9 Items You Should Always Have in Your Makeup Bag

Whether you’re applying makeup on the go or have daily and nightly engagements that require retouching, carrying a well-stocked makeup bag will keep you from sacrificing beauty on your busy schedule.  Since no one wants to be weighed down by an overstuffed bag of makeup (heaving lifting is for the gym!), selectivity is the key to keeping a well-stocked cosmetics case. With handy application tips from beauty experts, we've highlighted nine products to carry at all times so you can stay fresh-faced and fabulous.


1.  Sunscreen

We all know the importance of SPF in the summer months, but UV rays are equally damaging during the rest of the year as they are during beach season.  In order to protect your skin from future fine lines, wrinkles and sunspots, always wearing some form of SPF is key.

“Young women don’t always recognize that in just a few years they’ll be seeing their first wrinkles,” says Dr. Elizabeth Hale, a dermatological surgeon and clinical associate professor of dermatology at NYU. She stresses the importance of taking preventative measures now “rather than spending a lot of money to reverse sun damage later.”

“UVA rays are longest and can penetrate through clouds and even car windows,” Hale says. For this reason, Hale suggests looking for products with ingredients that specifically block UVA rays, such as zinc oxide. Dr. David Leffell, a professor of dermatology and surgery at the Yale School of Medicine and consultant to Coppertone.

, explains that “makeup with SPF can give women a false sense of security. While it may have a certain level of sun protection, they likely don’t apply it with the same precision they would with a sunscreen.” He suggests Coppertone Oil Free Faces Sunblock Lotion, ($9.99). “The formula is light, non-greasy and won’t clog your pores or cause breakouts,” Leffell says. “Keep sunscreen in your makeup bag, and make it your first line of defense during your morning makeup routine.”

For quick and easy application, a face stick such as the Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Stick ($8.99) is another option. 

2. Concealer

Hiding everything from under-eye bags to blemishes and breakouts, concealer is one of the most obvious beauty essentials. “Liquid concealers in tubes provide the best coverage,” says Jackie Cortes, professional makeup artist and owner of Beauty by Jackie. She says that “as long as you find an exact match to your skin tone,” all-over application is unnecessary. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to shop for concealer in a store rather than online so you can try out a few testers to find the best color match.

When it comes to application, Cortes’s advice is to rub liquid cover-up onto the back of your hand and apply it with a blush brush in a fluid, circular motion as needed, as long as you’re sure to get to the under-eye area and around the nose, where the pores are the largest.  An example of a good liquid concealer is Neutrogena’s Shine Control Liquid Makeup ($12.99).

For those more comfortable with the idea of a powdered concealer, Scott-Vincent Borba, co-founder of e.l.f., suggests using a multi-tasking touch-up foundation. He specifically recommends his Anti-Fatigue 8 Hour Mineral Foundation ($30). “This will make your skin look flawless in any light and you can layer all day if needed without looking like you have makeup on,” he says.  Another option is Mary Kay Mineral Powder Foundation ($18), which comes in 12 different color varieties.

3. A Set of Brushes

Whether you’re applying concealer, blush, bronzer or eye shadow, quality makeup brushes are necessary to ensure the best application.  “Using the right applicator is a necessity,” says Borba. He advises you invest in “one brush that does everything.”  His Anti-Fatigue Foundation/Contour Perfecting Brush ($26) includes a Micro-Exfoliation tool that has the added benefit of smoothing your skin during application.

Cortes recommends investing in a natural hair bristle brush, saying “natural hair, like a pony, will glide very smoothly on your skin.” A good example is the Sephora Collection Pro-Precision Blush Brush ($32). 

You can also find more complete sets that include different-sized brushes designed specifically for the eyes, cheeks and face, such as the Sephora Collection Tools of the Trade Brush Set ($62).  For a less expensive option, you can also check out the e.l.f Studio 11 Piece Brush Collection ($30).