Home Tips & Trends Guest Editor How to Build the Perfect 5-Piece Makeup Bag

How to Build the Perfect 5-Piece Makeup Bag

How to streamline your beauty routine like a pro.

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It always cracks me up when I come across a post where someone is asking “If you could only choose one makeup item to take to a desert island, what would it be?” I usually answer immediately with “black waterproof eyeliner so I can draw a face on a soccer ball.” And if you’ve never seen Tom Hanks talking to his round friend in the movie, Castaway I probably sound fairly crazy.

But really, what I’m getting at is it’s tough to decide, not just because I personally wouldn’t care about bringing anything except a “How to crack open a coconut” manual, but also because I can’t choose only one product…ever, no matter what the situation! So, let’s make it a little more realistic by asking what  five pieces of makeup should you have in your bag of tricks at all times for a flawless look every day? Sound more practical? Yep, I agree.  Here’s your expert guide to the perfect “5-Peice Makeup Bag”.

I’ve been a makeup artist for over 30 years and taught thousands of women how to do their own makeup and “ace their face” by using my signature makeup method so they can look and feel their best every day. But today I’d love to throw a little spin on it. And it goes little somethin’ like this…

“If you only had time in your morning for five products, which ones should you pick?”

I’d like us to try and work our makeup game into our budget! But by budget I don’t mean how much money we can spend. Most of us can find a way to get the products we want, even if it means one less latte this week. What I mean by budget is how much time can you squeeze out of your morning in order to get your daily game face on? So, whether you’ve got five minutes or 50 minutes, let’s talk about what your non-negotiables should be. Read on for all my experts tips on to build the perfect five-piece makeup bag.

1. Foundation

Always keep an easy-wear foundation as part of a five-piece makeup bag. One that can be applied with fingertips when all the fancy brushes and beauty blenders aren’t available, or when you’ve got hungry kids, husbands or pets demanding attention outside your door! In these cases, slapping that stuff on quick can be more important than the face-striping cream contour game you saw on YouTube last night. Coverage is up to you and will depend on your individual style and need, but I prefer a medium coverage, dewy finish foundation with an SPF.

2. Bronzers and Contour

Bronzers and Contour palettes are so versatile, you’ll want one in your bag everyday for more reasons than I can count, but I’ll start you off with a few. Grab your bronzer, bronze-colored blush, or earth-toned powder contour, and with your favorite blush brush or small powder brush sweep a little glow on and add dimension around the outer areas of the face (like the forehead by the hairline) then under and around the cheekbones. Then, if needed, add a little under the jawline and down the neck to create a soft shadow-effect that’ll help minimize any extra chins you may have (just like me) and ensure your face isn’t the only thing above the shoulders with color.

Makeup-face with naked-neck is so 1980s! This product can also double as eyeshadow so don’t hesitate to run a little in the crease of your eyelids and you can even dab a little on your ring finger then sweep it under your eye in the lash line for a smokey brown liner look. If using a matte contour product for this step, you can also pop a bit into the brows for added definition.

3. Blush

Not only does blush instantly put a little healthy glow back in your face, it can create a more youthful appearance, (for those like me who want all the anti-aging tips they can get)!  One reason blush gives a little boost: as we age, the pigment in our skin begins to fade from places like the cheeks and lips, to the overall golden or rosy glow of the face and shoulders. Ever noticed a little girl or young lady’s pretty pink cheeks or softly pigmented lips? I mean, even our brows begin to fade, turn gray, or just plain start to fall out when we start getting older. So yes! I say blush it up ladies! And blush it up like there’s no tomorrow!

4. Mascara

Mascara is probably one of those “Girl’s Best Friend” things that fits in the list right next to diamonds. Not only is it one of the first makeup items moms start letting us wear once we’ve started asking the age-old question of “when can I start wearing makeup?” but it’s also one of the most basic steps to help your makeup look finished, put together, and defined, no matter what your age. And who doesn’t want longer, fuller lashes?

How to choose the best mascara?

My suggestion for choosing a basic, go-to mascara is to first consider your individual lashes and expectation. Don’t just pop into your local 5,000 sq. ft monster makeup store and start looking around. You’ll get caught off guard and wind up leaving with more products than you know what to do with because you were overwhelmed by the glorious wall display containing 722 different mascaras in 82 different formulas! Once again, I digress. The point I’m trying to make is that there’s not one mascara (or even one mascara wand) that fits all. Do you want fat lashes? Go for a fatter brush. Looking for slender, defined length? Try a skinnier silicone brush. The bigger the brush, the more product it holds.

Now we must consider the formula. I usually suggest smudge-proof rather than waterproof. That way you’ve got some stay power without the crunchiness of most waterproof mascaras. Most of the new fiber mascaras can add a little extra volume while fitting into the smudge-proof family. And unless you’ve got platinum blond or ginger lashes, always go for black. For those gingers and blondies… brown is the new black, trust me.

5. Lipstick

At last! This fabulously simple makeup bag will be our new ride or die when finished off with the Piece de Resistance: Lipstick! Yes, this iconic, always-in-style, original gangsta of beauty should always be included in your beauty bag and time budget… in whatever form you’ll get the most use out of. Some of us will slap on our chapstick while pulling out of the driveway, others will slather on a glittery gloss or enjoy the sting of a lip plumper while duck-lipping in the mirror before heading out the door.

And we’ll always have those beauties that settle for no less than a full coverage fire engine red! And I love them all! But my suggestion for this final item in our highly sought after “Get it right, get it tight” five-piece makeup bag is a basic pink-zone neutral or warm neutral tone in whichever form of lip product you love. That way you’ll always look put together and have that one shade that goes with whatever life throws at you. And remember, sometimes you get what you pay for. So don’t be afraid to invest in that one great lippie that makes you wanna pucker up and KISS or smile like you’ve got a hanger stuck in your mouth!

Well, my friends, I hope you enjoyed the “Beauty Soup of the Day” and grabbed some great new tips on how to whittle down the sometimes confusing or time-consuming quest to look on-point as we race off into our day.

If you’d like to go more in depth with me and learn my signature 15 Steps of Makeup Application in the easy to follow, on-demand masterclass I just launched, “Real Makeup for Real Women”, go grab it today at TheRealMakeupArtist.com

About Jackie Alves

Jackie Alves helps women rediscover their beauty, gain new confidence, and boldly step into their next season of life. She’s the Co-Founder & Head Makeup Artist of The Beauty Bar Skincare & Makeup Studio, as well as the Head Educator of The Beauty Bar Pro Makeup Academy & Creator of the studio’s line of professional makeup products.

Jackie is the Founder & Beauty Educator of The Real Makeup Artist, a beauty brand featuring on-demand masterclasses and personal, online makeup tutorials focusing on “Real Makeup for Real Women” and how to “Become Your Own Makeup Artist”.

After landing her first makeup gig at the age of 17 in Las Vegas & now having over 30 years of experience in the beauty industry, Jackie uses her experience to help women overcome the challenges of finding practical beauty choices & techniques to fit their individual styles & needs in a world overrun with cosmetic companies, products, and procedures.

Jackie has worked with dozens of A-listers, including iconic fashion designers, Estel Day & Mark Tango of the fashion brand Mark & Estel, Movie Producer & Director, Kate Cohen of Straight Up Films, and several top photo & film studios in Las Vegas, Nevada.