Best Cosmetic Bags

Updated December 2021
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Buying guide for best cosmetic bags

Let’s face it: drawers, pencil holders, and purse bottoms are no place to keep makeup. Life is much easier – and organized – when your cosmetics are all in one spot. That’s why a cosmetic bag is the perfect home for the products you can’t live without.

Cosmetic bags can be small enough to fit in your purse or big enough to bring your full collection on a trip. Equipped with pockets, zipper compartments, and brush holders, each makeup item can have its own home in a cosmetic bag. Some cosmetic bags are waterproof because spills or contact with water is often inevitable when applying makeup in the bathroom.

If you’re someone who appreciates the convenience of a well-organized makeup collection, then a cosmetic bag is essential. Our buying guide has all you need to know when shopping for a new cosmetic bag, and you’ll find our top five products in the matrix above.

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Make sure the cosmetic bag you choose is large enough to accommodate your largest bottle, brush, or compact.

Key considerations


Compact cosmetic bags are ideal for keeping a few makeup items in your purse or gym bag for on-the-go touch-ups. These cosmetic bags usually don’t have many compartments, if any, with a simple divider or just one zipper pocket. Compact cosmetic bags are around six inches long and four inches tall, which is enough room to hold a concealer, powder compact, small powder brush, and lipstick for touch-ups.

Standard cosmetic bags will hold the majority of your makeup collection. Many consumers use standard cosmetic bags in lieu of keeping products stuffed in drawers or exposed on a vanity. These bags have a variety of organization levels, from one or two compartments to many individual compartments for separating makeup products. Standard cosmetic bags are approximately eight inches long and six inches tall and can hold about two dozen products.

Travel cases offer the most organization and tend to be more rigid in order to be luggage-friendly. Travel cases optimize space and keep makeup products secure. They have multiple compartments for packing your cosmetics and brushes. Travel cases are between 10 and 12 inches long and about eight inches tall. They can hold a large assortment of cosmetics, including bulky eyeshadow palettes.


Cosmetic bags come with a varying number of compartments. The simplest cosmetic bags have one large compartment to hold all your makeup items. Other cosmetic bags have pockets, zippered areas, and mesh bags. Many have slots for holding brushes. If you like a highly organized makeup bag, look for one with a number of different compartments.



Because cosmetic bags sustain daily wear and tear, all materials should be ultra-strong with high tensile strength. Cosmetic bags are usually made of material blends that include cotton, canvas, polyester, and nylon. Many styles feature vinyl or plastic linings to make cleaning easy.


Some cosmetic bags, especially travel cases, are waterproof. This is an ideal feature that protects pricey makeup products from water damage. That said, even waterproof bags aren’t 100% waterproof. Waterproof cosmetic bags are more accurately described as water-resistant. Small amounts of water will bead off these cosmetic bags, but they can’t handle full immersion.


Cosmetic bags come in a broad range of colors and patterns. If you’re looking for a discreet, professional bag, neutrals like black or dark blue are always a good option. For a pop of color, opt for neons, pastels, or eye-catching patterns.

"Cosmetic bags kept in bathrooms should be waterproof, considering their close proximity to water."


TSA-approved travel bottles:  LiquiSnugs Leakproof TSA-Approved Silicone Travel Bottles
Take the guesswork out of packing your cosmetic bag in your carry-on with the help of pre-measured, pre-approved travel bottles. We like the LiquiSnugs Leakproof TSA-Approved Silicone Travel Bottles, especially their twist-and-display labeling system. This three-pack is also ideal if you’re short on space in a hotel bathroom as each bottle has suction cups.

Stain remover pen: Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover Liquid Pen
Keep a stain remover pen in your cosmetic bag to spot clean makeup stains. It’s also good to have on hand for clothing stains. We like the Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover Liquid Pen because it’s small enough to fit in any bag. The bleach-free formula is safe for virtually any material, too, including upholstery.

Travel makeup brush: EcoTools Retractable Kabuki Travel Brush
Travel-size brushes optimize space in your cosmetic bag. We like the EcoTools Retractable Kabuki Travel Brush, which is a mere 3.5 inches and weighs less than three ounces. It’s ideal for applying blush, bronzer, powder, or foundation.

Cosmetic bag prices

Cosmetic bags range from about $8 to $40, depending on size, the quality of the materials, and the level of organization they offer.

Budget-friendly cosmetic bags cost $8 to $20. You’ll find compact styles as well as some standard cosmetic bags for this price.

Mid-range cosmetic bags cost $20 to $30 and feature better construction. Travel cases in this price range tend to be waterproof and come with hangers and extra compartments.

If you’re willing to spend between $30 and $40, you’ll find premium-quality cosmetic bags with multiple compartments as well as unique folding styles that optimize space.


  • Spot clean regularly to avoid harsh cleanings. Use gentle soap or vinegar to wipe away stains from powders and liquids in your cosmetic bag before they become permanent.
  • For purses, opt for flexible cosmetic bags. Rigid bags are more difficult to fit into purses, so flexible cosmetic bags are ideal.
  • For backpacks and totes, opt for bags with integrity. Cosmetic bags with frames, even flexible ones, retain their shape to fit around electronics, water bottles, and books.
  • Not all pencils fit in compact cosmetic bags. Full-size eyebrow, eyeliner, and lip pencils are often too long to fit in smaller cosmetic bags.
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To keep the contents of your travel cosmetic bag to a minimum, only pack the products you need to achieve a full face of makeup.


Q. Do I really need a waterproof cosmetic bag?
While you don’t need a waterproof cosmetic bag, it comes in handy if you apply your makeup in the bathroom. Water could saturate a regular cosmetic bag and get your products wet. A waterproof cosmetic bag protects expensive makeup purchases.

Q. Are there dedicated spaces for nail polish and manicure tools in a cosmetic bag?
Larger and more compartmentalized cosmetic bags have the space to accommodate nail products. Since polish bottles are usually glass, opt for a cosmetic bag that is lined with padding or velour to reduce the chances of shattering. As far as manicure tools go, take advantage of brush and pencil slots to organize files, cuticle pushers, and tweezers.

Q. Will a small cosmetic bag fit my makeup brushes?
Compact styles aren’t ideal for full-size makeup brushes, though you may be able to stuff a few inside diagonally. However, this might damage the bristles, especially if they catch in the zipper. Opt for travel-size brushes when using compact cosmetic bags.

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