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Even minimalists occasionally love to bring a bag of travel makeup with them for nights out or just for a simple look during the day. Keep reading to find out our tips for packing travel makeup.
Not every woman wears makeup, and some of us can’t live without it. The truth is that styled hair and fresh-faced makeup truly add the finishing touch to create a polished appearance.
That’s the real secret to chic style. It doesn’t matter how perfect your travel wardrobe looks if these other factors are missing.
You’ll want to look your best when you travel! Read my travel tips to Pack Light Stylishly!
Now this doesn’t mean that you need to bring your entire beauty cabinet on a trip or start using makeup if that’s not your thing. It’s just a reminder not to skip out on it if you use it at home, and to bring along essential items that enhance your features for a natural, up-to-date look.
Let’s review some basic tips on how to minimize the amount of products you pack!
A few quick things to note:
- Products such as mascara, eyeliner, blush, and lip color are the most visually enhancing products, and therefore give you the biggest bang for your buck.
- Items you may want to consider skipping include multiple eye shadow palettes (choose just one), primers (for the eyes and face), lip liners, and false eyelashes.
- Alternatively, choose one feature and play it up! Use a bright lip color for instant femininity or focus on creating bright, flirty eyes.
Keep it simple!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What Defines a Product as Travel Makeup?
- What Makeup Can I Take on a Plane?
- What’s the Best Travel Makeup Bag?
- How Do You Keep Your Liquid Makeup Products from Leaking?
- How to Choose and Pack Makeup for Travel
- Step 1: Make a Plan
- Step 2: Eliminate the Non-Essentials
- Step 3: Focus on Duplicates and Multi-Use Products
- Step 4: Focus on Quantity
- Step 5: Downsize
Now, let’s look at a few steps to take to nail down your travel makeup bag.
What Defines a Product as Travel Makeup?
While we can pack just about any makeup product in our suitcase, some items are more practical than others for travel. A few features that make a product ideal for travel is:
- It’s compact and smaller than 3 ounces. As proponents of carryon traveling, we recommend sticking to liquid makeup in reusable travel containers less than 3 ounces. Even if you’re traveling for several months, 3 ounces can go a long way, especially for foundation.
- It’s in a durable container. The last thing you want is your makeup crumbling or spilling onto your clothing. Your makeup for travel should be in a container that won’t easily open, leak, or shatter. These are the best containers for liquid beauty products.
- It’s easy to apply. The best travel makeup is easy to apply on the go. Having to pack sponges and brushes to apply foundation or concealer takes up more space in your toiletry bag.
- It doesn’t require touchups. When you’re exploring a new city, it’s no fun having to reapply your concealer or touch up your eyeliner. The best travel makeup is long-lasting so you can apply once and you’re set for the day.
What Makeup Can I Take on a Plane?
One of the most important things to know before you start planning for your trip is what you are allowed to bring in your suitcase. The makeup you can take on a plane depends on whether or not you are checking your luggage.
Image Source: US Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
For cabin or carryon makeup: Airlines require that liquid products be no more than 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) and all bottles must fit in a clear quart size ziplock bag when traveling with a carryon. Makeup products that need to be inside the quart size ziplock bag include liquids, gels, and creams. This is called the 3-1-1 Liquids Rule.
For checked toiletries: Items that are in containers larger than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters (regardless of amount) should be in checked baggage. Visit this TSA page to find out exactly what items are allowed in a checked bag.
These guidelines are for US-based airlines. However, these tend to be the general guidelines across all airlines. For specific items, always check the website of the airline or contact them and ask them directly.
What’s the Best Travel Makeup Bag?
Along with choosing the best travel makeup, you’ll want a makeup bag to hold it all. We love Travel Smart’s travel cosmetic bags, which are made of clear vinyl material so you can quickly and easily locate a needed item, with a separate mesh compartment so you can organize your skincare and makeup. Alternatively, you can also try this makeup organizer from Ms. J.
For more suggestions, read our article rounding up the five best travel cosmetics bags.
Tip: make sure that you keep the quart size ziplock bag (storing your carryon toiletries) accessible when you get to the airport. Once you get through security, place them back into your toiletry bag.
You can also wrap your makeup bag in clothing and add to your packing cube in your suitcase to better protect it.
How Do You Keep Your Liquid Makeup Products from Leaking?
Here’s a tip I shared on Oprah to help you prevent liquids from leaking in luggage: remove the cap from the bottle, place a small square of plastic wrap over the opening, and replace the cap.
The reason your bottles leak or explode on a flight is due to changes in air pressure. As the plane goes up, the pressure causes the bottle to compress (as if you were squeezing it with your hand). The plastic wrap acts as a seal to prevent leaks.
This is the reason why store bought travel size toiletries are never completely full. You need to allow a little bit of extra space so the liquids don’t get pushed out by the changes in pressure. (This is also the reason why your ears get plugged while flying.)
The solution: don’t fill your bottles all the way to the top. Instead, only fill them up 75%.
How to Choose and Pack Makeup for Travel
Follow the below step-by-step guide on how to pack toiletries to determine what you will and will not need to bring along with how to downsize items.
Step 1: Make a Plan
If you’re a makeup hoarder, chances are that your collection is bursting with foundations and blushes that you might not reach for often. Stripping down your collection to the key items you always count on can make more space and keep the clutter away. The first step to creating a capsule makeup collection is making a plan of what you need.
Lay out all your makeup products. Choose anything and everything you think you may need. What are your essentials? Go through the list and choose one of these options for each category.
Need, Want, Not required, Not applicable:
- Eyebrow pencil
- Eye liner
- Eyelash curler
- Lip liner
- Lip gloss
- Oil absorbing wipes
- Makeup brushes
- And many more variations of the above!
TRAVEL BEAUTY TIP: Consider any additional makeup products you use or don’t use, and then you can add or remove them from this list.
These are some of the best makeup products for travel according to our readers:
- Best Longlasting Lipstick
- Best Longlasting Concealers
- Best Longlasting Foundation
- Best Non-Smudge Eye Liner
- Best Waterproof Mascara
Step 2: Eliminate the Non-Essentials
Now that you’ve gone through the entire list of every possible makeup product you own, create two piles: one for items you don’t need to take and one for items you absolutely do.
When simplifying your list, make sure you pack all of the most essential travel beauty products and leave out the ones you don’t need.
- Do you need three different eyeshadows or can you take along one small palette?
- Instead of packing mascara, could you get an eyelash lift before your trip?
- Do you need to bring tweezers and eyebrow pencil or can you have them threaded or waxed before your trip?
- Do you need a primer, foundation, and setting powder, or can you bring a mattifying, waterproof foundation?
TRAVEL BEAUTY TIP: Travel-size brushes are always an essential, but do you need to take all of them? Get creative with the way you apply your makeup! Use one brush for multiple products, or use your fingers, instead.
Step 3: Focus on Duplicates and Multi-Use Products
One of the best ways to minimize travel makeup is to choose multi-use products or items. Determine if there are any products you already own that that can work double-duty. Avoid makeup that’s similar in purpose or color and choose between two products that serve the same (or similar) purpose.
Depending on your coverage needs, your foundation could double as concealer. Or if you like brown eyeshadow, use your bronzer for dual purposes. For example:
- Full coverage powder vs. foundation
- Under eye highlighter vs. concealer
- Lipstick vs. lip gloss
- Bronzer vs. blush
- Eyelash curler vs. mascara
- Powder vs. oil absorbing wipes
- Primer vs. concealer
- Eye pencil vs. eyeshadow
- Eyebrow pencil vs. eyeshadow
There are various multi-use products on the market that are absolutely great for travel:
- Lip and cheek tints
- Creamy makeup bars for eyes, cheeks, and lips
- Powder foundation or full coverage foundation
- Wet/dry powders (double as foundation)
- Wet/dry eyeshadows (double as eye pencil)
- Bronzer/blush duo
- BB creams
- Tinted moisturizers with SPF
- Double-ended makeup brushes
Or you can use a few long-term travel hacks like I do, such as:
- Lip pencil as lipstick and blush
- Eyeliner for the eyes and eyebrows
- A moisturizer that works for day and night
- A sunscreen that doubles as a makeup primer
TRAVEL BEAUTY TIP: Don’t be afraid to get creative! Who says a bronzer can’t be used as eyeshadow?
Step 4: Focus on Quantity
Now that you know what items you absolutely have to pack, it’s time to determine how much of them you actually need. Think about how much makeup you apply and how long you’ll be gone on your trip.
Have you ever paid attention to how much foundation you use? You many only need to take a few drops. Likewise, a travel-size lip gloss or mascara may suffice the duration of your trip.
Start by looking at the length of your trip. Make note of how much product you use for the duration of that time. Now that you know what items you absolutely have to pack, it’s time to determine how much of them you actually need.
TRAVEL BEAUTY TIP: Instead of packing full-size eyebrow pencils or lip liners, see if you have any half-used products lying around. They’ll take up less space!
Step 5: Downsize
Now it’s time to start the downsizing process. Choose appropriate travel containers like these and these and look for travel-size makeup products. Holiday sets or “gifts with purchase” are perfect to save and use for travel!
Choose appropriate travel containers for your larger makeup products. Many times, 3 ounce bottles are too big for a one or two-week trip, so buy various sizes and take only the amount you will use.
Watch this video to learn how I downsize my makeup for travel!
Instead of immediately buying “travel-size” containers in 3oz or 100ml bottles, get a range of sizes including 1oz, 2oz, and smaller jars like these, too.
Aside from trimming down on the quantity of products you pack, also consider how you use it.
- Instead of packing an eye shadow palette featuring eight colors, take a smaller one that features two to four. You can take your look from day to night by playing with shading and depth of color.
- Get creative with your eye shadows. One color can transform into several if you apply more or less. Brown is my favorite way to accomplish this. Apply lightly over the lid, blend a bit more at the crease, then dot extra on the corner of your eye before a final blend. A three in one, who knew?
- Create a summer and winter eye shadow palette so you only take the one you need during the season.
- Instead of taking several eyeliners or lip colors, choose one that’s your favorite and neutral enough to match with several different looks.
- Choose one thin palette instead of several thick cases. Several eye shadow pots can be replaced by one single palette.
- Replace glass containers with plastic to lighten the load.
TRAVEL BEAUTY TIP: Go to department store counters and ask for free samples of makeup and skincare products. Sephora is also a great option!
And for every single trick in my packing book, read my full course “Stop Overpacking“. I created the STOP OVERPACKING program to teach you my exact packing process. Every secret, every detail, nothing is spared.
What are your ultimate guide to travel makeup? Share in the comments below!
For more travel makeup suggestions, please read:
- Best Makeup for Pictures
- 7 Clever Travel Makeup Hacks
- How to Make Your Makeup Last All Day
- Pack Lighter with a Capsule Makeup Collection
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