These Portable Makeup Brushes Are Must-Haves Even When You Aren't Traveling

As anyone who wears makeup with any regularity knows, it's important to have a serviceable collection of clean makeup brushes. The "clean" part is very important, because if you're frequently using those brushes on or around your eyes, lips, and face you want to avoid anything that could cause a breakout or, worse, an eye infection. Plus, if you keep your makeup brushes clean they will last longer and perform better. For these reasons, I do my best to clean all of my makeup brushes every week.

Unfortunately, I've noticed recently that the once-weekly cleaning isn't cutting it, although not for the reason that you may think. I actually don't use my makeup brushes every day, and yet I'll often go to use a freshly cleaned kabuki brush after it's been sitting unused for two or three days only to discover that it needs to be washed again. The problem isn't a coating of old makeup, but rather particles of dust and bits of dog hair. Those of you with pets probably understand how, even with daily vacuuming, pet hair is just one of those things that just never goes away completely. I've accepted it as a fact of life, but that doesn't mean I have to be OK with it getting all over my face via my makeup brushes. Instead I've come up with a solution that has turned out to be useful in several ways: portable makeup brushes.

I recently made an effort to get my hands on a decent selection of makeup brushes that have caps, portable cases, or retractable mechanisms. This keeps the brushes free of dirt, dust, and pet hair in between uses, and also prolongs the need for washing. It certainly doesn't hurt that these particular brushes are also ideal for traveling or even just doing my makeup on-the-go. Check out the best portable makeup brushes that I've tried so far below:

1. Make Up For Ever Lip Brush With Cap

I love this beautiful lip brush. The slim, sleek design looks modern and sophisticated and fits easily in a pocket.

The cap, which slides on and off easily, protects the brush from becoming dirty or damaged.

The brush itself is silky and stiff, allowing for perfectly precise application of even the darkest lip color.

Lip Brush, $25, makeupforever.com

2. Japonesque Touch Up Tube Set & Retractable Lip Brush

Japonesque makes lovely brushes (and I also count their Luminous Foundation among my all-time favorite foundations) and this brush set is no exception. Five slim brushes fit neatly into this compact tube for travel and protection.

The set includes five brushes: A foundation brush, powder brush, a lip brush, and two eye makeup brushes.

They fit neatly into the handy, portable tube, although I will say I recommend keeping the little plastic wrapper for the powder blush; otherwise it's a little too poofy for fitting it back into the tube. I love to keep these brushes in their tube while at home to keep them clean and all in one place, and it's also great to be able to just throw the tube in my bag before running out the door.

Another great Japonesque offering is the Retractable Lip Brush. I love a good retractable makeup brush because they're so practical: There's no worrying about the brush getting dirty or the cap being misplaced. Plus they're a lot of fun to open and close.

With this brush, you simply push it up to utilize the brush, and then push it back down to safely store it behind these tiny mechanical doors:

It's basically the same size as the MUFE lip brush, so it's easy to stick it your pocket or clutch and take it out for touch-ups wherever you go. The bristles of this brush are less stiff than the MUFE brush and also more tapered, allowing for more flexible navigation if that's your preference.

Touch Up Tube Set, $20, ulta.com ; Retractable Lip Brush, $14.50, ulta.com

3. Sephora Collection All For One Magnetic Travel Brush Set

This stylish and compact case contains six brush heads and a longer, double-ended handle — all of which are magnetic for easy, secure attachment. They brushes are very soft and silky, and I also really like the included zipper pouch for storing makeup inside the case.

The brush heads included are a powder brush, an angled powder brush (ideal for contouring and highlighting), a foundation brush, an angled eye shadow brush, a smudge eye shadow brush, and a stiff angled brush for brows or eyeliner. Basically, it's everything you need. Plus you can double up on the brushes by attaching one to each end of the dual-ended handle.

This case isn't small enough to fit into an evening clutch, but it is small enough for most everyday bags or for traveling, while also having more than enough room for lipstick, a small eyeshadow palette, and a blush compact.

Magnetic Travel Brush Holder, $56, Sephora

With these two travel brush sets and the two portable lip brushes, I'm ready for anything life throws my way: weddings, impromptu weekend trips, or simply touching up my lipstick and eye shadow on a date. As for my original goal of keeping my brushes clean and protected from dog hair, I think I can say mission accomplished. Whether you travel frequently or just want to have cleaner makeup brushes, I highly recommend switching over to portable makeup brushes. You won't regret it.

Images: Kelly Dougher