Whether you’re paring down your makeup, starting a new routine, picking what to take with you to travel, replacing old product, or just limited on space, everyone who wears makeup has had to decide what goes into the makeup bag. The fact is, despite what the multi-billion-dollar beauty industry will tell you, you don’t need an extensive collection to do a range of looks. You don’t need cheek palettes or “glow palettes” with eight different highlighters. You can get a range of looks for just about any occasion out of just the makeup and brushes that you can fit in your makeup bag. I’m going to go through what I use, but yours may vary based on your own makeup habits. The bag I’m using here is the same “I got it free with a makeup purchase” size that everyone I know uses, because who wants to pay for a makeup bag if you can get it free and hoard it forever, right?
The Brushes and Tools
Decent brushes make a lot of difference, so it’s worthwhile to invest in them if you can. Some of mine, the ones with the clear handles, are from a gift set I got on clearance after the holidays. They suck. Instead of looking for price, look for bristle density, amount of shedding, and softness. My very favorites, which I can’t afford, are the It Cosmetics brushes for Ulta, which are softer and fluffier than a bunny tail. However, if you’re looking for more economical options, Real Techniques and EcoTools (the ones with the wood handles, pictured above) are a lot more affordable without lacking quality. I like to keep the following brushes in my bag:
- 2 flat eyeshadow brushes, in case I decide to do a look with multiple colors
- 2 softer eyeshadow brushes to use for transition shade and blending
- A nice fluffy blush brush
- A contour brush that tapers a bit more than the blush brush, to really carve out my cheekbones
- If I’m going to be using a brow pomade, I throw in an angled brow brush to use with it. If I’m using a gel or a pencil, as I am here, I don’t need it.
There are also a few other essential tools that I keep in my bag for makeup application. I was never one to buy into the whole Beautyblender thing until I got the Beautyblender micro.mini sponge ($18 for 2, Sephora) in my Sephora Play box a couple of months ago. Because of its size, it’s perfect for blending foundation or for getting concealer into the tight spots around the corners of my eyes, but with a little bit of patience, you can easily do your whole face with it.
Because I’m prone to hand pain, I like an eyelash curler that has open handles rather than finger loops. This particular one above is from Tarte, and came in a kit with a mini of their Lights, Camera, Lashes mascara (Picture Perfect Duo, $18, Ulta). But don’t be afraid to try out a couple of different lash curlers and see how they fit you before settling to a final one, as everyone’s eyes and lashes are a slightly different size and shape.
For tweezers, any slant-tip pair with a sharp inside edge will work. I think the ones I have are Ulta brand, but I don’t see them on the website now. I’ve had them for a while, so they may well be discontinued. Tweezers aren’t that complicated, though. Don’t get the cheapest ones you can find, because they will get bent up and nicked, losing grip. Invest maybe $10 in a decent pair instead of settling for dollar store, and you won’t regret it. You’re also going to need a pencil sharpener for your eyeliners, lip liners, etc., but those are cheap and get lost easily. The only thing to be concerned about is, if you use larger pencils/crayons, whether they will fit in the larger side. I don’t use the thick pencils on a regular basis, so the one I currently have in my bag is just a one-sided dollar sharpener that I can easily replace if I lose it or it gets dull. I’ve had more expensive ones, and I haven’t seen any real advantage in how long they stay sharp. As long as the pencils you use fit, you’re fine with a cheap sharpener.
In my next post, I’m going to talk about a pared-down makeup selection that gives you looks for all occasions without taking up a lot of space. Stay tuned!