9 best make-up bags for everyday organisation and travelling

·8-min read
We’ve been testing out storage solutions of all shapes, sizes and price, from collapsible designs to luxurious leather styles (iStock/The Independent)
We’ve been testing out storage solutions of all shapes, sizes and price, from collapsible designs to luxurious leather styles (iStock/The Independent)

Our make-up products can quickly take up space as we replace the old and try out the new. And there’s nothing worse than rooting around a tatty old bag or coat pocket for your favourite lipstick, foundation brush or contour stick in a blind panic. Instead, stay organised in your beauty routine with a make-up bag.

Whether you’re a make-up artist with a growing kit or a frequent traveller in need of something with plenty of compartments, we’ve got you covered.

How we tested

Over the past six weeks, we’ve been testing out storage solutions of all shapes, sizes and prices, from collapsible designs that open flat, to luxurious leather styles.

When testing each one, we considered designs, practicality, form, function and of course, style.

We carefully rated each on how well they fit our biggest, clunkier products, how easy they were to travel with and if they made finding our favourite products easier.

Read more:

The best make-up bags for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Mac clearly Mac trio: £32, Maccosmetics.co.uk

  • Best collapsible bag – The Flat Lay Co. X Asos exclusive open flat makeup box: £19.99, Asos.com

  • Best for bottles and pots – Trinny London big travel bag the atlantic: £29, Trinnylondon.com

  • Best for travel – Away the cosmetics bag: £65, Awaytravel.com

  • Best for skincare – Glossier the beauty bag: £28, Glossier.com

  • Best small make-up bag – Aspinal of London medium London case: £95, Aspinaloflondon.com

  • Best large travel bag – Space NK travel bag large: £34, Spacenk.com

  • Best luxury case – Beautifect box: £279, Beautifect.com

  • Best budget buy – Beauty Banks Cosmetic Bag, Cher Webb: £4.99, Superdrug.com

Mac clearly Mac trio

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

This set of three is superb at categorising your products. We loved using the biggest bag for our entire everyday make-up collection, as it could easily fit eyeshadow palettes, foundation bottles, our biggest brushes and chunky compacts. Meanwhile the medium size came in handy for our skincare routine and the smallest fit four full-size lipsticks, but was also ideal for hair slides, clips and bands.

The zip fastenings on all three are sturdy, with thick perspex that can mould to bigger products and there was enough room to fit tubes, bottles, pots and pen products.

Buy now £32.00, Maccosmetics.co.uk

The Flat Lay Co. X Asos exclusive open flat makeup box

Best: Collapsible bag

Rating: 9/10

This versatile make-up bag doubles up as a protective mat and a box that opens up to reveal a spacious tray. Even when fully packed with foundation bottles, lipsticks, setting sprays and eyeshadow palettes, it folds down to fit neatly into a tote bag, and takes up very little space in an overnight bag too.

When opened up, it makes finding smaller products, such as eyebrow pencils, easy to find, and you’re not left rummaging in a panic. It’s ideal if you want something to chuck your products in and go, as you don’t need to be organised in order to find what you need. If you’re a lazy packer, you can’t go wrong with this.

Buy now £19.99, Asos.com

Trinny London big travel bag the atlantic

Best: For bottles and pots

Rating: 9/10

If you have a larger makeup kit, or want to fit your skincare products in as well, this bigger zipped box-style bag from Trinny London is excellent. We loved the depth of this, which allowed us to stand tubs and pots upright, fit all our brushes and tools, such as eyelash curlers, without it bursting at the seams. The plastic material is also easy to clean if you have an accidental spillage, simply wipe down with a damp cloth.

It’s available in a smaller size too; the jubilee (£24, Trinnylondon.com) but there’s only a £5 difference between the two and much more bang for your buck in the larger version. You can also buy the pair as a set (£50, Trinnylondon.com).

Buy now £29.00, Trinnylondon.com

Away the cosmetics bag

Best: For travel

Rating: 9/10

This Nylon bag from chic suitcase brand Away, keeps everything in place easily thanks to the three compartments. One is a brush holder that keeps bristles flat and secure, a large zipped section with a see-through lid and a smaller inner zip pocket that stays permanently attached.

It’s perfect if you want to keep your beauty stash neat and organised at all times, without having to unpack it when travelling, you can simply unzip it and leave it on the bathroom counter. The nylon outer is water-resistant too, which wiped clean from a splash of foundation we accidentally flicked on it. Spacious but efficient, this is a worthwhile investment for a frequent traveller.

Buy now £65.00, Awaytravel.com

Glossier the beauty bag

Best: For skincare

Rating: 8/10

Glossier earns plenty of style points with its make-up bag. The millennial beauty brand’s first make-up bag has proved another popular item in its line-up, adorned with the well-recognised light pink and red colours.

While it doesn’t open very wide, this isn’t a downside, as it can easily store bottles of cleanser, foundation and setting spray upright without falling over and the red interior pouch is removable if you wanted more room. The zipped front pocket is a nice touch too for storing smaller products, we used it for tweezers and our pencil sharpener. There are four pockets on the inside too which are ideal for smaller pots of eyebrow pomade and tubes of lip gloss.

Buy now £28.00, Glossier.com

Aspinal of London medium London case

Best: Small makeup bag

Rating: 8/10

For lovers of luxury, this leather cosmetics case is a beauty. Soft, without losing its structure, it’s neat, compact and keeps everything tidy at all times. We were able to store our foundation upright, but it also fit make-up brushes surprisingly well too and came in handy for a weekend away, taking up little room in our suitcase.

It’s available in four colours, this vibrant orange, black, grey and blue. It’s much more accommodating than we were expecting, with a generous depth and lavish navy interior. There’s a small internal pocket for holding smaller items also and the signature Aspinal of London hardware for a lovely finishing touch.

Buy now £95.00, Aspinaloflondon.com

Space NK travel bag large

Best: Large and wide bag

Rating: 9/10

While this looks shallow, it’s the widest bag we tried and it fits every product imaginable with ease. It slots into a large handbag or carry-on, so if you struggle to travel light, it’s perfect. It’s robust too, made with perspex and faux leather trim, and was plenty big enough to fit our hair care products as well as our entire skincare and make-up routine.

When a lipgloss spill occurred, it was very speedy to wipe clean too, and despite the perspex design, it doesn’t look or feel cheap. A great make-up bag if you want everything where you can see it.

Buy now £34.00, Spacenk.com

Beautifect box

Best: Luxury case

Rating: 8/10

This is for those who really want to invest in make-up storage that’s high-tech. It’s certainly not cheap, but it’s sturdy, durable and very spacious. There are compartments and flaps to keep your tools and products separated, as well as an LED light-up mirror that has five colour modes, three brightness settings and even a 5x magnification mirror that can be attached. Think of it as a make-up bag and station in one.

It feels like a mini suitcase, with a hard shell exterior, and while it does need charging with the USB cable that comes included to power the light-up mirror, a full charge when using it on full power will last a week. If your make-up routine is where you like to spend your money, this is an impressive piece of kit, that’s aesthetically pleasing but equally functional.

Buy now £279.00, Beautifect.com

Beauty Banks cosmetic bag, Cher Webb

Best: Budget buy

Rating: 8/10

This is your classic chuck it all in bag, that’s simple, affordable and has a playful, colourful print featuring rainbows.

It’s one of four designs from Beauty Banks, a grassroots charity founded by journalist Sali Hughes and beauty PR Jo Jones. Its aim is to eradicate hygiene poverty, supplying personal care and hygiene products through donations, drop-off points around the UK and through financial donations. It launched a range of cosmetic bags in collaboration with four influencers; Cher Webb, Sam and Nic Chapman, Sali Hughes herself and Gary Thompson, aka Plastic Boy.

This one is budget-friendly and made from recycled materials, with 100 per cent of the net profits going towards Beauty Banks. It’s fuss-free and a generous size to store your beauty stash and you can’t go wrong for less than a fiver.

Buy now £4.99, Superdrug.com

The verdict: Make-up bags

We adored the Mac clearly Mac trio set that allows you to swap and change what size bag you needed depending on the products you need. The smaller sizes were especially useful for touch-up items such as lipstick, a make-up sponge or comb.

For something more affordable, we’d highly recommend The Flat Lay Co. X Asos exclusive open flat makeup box. It folds down to a slim design, but when unzipped, opens up into a generously sized bag that allows you to easily find what you’re looking for.

Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on make-up and other beauty buys, try the links below:

If you’re looking to make a statement with your eyes, read our review of best waterproof mascaras that won’t smudge, crumble or smear

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting