil — this might seem unnecessary, but when you’re looking a little worse for the wear, a quick stroke of the highlighter pencil in the inside corner of your eyes or at the top of the brow bone can make you look fresh and revived.

“I like to think of my makeup bag as a place for my basics plus anything else I may be experimenting with that day. So in case I don’t have a chance to run home, I can always touch up the look I’ve created that morning,” says Kashuk. “I usually keep my seasonal and trend-focused makeup in my drawer at home and switch items into my bag accordingly.” 

Editorial makeup artist Elena Perdikomati who travels the world for photo shoots and fashion shows takes a slightly more spartan approach to her makeup bag. Typically she only carries a cream blusher that works for both cheeks and lips (products that do double duty are fabulous choices because you’re toting around less) and black mascara.

She gives her makeup bag a makeover every six months or slightly longer depending on if it really needs it.

Beyond the Basics

Beyond the Basics

These products can be added to your basic kit, but try to take only what you really think you’ll use: 

  • Concealer
  • Eyelash curler
  • False eyelashes
  • Darker or shimmer eye shadows
  • Eye shadow brush
  • Darker or more dramatic shades of lipstick (we recommend two or three; you might change your mind)
  • Eye brow pencil for definition
  • Deeper shade of blush

And if you really want to be prepared, we also love the idea of having one stationary cosmetic bag you keep at work that contains all your regular products and emergency items like nail tools, a couple bottles of nail polish, hand cream, hair products, etc. This is great for those last-minute invitations to an important meeting or an after-work event. 

Check the Dates

Check the Dates

Kashuk stresses that certain products should be checked for expiration dates, or the actual PAO (period after opening). She also warns: “Products can expire or become contaminated sooner if you are not properly storing your cosmetics.” The most common causes of contamination: sunlight exposure, exposure to extreme temperatures, leaving products open and sharing. 

Here’s her breakdown by product: 

  • Liquid makeup – one year
  • Poured foundations – two years
  • Wet & dry powder foundations – two years
  • Pressed powder – three years
  • Concealer – six months
  • Eye base – two years
  • Eye liner pencils – three years
  • Powder eye shadow – three years
  • Mascara – six months
  • Liquid eyeliner – six months
  • Powder blush – three years
  • Lipstick – two years
  • Lip gloss – two years
  • Lip liner pencils – three years
Time for a Brand-New Bag?

Time for a Brand-New Bag?

Kashuk cleans out her personal makeup bag when it starts to feel a little grungy, but at the start of each season she gives it a complete makeover. She tosses the bag and starts with a brand new one; gets rid of old, expired cosmetics (and probably any spare change she finds along the way); and cleans her brushes and tools.

Perdikomati maintains that it’s really dependent on the season. “In the summer, products are more sensitive to high temperatures, so we should be more careful — particularly with foundation if that’s in your bag. As for other creamy items like lipstick, lip gloss and mascara, you can tell the difference when the color changes and they emit a different smell. But mascara is best tossed around the six-month mark.” Because she travels so frequently, and often to her Greek home, the heat factor is really important. Traveling also adds a particular challenge. What do you take? What do you leave behind? Jetting around the globe might be adventurous, but it also increases the risk of adding dirt and bacteria to your products and bag. 

Give yourself the pleasure of freshening up with a new bag twice a year as the seasons change. Toss out products that are old, dried out or broken. Clean the actual makeup receptacle from debris and smeared product. 

When -- and What -- to Stock Up On

When -- and What -- to Stock Up On

For those cosmetics with longer lastability, it’s a great idea to stock up when there are great deals to be had.  Kashuk recommends taking advantage of discounts on eye and lip pencils and powders because they have greater longevity. She advises staying away from creams or liquids because of the bacteria that can grow in water-based products; they automatically have a shorter PAO.

Makeup tools like sponges, portable brushes and Q-tips (best beauty tool ever!) can be great if purchased in bulk (depending on your usage) and on sale. The most important thing is to keep your tools clean. Dirty brushes, sponges and puffs can irritate the skin and potentially cause breakouts or inflammation if they’re not kept clean. Hand-washing brushes and sponges is easy and takes no time at all. If you’re using a particular brush often, give it a nice washing every month or so. 

By stocking up on sale products that actually last, you’ll avoid spending precious dollars on makeup that might be spoiled by the time you actually get around to using them. I always say “buy what you use and use what you buy,” and beauty products are no exception to the rule.

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Join the Discussion

One Response to “Your Guide to Makeup Bag Maintenance”

  1. Janelle

    This might seem like a particularly fussy task, but it actually is a really important one. You can clean your makeup tools all you want, but if you put them in a dirty bag, you’re not doing anything. A dirty storage space for your makeup tools means they’re still dirty, which can lead to acne or infection. Stay healthy, clean, and pretty by ensuring your clean tools are stored in a clean makeup bag.