Unlocking Travel Bliss: 10 Pro Tips for Traveling With Makeup

Going on vacation is all fun and games until you get to the packing portion of the trip. At that point, it quickly becomes a game of “What can I bring?” and “What must I sadly leave behind?”

Traveling with makeup is particularly challenging, especially with TSA’s rules on liquid sizes and the propensity for your most prized products to break or leak. You’ve also got to think about things like climate variation and how your skin might react while also trying to keep your regimen somewhat normal so your skin doesn’t freak.

With practice and planning, though, you can get really good at editing down all your beauty essentials without over or under-packing. To help you cover all the bases when it comes to traveling with makeup, we asked experts to share their best tips.

Experts share how to pack a beauty kit that covers all the bases.

  1. Invest in a Great Makeup Case

First thing’s first: You’ve got to have a great place to store your beauty loot when traveling with makeup. Look for a bag that’s big enough to house all your essentials, is leak-proof, keeps you organized, and is easy to clean, advises Sydney Morgan, beauty guru and content creator. The Calpak Medium Clear Cosmetics Case ($85; Calpak) is a great pick.

  1. Put Makeup Brushes & Tools in Their Own Bag

Makeup brushes are an investment, so it only makes sense to look after them well. “I keep my tools in a dedicated case,” notes Jenny Patinkin, professional makeup artist and founder of Jenny Patinkin Eco-Luxe Beauty Tools. This helps protect the bristles and keeps things more sanitary, too. To save even more space, choose a makeup bag that has a compartment you can dedicate specifically to tools and brushes.

  1. Keep a Few Items in Your Purse

Lost luggage happens every once in a while, so travel with confidence by having a cosmetic backup plan, says Brittany Lo, a professional makeup artist and founder of Beia. She says, “Always keep two to three essentials with you in your purse, just in case your luggage doesn’t make it or in case you need to reapply before you get the chance to unpack.” For example, a lightweight BB cream or foundation, cream blush, and mascara. When in doubt, identify your “desert island” essentials and pack those.

  1. Opt For Multitasking Makeup

Saving space is a must when traveling with makeup, so take advantage of multitasking products. “I do like to streamline when I travel,” notes Patinkin. “[For example], Packing a bronzer that can double as contour, a buildable cheek color, and a buildable foundation for simple daytime application or more dramatic evening looks, one four-pan eyeshadow palette that can be used a lot of different ways, and keeping as few brushes with me as possible.”

  1. Don’t Switch Up Your Routine Too Much

It’s tempting to pack all those tiny, travel products since they’re conveniently sized, but switching up your beauty routine too much isn’t ideal.

“Your body likes consistency,” notes Matthew Waitesmith, a professional makeup artist with Artis. “If you mostly maintain your same makeup routine while traveling, your body will be less likely to overreact to all the environmental changes involved with travel.” Not to mention, a chill vacation isn’t necessarily a great time to experiment with a tricky new felt liner or foundation formula. You want reliability and ease.

  1. Decant Larger Items

Whether you’re checking a bag or sticking to a carry-on, it’s wise to consolidate your products to save space and minimize the potential for messes. If any of your liquid products are over 3.4 ounces—the TSA cutoff size—decant them in a travel-size container. Alternatively, buy the travel-sized versions of your faves, Lo suggests. When you run out of the travel-size product, you can refill the packaging with your full-size product.

  1. Protect Delicate Makeup

The pain of seeing your favorite powder products broken is real. Avoid the distress by packing delicate items very well. You can do so with a fine bubble wrap (avoid anything too bulky). It also helps to “sandwich” your makeup bag, says Morgan.

“Put your makeup bag in the middle of your suitcase with clothes surrounding it,” she says. “This sounds super funny, but it is the best way to keep things from shifting around and breaking. I typically like to put it in the middle with clothes underneath and on all sides. This has helped to avoid breakage.” For liquid products, go the extra mile by placing them in a plastic bag and/or taping around the seal.

  1. Consider the Climate

While you don’t want to completely switch up your makeup routine, do take the climate into account. For example, if you’re heading somewhere really humid or plan to splash around in the ocean, swap in some waterproof makeup. Or if it’s going to be dry or hot, pack a face mist that helps set your makeup and keep your skin looking dewy all day.

  1. Bring A Couple “Special Occasion” Items

Along with your go-to makeup and skincare products, Waitesmith recommends packing a few makeup items that you associate with special occasions, such as a bold lipstick color or a pretty eyeshadow quad. He says, “You may want to be a bit more extravagant with your makeup colors or intensity to celebrate the special environment—like for a candlelight dinner.”

  1. Pack a Compact Lighted Mirror

“The lighting in your hotel or other accommodation mirror is unfamiliar, so it can be hard to judge whether the color or texture of the product you’re using feels like it’s flattering,” notes Patinkin. She says that a lighted makeup mirror can help squash this issue real fast. Choose one that’s slender and stands up on its own or has suction cups that adhere to a flat surface mirror.

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