Please help me make up my mind about a makeup bag
May 5, 2011 6:18 AM   Subscribe

I need a new makeup bag that meets certain criteria: elegance, cleanliness, and durability.

I want this bag to be attractive, even elegant, to the point of passing for a small purse when carried by itself to the ladies’ room. And I want it to be easily kept spotless. Ladies (and some gentlemen) of MeFi, you’ll know what I mean when I say that makeup bags always wind up getting icky. Powder leaks from compacts, foundation spills, lipstick covers come off. Most makeup bags aren’t machine washable and makeup stains/crud can be next to impossible to remove by hand washing. So I end up replacing the bag because I can't stand to have one that looks dirty. I hate to think how many makeup bags I’ve gone through in the last twenty years or so. I don't want to keep buying dollar store bags that wind up in a landfill.

The best idea I’ve come up with yet is to sew a makeup bag with a detachable lining that can be machine washed – and to make two or three linings so I’ll always have a clean one to put in the bag.

But perhaps there’s a better option out there? Does anyone else know of a makeup bag that meets these criteria, such as one that can be successfully wiped out with a damp cloth? Do you have tips on how to magically keep the bag clean? Or do you have a style of makeup bag to recommend for me to make? Because hey, if I'm going to make one it might as well be the best makeup bag ever.
posted by orange swan to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Do you need a really structured bag? How much are you carrying? I think one of these Planet Wise mini wet-dry bags would make a great make-up bag, but it only has two pockets and no real structure. It is machine washable and I think one in black would be pretty inconspicuous.
posted by anaelith at 6:54 AM on May 5, 2011

I have a small mesh bag from Walker Bags that I have been carrying daily for more than 7 years. I seriously think it is completely indestructible. I've had some spills with powder or lipgloss and I've washed it in a sink with dr bronners soap and a brush, I imagine throwing it in a washer would have no negative effect at all.
Bonus info: Walker doesn't charge shipping. I have no earthly idea why they don't advertise the hell out of that fact.
posted by 8dot3 at 6:55 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

The metallic mesh ones are a little more 'clutch purse' looking, since you are looking for something more attractive.
posted by 8dot3 at 6:58 AM on May 5, 2011

I'd make my own, since you say you can. It's not cheap, but Marimekko has awesome PVC coated cotton, which keeps the goo and powder IN the bag, if it were to sift through your washable lining. Sheeet. I'm about to go make one up for myself now that you've brought it up. Sounds like a great idea.

Otherwise, I've used a pencil case - this one actually - but it only holds so much (a compact and several lipsticks, a gloss, and a lip pencil).
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:04 AM on May 5, 2011

Do you need a really structured bag? How much are you carrying?

Pretty basic stuff, really. A lipstick or two, a compact, foundation, sponges, eyeliner, mascara, a comb, an emery board, a plastic cannister of ibuprofen, and a couple of tampons. So I don't really need structure though it would be nice. An opaque bag is a must, however — no clear plastic or mesh.

I like the envelope style of bag, and have found a tutorial on how to make one. I'm trying to figure out how to put a detachable lining in it.
posted by orange swan at 7:25 AM on May 5, 2011

I love Lexie Barnes bags, they're very wipe-able and cute, I use the smaller sized Minis (and then there's this new one called Pearl which seems specifically designed for your purpose here) for all kinds of different things and they've always been really easy to keep clean.

BTW, if you end up making your own, has some really cute laminated fabrics.
posted by at 7:29 AM on May 5, 2011

If this isn't too kludged together, why not just put a plastic zipper bag as a lining inside a nicer bag? I keep all my crap in quart Ziplocs with the sliders, but they have multiple sizes. The sliders actually look similar to the sliders on, say, some of the makeup brush cases I have.
posted by Madamina at 7:36 AM on May 5, 2011

I'm having a hard time finding a link, but you might want to look at some of the higher end diaper bag makers. They tend to make big bags, but also tiny ones that just hold a couple diapers and wipes to go inside the larger ones. They are almost always washable, and they tend to be called "clutches" or something similar.
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:37 AM on May 5, 2011

I see you are in Canada! I've found that Winners has an awesome makeup bag selection; I got one for around 15-20 bucks at winners that looks a bit like this, but metallic silver with a top zipper opening with a plastic compartment to hold makeup brushes. The whole inside is polyester, and the outside is nice woven synthetic stuff, so wiping it clean (or scrubbing with a toothbrush if I spill, say, eyeliner powder) is easy.
posted by Acer_saccharum at 7:45 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

re: how to attach lining - maybe snaps? and put a bit of ribbon along the outside to hide the snaps being sewn into the fashion fabric?
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:04 AM on May 5, 2011

Acer_saccharum has a good idea there - I've seen a lot of cute practical (wipeable/cleanable) makeup bags at Winners lately that could easily pass for a small fancy purse. There were some fun shiny Steve Madden (I think?) ones last time I was shopping there, and I was tempted to buy one - the one I was looking at was $17. They had a whole shelf of them over by the discount perfumes.
posted by flex at 9:47 AM on May 5, 2011

Do you like Orla Kiely? I have found the coated cotton/canvas to be incredibly durable and if you like those kind of designs it may be what you are looking for. I found some at endless, but they are everywhere.
posted by 58 at 10:33 AM on May 5, 2011

The idea of putting a plastic zip pouch in a nice fabric envelope-style vanity case is a good one. Then I'd have the option of using the vanity case as a purse, as well.

I think I'll look around for a plastic bag first and then make the make-up bag just the right size to contain it.
posted by orange swan at 10:35 AM on May 5, 2011

Seconding Madamina, ziploc bags inside your main bag are the way to go! This keeps your pretty bags clean and organized, makes it easy to transfer between bags, and you can replace the ziplocs as often as you like cheaply and guilt-free.
posted by platinum at 3:09 PM on May 5, 2011

They aren't super cheap, but Vera Bradley has some nice cosmetic bags - they're plastic lined (so they are easy to clean) and come in several cute patterns.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:52 PM on May 5, 2011

Not knowing what you consider to be purse-like, I'll offer a few suggestions. The bags often use oilcloth or PUL (some kind of waterproof and wipeable lining - often used in diaper covers too. Oilcloth is what those waterproof tablecloths are made of, but the new versions have a much nicer feel and hand (which is "how it drapes" - stiff vs. loose).
- oilcloth makeup bags (more here, under 'oilcloth bag' and 'waterproof makeup bags'- play with the search terms.
- flowers
- waterproof, lined, wipeable and monogrammed!
- daytripper cosmetic bag
- I have started buying all kinds of "bageez" or reuseable snack/sandwich bags for various uses. This is a small green Pucci case, with velcro, but they come in lots of types all over Etsy and the web. If you search for "reusable snack bag" you'll find a huge variety of bags that can be rinsed out and sometimes put in the top rack of the dishwasher. Here's a cute black waterproof pouch with a zipper!
- Very simple, solid color waterproof zipper bags. The seller has a number of other options too.
- Tumi with nylon lining
- B.E. waterproof makeup bag with two sides - this is nice, I've seen it before
- Anna Sui waterproof pouch
- the interior of this bag is not wipeable but the lining is waterproof. The seller looks very capable and might be able to make you a bag to your specifications!
posted by barnone at 10:09 AM on May 6, 2011

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