The best travel makeup tips and items

If you’re planning a trip and want to make sure you have the best travel makeup for your vacation, it can be a challenge to find products that meet all of your needs. You’ll want something that fits in your carry-on, works well with your skin type (whether that be oily or prone to dry patches), and is lightweight enough to give you a natural glow without feeling heavy or greasy. It’s also helpful to have a versatile travel makeup kit that can handle any weather conditions, from sunny beaches to rainy destinations.

To help you find the perfect travel makeup, we’ve compiled a list of our top recommendations. These skincare and makeup products are tried and tested, and will help you look and feel your best while you’re on the go. From long-lasting mascaras and foundations to lipsticks that will give your lips a pop of colour, we’ve got you covered. With these products in your makeup bag, you’ll be ready to take on any adventure and capture stunning holiday photos.

Travel Makeup Tips

I find that travelling with makeup can be challenging because I want to bring all of my favourite products and tools with me, but space is often limited. It’s important for me to pack strategically and choose the right travel makeup, packing it in a way that maximizes space and keeps everything organized.

In this article, I will provide tips and recommendations for picking the right makeup for travel, including what to pack in a carry-on bag and what to pack in a checked suitcase. I will also share some of my favourite travel makeup products, including options for different skin types and preferences, to help you look and feel the best while on the go.

Cory Portrait Ottawa Winterlude - travel makeup that works all seasons

The Best Travel Makeup

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.

Important: These are my personal recommendations based on me testing various products to find what works for me. Use this article as a starting point to find the products that suit your skin type and preferences.

Here is the ultimate list of the best travel makeup:

skin care products and cosmetics in our original yellow bag

How to 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 like shampoo, shower gel or your favourite moisturizer. This set of travel bottles can come really handy if you want to take your own shampoo and conditioner with you.

In your checked in luggage, add your hairdryer, your perfume, straightener, 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.

Top tip: Before your trip, go to your local beauty shop and ask for free samples to try new products. Ask the assistant 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.

Travel makeup in your carry-on

When travelling, it’s important to pack your makeup in a way that maximizes space and keeps everything organized. One way to do this is to pack your most essential makeup items in your carry-on luggage. This way, you’ll have access to everything you need for your daily makeup routine, even if your checked luggage is delayed or lost.

Essential items in your carry-on:

  • Eyebrow pencil
  • Lip gloss and lip balm
  • Lipstick
  • Favourite eyeshadow palette
  • Mascara
  • Makeup brushes
  • Concealer

Good to know: The 100ml limit on liquids at the airports might be going away in June 2024. Check with the airline before travel. I, personally, am very excited about this news.

Travel makeup & non-essentials in your checked in luggage

If you purchase a checked in bag, you should really put everything that’s non-essential for you during your flight in there. It’s just easier, less stuff to carry.

A list of makeup and self-care items you should consider packing in your checked luggage:

  • Large makeup palettes or sets
  • Full-size makeup and skincare products
  • Hairdryer, straightener
  • Hair oils, large bottles
  • Combs and brushes
  • Any other large or non-essential items that won’t fit in your carry-on luggage

Keep in mind that you should follow any size and weight restrictions for checked luggage imposed by your airline. It’s also a good idea to pack your checked luggage in a way that protects your makeup and other fragile items from damage during the flight.

Not sure what bag to get for your trip? Have a look at our super detailed luggage sizes article that will help you pick the right suitcase for you.

Cory and G from You Could Travel wearing the princess medallions

Best Moisturizer For Travel

A good travel moisturizer should be small and packed with goodness. The moisturizer should hydrate your skin without making it oily. Luckily, there are now more options on the market than ever.

If you have a combined or dry skin, then you need the Regena-C Moisturizer M4 from Face Theory with 5% Niacinamide and Dual Action vitamin C. This is a whipped mousse moisturizer 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.

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

Best Primer For Travel

It can be tough to keep your makeup looking fresh and flawless while on the go. That’s where primers come in! These products are designed to create a smooth, even base for your makeup, helping it to go on more smoothly and last longer.

Whether you’re heading out on a long flight or spending the day sightseeing, a good primer can help you to keep your makeup looking fresh and radiant all day long.

I found the best primer that works for me is 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 with Tea Tree Oil. It will give your skin a beautiful cool feel and matte base. Perfect for an evening out during your travels.

Best Foundation For Travel

There is some debate on the best foundation for wet or humid weather.

In places with high humidity, like Singapore, it is important to choose a foundation that stays on your skin and looks good all day.

To avoid a shiny appearance, Estée Lauder Double Wear and Dior Forever are excellent choices. These foundations are long-lasting, and a little goes a long way, making them a great value.

  • Estée Lauder is an excellent 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.

There are several foundations that are suitable for dry weather conditions. When choosing a foundation for dry skin, it’s important to look for products that are hydrating and moisturizing, as these will help to nourish and nourish the skin and prevent dryness.

My favourite is the L’Oréal Liquid Foundation because it is sweat proof contains SPF 25 sunblock, and it stays on for the whole day.

Best Travel Concealer

As someone who loves to travel, I know how important it is to have a reliable makeup routine that can withstand the rigours of the road. One product that is always part of my travel makeup kit is a concealer.

Concealers are versatile and can help you achieve a flawless, even complexion, regardless of where you are. Whether you have acne, scars, or dark circles under your eyes, concealer can help to camouflage these imperfections and create a more polished look.

But concealer isn’t just about covering up blemishes – it can also be used to highlight certain areas of your face, such as your brow bone or cheekbones, to create a more sculpted and defined look. And if you choose a concealer with skin care benefits, it can even help to hydrate and nourish your skin while you’re on the go.

In short, concealer is an essential part of any travel makeup routine, and it’s a product that you’ll definitely want to have with you on your next trip.

Everyone will have different brand affinities, my favourite is Vichy Dermablend Corrector is an incredible piece of makeup. It enhances your beauty, it’s affordable, and it lasts for 14-16 hours.

Best Travel Face Powder

I highly recommend the Maybelline Fit Me Matte foundation. It has a compact size, provides even coverage, has long-lasting wear, and is an affordable option.

The face powder matters just as much as the foundation. Use it to set your foundation, reduce the appearance of shine, and create a matte finish. Face powder helps to absorb excess oil, making it particularly useful for people with oily or combination skin.

Face powder can also help to smooth out the appearance of the skin, creating a more even and polished look. Some face powders are made with ingredients that can help to reduce the appearance of pores and fine lines, giving the skin a more youthful and refined appearance.

In addition to these benefits, face powder can also help to extend the wear of your makeup, making it last longer throughout the day.

Best Travel Eye Shadow

This one doesn’t need any introduction because you’ve heard of it, we all know it’s the best.

I am a huge fan of the Naked palette from Urban Decay 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.

Best Travel Eyeliner (no smudges)

You want an eyeliner that will stay the whole day. My recommendation is a Japanese product called “Kiss Me Heroine“. It’s smudge proof, waterproof, works for sensitive skin and it looks excellent. 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.

They have many types of eyeliner available, including pencil, liquid, and gel formulations. Whichever suits you best, I strongly recommend this brand.

  • Pencil eyeliner is easy to apply and can be smudged for a softer, more natural look.
  • Liquid eyeliner is more precise and can create a sharper, more defined line, but it may take some practice to apply evenly.
  • Gel eyeliner is similar to liquid eyeliner, but it is applied with a brush and tends to be more long-lasting.

Best Mascara For Travel

In terms of mascara, I love and recommend the Heroine Mascara from Japan. Second-best option is 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 the L’OREAL Voluminous Lash Paradise mascara. For an intense look, add some drama with an eyeliner pencil.

When it comes to choosing a mascara for travel, you should consider a few factors:

  • Packaging: Look for a mascara with a compact, durable packaging that won’t take up too much space in your luggage or leak during travel.
  • Formula: Choose a waterproof or water-resistant formula to avoid smudging or flaking during your travels.
  • Brush: A brush with short, densely packed bristles can help separate and define your lashes, while a longer, spiky brush can help add volume and length.
Cory applying travel makeup in the mirror

Best Travel Bronzer

The best travel makeup will definitely include a bronzer to enhance your beauty and those gorgeous cheeks.

The most well known and widely used bronzer is from Benefit Cosmetics, the Hoola Bronzer. For a more affordable alternative, you can try the Physicians Formula Murumuru Butter Bronzer, made for sensitive skin.

When picking a bronzer, consider the followings:

  • Skin type: If you have sensitive skin, you may want to choose a bronzer that is free of fragrances and other potentially irritating ingredients.
  • Desired level of tan: Some bronzers provide a more subtle, natural-looking tan, while others give a more dramatic, sun-kissed look. Consider the level of tan you want to achieve when picking a bronzer.
  • Ingredients: Look for a bronzer that is made with natural ingredients, such as cocoa butter or coconut oil, to nourish and moisturize your skin. Avoid harsh chemicals.

The Perfect Travel Blusher

There is just one single travel blusher that I want to mention, and that’s the beautiful and perfect Clinique Blushing Blush Powder. It lasts for several months, it’s sleek, and its compact size makes it easy to pack for a vacation. It is available in a range of shades to suit different skin tones.

Look out for these details when picking a travel blusher:

  • Do you prefer a powder, cream, or liquid blush? Powder blushes are easy to apply and blend, but they can be drying on the skin. Cream blushes are hydrating and provide a dewy finish, but they can be harder to blend. Liquid blushes are lightweight and easy to apply, but they can be tricky to get the right amount of coverage.
  • Choose a blush shade that complements your skin tone. If you have fair skin, opt for a soft pink or peach shade. If you have medium skin, a coral, or peach shade will work well. If you have deep skin, try a berry or plum shade.
  • Look for a travel blush that comes in a compact size and has a secure closure to prevent spills.
  • Pick a blush that has good staying power, so you don’t have to reapply it throughout the day.

Best Travel Lipstick

Picking the best lipstick is highly subjective as some women will prefer a deep and beautiful red while others will want something more low-key, that works almost everywhere.

Lipsticks are small and fit easily in your bag. My favourite red is definitely the Christian Dior Rouge.

For day to day, use a lip moisturizer or a lip gloss that just gives you a little extra. I love Burt’s Bees, a simple and no-nonsense lip balm.

Things to consider when picking your lipstick:

  • Match your skin tone: If you have a cool skin tone, you might look best in blue-toned lipsticks, while warm skin tones tend to look best with orange-toned lipsticks.
  • Consider the finish: Lipsticks come in different finishes, such as matte, glossy, or satin. Choose a finish that you find comfortable to wear and that complements your overall look.

Extra travel makeup tips

If you are a long-term traveller like me and want to reduce the number of beauty products you use, consider using natural solutions for your skin. When you are on the go, bring moisturizer, concealer, eyeliner, mascara, and blush.

If you have a special occasion or a night out, you can use foundation, but only if necessary. Allowing your skin to feel good during your travels can make a big difference and may even reduce the amount of makeup you need in the long run.

If you need a quick fix for any blemishes while travelling, try mixing crushed aspirin with club soda to form a paste. Bring the paste in a small container and use it to dab on any pimples that may be forming.

For a DIY face mask, mash up some avocado and use it on your skin. If you need an exfoliator, mix some ground coffee beans with a little olive oil. You should be able to find most of these ingredients in a supermarket, regardless of where you are in the world.

Things to do in London Cory Lavender fields

How do you make a travel makeup kit?

To make a travel makeup kit, follow these steps:

  • Gather all of your essential makeup items, such as foundation, concealer, powder, blush, eyeshadow, mascara, and lipstick.
  • Consider purchasing travel-sized versions of your favourite products, or decant larger products into smaller containers. Keep in mind that liquids and gels must be placed in containers that are no larger than 100ml, and that all liquids, gels, and aerosols must be placed in a quart-sized, clear plastic bag.
  • Pack any necessary brushes, sponges, or other tools, such as tweezers, nail clippers, and a small scissors.
  • Don’t forget to pack your skincare routine items, such as cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and any treatment products.
  • Choose a bag that is spacious enough to hold all of your makeup and skincare items, but small enough to be easily portable.
  • Consider adding a few extra items, such as blotting papers, makeup remover wipes, and a small mirror, for touch-ups on the go.

Remember to keep your makeup bag organized and make sure all items are securely closed to prevent any spills or leaks.

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 have any products that may leak, consider placing them in a plastic zipper bag as an extra precaution. Find a bag that can hold all of your makeup, including brushes, without damaging them.

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

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

Don’t forget your favourite makeup remover. 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makeup should I travel with?

You can put together your 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 sun kissed look, so leave your foundation or heavy makeup at home. Bring your concealer, blusher, eyebrow pencil and lip gloss.
Colder destinations ask for the best skincare. Pack plenty of moisturizers and gentler cleanser, as your skin will be a lot dryer than usual. A lip balm, a nice eyeshadow and some mascara will enhance your natural beauty.

How to do makeup when traveling?

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 minimize 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 colour.

Is there travel sized foundation?

There are many brands that specialize in travel sized 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.

Should you wear makeup on a long flight?

It’s generally a good idea to wear only minimal makeup on a long flight to allow your skin to breathe and avoid clogging your pores. This can help prevent breakouts and other skin irritation. Keep your skin hydrated by drinking plenty of water and applying a moisturizer regularly throughout the flight.
If you do decide to wear makeup, it’s best to choose products that are non-comedogenic, which means they are less likely to clog pores. Remove your makeup before going to sleep on the plane to give your skin a chance to rejuvenate.
In addition to minimal makeup and a good moisturizer, I recommend having a few emergency beauty items in your travel makeup kit. These might include oil blotting sheets, a facial mist, and a pack of wipes for removing makeup and freshening up.
Always be mindful of the impact that long flights can have on your skin, and to take steps to protect and nourish it to keep it looking and feeling its best.

Where should I put my makeup when flying?

Always divide your makeup into two groups before your trip.
Carry-on: The first group should have a few essentials that you cannot do without during the flight. Put these into a clear plastic bag and take it with you in your carry on.
Checked in luggage: The second group should include all other makeup items that you will need for your trip. These items should be packed in your checked in luggage.

Is all makeup travel sized?

Not all makeup products are travel sized. While some products, such as lip pencils and small makeup brushes, may be small enough to easily travel with, other products, such as foundations and face creams, may come in larger sizes that are not as convenient for travel.
However, many makeup brands do offer travel-sized versions of their products, such as mini-sized foundations and eyeshadow palettes. These smaller sizes are designed to be more portable and convenient for travel.
If you’re planning to travel with makeup, it’s a good idea to consider which products you’ll need and look for travel-sized versions if they’re available.

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.
To speed up the security checks, I normally just put mine in the transparent liquid bag and place it in the security trays. Alternatively, if you think you won’t need them on the flight, just leave them in your checked in bag.

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Cory from You Could Travel entering Senso-ji in Tokyo, Japan

Cory Varga – Cory is a published travel writer and award-winning photographer. She travels full time with her husband and is passionate about creating in-depth travel guides. Cory published her first book on Japanese customs and manners because she’s obsessed with everything Japan. She has visited hundreds of destinations and has lived in 7 different countries. Cory is multilingual and an alumna from The University of Manchester.


One response to “The best travel makeup tips and items”

  1. Ellen Johnston Avatar
    Ellen Johnston

    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!

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