11 Makeup Bag Must-Haves

Have you ever looked at the abundance of beauty products lined up in your bathroom and wondered ‘How much of this stuff do I actually need?’ We narrow down the top 10 products so you can lay claim to the world’s greatest makeup bag.

The truth is that learning how to apply makeup without looking like a circus performer is now a life skill. And knowing which products you need (and which products you don’t) is just as important.

To help you build a comprehensive yet simple makeup bag, here are our top ten must-haves.

1. Foundation

Choosing the right foundation for your skin type and tone is at the epicenter of your beauty regime. But before you delve into the wide world of foundation colors, you should start by narrowing down what type of foundation you’re going to try. Foundation comes in a cream, a powder, a stick and the well-known liquid form.

Most experts advise that you should look to your skin type for the answer of which type of foundation to use. If you have dry skin, you have the greatest range of options and you can choose from stick foundation, powder foundation (making sure it is hydrating) or liquid foundation.

For combination skin, use powder foundation. This way you can dab on more powder in your oily areas and less where you don’t need it. Stay away from stick or liquid foundation, as it won’t apply as smoothly as powder.

And for oily skin, your options are powder or liquid foundation, making sure that both are oil-free formulas. Oily skin tends to react well to mineral makeup, so it might be worth having a look at the mineral ranges too.

As for color, the old adage that you should match your foundation to the back of your hand is a crapola cupcake. Never do this. If you have a look, you’ll be able to see that the back of your hand is a completely different shade to your face. So matching to your hand is not the solution.

Instead, look to match to your jawline. Your jaw will be the ‘perfect’ color for your skin tone and once make up is applied, you won’t have that grotty two-tone thing happening where your face is white and your neck and jaw are yellow. Shudder. So match to your jawline and enjoy a, wait for it, single shade that flows from your face to your neck. Ah. That’s better, isn’t it?

2. Concealer

Woman applying concealer  3

Very few of us are lucky enough to enjoy porcelain skin that experiences a minuscule blemish once every leap year. Instead, quite frequently there are spots, dots and lots we want to cover up.

Now it might be tempting to randomly grab any concealer that might fit the bill, it’s actually very important to match your concealer to your skin type. If you get a shade too light, you’ll look like you spent the weekend skiing in the Alps, and if you get a shade too dark you’re going to look tired and worn out. Not quite the result we’re after.

So just like you tested your foundation, you should test your concealer on your jawline too. The shade should be a little lighter than your foundation. Don’t go too light, but just light enough to brighten up the area. Bobbi Brown says that your concealer should be just one shade lighter than your foundation.

A final tip from Bobbi Brown is to bring a hand mirror outside once you’ve swiped a few shades of concealer onto your jawline. The shade that disappears in natural light is your perfect foundation tone. Using this shade, go one shade lighter for your concealer.

3. Eyelash curler

Next up is an absolute makeup bag must-have: an eyelash curler. The eyelash curler is to beauty what the Mona Lisa was to Leonardo da Vinci: inspiration. Not only does this tool make your eyelashes curlier, but it also adds an element of length and thickness. When used correctly, it can transform your lashes from drab to fab and is essential before even a lick of mascara is swiped onto your lashes.

These days you can choose from a standard eyelash curler found in drugstores, or a heated eyelash curler. Both are effective and it’s simply a matter of personal choice as to what you end up with.

Whichever version you select, just make sure you keep it clean and change the pads of your curler regularly so you don’t risk eye infections or irritations.

4. Mascara

Young beautiful woman applying mascara makeup on eyes by brush

Along with foundation, mascara is probably one of the most popular makeup products out there. And boy is there a lot of it out there! From thickening to plumping to lengthening and curling, the options are endless. So which one do you choose?

Well, first you need to figure out what you want your mascara to do. If you have long, silky eyelashes then maybe you want your mascara to hold the curl? Perhaps you have short eyelashes that you’d like to lengthen? Or maybe you have naturally light eyelashes and you’d like to darken and define them?

Once you have figured out what you want your mascara to do, you can choose the color. If you don’t want to experiment with blue or other colors, then stick to plain black. It’s always a winner. Otherwise, for a more natural look you can try out brown.

5. Eye shadow

Eye shadow is one of those beauty products that can either work to accentuate your beauty, or alternatively make you look like a 70s revival act. Yup, it’s that dangerous. So choosing your eye shadow wisely is crucial.

Now we won’t even go into the liquid versus powder versus stick eye shadow deal. That’s a whole article in itself. Instead, we’re going to focus on colors. But first, a disclaimer: do not buy any eye shadow without first trying it out.

Go to a beauty counter, get them to apply a few colors and ask their advice. Tip: If your beauty girl looks like Picasso has taken a paintbrush to her face (ooh, we’re getting quite artistic in this article, aren’t we?) and you don’t want to look like an impressionist painting, then don’t take her advice. Run for the hills if possible and if not, choose someone with a makeup style you admire.

Okay, back to colors. Now there’s always going to be conflicting advice on what eye shadow colors suit which eye colors best, so basically, you’re going to have to make your own call. But if you want a starting point, here are some guidelines you can work with:

  • For blue eyes: Try shades of pink, purple, orange and silver. Avoid shades of blue and green.
  • For green eyes: Try shades of red and gray.
  • For brown eyes: Try shades of well, anything. You’re pretty darn lucky actually. I’d stay away from pinks, blues and greens though. But earth colours, purples and golds all look smashing on you.
  • Hazel eyes can experiment with loads of shades, but I’d try before you buy.

6. Eyeliner

The young beautiful girl does Eyeliner makeup

The picture frame of your eyes, eyeliner is another must-have beauty product. Now, I’m going to be pretty brief on this product because I believe it’s less about the type of eyeliner you choose and more about the application that counts.

But in saying that, there are still some options. You can either have a pencil eyeliner, liquid eyeliner or powder eyeliner. You can also make your powder eyeliner liquid.

As for shades, well I would personally stick to brown or black for day-to-day wear. Brown is softer and less obvious, whereas black can be more of a style statement. Blues, greens, purples and other colors should be kept for ‘special occasions’. You should also follow the same rules for eyeliner color as you did for eye shadow color, as similar colors will flatter your features.

7. Brow liner

Now you might think that brow liner is more of an optional extra, like a sunroof on a car, rather than a must-have, like the engine. But actually, brow liner is probably even more important than mascara.

Bold statement I know, but your brows frame your face. They can make your eyes seem bigger and wider, or they can make them appear small and squinty. The power of the brows is infinite. And even if you regularly get your eyebrows tinted, you still need to swipe on some brow liner to complete the look.

Choosing a brow liner is actually really easy, just match it to the shade of your eyebrows. You can probably go one or two shades darker if your eyebrows are especially light, but don’t deviate too far from your natural color. While it might seem like a good idea to draw black onto your decidedly light brown eyebrows, it’s not. Trust me. You want to enhance your look, not destroy it.

8. Blush

Next up is my personal favorite beauty product: the quintessential blush. With the ability to transform even the most sallow pallor into blushing beauty, this is one makeup bag must-have.

To choose a blush, opt for either powder or liquid. This is more of a personal choice than what’s best for your skin type, so try a few different types of blush to see what sits best on your skin and what feels nice.

As a general guideline, you can choose colors based on your skin tone. Here are some suggestions:

  • Fair skin: Stick to light, natural looking pinks.
  • Medium skin: Try middle-range tones like peach and rose pink. Avoid light pinks or browns.
  • Dark skin: The perfect range is from rose to burnt orange. Avoid browns or light pinks.

*Color ranges courtesy of makeupgeek.com

9. Lip color

colorful lipsticks and lipgloss

Woo hoo – finally we have arrived at lip color. Luscious, delicious, sweet lip color. And wowzers are the choices infinite. Beauty brands seem to delight in offering four thousand different shades of red, so it’s up to you to choose just the right one to add a glow to your face.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you out in the cold though. Instead, I’m going to offer advice from the wonderful Bobbi Brown:

“If I had to teach someone just one thing about lip color it would be this: Find a lipstick that looks good on your face when you are wearing absolutely no makeup.”

Pretty sound advice, right?

Bobbi Brown also suggests sticking to colors that are no more than two shades darker than your natural lip color as this will be the most flattering. As for siren reds, well it’s all in the undertones.

You can identify the undertone of your skin by flipping your arm over and looking at your veins. If they appear green, then you have a yellow undertone. If they look blue or purple, then you have a pink undertone. From this, you can ask your beauty counter babe to suggest colors for your undertone.

10. Brush set

No artist is complete without a set of quality hand tools. So why should makeup be any different?

Now this doesn’t mean you have to go out and spend a motza on brushes in every shape and size. But it does mean you need a couple of essentials. Here are the basic brushes that should grace your makeup bag:

  • Foundation brush
  • Powder brush
  • Blush brush
  • Eye shadow brush
  • Eye shadow blending brush
  • Eyeliner/brow brush
  • Lip brush

11. Translucent powder

Last but not least, we have the magnificent translucent powder. Designed to set your makeup as well as decrease shine and reduce the size of pores, lines and imperfections it’s a must-have product to complete your look.

Your translucent powder should be silky, soft and not change the color of your skin tone at all.

So there you go – the top 11 makeup bag must-haves. What do you think? Would there be any you’d add? Or any you don’t use? Let us know!

About the author

Cassandra Lane

While Cassandra readily admits to being a rampant cupcake aficionada (how could she not be with an almost-brother-in-law that owns not one, but three cupcake shops?) she happily works off her lust of all things sweet and sugary by slogging it out in the gym and outdoors.

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