There's not much that will make you feel like you're failing at life more than reading one of those articles that peeks inside a woman's handbag, especially if she's a shiny, famous type. The carefully curated contents of their Saint Laurent shoulder bag inevitably include a Smythson diary, fancy hand cream and a travel-size bottle of Jo Malone. Well, I call bullshit. Mainly because I personally have never met a woman who carries an Evian Brumisateur Facial Spray with her everywhere she goes.
So we asked members of the Refinery29 UK team to reveal what was
actually in their handbags. To make things interesting, we sprung the project on everyone so nobody had time to spruce up their bags. Click through to find out what we carry around with us, wrapper-less tampons and all.
Meg O'Donnell, Photo Assistant Okay, so this shoot has made me realise that I may have a tiny problem when it comes to creams. Hand cream is one of my favourite things and I love this Yope Ginger & Sandalwood one (I also keep three other tubes in my desk at work). There's Body Shop face cream, which tends to my dry cheeks in winter. My little Babe Balm sorts out cracked lips as well as being a lovely glossy eye aid. Clarins body lotion as you can never have too much body lotion, no? Lilac glitter because why not? Gym locker padlock as apparently I gym now (new thing, guys). The largest, luminous purse known to man which practically lights up in my bag. Great for me in dark situations, even better for thieves. A notepad for my very detailed to-do lists plus fluffy pink pen. (My geography teacher at school once described me as a fluffy pink pen; not sure what to make of that but I’ll take it.) Finding a hairbrush in my bag was slightly odd to me as I’m most definitely not a ‘hair-brusher’. And celery and carrot snacks. Did I mention I gym now?
Gillian Orr, Content Director
Well, this is an embarrassing mess. But the game here is honesty. My Stella McCartney bag is certainly due an upgrade and the purple wallet is quite unsightly; I've only kept hold of it because it's the perfect size (potential Christmas present, anyone? Hint hint). I have three tubes of the same tinted Blistex Lip Brilliance because I'm a
lip balm addict
and I bulk buy them. Three seems a little unnecessary though, especially when I also have a MAC lipstick in Relentlessly Red. Then we have the incriminating smoking paraphernalia which I'm not proud of and obviously I'm going to quit in 2018. There's the essential paracetamol (two of which have escaped the packet and are floating around my bag). A random two pence piece, Pod loyalty card (used once) and a plaster round off this stunning collection.
Sadhbh O'Sullivan, Social Media Assistant It’s not as bad as it could have been – I recently started changing between bags depending on what I’m wearing so a lot of detritus has been cleared out. I have the essentials: my wallet, iPhone cord, headphones, rogue hairbands, bobby pins, painkillers. I always carry my bike lights because I cycle to work, so the hairbands are extra important in case I’m late and go too fast, getting a sweaty head and unsalvageable hair. Makeup for days I have time/can be bothered: IT cosmetics brow pencil and mascara, Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector, Clinique mascara primer, and Kat Von D lipstick in Lolita II. The Aesop anti-blemish gel works wonders on whiteheads. I also have a train ticket from when I went to Sheffield, a spare straw for if I’m out wearing lipstick and drinking a can (forward-thinking), and a Polaroid that fell out of my wallet. It’s of me, asleep in a car driving through Denmark. My girlfriend took it so really it should be hers to carry around nostalgically but it reminds me of my favourite thing: me, asleep.
Jess Commons, Health & Living Editor Wow, I think this is the most 'Health and Living Editor' my bag has ever managed to look. Gym clothes? Check. Vitamin supplements? Check. Hand sanitiser and special lady paracetamol for periods (which I suspect may just be normal paracetamol in pink packaging)? Check, check. What somehow managed to be absent from my bag this day of all days is the half-empty packet of ageing tobacco, about 52 tampons and my receipts for everything I've bought in the last seven years. Thanks for catching me on a good day! P.S. Those gym clothes are still unused and in my bag.
Sarah Raphael, Editor-at-Large Lots of different kinds of eyedrops for my severely dehydrated eyes. A nice pen because I think all adults should carry pens. My must-have makeup items which include four kinds of eyeliner – from my Tom Ford brown pencil, to my clicky MAC black one, to my clicky NARS black one, to my Rimmel liquid liner. Then YSL mascara, a selection of lip balms, a pocket mirror, Chanel bronzer. Some hair clips and hair bands, chewing gum, deodorant, an emergency IBS tablet! Usually hoop earrings, usually a book. I like to have enough stuff in there to transform myself.
Alice Casely-Hayford, Fashion & Beauty Director Previously, my bags used to be filled with all sorts of detritus, unnecessary belongings that I need not carry around with me every day and a multitude of half-eaten snacks. Now that I have an obsession with micro bags, I've had to edit down the amount of junk I carry around with me, reducing it to my Oyster card, my purse, a MAC compact (because I'm always shiny and need to mattify constantly), a lip balm, my keys, a Fenty highlighter (because once I've minimised shine I then like to add lots of glow back onto my face – the mind boggles). I actually never wear lipstick but this Charlotte Tilbury lipstick-shaped USB is always floating around my bag because it's cute and you never know when you'll need to transfer a file (!).
Chemmie Squier, Branded Content Manager This bag cost me about £12.99 from H&M and holds a lot – ideal when you're as disorganised as me. So what do we have here... Plasters because I've been breaking in my new winter boots, much to the chagrin of my poor heels. A pen (R29 branded, no less) because I've recently got into doing the newspaper crossword on my commute. I know. I'm a lipstick aficionado so natch I have to have at least four in my bag at one time. These are some of my go-tos which cover me for every eventuality – Kat Von D Liquid Lipstick in Everlasting, Soap & Glory's Sexy Mother Pucker in Fired Up, Ciaté Lipstick in Praline (the perfect '90s brown but discontinued, cry) and Revlon Ultra HD Gel Lipcolour in Desert. I'll always have Carmex on me so my lips are prepped for aforementioned lipsticks. I'm reading The Power by Naomi Alderman at the moment (it's a slow burner but stick with it) and glasses for said book. A garishly bright purse which I bought in South Korea and I've started using because it's small and stops me collecting receipts. Hoop earrings in case of impromptu drinks. Oh, and a pantyliner because you never know.
Anna Jay, Art Director
What this looks like is one rather large bag with very light contents, but I qualify this with the fact I'm usually lugging around gym kit. My bag came from Tuscany, the region in Italy where most luxury bags are handmade but mine is plain and direct from the maker so therefore set me back just €70. I always carry a Klean Kanteen water bottle because I refuse to buy plastic ones, portable charger made useless without the accompanying cable and mini Sriracha in case – god forbid – I end up with tasteless food that needs some jazzing up. My
Comme des Garçons wallet
was a Christmas present about six years ago and is MUCH more battered than it looks here. Then the usual: Carmex for winter lips, various pens and Extra gum. I recently unearthed from my bedroom this Topshop lipstick in Rio Rio (discontinued) which is perfect for a quick fix-up, as is & Other Stories' pocket-sized body mist in
. KIND bars are amazing for post-gym or pre-drinks (eating is not cheating).
Rose Lander, International Co-ordinator I was never a girl scout, but my handbag clearly screams that I live to 'be prepared'. That is indeed both an umbrella and a pair of sunglasses just in case British weather should strike at any time. Lip balm, lip oil and lip gloss – none of which I actually remember to apply more than once a day but I fully believe that through the osmosis of carrying them in my bag I will somehow heal my dry lips. Two sets of keys. My card holder may look tiny but is still stuffed to the brim with receipts from 2016 and a Polaroid of my boyfriend I can't let go of. I'm also addicted to audiobooks and podcasts so have my bluetooth headphones and iPod on me at all times, so I never have to experience silence. That iPod is actually no longer in production and has every single Adam & Joe podcast on it so is probably my most valued possession. When I thought I left my bag on the Tube my first thought was, 'Credit card be damned, how on earth would I find another 16gb iPod Classic?' Because of my hoarding, every bag I own is known as a Mary Poppins bag by my friends, who are surprised that I manage to cram the most stuff into the smallest possible bag.
Georgia Murray, Fashion & Beauty Writer The Whistles bag and Mulberry card holder are hand-me-downs from my mum, and make me look far more grown-up than what the contents reveal: loose tampons, because you never know when Lady Red will strike again; mints and gum as I'm always in meetings; two lots of Paw Paw-based lip balm – it's the only formula that keeps dry lips at bay; a cute round Whistles headphone holder...that my headphones never actually make it into; a pen and Moleskine as I'm still not on Google Calendar; a dictaphone for work interviews, which I'm fond of as it was a gift from my very first internship, many moons ago; my Oyster card; a card reader because I always seem to owe friends a fiver; a power bank my dad gave me because he was sick of my phone always dying; a NARS concealer for midday top-ups; Burt's Bees hand cream, which is one of the only non-greasy ones; a comb, which my boyfriend has been looking for for a few weeks (oops); and finally, my zine Girls Club, which I was taking to the post office that day.
Sian O'Flaherty, Senior Branded Content Manager This Mansur Gavriel bucket bag was once smooth and shiny (like the ones you see on Instagram) but it’s now looking a bit worse for wear, having been used day in, day out for a few years now. Definitely time for a refresh! Looks aside, its bucket shape is perfect for carrying around this strange mish-mash of ‘essentials’ I seem to have here: Carven perfume (I’m a perfume addict), Tangle Teezer for my incredibly frizz-prone hair, gum (riveting), notebook, Céline sunglasses for the odd sunny day (I live in hope), Glossier rosewater facial spray (this is the bomb), headphones, wallet and that Glossier pink pouch which contains the usual life essentials – plasters, tampons and paracetamol, the glamour! And last but certainly not least, a party popper for an upcoming shoot we’re working on. God knows why it’s in there.
Louise Whitbread, Editorial Intern Nothing too interesting here. My Ted Baker bag is fading and I'm on the hunt for a new one. But until then it contains my purse, stuffed full of receipts but lacking cash, and my headphones, which are essential – I just cannot get on public transport without them, though to be honest, the same goes for my Rimmel Compact Powder & Clinique Stay-Matte Universal Blotting Powder. The Real Techniques Powder Brush is more of a prop as I never actually use it, until I remember to clean it and then it goes straight back in the bag. Embarrassingly, my Tangle Teezer needs a clean, but it's great for giving a boost of volume if I'm going out after work. I have a Kylie Lip Kit in Mary Jo because I'm a bit basic and have no shame admitting that. Whenever I have a lot of work on, I have to tie my hair up so I've always got an Invisibobble to hand.