If you follow our monthly Strategist Haul, you’re familiar with the idiosyncrasies of our editors’ and writers’ shopping habits. While we think of those as the highlights, there are plenty of other, less glamorous things we buy — and love — on the regular, too. So whether you’ve wondered about the work bags we tote around or the underwear we’re most loyal to, this is the Stuff We Buy Ourselves. In this edition, the Dopp kits and cosmetic bags that our editors pack in their carry-ons.
Liza Corsillo, writer
For dry stuff like extra contact lenses, glasses, Q-tips, and hair ties, I actually use a Klein Tools canvas zipper pouch. Because it’s made to carry screws and nails it’s built to withstand a lot of rough treatment. I’ve had mine for at least five years and it still looks great. Plus I’m not worried about it getting dirty or banged up.
For creams, lotions, shampoo, and anything else that could spill, I use a colorful Cotopaxi Dopp kit with a big loop handle on one end. It’s made of some kind of rip-stop material so you can literally rinse it out in the sink should a jar or tube explode mid-trip. I like the big loop handle because I can hang it on the back of a bathroom door to keep the sink area tidy.
Karen Ioro Adelson, writer
After using a toiletry bag without any separate compartments for many years, this one is a huge upgrade. There are two main compartments — which each have little pouches or elastic loops for holding different items — an interior zip pocket, and a front exterior pocket. I keep my “boring” toiletry items like toothpaste and contact solution in one section, my skin-care products and makeup in another, and use the front pocket for little things like bobby pins. I’ve only had it a few months now so it’s still pretty new-looking, but since it’s nylon, I feel like it’ll be very easy to wipe clean if it gets dirty.
Katy Schneider, associate editor
I’ve used Baggu pouches for years and years for my cosmetics and pills — they’re inexpensive, durable, and come in a wide variety of sizes. I bring all three (small, medium, and large) on trips, so I can use the medium one to pack everything I’ll need for however long I’ll be away (medicine, makeup, etc.), the small one for when I’m leaving the hotel for the day and just want to tote around some Advil and lip balm, and the big for new trinkets I’ve accumulated.
Dominique Pariso, writer
These pouches from Madewell are simple, but they really check all the boxes. They’re affordable, the half-moon shape looks snazzy, and the clear vinyl lets me see all my products, so I’m not stuck digging around for my lip balm while traveling. I use the small one for my makeup.
Hilary Reid, writer
For a long time, my go-to “makeup bag” was a gallon Ziploc freezer bag — not the most elegant choice, but an extremely practical one. When I came across this bag at a boutique called Annie Selke in the Berkshires, I liked the Marimekko-esque pattern and the fact that it had a nylon lining with interior pockets. I brought it home, switched out my toiletries from the Ziploc bag, and never looked back. It holds full-sized tubes of creams, cleansers, toothpaste, mascara, lipsticks, vitamins, whatever — and it all fits securely without making a mess.
Maxine Builder, managing editor
I’ve never really had an eye for Herschel backpacks or bags. The label on the exterior is too prominent for my taste, and the red-and-white candy stripe lining inside every single product feels a little childish. The only reason I even have this toiletry bag is because I got it for free, in a swag bag from some PR event. But despite being kind of a hater, I’m glad it landed in my lap, because it’s really the best toiletry bag. It’s big, with enough room for my full-size skin-care products, and its fabric is light yet durable, meaning that when I stuff it into an already-full suitcase, I don’t worry it’s going to explode. There are enough pockets to keep everything organized, including a generous exterior pocket, but not too many that I forget where I might’ve stashed something. And the oversize handle has proved to be really useful when I’m digging through a duffel bag.
Simone Kitchens, senior editor
My Dopp kit journey is the same as my carry-on bag. I have a Filson toiletry bag, which looks so good, but takes up so much space and weighs a ton. So when I picked up a lighter Patagonia carry-on backup at REI over the holidays, I also grabbed a lighter toiletry bag. Design-wise, it looks like something you packed for camp back in the day, but it impressively holds a lot, weighs literally nothing, and can be squished into any old shape depending on how much room my bag has to give.
Anthony Rotunno, senior editor
A dear friend gave this Dopp kit to me more than a decade ago, after I showed up to stay at her apartment with a plastic bag filled with toiletries one too many times. And although it’s not much to look at (a black rubber exterior made of recycled inner tubes), I have not replaced it with a more handsome model in the years since, because I find it to be the perfect marriage of form and function. It’s got one big compartment that I can stuff all my travel-sized essentials in (shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and toothbrush), and still have room for a regular-sized deodorant and even my Mason Pearson hair brush (with some tactful arranging). Plus, this kit’s interior is lined with a material as easy to wipe clean as its rubber exterior, so I can easily wipe away any in-transit leakage from products. This Dopp kit is decidedly a non-precious object — which is why it’s become so precious in my years of travel (because it’s one less thing I have to think about while getting from point A to B.)
Editor’s Note: This is the same travel kit we deemed the best ecofriendly Dopp kit.
Lori Keong, writer
I’m not crazy about how branded this cosmetics bag is — and admittedly I got this as part of a swag bag with a bunch of Purlisse samples — but it has proven to be the perfect shape for someone who never knows how to edit down skin-care stuff. The spacey silver leather exterior is fun and its size is wide and boxy, so if I’m playing Tetris with all of my travel bottles I can fit at least six skin-care steps in there, plus my toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and some sheet masks smushed up against the side. It’s discontinued now, but La Prairie used to sell a cream blush in this teeny, circular, silver zip-up case that’s ideal for housing cotton rounds — and also matches this bag perfectly. That’s the final cargo if I fit everything just right.
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