Makeup is dirty. Not in a moral sense, but quite literally, makeup. Is. Dirty. All those liquids, creams, and powders leave behind colored residue on every surface they touch, and easily turn your beautiful makeup bag—well, it was beautiful when you bought it. Now it’s fallen victim to stains and spills and stretched-out zippers, and even though you can still use it, you don’t love to. To get the most out of your makeup products and their handy dandy vessel, treat it right! By tweaking the way you use care for your makeup bag ever so slightly, you can really extend its life and replace it less often. Below, five tips to anticipate the mess and prevent it from happening.
Put your brushes in a plastic bag
Let’s skip conversation about how often you’re supposed to wash your makeup brushes. It’s always more frequently than you’re realistically going to do, and it’s so tempting to throw your dirty brushes right back from whence they came after you’re finished applying your makeup. But the colored residue from products stains (or at least sullies) whatever material’s lining your makeup bag. To keep it as clean as possible, start getting as much color product as you can off your brushes before putting it away. Making circles on a tissue is an easy way to do that. Then, keep a Ziploc sandwich bag inside your makeup bag, and designate that for brushes. Putting anything dirty into solitary confinement will make a huge difference in the cleanliness of your bag, so you can wash it less and love it longer. Plus, it’s actually really helpful to have all your brushes in one place. When they’re floating around a makeup bag, it’s tricky to see what tools you’re working with.
Tape the lids of things that might open
A moment, please, for all the bags and pockets ruined by a lipstick cap that pursued freedom over duty. To prevent waste and mess, critically assess which products seem the most likely to lose their cool when thrown around a makeup bag. Magnetic tops are usually the first to slip off. Oils are notorious for leaking on airplanes or when left sideways for too long. Give click-on lipstick tops a little wiggle to see how secure they are once they’re on, and do the same thing for powder palettes—if the tops of those come off, the product can crumble in the pan. If anything feels suspicious, just seal the top on with a little bit of tape before throwing it in your bag. If you’re carrying it around or traveling with it, the tape is like an extra insurance policy.
Know how to clean your bag, just in case
Plastic and coated fabric is easily wiped off with a soapy washcloth, but if that’s not enough to remove makeup globs, try attacking them with a little bit of makeup remover on a cotton round. Nylon and cloth bags can be machine washed on the delicates setting, or hand washed. If your bag is cloth on the inside and something more fragile, like leather, on the outside, you can turn the bag inside-out and use a soft, damp toothbrush with a little bit of detergent on it to scrub out any stains without soaking through the material. If the makeup stain in question is from something oil-based, swap out the detergent for dish soap or baking soda. (With the latter, just apply the dry baking soda to the spot, wait 20 minutes, and come back later to brush it off and assess.) If greasy makeup does get on the outside of your soft leather bag, try mixing a concoction of one part warm water and one part dish soap until it gets foamy. Dab the foam on the stain (without rubbing), let it sit, wipe it off, and apply something absorbent, like cornstarch, to sit overnight. Cleaning is never a big deal if you know how to do it.
Maintain your zipper
If the fabric on the sides of your zipper seems like it’s pulling, you’re probably asking too much of it—remember, makeup bags are not stretchy jeans, and hard plastic bottles won’t squeeze to fit. If you feel your zipper getting stuck, don’t just yank it closed! It’s a good time to try and practice editing—taking out one or two products often does the job. Too late? You might be able to repair the zipper yourself without chucking the whole bag. For a stuck zipper, try lubricating the track with Windex, bar soap, lip balm, or Vaseline as you gently pull it down. If the zipper is made of metal, you can use a little WD-40, or even the graphite from a pencil. (It sounds weird, but it works.) If the issue is separation, look for any wonky teeth and bend them back in place with a pair of pliers. Try sliding the zipper over them afterwards. In truly desperate cases a dry cleaner or shoemaker can help you out.
Make your own minis
Travel-sized products? Brands want you to think you need ‘em, but in reality, there are a million ways to make your beauty products small (and therefore more makeup bag-friendly). A lot of big stores will make you small, travel-sized samples if you ask nicely. This is particularly helpful for fragrance and color cosmetics, which are tricky to decant on your own. If you do want to decant stuff you already have, the best little bottles are at Muji. But an even better (and more sustainably-minded) way to do it is just by saving, washing, and repurposing packaging you might already have. Hotel shampoo bottles can be refilled over and over again. Try washing out a serum bottle (if it’s glass, you can likely throw it in the dishwasher) and filling it with a bit of toner liquid instead. Little lip balm or eye cream jars can be cleaned and filled with whatever moisturizer you want. Following? If you have an eye or lip liner pencil you can’t live without, designate your half-used nub for travel. The smaller product is perfect for throwing into a bag or even a wallet, and you can buy a new one for use at home.
Photo via ITG