The art of staying well groomed on the go is a rapidly disappearing one.

It used to be that evening bags could be bought with powder compacts and lipstick holders ready built in so the means to keep yourself glamorous were always there at hand. Like this one (snapped on sale at the My Sugarland event)

vintage party bag compactOf course, there’s no section in that bag for mobile phones, credit cards, huge bundles of house keys, or any of the other increasing array of things that we need to carry around these days. This tends to mean that most women either carry a bag the size of a small car containing their entire dressing table, or they abandon it completely, get ready in the morning and hope it makes it to the end of the day. With a little bit of planning, though, that needn’t be the case.

These are my bare minimum handbag essentials to ensure I end the day looking as good as I started it.

Powder Compact

A beautiful powder compact is the basis of your glamour on the go kit. It’ll have a mirror, to start with, so you can check if you have spinach between your teeth or lipstick on your nose.

Beautiful vintage powder compacts can be picked up for not much money on eBay. If you’re not a collector then minor issues like missing sifters and puffs won’t bother you. (If you want to use your compact with loose powder then replacement sifters can be bought here). The one thing to check for is that the mirror is in good condition. If you can’t see in it to fix your lipstick then it’s useless!

Vintage Powder Compact

Vintage Powder Compact on eBay, starting bid 99p

Skin balm

There’s a version of this to suit every budget, from Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream for the super flush to a simple tub of vaseline for the budget babe.

I love this stuff because it means I don’t have to carry a variety of potions for different needs, this can work as lip balm, hand cream, hair serum and emergency moisturiser for dry spots.

Currently in my handbag is Rose & Co petal lip salve.

Rose Petal Salve

Rose & Co Petal Salve £4.99 Boots

Hair Grips & Elastics

Even if you plan to wear your hair down and flowing free like a Timotei advert these take up so little space that they’re always worth carrying.

If you live in the UK I can guarantee that at some point you will get caught in an unexpected rain shower/force 9 gale/shower of frogs and will be grateful that you can tie your hair back and adjust it with a few grips. If you’re not UK based then you still never know when your hair will need to be got out of the way to perform emergency surgery.

Personally I don’t carry a hair brush or comb as my hair is so fine that normally my fingers do the job just as well. If you have the kind of hair that turns into a knot at the first sign of a breeze you may want to add one of these. Small fold up jobs are good.

Make Up

Most women have a detritus of about 14 different lipsticks cluttering the bottom of their bags. If you’re wearing a specific lipstick that day then it’s a good idea to take it with you for top ups, or if you’re working the smoky eyed look then an eyeliner would be handy, but other wise I really think there’s only one thing you need to carry. Leave the mascara, extra foundation and (unless you currently have a huge spot that needs concealing) the concealer. All you really need is a multi purpose stain/stick/tint.

At present I’m carrying the Body Shop one I got free on the cover of a magazine, but BeneTint gets good word of mouth. I’ve also used the Body Shop multi stylo in the past. I always find that no matter how awful I think I look, adding a little colour to my cheeks and brow bone is the quickest way to brighten up my face, but this will also work on lips.

Body Shop Lip and Cheek Stain

Body Shop Lip & Cheek Stain £9.50

Perfume Samples

Even if it’s not the perfume you regularly wear it’s always handy to keep one of these in your bag for those occasions when you get stuck on stinky trains, over heated shops or the day ends up far warmer than you expected. They’re handier to carry than a full on can of deoderant spray when you’re short of space but will freshen you up in a pinch

Of course, the bigger your handbag the more you can add, but just remember you’ll end up a crippled and bent over old woman if you insist on carrying your entire dressing table everywhere with you. These are my essentials to keep looking pretty from morning till night, other handy things I might carry depending on space:

  • chewing gum (for minty fresh breath)
  • Safety pins (for wardrobe malfunctions)
  • Plasters (for shoe malfunctions)
  • Pain Killers
  • Travel pack of baby wipes
  • Travel pack of tissues (also handy for emergency face blotting before applying powder)
  • Face spritz

Do you have any handbag essentials I’ve missed?