WHAT’S IN MY SJ? By guest blogger Karla Sugar of KarlaSugar.net

Me and Stephanie Johnson bags go way back.  I first spotted them years ago on an endcap in Neiman Marcus.  It was the pattern that made me stop, but I fell in love with how sturdily and thoughtfully they were built.  (Stain-resistant interiors!  Why doesn’t everybody do that?)

I dislike cavernous makeup bags — I just don’t like products rattling around.  I have visions of shattered powders (and scuffed packaging just isn’t as pretty).  But it seems like the cosmetics bag category (in general) is trending larger and flimsier.  My response has to become a total nut for SJ bags.  So when the lovely folks at Stephanie Johnson asked if I’d like to guest blog, my answer was obvious.  But I realized I couldn’t express myself in fewer than three bags. Most of the time, I do my makeup at home and leave it at home.  But there are occasions when I have to work my magic on the fly.  Maybe some of you work out before heading into the office (I applaud you), or you want to look presentable post-facial, or you’re going out in the evening.  Enter the Mini Pouch (seen here in candy-colored Malibu Coral crinkle patent).  It’s the perfect size for my minimum kit:

Prestige Waterproof Eyeliner in Charcoal Brown A cheap, excellent, dark brown eyeliner. The formula is soft enough that it’s a breeze to apply (but not so soft it breaks), and once it’s on, it stays put.  Eyeliner is the first (and most important) product I put on — the difference between feeling pretty and people asking me if I’m getting sick.  $5.25, Drugstore.com

Sephora Slim Pencil Sharpener  $2, Sephora.com

Cle de Peau Beaute Concealer I’m the first to admit this product is expensive, but dang, it’s potent.  The formula is so full coverage, you need only the tiniest amount to erase any discoloration.  And because you used so little product, there’s nothing to crease.  This is you without undereye circles.  Click here for swatches of the different shades.  $70, NeimanMarcus.com

Kate Somerville CytoCell Eye Cream I like to put on eye cream first, let it dry halfway, then put on concealer (the Cle de Peau is thick; this just makes it a little more emollient).  I love Kate’s products because they’re lightweight and dry quickly, but they’re effective.  $75, NeimanMarcus.com

Mascara The mascara in my bag changes on a regular basis; GWP sizes are convenient. Recent favorites have included Guerlain Noir G, Burberry’s mascara, and Chanel Inimitable Intense.

Tweezerman iLash Comb Silly name, brilliant product.  It’s basically a row of sewing needles mounted into a plastic handle (which folds shut to protect the tines).  Apply any mascara, then comb through your lashes with this metal comb, and you will be utterly clump-free.  $9, Drugstore.com

Lipstick The shade depends on the time of year and city I’m in, but bright lipstick makes up for times when I’m not wearing too much else.  In this photo:  L’Oreal Volcanic. Swatches here.  Regular price is $8.95 at Drugstore.com, but it goes on sale all the time.

Q-tips You can correct almost any mistake with a q-tip.  Uneven eyeliner application? Smudged a little mascara on your lid?  A dry q-tip will take that right off.

Now makeup application at home is a completely different story — I am an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink kind of girl.  And those tendencies also come out on blog-related travel (fashion week, conferences, anytime I’m representing the category of beauty).  I need options.  And the only way to pack it all in one bag is to use the ML Traveler, a makeup travel case par excellence. The ML Traveler features two flat mesh pouches (which snap into the case) and one big plastic pouch that velcroes in.  The flat pouches hold everything securely (and make it easy to find stuff).

I won’t subject you to a full accounting of the contents, but this is how I build on the basics I carry in the Mini Pouch.  (If there’s a product you’re curious about, ask, and I’ll reply in the comments).

One last bag I have to mention (because I LOVE bags that can be two things):  the Large Pouch.  I often imagine myself attending cocktail parties and brunches and afternoon weddings — but I’m bad at shopping for these events (maybe because I actually attend them so rarely).  The Large Pouch has become my go-to clutch.  I use it for travel, too — it’s the perfect size for a medium amount of makeup (say, a trip to wine country, just me and Mr. Salt).


Karla Sugar is a beauty blogger in Dallas, Texas. On her blog, she swatches makeup on her arm and takes pictures of it — outside, in sunlight, so you can see what something “really” looks like before you buy.  She spends the rest of her time drinking coffee, chasing her dog Domino, and exhaustively researching Dallas’s taco offerings with her husband.