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Make the Most of Your Makeup Bag

  • Choose the compact car over the SUV of makeup bags: Finding things quickly in cosmetic pouches with lots of bells and whistles—like a vibrant pattern, silk lining or enough room for a family of four and your entire makeup wardrobe—can be a challenge. Makeup artist Kristofer Buckle, who has carried his kit all over the world from Moscow to Los Angeles, suggests looking for something that's smaller than you think you need (to ensure everything inside stays snug and won't break from bouncing around), that's transparent (to locate the concealer that got lost in the shuffle) and that can be cleaned with soap and water (because spills happen). Try this cost-effective and TSA-approved Modella cosmetic case, $6 ( for stores).

  • Don't just dump: Compartmentalize your collection by separating makeup into different categories (eyeshadow, lip color, blush, etc.) and keep each grouping in a separate clear Ziploc bag. If something breaks or leaks in transit, the problem is contained, says Buckle. Stack heavier bags (like those filled with foundation or lipstick) at the bottom, and keep brushes, soft tubes and delicate powders closer to the top.

  • Ensure powders arrive in one piece: To prevent your eyeshadow quad or bronzer from shattering, stick it in a plastic bag with a few makeup sponges for padding, says Buckle. And even if you don't use it, save the puff that comes with your pressed powder; keeping it inside the compact helps absorb some of the shock of your suitcase being tossed into the bottom of a plane or onto a baggage carousel, he adds.

  • Baby your brushes: Cramming your tools into your bag can leave you with bent bristles or broken handles. Buckle likes to pack his brushes separately in a zippered pencil case that anchors each brush in an individual elastic band (like this version from To keep the case clean, pinch the tops of any brushes used to apply cream products (like concealer or gel eyeliner) with a tissue before putting them away.

  • Bundle your bag: If you're stashing your cosmetic case in your carry-on, sandwich it between socks and other washable items. Checking your suitcase? Look for a small, hard makeup case (like the Sephora Mini Metro Train Case, $55) that adds an additional layer of protection.

    Next: Find the sweet spot for your purse
  • Make the Most of Your Purse

  • Carry only the essentials: Rebecca Minkoff, designer and self-described purse minimalist, says she sees a lot of women schlepping around everything from a hardbound book to enough makeup for a movie premiere. Your purse should ideally be 5 percent of your body weight—10 percent at the max, says Karen Erickson, DC, a New York–based chiropractor. That means if you weigh 165 pounds (the average weight of the American woman according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), your bag should be about 8 pounds. A heavier weight forces the body to tilt forward or causes your shoulders to "micro-shrug," putting excess strain on the trapezius muscle—leading to back, neck and shoulder soreness, and even tension headaches. Pack what you really need (wallet, cell phone, house keys) and keep the rest (charger, planner, coins) in an extra tote in your car or at the office. To check the weight, step on a scale without your bag, then weigh yourself again with your purse and find the difference.

  • Pack products that do double-duty: Makeup artist Mathew Nigara says that eye and lip crayons (like Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Colour, $24, and Tarte LipSurgence Lip Tint, $24) work as eyeliner, eyeshadow, lipstick and blush. Plus, you don't need brushes to apply and won't be left with an explosion of powder all over the inside of your pricey leather purse. Or try this space-saving trick that Buckle uses for his red-carpet clients (and their tiny clutches): Use a butter knife to cut a small piece off the top of a lipstick bullet and wrap it in a piece of tinfoil for touch-ups minus the full tube.

  • Divide by color: If your purse lacks lots of compartments, Minkoff suggests buying a caddy to fit inside it (like Pursket organizers) or separating the contents of your bag in slim, different-colored pouches to avoid digging around for receipts or makeup. She also keeps the things she needs access to most often—like her lip gloss and cell phone—in the easy-to-reach built-in zipper compartment found on the side of most purses.

  • Give it a deep clean: Minkoff suggests emptying your purse every two weeks to prevent it from becoming a dumping ground. Eliminate things like excess change (which Erickson says adds a lot of weight), gum wrappers, ATM receipts and multiple tubes of balm or lipstick. After all the contents are out of the way, suck up crumbs and dirt with a vacuum hose.

  • Find the sweet spot: Once you've got the contents under control, make sure you carry your purse like a pro. If it has a long strap, wear it across your body to balance the weight and keep it from interfering with the natural swing of your arms. And all bags, regardless of design, should ideally rest on the curviest part of your hip (where the top of your jeans sits). Switch shoulders every block or two, says Erickson, or hold the bag against your chest like a baby to give overworked muscles some relief.

    Next: Get your clothes to your destination without wrinkles

  • Make the Most of Your Suitcase

  • Don't panic pack:Decisions shouldn't be made when you're faced with an open suitcase, says travel speaker and author of Doug Dyment, who has trotted the globe with only a carry-on. Well in advance of a trip, make a master list of everything you'll need day to day and for all the events on your itinerary (Dyment has close to 100 things on his list), and refine it over time. This not only ensures that you won't wind up at your destination with only flip-flops when you have a hiking excursion planned, it also serves as a personal contract—meaning that you can't throw in that extra pair of heels "just in case." "If it's not on the list, it doesn't go on the trip," says Dyment. And don't forget to pack your checklist; it makes packing up to go home (and not leaving your bathing suit hanging in the hotel room shower) more foolproof.

  • Expand later: If your suitcase has an expander, pack with it zipped up on the way to your destination to limit your load and leave room for souvenirs, says Minkoff. If you're carrying on and don't have a heavy load, skip the suitcase with wheels. "Not only will they add 6 to 8 pounds, but the telescoping handle cheats you out of about a third of your packing space," says Dyment. He suggests a rectilinear bag (with straight, flat sides), which gives you more storage capacity than a curved-edge suitcase of the same length, width and height. And keep things you'll need when you deplane (like your phrase book or umbrella) toward the outside so you won't have to come up with "Where's the bathroom?" in Tamil or stand in a taxi line uncovered during a downpour.

  • Get rid of wrinkles: Rolling clothes is a popular space-saving solution, but while it eliminates creases in your pants and shirts caused by the traditional fold-and-stack method, it can increase wrinkling. Dyment swears by bundle wrapping, which involves stacking garments in alternate directions (with the more tailored pieces like jackets and dresses on the outside), wrapping them firmly around a small, soft core (like a nylon travel pouch filled with socks or underwear) and finally anchoring the bundle in place with your bag's tie-down straps. To see a step-by-step diagram, click here. When it comes to your shoes, wrap them in individual bags (Dyment says plastic newspaper sleeves work just as well as the fabric kind) and put them on the bottom of your suitcase. If you're packing pumps, fit the toe into the heel of the opposite shoe and stuff the inside with socks or hosiery. Worried about the smell from your gym sneakers seeping into the rest of your clothes? Rebecca Creer, spas and grooming manager for Virgin Atlantic Airways, suggests sticking an orange peel in them overnight before putting them in your suitcase.

  • Stick to solids: Don't take too much water—and we're not talking about the bottled kind. Dyment says there's a lot of liquid hiding in cosmetics and toiletries that can weigh you down, result in damp luggage and add up to hefty overweight-baggage charges. Many things, including shampoo and even toothpaste, are available in solid form (like Lush Dirty Tooth Tabs, $4, and Shampoo Bars, $9–$11). If you can't part with your conditioner, prevent leaks by squeezing the bottle before screwing the cap on—this provides room for air to expand inside when the pressure changes, says Dyment.

  • Reduce the bulk: Dyment once had to pack his carry-on for a two-week business trip to Moscow (where it was 40 degrees and raining) and Delhi (where it was 120 degrees and humid). Instead of taking bulky sweaters and a puffer to ward off the chill, he brought thin layers made of high-tech fabrics like PrimaLoft (or try Uniqlo's HeatTech collection) to wear under his dress shirt and jacket and stuck to a neutral color palette of two shades to make matching easier. But don't bundle up on the plane to save space; we know a woman who wore her long johns on a flight from New York to Paris and arrived at Charles de Gaulle drenched. No room for your blazer or overcoat in the plane's coat closet? Creer picked up this tip from one of the British royal family's butlers: Thread the left arm of the jacket into the inside of the right sleeve, then reach up through the right cuff and pull the left arm through. This will leave you with half a coat. Then lay it flat in the overhead compartment.

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