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The best travel makeup tips and items

What are the travel makeup products you need to add to your bag before your holiday.

Cory Portrait Ottawa Winterlude - travel makeup that works all seasons

When you travel you want to look amazing for your holiday pictures and having your best travel makeup in your makeup bag can really make a difference. It's not an easy task, as you will want a travel makeup kit that fits in your carry on, helps with oily skin and dry patches on the plane but it's light enough to give you that natural glow when you're on vacation. Not to mention that sometimes the destination can have some fussy weather so you will want an all rounder travel makeup that works rain and sunshine.

So hey, if you too are struggling to find the right mascara, the right foundation and that awesome lipstick that actually makes your lips look great, worry not, because I've got you covered. After years of research, lots of trial and error, we put together the ultimate guide to makeup products that will make your trip amazing. Here are the skincare products and the travel makeup you need in your makeup bag.

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One of the biggest struggles is being able to carry as much travel makeup as you need in a carry on bag. Sometimes you'll go for a two week trip so you need quite a big toiletry bag that somehow also fits in your luggage. Finding small travel containers might save space but chances are, you won't be able to fit your skin care, hair products and your travel makeup bag, not to mention your makeup brushes. When booking flights for a longer time, I recommend paying for a suitcase and getting a checked bag where you add your toiletry bag with the larger size travel makeup and keep some of the essential travel makeup in your carry on. Don't worry, I will explain what should go in your travel makeup bag and your checked bag separately.

Cory Portrait Ottawa Winterlude - travel makeup that works all seasons

How do I pack makeup for a flight?

The best travel makeup tip I have is to purchase a dedicated makeup bag for the products you love the most. This is for your best makeup and essential items that you need with you at all times and it's part of your daily makeup routine. This bag will very likely include your eyebrow pencil, lip gloss and lip balm, lipstick, your favourite eyeshadow palette, mascara and make up brushes as well as more expensive items like limited edition travel makeup. Don't forget to add a concealer, brushes and skincare you can't live without and any small travel size items that fit in your carry on. If you cannot purchase a checked in suitcase, make sure you have travel size toiletries for larger things like shampoo, shower gel or your favourite moisturizer.

In your haul luggage add your hairdryer, your perfume, straighteners, olive oil or argan oil if you use it for your hair. Larger items like special moisturizers for your skincare routine and larger combs or brushes.

Best makeup travel tips: For your next trip, go to your local beauty shop and ask for free samples to try new products. Ask the assistants to help you with a full face makeup that feels light and doesn't cake. Check what's the right makeup for your skin colour and make sure to mention that these are for your trip. One of the most important things is that your makeup artist understands what makeup suits you and what beauty products your skin needs.

skin care products and cosmetics in our original yellow bag


Makeup products can last for months and it's best to invest in good quality items that enhance your natural beauty. Good products don't cake and give you a natural glow and don't contain harmful chemicals. Even if some of these items seem a little more expensive, they will be so much better for your skin. Here is the ultimate guide to the best travel makeup you need to pack for your next trip.

Cory and G from You Could Travel wearing the princess medallions


A good travel moisturizer should be small and packed with goodness. It needs to hydrate your skin and not make your skin oily. And luckily, there are now more options on the market than ever.

If you have a combined or sky skin, then you need the Amil-C Whip M5 SPF 30 from Face Theory with 5% Niacinamide and Dual Action Vitamin C. This is a whipped mousse moisturiser that refines and brightens your skin while protecting it against UV damage – now with a higher SPF.

For sensitive or mature skin, go for Polaar - Polar Night Revitalizing Cream with Boreal Algae. The texture of the cream is fantastic and it's not tested on animals. All ingredients are vegan as well.

Before applying your travel makeup, make sure you keep your skin nice and smooth.

Polaar - Polar Night Revitalizing Cream with Boreal Algae - 50 ml

Polaar - Polar Night Revitalizing Cream with Boreal Algae - 50 ml

Best primer for travel

The best primer has to be the Honest primer. Why? Because not only does it make your skin beautiful but it doesn't contain any harmful ingredients.

An alternative is the MUA soothe and cool primer stick. It will give your skin a beautiful cool feel and matte base. Perfect for an evening out during your travels.

Honest Beauty Everything Primer Matte

Honest Beauty Everything Primer Matte

The best foundation for oily skin

There is some debate on the best foundation for wet or humid weather. In places like Singapore, you will need something that really stays on your skin and looks beautiful. You won't want that shiny look and for that we have two awesome products: Estée Lauder Double Wear and Dior Forever.

They are a little on the pricey side but they will last for months and a little goes a long way with these products.

Estée Lauder is a very good foundation that covers well and lasts for the whole day. It doesn't get too shiny especially if you have oily skin. Dior Forever is a creamier option that seems to immediately adapt to your 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 looks just as fresh and amazing by the evening.

Christian Dior Diorskin Forever

Christian Dior Diorskin Forever

The best travel concealer

Everyone will have different brand affinities but Vichy Dermablend Corrector is an incredible piece of makeup. It enhances your beauty, it's affordable and it lasts for 14 hours. It also has APF 30 which makes it perfect for your trip. It lasts for a very long time and it's the best travel makeup that needs to be added to your list.

Christian Dior Diorskin Forever Undercover Waterproof Concealer

Christian Dior Diorskin Forever Undercover Waterproof Concealer

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 superpowers which can do all of the above? Givenchy Translucent Face Powder is the product you are looking for. This powder is super finely milled, smells so amazing and sits beautifully on the skin. Together with my Dior Forever foundation, you can use it several times a day without making the makeup look cakey or cheap. The makeup stays fresh and beautiful for hours. You definitely need to try the Givenchy Translucent Face Powder, especially if you have oily skin.

Givenchy Poudre Premiere Mat & Translucent Loose Powder

Givenchy Poudre Premiere Mat & Translucent Loose Powder

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 they really passed the test of time. When you travel, it's good to get one palette with you which contains most of the colours you need. There are several products to pick from depending on your skin tone and eye colour. Warm neutrals are perfect for travel as well as the gorgeous shimmering golden shades from the Honey eyeshadow palette.

L.A. Girl Beauty Brick Eyeshadow, Nudes, 0.42 Ounce

L.A. Girl Beauty Brick Eyeshadow, Nudes, 0.42 Ounce

The travel eyeliner (with ZERO smudges)

You want an eyeliner that will stay the whole day. And there are several options out there. Our recommendation is a Japanese product called "Kiss Me Heroine". You will have to order it online from Japan but honestly, it's worth the wait and every penny. You can touch it and it won't smudge. It's perfect and well sized for travel. If you are in the market for one of the best eyeliner pencils then this is it. Made so it doesn't irritate your sensitive skin but stays put for the whole day.

Kiss Me Heroine Make Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner, Black

Kiss Me Heroine Make Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner, Black

The epic mascara

In terms of mascara, we also love and recommend the Heroine products from Japan, however, since they are more difficult to source, try the L'Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes. It's an affordable product that is working really well and can be used without other makeup products. For a natural look, apply some blush and this mascara and you will look awesome. For an intense look, add some drama with an eyeliner pencil.

L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Washable Mascara

L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Washable Mascara

The best travel bronzer

The best travel makeup will definitely include a bronzer to enhance your beauty and those gorgeous cheeks. The most well know and widely used bronzer is from Benefit Cosmetics, the Hoola Bronzer. For a cheaper alternative, you can try the Physicians Formula Murumuru Butter Bronzer, made for sensitive skin.

Bourjois Delice De Poudre Bronzing Powder for Women

Bourjois Delice De Poudre Bronzing Powder for Women

The perfect travel blusher

There is just one single travel blusher that needs to be mentioned and that's the beautiful and perfect Clinique Aglow blusher. There are several other colours you may prefer depending on your skin colour but usually, the aglow works on most.

Not only does it last for several months, but it's also the holy grail of beauty products. It's sleek, perfect for you to pack for the vacay. It comes with its own application although we recommend that you purchase a separate blush brush for it.

Clinique Blushing Blush Powder Blush 108 Cupid

Clinique Blushing Blush Powder Blush 108 Cupid

The travel lipstick

This is highly subject as some women will prefer a deep and beautiful red while others will want something more low key, that works almost everywhere. Our recommendation is to pack both. When you go out during your travels you will want to feel confident and fierce. Don't shy away from all those bold colours that make you feel awesome. The best red? Definitely the Christian Dior Rouge.

For day to day, use a lip moisturizer or a lip gloss that just gives you a little extra. We love Burt's Bees.

Christian Dior Rouge Dior Couture

Christian Dior Rouge Dior Couture

The best shampoo for wavy hair

Any sort of travel can put a strain on your hair because even spending time on the airplane it dries out your hair. If you have natural waves or curls, you'll definitely want a few more things with you as well just to ensure you keep your beautiful shape and volume. We recommend the Shea Moisture shampoo irrespective of your hair type. It works really well for your fine or dry hair as well.

It's a sulfate-free shampoo that works really well for colour treated hair or natural curls. It's basically anti-frizz, making it ideal for travel.

OGX Hydrate Plus Repair Argan Oil of Morocco

OGX Hydrate Plus Repair Argan Oil of Morocco

The best conditioner

To top up the collection, go for the Shea Moisture conditioner as well. Having the same brand of shampoo and conditioner works really well and again, it will help with your dry hair. It's formulated with hibiscus and coconut oil to reduce breakage and deliver shine.

OGX Renewing Argan Oil of Morocco Conditioner

OGX Renewing Argan Oil of Morocco Conditioner

The best aftercare for your hair

This one is for the curly and wavy hair women out there that need a little bit more food for their hair. Try the curl and style milk for your thick curly hair with coconut and hibiscus. It smells great and does wonders to your curls as well.

Extra 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. When you travel, use moisturiser, concealer, eyeliner, mascara and blush. For special photoshoots or a night out, apply foundation but only if it's strictly necessary. Allow your skin to feel good during your travels, it will really make a huge difference and it might even reduce the amount of makeup you need in the long run.

Do you need a quick fix during your travels? Crush an aspirin and mix it with club soda water. Form a paste and bring it with you in a small container. Use the aspirin paste to dab it on any forming pimples.

If you need a face mask, mash some avocado and use it on your skin. If you need an exfoliator, use some ground coffee beans mixed with a little olive oil. You will find most of these things in a supermarket wherever you travel.

How can I do my makeup while travelling?

One of the best travel tips is to carry a small compact mirror with you. When you are on the road a long time, you might want to minimise the amount of makeup you put on your face. For example, skip the foundation, but add concealer and blusher. For your eye makeup, keep it minimal with a little eyeshadow, a nice cat eye and mascara. You can use something like a nice lip gloss to enhance your natural lip color.

Things to do in London Cory Lavender fields

What makeup should I travel with?

You can put together your own travel palette and safely store it in your travel makeup bag. Usually, it's best to bring with you the travel makeup kit that makes you feel confident. If you visit sunny locations, you might want to go for a sunkissed look so you will probably leave home your foundation or heavy makeup. But you will want your concealer, blusher, eyebrow pencil and lip gloss.

Colder destinations ask for the best skincare. You will want to make sure to pack lots of moisturizers and gentler cleansers as your skin will be a lot dryer than usual. A lip balm, a nice eyeshadow and some mascara will enhance your natural beauty.

Is there a travel size foundation?

There are lots of brands that specialise in travel size foundations like the small Clarins skin illusion, Erborian BB or CC Creme, bareMinerals Loose Foundation or the Dior Forever Skin Glow. A great product is the Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation as it contains SPF, ideal for your trip.

the obagi serum hydra-drops

How do you make a travel makeup kit?

Start by putting together all the make-up items that you use on a day to day basis. Add your brushes, eyeshadow and all the skincare routine items you use. Do any of them come in travel sizes? Then they should be added to the bag. Pack any small extras like tweezers, small scissors and nail filer.

Your bag should be a decent size but remember no travel makeup item can over 100ml and a combined 1 litre in total as otherwise, it will have to go into checked in luggage.

Where do you put your makeup when flying?

Bring a small compact mirror with you and just before landing, start putting on makeup. Alternatively, you can use the mirror in the toilets but don't take too long as there is usually a queue of people waiting to use the facilities as well.

Remember that some people might be sensitive to perfume or sprays so make sure to only use these in the toilets and in small quantities.

Cory and G photo collage with obagi products

Is all makeup travel size?

Some makeup products are travel size by default. For example, a lip pencil will fit in any bag. The same goes for small makeup brushes, mascara, lipstick and eyeshadow. The only things you need to pay attention to are your moisturizers, shampoo, hair routine, body care and sunscreen.

Can I take makeup powder on a plane?

TSA recommends that foods, powders and other similar items may require additional screening. There are no restrictions to the number and amount of cosmetic powder products in your hand luggage so you can bring it with you. Just make sure you add it to the transparent liquid bag and place it in the security trays as requested.

Should you wear makeup on a long flight?

Wear the minimum amount of makeup on a long flight to prevent pimples and oily skin. Wear good moisturizer and make sure to keep hydrated at all times. Have a few emergency beauty items in your travel makeup kit in case you need them.

Cory Enjoying Venice in a day

Which makeup bags are best?

You will want a portable makeup bag that seals really well. Go for makeup bags with zippers and if you plan on adding something that can leak, add your products in a plastic ziplock as well. A great bag will fit every bit of your makeup in it including the brushes without damaging them.

You can either go for a cosmetic bag that comes with extra smaller bags in it so you can organise everything well or purchase a larger bag that has small compartments. Both of them are ideal.


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. Add a small bit of thread and a tiny needle. Don't forget your deodorant. Try and use something which is aluminium free like this Mitchum vegan deo.

Don't forget your favourite makeup removal. If you can, avoid using makeup removal wipes as they can damage your skin. Use a gentle cleanser at the end of the day, just before bed. Pack some baby wipes as well especially for long term travel. If your trip involves long hikes use baby wipes to freshen up.

Crystal Spring Salt of the Earth Organic Classic Deodorant 90g Pack of 2

Crystal Spring Salt of the Earth Organic Classic Deodorant 90g Pack of 2

Pampers Sensitive Water Baby Wipes

Pampers Sensitive Water Baby Wipes

42 Travel Hanging Toiletry Bag

42 Travel Hanging Toiletry Bag

The best travel makeup tips and items by Cory Varga

Cory Varga - Cory is a published travel writer and award-winning photographer based in North Yorkshire. She has a passion for storytelling with pictures and words.


What do you think?

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Your Comment

Ellen Johnston
21 Nov 2018

Most of the list is very useful. Attempting to do carry-on only for my next trip, so I’ll have to bookmark this and see what else I can scale down!