It took me almost four years until I figured out exactly what travel makeup I love the most. It wasn't an easy task, because sometimes I get oily skin, dry skin because of the plane. Then the destination has some fussy weather so picking an all-rounder travel makeup was a bit of challenge. So hey, if you too are struggling to find the right mascara, the right foundation and that awesome lipstick which actually makes your lips look great, worry not, because I've got you covered.
When I put in a lot of hours of work, I need to compensate by giving my skin and hair some extra love. I tried hundreds of products and just as many brands before finding the right travel makeup. Oh, and let me tell you, some of these products I found during my travels (as you will see below). So, my dear traveller, here is our guide to the best travel makeup (plus a few extra tips on how to travel with your makeup and haircare products).
Table of Contents
Travel Makeup Tips
One of the main things I struggled with was being able to carry as much makeup as I needed for long-term travel. At home, I have two dedicated drawers filled with all sort of makeup items and beauty products which I love so much. The thing is, when you travel with a limited amount of space in your luggage, you need to prioritise what to bring with you. In fact, this becomes even more difficult when you start moving countries every 6-12 months.
The best travel makeup tip I have is to purchase a dedicated makeup bag for the products you love the most. When you get a bag, make sure you consider how the items you want to carry will sit in the bag. You don't want any items to open and make a mess during your travels.
Always invest in multipurpose items as well. Can you use your soap as a shampoo? Is it possible to buy just one eyeshadow palette which contains all the colours you need? I started travelling with a hand luggage in 2013 and I've been reducing my travel makeup to the absolute minimum. I now pack the essential items and continue to replace unnecessary items as I go along.
I usually have difficult skin type as I've got a combined complexion. My T-zone is usually oily and the rest of my face gets dry. It took me years before I figured out what to use for travel.
My favourite travel makeup items
In the last few years, I discovered several products from myriad brands I now love and can't live without. I also learned that it's better to invest in a product which lasts longer and is better quality, even if it's a little more expensive, to begin with. When I was young, I used to buy this black eyeliner for the equivalent of 50 pence. Whilst that might sound good in theory, I later learned the sort of chemicals they put in it which could cause serious skin issues. When possible, try to look for solutions which are good for your skin. Ultimately, a healthy skin is the most beautiful.
Best moisturizer for oily skin
I am already planning a trip back to Tokyo at the beginning of next year. Last time I was in Japan, I checked one of the Shiseido counters where I got a free moisturiser sample for oily skin. It was love at first touch. However, when my cream ran out, I tried finding it in Europe but the prices were almost double in some shops. This Spring, I went to Helsinki and during my flight with Finnair, I saw an interesting product advertised, called Polaar. I must admit, the marketing got to me so I pretty much automatically fell in love with it. Once I arrived in Helsinki, I went to a department store and found the cream in question. It is advertised as snow-like cream because of the way it holds its shape and it's like a foam. Now, I purchased this cream almost a month ago, and I barely used it. One small amount goes such long way, I can see myself using the same pot of cream for over half a year. That's a great investment and a bargain. Oh, and it works magic to my oily skin, leaving it soft and hydrated. So there you go, I'm a Polaar addict. I also have their hand cream and night cream which I absolutely adore. Before applying your travel makeup, make sure you keep your skin nice and smooth.
Best primer for travel
I tried a primer from Bare Minerals and Dior, but after a friend recommended me the Smashbox - Photo Finish Primer, I never looked back. I don't use primer on a day to day basis, especially not in the summer. During Autumn or Winter, if the weather is pretty bad, I recommend it so your foundation is a little more resilient and has something to stick to. I especially needed a primer for my upcoming wedding day which is at the end of September. With all the rain and wind in Bristol, I wanted something to make me photo ready. Tip: for oily skin get the Smashbox Light, it's a bit better in my opinion.
The best foundation for oily skin
There is some debate on the best foundation for oily skin, especially for the wet season. Well, here is the deal, I tried the two best foundations recommended for oily skin and I can finally give you a verdict. Yes, I am talking about Estée Lauder Double Wear and Dior Forever. They are both pretty pricey, but given that they will last for several months, I say they are worth every penny. Estée Lauder is a very good foundation which covers well and lasts for the whole day. It doesn't get too shiny especially if you have oily skin BUT it does look quite cakey by the evening and it looks even worse if you dare to use face powder throughout the day. Dior Forever is creamier and definitely looks better on the skin. The face does get shiner after a few hours, but it looks perfect with a bit of face powder top-up. If used correctly with primer and translucent face powder, this foundation not only lasts for the day, but it looks just as fresh and amazing by the evening.
So which foundation wins better Estée Lauder Double Wear and Dior Forever? Dior Forever without a doubt. I think it's better for day to day situations as well as for photo shoots.
The best Autumn concealer
I tried it Dior Forever at one of the Dior counters and loved it so, so much. It doesn't get into your skin, it sits nicely on top of the foundation which makes your look pretty flawless. I can't brag about it enough. You can say that I am a bit of a Dior addict, yes.
The best travel face powder
The face powder matters just as much as the foundation, if not more. It has to be fine, perfect, wonderful for your skin and not clog your pores. It has to be like a veil of awesome for your face and keep your makeup looking fresh for the whole day. What is this magical face powder with super powers which can do all of the above? Well let me tell you, it took me years to find it. Yes... years! I've used anything and everything from cheap drugstore face powders to high-end brands just to find the holy grail of face powders for oily skin. The face powders either looked lovely when applied in the morning, then grainy by the end of the day, or looked great at first application, but once topped up, the makeup would start looking like a Japanese mask (and not the pretty one). I came across my current product by complete coincidence. I was watching a YouTube video and in the comments section, someone said they are using the Givenchy Translucent Face Powder. Hmmm...it got me thinking. Once I tried it, it was love at first touch! This powder is super finely milled, smells so amazing and it sits beautifully on the skin. Together with my Dior Forever foundation, I can use it several times the day without making my makeup look cakey or cheap. The makeup stays fresh and beautiful for hours. This Autumn you definitely need to try the Givenchy Translucent Face Powder, especially if you have oily skin.
Best Travel Eye Shadow
Ok, this one doesn't need any introduction because you've heard of it, we all know it's the best, so here it goes the Naked palette from Urban Decay. I am a huge fan of their eye shadows because it really passed the test of time for me. For my look, I love the Naked Palette (the original) but now considering buying more varieties. When you travel, it's good to get one palette with you which contains most of the colours you need. I personally only travel with one at the time. For a cheaper option, you can get the L.A. Girl Beauty Brick Eyeshadow (see below).
The travel eyeliner (with ZERO smudges)
Whether I go for smoky eyes or just want the awesome cat eyes, I need a great eyeliner for my desired look. I tried several, including eyeliner pencils from Bourjois, L'Oreal and Maybelline. They all have their virtues but I needed something that will last the whole day without any smudges. I eventually came across an eyeliner in Japan which was called something like "Kiss Me Heroine". Right, this weird sounding eyeliner, was the best thing I ever purchased in Japan. Easy to use and apply, jet black for the intense look and zero smudges. As in, you can touch it and try and smudge it and it still lasts on your eyelid. If you apply it on top of a small amount of neutral colour eyeshadow, it will last even longer. I now order it from Amazon every month or so. It's perfect and well sized for travel.
The epic mascara
In terms of mascara, I also love the Heroine products from Japan, however, since they are more difficult to source, I started using the new L'Oreal Paradise. So far, it's working really well for me and I can use just mascara without any other makeup, and it looks great. For a natural look, apply some blush and this mascara and you will look awesome. I especially love this combination when I go to the beach.
The best travel bronzer
Everyone is going on and on about the Hoola bronzer from Benefit. Well, I am using a cheap version of it from Bourjois and I absolutely love it. I use the bronzer just for contour though, so probably if you need it for a more elaborate purpose, you might want to consider the Hoola Bronzer from Benefit instead.
The perfect travel blusher
I love my blush so, so much. I've been using the same colour from the same brand for over 3 years now. And no, I wouldn't change it for the world. It's the Aglow from Clinique. One blusher lasts for a year almost, it's nice, shimmery, perfect for any occasion. I just love it and can't recommend it enough.
The sexy lipstick
When it comes to lipstick I can only recommend you two lipsticks as they are the only ones I use: The 3D from Bourjois and the intense Red from Dior. I love the Bourjois because it's glossy and lovely for a day makeup. I adore the Dior for a night out or a special occasion because it's incredibly long-lasting.
The best shampoo for wavy hair
I have naturally wavy hair and I always found it difficult to find a suitable shampoo which nourishes my hair, whilst keeping my wavy curls intact. I also needed something I could use without the need of a blow dryer or any other extras which damages my hair. Recently I discovered the OGX sea mineral moisture shampoo. I looked online and noticed it doesn't have the most glorious reviews, but I went on and tried it anyway. I had a feeling it might be good for me because my hair thrives when I'm on the beach or anytime I wash it with sea minerals. This shampoo turned out to be a lifesaver for me. I love it so much, I can't imagine using anything else but the OGX sea mineral collection.
The best conditioner for wavy hair
To top up my collection, I am using the OGX sea mineral conditioner as well. It works like a charm for my hair type. It keeps my hair wavy and soft for a few days.
The best aftercare for wavy hair
I don't normally use anything on my hair after I wash and condition it, but sometimes when I'm travelling and I need a little extra love, I would add a touch of coconut oil on it. That's all it needs... some natural coconut oil. You can find it in pretty much any country. And if not, replace it with a dash of olive oil.
General travel makeup tips
If you too, do long-term travel and want to reduce the number of beauty products you use, you should start looking at natural solutions for your skin. For example, I nowadays stopped using any foundation or primer. When I travel, I use moisturiser, concealer, eyeliner, mascara and blush. That's all. For special photo shoots or a night out, I'm happy to apply foundation but only if it's strictly necessary. When I met my husband back in 2013 I used to always complain about the sheer amount of travel makeup I needed to carry with me. He used to say that the best thing to do, is to allow my skin to "breath" for about a month. So we did the one-month no-makeup challenge. I stopped using anything and everything apart from mascara. I even stopped using moisturiser.
By the end of the month, my skin was glowing. Now, I was the type of person who will always have some sort of skin issues. Whether it was a dry patch, too oily in parts, large pore, you name it. So I always wanted to apply makeup to cover those imperfections one way or another. But honestly, it took one month, no makeup and a few 100% natural, homemade face masks, before my face started to just regenerate. All on its own. What did I do at the end? Went for a holiday abroad to get a tan, to ensure my skin truly gets the love it needs.
Ever since I stopped using foundations and primer and other things. I appreciate this approach might not be for everyone but I really wanted to share my story.
Nowadays my travel makeup is reduced to the bare minimum.
Travel items you can't live without
There are a few items I strongly recommend you add to your makeup bag before travelling anywhere. Tweezers, small scissors, clippers and nail filers should all be in there. I also like to add a small bit of thread and a tiny needle. I never leave without my antiperspirant. I use one from Nivea and Lumene (bought from Finland). I don't ever use body mosturiser, unless I need it after I wax or after a long day at the beach.
When I travel, I buy local products rather than carrying them with me. If I need to exfoliate during travel time, I buy sugar and mix it with my shower gel. Alternatively, you can replace the sugar with used coffee. For face masks, I use fresh avocados. They work like magic.
One item I can't live without: baby wipes. I try to avoid buying actual makeup removal wipes and rely on baby wipes instead. They have less chemicals and are more gentle on the skin. You also get a bigger pack for less. Baby wipes are fantastic for long term travel as well when you need to freshen up during a long hiking session for example.