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Keeping all of your beauty products in order is no easy task, which is why proper storage is vital. A good makeup bag will do all the work for you by having compartments for all your favorite things, protecting from spills, and keeping your face oils upright.
From TSA-friendly clear pouches to lock and key hardtops, trust us when we say there’s a makeup bag for everyone. Snag one of these organization helpers and make sure none of your products are left behind.
Here are our picks of the best makeup bags.
Best Overall: Dagne Dover Large Hunter Neoprene Toiletry Bag
This is like the Mary Poppins of makeup bags—just when you think it can’t fit another thing, it does. Along one side, there’s a mesh pocket with three elastic loops to hold things like your lip balm, roller fragrance, or razor. On the other side are two removable pouches (one shaped like a pencil case, for your brush, and the other like a small Ziploc) where you can store things that might easily get lost (we’re looking at you, hair elastics) or items you may not want getting mixed up in the larger bag. The case itself is insulating and shock-absorbent—because we all know our luggage isn’t always handled with care.
Best Budget: Narwey Makeup Bag
This simple, versatile pouch from Narwey is the ultimate happy medium. It’s soft and packs well, waterproof, and contains one main compartment with side pockets to hold everything you need. While perfect for makeup, you really could use it as a pencil case, first aid kit, or sewing kit as well.
Best Drugstore: Travelwell Quilted Cosmetic / Toiletry Bag
This quilted option is so roomy and versatile you’ll wonder how you lived without it. It opens up to three compartments, so keeping products categorized is easy. The quilted outer shell and mesh inner lining ensure everything stays relatively safe (aka, no spills). It’s big enough for long-haul trips, fitting in everything from full-sized shampoo to fragrance.
Best Design: Relavel Travel Makeup Train Case
Design your makeup bag exactly how you like it. This makeup case comes with removable tiles that let you add and remove to build as many or as few compartments as you’d like. There’s also a zipper pocket and three large pouches to hold all of your brushes with a flap to cover up the bristles, so they don’t touch anything else or get your bag dirty.
Best Compartments: Sephora Collection Pack It All Organizer
This case from Sephora is fantastic because you can pack up the entire thing or utilize the inner compartments independently. It’s made from a soft mesh material, so it packs well and has an elasticized brush roll to store everything neatly. You can easily separate liquids, creams, and powders too to prevent spills.
Best Clear: Paravel See-All Vanity Case
For those with a penchant for luxury brands or showing off their beauty wares, this Paravel option is perfect. Made from a sturdy, wipeable eco-canvas and wrap-around clear window, the top handle train case is as practical as it is aesthetic. You can also see exactly what you’ve packed, so there’s no digging around aimlessly searching for a hair tie or lip balm.
Most Nostalgic : Caboodles Beige Lifestyle Train Case
While not the most practical for travel, the Caboodle case is nostalgic and stylish and a lovely contemporary upgrade to the cute carry cases of our youth. The Beige Lifestyle Case, in particular, has sliding top trays, a mirror, and an inner compartment to store skincare and makeup products securely. Plus, it looks chic as hell on the bathroom countertop.
Best Leather Option: Cuyana Leather Travel Case Set
The Cuyana Leather Travel Case duo is hand-made in Argentina from responsibly sourced leather and comes in various colors, from classic black to firetruck red. There’s a smaller size that works for keys, lipstick, and bobby pins, whereas the larger option fits a weekend’s worth of skincare with ease. They feel buttery soft, retain their shape, and come with optional monogramming.
Best Luxury: Longchamp 'Le Pliage' Pouchette
This Longchamp nylon case with a leather handle is equal parts practical and aesthetic. It comes as one individual compartment and fits enough skincare and makeup to get you through a week-long vacay. The gold-toned hardware and exposed stitching give it a sartorial edge and make it worthy of the higher-end price tag. It’s great for gifting, too.
Best Nylon: The North Face Base Camp Travel Canister
If you’re heading off the beaten track or away for some time in the great outdoors, you’ll want a case that’s durable and fits all the essentials. Enter The North Face Travel Canister. Made from sturdy nylon, it features an internal hook to hang up easily, a velcro strap to incorporate a mirror, two handles, and a mesh compartment to store smaller items—bonus points for the fun colorways that are easy to find, too.
Best for Weekenders: Beis The Cosmetics Case
If you’re after something structured and chic for long weekend getaways, this Béis Cosmetics Case is all time. The brand, founded by actress Shay Mitchell, is all about pairing functionality with all thighs trend-driven, and this sleek product is no exception. It involves a top handle, a large inner compartment, and a smaller zip pocket to keep everything you need for a few days away (i.e., a simple skincare routine, makeup essentials, a fragrance, and a few brushes) organized. It wipes clean easily, too.
Best Waterproof: Rains Small Waterproof Wash Bag
Whether you’re heading somewhere tropical or out on the water, a waterproof option is always nice to have. This little pouch by Rains is small enough to fit in your handbag or backpack but large enough to store the essentials like sunscreen, lipstick, and hair ties. It’s got a water-resistant zip, too.
Truth be told, choosing a makeup bag really comes down to what you need it for, what you’re hoping to carry, and where you’re going. But having said this, we still have some unanimous team Byrdie favorites out of the above edit. First of all, there’s Dagne Dover Large Hunter Neoprene Toiletry Case for being large rough to hold the essentials but compact enough to carry; Paravel See-All Vanity Case because it fits plenty and looks beautiful; and finally, the Cuyana Leather Travel Case Set because you get two useful size options, and the buttery soft leather is as aesthetic as it is durable.
What to Look For in a Makeup Bag
When it comes to the best makeup bag for your needs, the size definitely comes into play. Are you after something that will fit your entire makeup routine or just weekend essentials? Are you a maximalist who needs to travel with three lipsticks, four foundations, and both cream and powder blush, or are you a mascara, clear balm, and concealer kinda’ person? Taking these details into account will help you choose the correct size makeup bag suited to your needs. You can always keep more than one makeup bag on hand—one for night-out essentials and another for getaways or work trips.
According to makeup artist Jasmin Lo, your best bet when it comes to makeup bags is to go for something durable and waterproof to protect you from spills and accidental leaks. She likes nylon, PVC, thick canvas materials, and leather. You can also choose something more eco-friendly if that appeals to you more, such as bags made from recycled plastics or sustainably sourced leather or hemp.
Another personal preference worth thinking about is the number of compartments, whether that’s zero or multiple. Compartments are great for high-risk products (think foundation, liquid blush, and the like) or smaller items like lip balm and bobby pins that are otherwise easily lost. Whereas one singular compartment might ensure everything is within reach. Makeup bags with longer slots for brushes and a protective brush cover are also helpful if you take your brushes with you.
How do you travel with a lot of makeup?
If you are travelling and want to bring your makeup stash, you should make sure your makeup bag is padded and sturdy. There should be a zipper closure and slots to safely and securely hold your brushes and liquid products. Using magnetic palettes can help you save space but be sure to store them as securely as you can so powders don't crack or crumble.
How can I pack my makeup without breaking it?
When packing your makeup bag with pressed powders, try adding a cotton ball or small makeup puff inside the case to prevent movement and secure the product.
What is the best way to pack makeup?
Packing your makeup bag for trips takes some planning to prevent spilling or cracking. Try wrapping products in plastic wrap and cushioning with cotton balls or powder puffs. For liquids, open the cap and place some plastic wrap over the opening. Screw the cap back on and add more plastic wrap around the top. You can also place things in spill-proof reusable bags or smaller travel size sealed containers.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Put it this way: team Byrdie owns and subsequently transports A LOT of beauty products, especially makeup. Half the issue is culling down to essentials only, but the other half is finding the perfect makeup bag — a pursuit we’ve spent years perfecting.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any makeup bags from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.