After taking enough trips from my apartment in NYC to my family’s beach house in Connecticut, I’m finally satisfied with the way I pack my travel makeup case. For years, no matter where I was vacationing, I’d end up bringing way too many products. There were multiple nail polishes (just in case I felt like doing a manicure, of course I never did), a ton of eyeshadows in every color you can think of, and many other products. I finally realized that I would never use most of these, so I simplified my packing and stuck to the basics. Below is a list of the makeup essentials I take with me, along with my packing tips.
Invest in a functional cosmetic case that’s big enough to store all your items.
A few years ago, I received a metallic Béis makeup case (just like this one) and I don’t know how I ever traveled with it. It’s large enough to hold my essentials while not being too bulky. There’s a pullout makeup brush holder which allows for easy access and the vegan leather and PVC make it simple to clean. It also comes with a mirror so you can apply your makeup wherever the lighting is best.
Before you pack, lay everything out.
The morning of my trip is always pretty hectic. Because I’m usually in a rush, it’s been easier to transport just about everything from my vanity into my suitcase. Then I discovered a simpler approach. The night before, I lay out all my cosmetics. I set aside what I want to bring with me and I’ll ask myself if I have a need for it. (This led to the realization that I probably don’t need to pack pots of glitter when vacationing where it’s hot and humid.) As soon as I started doing this, I cut back about 50% in the amount of makeup I packed. The morning of I’ll get ready like usual, but I already have everything I’m bringing set aside. As soon as I’m done applying my makeup, it goes right into my cosmetic case.
Save space by packing a palette.
If you can find a pallete or two that has eyeshadows, blushes, bronzers, and contour colors, it will take up a lot less room than individual items. I used to travel with my Primrose All In One Face & Eyeshadow Palette until it broke. It had the most stunning pigmented shades of pinks and neutrals in matte and metallic finishes. The palette was so versatile that I could create daytime and evening makeup looks.
Now, I bring my MAC Studio Fix Sculpt and Shape Contour Palette (which I also use for beige and neutral eyeshadow). Then, depending on the time of the year and where I’m traveling, I’ll pack my Venus by Lime Crime (a mix of light and dark shades perfect for cooler months or for going out at night); Riviera by Anastasia Beverly Hills (fun, colorful vacation hues that look great with a tan; or Naked 3 by Urban Decay (a blend of rose, beige, and brown colors that go from day to night).
…and save even more space by bringing travel size items.
You may have read my list of recommendations for travel sized products where I pointed out my favorite makeup and beauty picks. Usually when I like a product, I’ll purchase a smaller version so I can take it with me on my trips. This past December, it was like I ran out of each one at the same time. While I haven’t gotten around to purchasing them, it is something on my spring to do list. Another thing I’ve done for years is save samples and bring those along with me (especially in my carry on).
Use small leak proof bags for liquids.
There’s nothing like arriving at your destination and as you unpack you discover that your foundation has leaked into your makeup bag. This has happened to me more than one, especially when I’ve flown. Now, I make sure I pack anything liquid into small ziplock bags (I love these holographic ones) so I won’t have a mess to clean at the start of my vacay.
- Shiseido SPF 50 Sunscreen Stick
- Dermalogica Dynamic Skin Recovery SPF Moisturizer
- SmashBox Photo Finish Primer (sample size)
- YSL All Hours Full Coverage Matte Foundation (in Cool Porcelain)
- Laura Mercier Translucent Setting Powder
- MAC Studio Fix Sculpt and Shape Contour Palette (doubles as a neutral eyeshadow palette)
- Guerlain Terracotta Matte Contouring Powder (in 02 medium – I use it as a bronzer)
- Benefit Rose Lip & Cheek Tint
- Becca Ignite Liquid Highlighter
- Kevin Aucoin True Feather Brow Marker
- Waterproof Eyebrow Soap
- Eyebrow brush
- Eyeshadow palette (depending on the time of the year, I’ll either bring Venus by Lime Crime, Riviera by Anastasia Beverly Hills, or Naked 3 by Urban Decay)
- Kat Von D Tattoo Liner
- Tweezerman ProCurl Eyelash Curler
- Eyeko Beach Waterproof Mascara
- Lorac Lipstick (similar shade)
- Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil (in Do Me Baby)
- Kopari Coconut Lip Glossy (in Birthday Suit)
- Tower 28 Lip Gloss (in Chill)
- Makeup brushes (here’s a similar version)
- Aesop Cedar & Citrus Lip Salve (mini version from the Departure Kit)
- Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm (mini version from the Departure Kit)
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