I don’t know about you, but my purse is one of the most important pieces of my wardrobe. What other item do you ask to look good, go with your outfit, and carry most of what you need for the day?
After using a purse day in and day out, though, it can become more of a second thought. In order to utilize our purses to their greatest potential, we do need to have a little bit of a game plan. How often, after all, have you had things sitting in your purse for months that never get used and are just adding weight?
It’s happened to me all of the time. If we can start to think about what is actually useful taking up real estate on our arm then we can feel better organized throughout the day and not have to carry a brick with us.
Here are some items that I consider must-haves for my purse and that you may want to consider as well.
1. Hand sanitizer
For me, hand sanitizer is a must. You just never know when you might end up touching something that is gross and then not have a good opportunity to wash your hands. It’s definitely not a replacement for hand washing, but it can help out with an icky, sometimes-life-happens situation.
With how cheap mini hand sanitizers are there’s really no reason not to keep one around. Just go to any drug store or grocery store and you should find one for under $2 in the travel section. Another option is to buy a pack for a very slightly cheaper price (like $.10 per bottle less) on Amazon.
Regardless of the type of lip moisturizer you use, be it lip gloss, lipstick, or just plain chapstick (like me), make sure to keep some in your purse because it’s the worst to be out and about with parched lips and nothing to put on them.
I try to keep one on hand (like this one) that has some SPF in it too ever since my husband and I went on our 28-mile backpacking trip and my lips got super sunburnt.
3. Nail clippers
Nail clippers are an absolute, have-to-have item in my world. I get so many hangnails that I just can’t ever seem to leave alone, so if I don’t have nail clippers with me to cut them off that means I am constantly picking at the skin and eventually it bleeds.
I also tend to go through pairs since I lose them all the time. This is the pair that I always reorder.
This is probably kind of an obvious one, but it is super helpful to always put your keys in the same spot and, ideally, have a little pocket in your purse just for them.
5. Hand lotion
Sometimes your hands just feel super dry and you need something for them. With my job, I can end up washing my hands a lot, which makes them extra dry, so I make sure to keep my favorite Burt’s Bees Ultimate Care hand cream with me.
6. Facial moisturizer
The reason I keep a facial moisturizer in my purse is because I will occasionally get a dry spot that I need to treat in the middle of the day, and I’m not about to put hand lotion on my face.
I definitely don’t carry around a big container of it, though. I just have a very miniature-sized travel jar with a bit of face cream I can dip into if needed. If you would like to find a tiny container to put some of your moisturizer in then the Container Store is great for finding things like that.
7. Breath mints
You never know when you will need to freshen your breath. My go-to is the Listerine breath strips.
I’m not actually a huge comb user as I pretty much always prefer brushes, but for on the go hair tangles, a comb can’t be beat. They are super light and take up almost no space in your purse so I always take one along for flyaways.
9. Bobby pin(s) and/or hair tie
Wanting to put your hair back but not having a way to do it is the worst. Make sure you don’t get in that situation by bringing some backup in your purse. Pack some bobby pins if you like and, if you don’t constantly wear a hair tie on your wrist like I do, then keep a hair tie in your purse.
For me, this one is partially because I am noise sensitive so sometimes I just need to have a pair available so that I can block out other sounds. I also like to be able to use them for watching videos on my phone while on the go.
11. Compact mirror
You never know when you will need to check your face, whether it’s because you have something stuck in your teeth, you got something in your eye, or your mascara is running from sweating, crying, swimming, etc.
Ibuprofen can be a lifesaver when you suddenly get a headache, have a sore muscle, or get some period cramps. I always keep some in a miniature container just in case.
I actually wear a liner every day to feel cleaner, and I always keep at least one spare in my purse in case I want to change it out or my period starts unexpectedly and I need some coverage before I can grab a pad.
I personally don’t carry a pad with me at all times because they can be a bit large, but if you are a tampon user that makes purse storage a bit easier since tampons are more compact.
14. Stain remover stick
Keeping a stain remover stick on you is super convenient because if you spill something and are not able to change then there’s no stress. I just blot spots out with the stain stick and wait for the wet spot to dry. I use the Tide to Go kind, and they work quite well.
This may not be an essential for absolutely everyone, but I’m one of those people who is constantly making lists and needing to write stuff down. I’ll admit, I do a lot of my list-making on my computer and phone so those can always take the place of a physical notebook, but it is great to have a physical notebook on hand for jotting things down. I try to keep it light by using a mini notebook.
Along with keeping a notebook in your purse, you need to have a pen. Otherwise, after all, there’s really no point to the notebook.
If, however, you opt to skip the notebook in favor of using your phone for notes it is still worth having a pen. You just never know when you will need one.
A wallet is something you pretty much always need with you when you’re on the go, so of course, I had to add this to a purse essentials list. Choose a style that works best for you, but take into consideration whether you need a big, bulky wallet or if you could get by with a compact style.
I bought a compact wallet that only has 3 slots on the front for cards and one on the back for my license, and I have never regretted it. I can easily put it in my pocket if I decide to leave my purse behind, and it cuts down on a lot of wasted space and weight that I would otherwise be carrying.
You never know when you will need to blow your nose or sneeze so make sure you keep a couple of tissues on hand just in case. This can be grabbing a couple from a regular tissue box to stuff in your purse or using one of those little travel packs of tissues.
Bonus #1: Contact case and contact solution
I didn’t include these items in the list of the main essentials because not everyone wears contacts, but if you do then you may want to add these items to your purse. It‘s convenient to keep them in my purse because I get a bit paranoid about the possibility of being out, getting something in my eye, and needing to take my contact out and fix it.
I found these mini condiment bottles that have worked pretty well for keeping a small amount of contact solution on hand.
Bonus #2: Facial mist
I won’t call these absolute essentials, but having a facial mist bottle in your purse is nice for pampering yourself a bit in a very easy way. These are all the rage in France and can feel really nice on your skin when you need a little bit of a pick me up. I use this one from Avène.
If you’re interested in what type of purse I use, I always use the same one, and it is a Kate Spade. After getting this one I am thoroughly convinced that buying an expensive, quality purse is totally worth the investment.
My Kate Spade is the longest-lasting purse I’ve ever had, particularly in comparison to the amount of use it’s gotten. I’ve had it for over two years now, and it is still going strong with no tears in the fabric or places where it’s falling apart (as my other, cheap purses have all gotten).
Try putting some thought into what is in your handbag, and don’t make it a dumping ground for things you don’t really need to be carrying. Take stock of what is in your bag, and make sure that what is inside is actually of value. If you do then you will feel much more prepared and organized without having to carry a ton of weight.
For some easy wardrobe tips head over to my post How To Make a Capsule Wardrobe in 8 Steps.
What do you always have to have with you in your purse?
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