How to revamp your make-up bag

From storage solutions to sneaky tips, here’s how to make your messy old make-up bag feel like the beauty counter at Selfridges (almost)

Added on

By Hannah Banks-Walker on

New year, new make-up bag. That’s the old adage, isn’t it? Oh, whatever. The thing is, just because we’ve reached a new month, it doesn’t mean we all need to overhaul our lives, get a new job, get a new body, get a new life. I don’t necessarily want to give up drinking wine or eating sausage rolls, I just may not be doing it with such gay abandon as I was at Christmas (otherwise known as a few days ago). There is, however, a lot to be said for feeling a bit more organised after a period of indulgence, when you’ve been living in pyjamas, eating chocolate for breakfast and slipping Bailey’s into every hot drink you ever make (no? Just me?). So, I’m here to make an argument for something you can do easily, without spending lots of money, that will instantly make you feel invigorated, organised and ready to face a new year. It’s organising your make-up bag. 

I often see photographs of shelves, bathroom surfaces and beautiful make-up bags on social media. They’re pristine, tidy, organised – colour coded, even. My (old) make-up bag is not. I shove each and every piece of make-up I’ve ever used into it and carry the whole thing around with me like I need 456 beauty products on my face at any given time. Which I don’t. It is nice to have options, though. But travelling has become an issue, so I think it’s time to clean it out. I am going to be the Marie Kondo of the make-up world. And so are you, after you’ve seen these excellent tips and tricks (if I do say so myself).

Clean the inside of your make-up bag

If your bag itself is in a bit of a state, there are things you can do rather than chucking it away. The most effective way to clean it is by turning it inside out and using make-up wipes to remove any stains. I realise that this is not particularly helpful for the environment, however. So, if you’re avoiding single-use make-up wipes, try using a damp cloth and some make-up remover (I use micellar water). Also, if it’s fabric, chances are it can go in the washing machine. Just be sure to wash on a low temperature to avoid disasters.

Stash your brushes

If Marie Kondo can write four books about organising, I am not ashamed to tell you that the day I bought a pot to hold my make-up brushes was a very good day indeed. It really is astonishing, the effect that decluttering can have on a person. I feel like a grown-up and have considerably more space in my make-up bag for important things (like four glittery eyeshadows, just in case I have an emergency party to attend). Bridie Hall makes lovely, colourful brush pots emblazoned with letters or, for a slightly cheaper alternative, Quail’s leopard pen pot will look fab on your dressing table.

Clean your tools

Washing your brushes is important, but that doesn’t mean you need to pay a load of money for a ridiculous machine that claims to clean them for you. All you really need is some soap, water and the palm of your hand. If, however, even that’s too much of a faff, you can just buy some cleaner (Mac’s brush cleaner is my personal fave, recommended to me by countless make-up artists) and rinse your brushes with that. If you use a Beauty Blender, you may want to try the microwave trick, which involves the following steps:

1 Half fill a mug with water and a small amount of washing-up liquid.

2 Place your Beauty Blender inside

3 Put in the microwave for one minute

4 Repeat all steps once more

It emerges looking as good as new. You’re welcome. Also, while you’re at it, try putting your lipstick in the freezer to remove all the bacteria that inevitably builds up over time. Just don’t forget where you’ve left it.

Organise your make-up

See? I’ve gone full Kondo. But I really am hankering after one of Trish McEvoy’s Makeup Planners, which offer compartments for everything and will surely lead to an easier life. Or an easier morning routine, at least (unless you don’t wear make-up, which is fine. But also, please don’t tweet me to express your anger upon reading an article about wearing make-up). There are other options, too. It Cosmetics, for example, has this make-up bag, complete with a brush roll (a separate compartment for tools and brushes that rolls out).

If you’re looking for organisation at home, I’m slightly obsessed with the idea of this rotating storage box from Amazon, which would make all your products tidy and accessible – double whammy. Or, look for expandable drawers to make the most of the storage space you have. For a solution that’s under a tenner, too, have a look at this.

Decant your products

Oh, the horror of a broken palette. Or compact. Or blusher. Or bronzer, for that matter. Those last, precious grains, sitting there – inaccessible. For the love of Pete, people, don’t waste them. Just buy yourself some handy acrylic pots and decant like nobody’s watching. My friend Sam also recommends the same thing for travelling. She decants her favourite cleansers, moisturisers and serums and hasn’t taken any more than hand luggage for at least two years. Winner.

Failing all else, buy a new make-up bag

If, actually, all you want is a brand new make-up bag, then here are some of the loveliest that money can buy. If, after a few months, it’s covered in broken blusher, then you know what to do…  




Sign up

Love this? Sign up to receive our Today in 3 email, delivering the latest stories straight to your inbox every morning, plus all The Pool has to offer. You can manage your email subscription preferences at My Profile at any time

Tagged in:
beauty advice
Hannah Banks-Walker

Tap below to add to your homescreen

Love The Pool? Support us and sign up to get your favourite stories straight to your inbox