Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

As I get ready to spend the weekend away on a mini-vacation, it occurred to me that I have not put together an article about what to do when traveling with makeup! This article will go through some of the basic precautions one should take when bringing along various cosmetics as well as some recommendations for what to bring (and how to not bring your whole train case).

I always find that I never use all the makeup that I do bring, and I do enough traveling that I have learned what my real staples are. As a result, I have managed to narrow down what I take to fit in a medium-sized cosmetic tote, which is the perfect size for vacation. Let’s face it, vacation means fun and relaxation, and sometimes, going out fresh and barefaced is absolutely wonderful. Plus, not all of us tourists have the time or desire to put on full faces while checking out local attractions.

This is what I take with me on most trips:


  • Foundation of choice
  • Two blushes
  • Contour color


  • Mascara
  • Black eye liner
  • Two MAC self-made quads
  • Neutral base for eye makeup
  • Brow color


  • One or two prolongwears (optional)
  • Two lipsticks
  • Two lip glosses
  • One lip liner


  • Foundation brush
  • Blush brush
  • Shadow brush
  • Contour brush
  • Angled brow brush

What exactly do I consider my staples? I try to vary what I bring so that I can do several different looks with the few products I bring. For blush, I bring my staple MAC Margin blush, because it gives me a healthy, warm glow on my NC30 skin, and as my second choice, I tend to sway towards MAC’s Plum Foolery blush, which has a bit of a purple tint that will go great with cooler looks. My current contour color is MAC’s Harmony blush, which is an ashy-rosy color, but before that, I used to use MAC’s Enriched Refined Bronze.

My two self-made MAC quads consist of the following: 1) Carbon, Ricepaper, Casablanca, and Vex; 2) Goldmine, Bronze, Rye, and Nylon. I find myself continuously reaching for more neutral looks on vacation, but if feeling fun, I might add a third quad that has some brighter colors in it. For my neutral base, I might use something similar to MAC’s Prep + Prime Eye or pick a pigment like Fairylite, Gold Dusk, or Naked and bring a travel-sized bottle of MAC’s water-based mixing medium. I fill in my brows with Expresso eyeshadow (sometimes adding Carbon), so that is always in my makeup bag.

When it comes to lips, I tend to bring a pink as well as a coral. I might add or swap out for a nude tone, depending on my current mood. Just last weekend, I took Style It Up and Curtsy with me. If I know I’m going to be visiting my boyfriend, I make sure to throw in a light and darker prolongwear. For glosses, I also do a combination of one light and one darker gloss, because then you can always darken one of your lipsticks or lighten them. There are several combinations you can have. Some of my staple lip combinations involve Mari-sheeno lipstick with a light coral gloss like Tartlette. My lip liner of choice is generally Pink Treat cremestick liner, because it’s slightly pinker than my actual lips, so it blends quite easily. Other favorites include Summerfruit or Beurre. If I brought along a deep red, I might add Cranapple cremestick liner to the bunch, as well.

I only bring the brushes I know I need, and these five are pretty much my staples. A good idea is to make sure you wash them before you go on a trip, so they’re clean and fresh for usage. It is one of my night-before-travel rituals.

When I think about what to throw in my cosmetic bag, I consider what products work well on me as an individual, and what kind of minimalist looks can I do with those products. For instance, I know that Margin blush gives me a great glow, so it is my ultimate blush for travel. A great quick face entails regular face makeup, featuring Margin on the cheeks, a quick coat of black mascara, and maybe a layer of lip gloss. That’s it! I just know I get busy when I’m away on vacation, and I end up not wanting to (or just not having the time) spend too long on making myself up.

Now, when it comes to packing your makeup, it is important to be aware of what products have the possibility of breaking and which ones don’t. Liquids in plastic containers are generally safe from most breakage. However, powder products like blushes and shadows are far more fragile. When traveling by plane, I always recommend packing all makeup in the carryon, because you have better control over how your bag(s) is handled, not to mention, far less chance it will get stolen! Of course, with new stringent security standards, all liquids must be in a quart-sized clear plastic bag, which includes liquid foundations, lip gloss, lipsticks, mascara, liquid liner, etc. I would toss in my eye/lip liners in the bag, too.

Traveling by car tends to be easier on makeup, since there is less movement occurring. I have traveled with my entire train case (for when I spend an entire summer in another location) and have yet to have anything break! The trick is to pack the case in such a way that it is full and palettes and fragile products don’t have a lot of room to jostle, which limits the chance of them breaking. I’ve found that stuffing socks or washcloths around items when there is some open space is a great way to keep things in place during the road trip.

This is just based on traveling at least once a month and spending four days in another place for the past three years. I’ve found that these are just the perfect products for me to take, and of course, I always find myself reaching for a few different lipsticks from time to time or other colors depending on what I feel like in that time. The biggest point I want to make is to really consider what makeup you’ll need on your trip, because I think of travel as a bit of risk, in the sense that your makeup could get stolen (especially if you check-in luggage or leave it in a hotel room). I also don’t want to break a ton of stuff when I don’t really need it to get through the weekend.

What do you absolutely have to travel with?

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29 thoughts on “Traveling With Makeup


    Thank U so Much for this great advice…

    By the way i’m a big fan of ur talnet in makeup

    i printed out and practice the gorgeous look

    of yours.

    Thanks again..

    Salam! ^____^

  2. jenn

    hi christine,
    this is a great article!
    p.s i love ur makeup skills which i always state in ur lj posts 😛
    anyways, these are what i travel (i don’t really travel often but when i come home once a month)
    i bring my:
    dr feel good (i use it as a foundation)
    benefit 05 fall eye trio (its got 3 diff shades of brown) but now that i’ve got a mac pallet, if i feel more adventerious i’ll bring the pallet
    mascara and lash curler
    blush and bronzer
    and my benefit’s browzing
    and as for my brushes i bring:
    powder and blush
    2 medium size eye and mac’s pencil (sorry i dont know them by numbers and mine rubbed off)
    and a slanted brush to use with my browzing

  3. pink_candy

    This article is so informative.
    I always get so confused on what items to bring on my trips! I always end up forgetting things or bringing things I don’t need.

    P.S I love your website! one of the best I’ve seen so far in makeup.

    • I remember I used to bring SO much with me when I first started traveling. Then it would all sit untouched or unused because I ended up being too busy/lazy to put on extravagant makeup most of the time.

      Thank you!

  4. pink_candy

    Yeah, these are the things i bring along:
    powder/ bronzer
    blush (usually one which i find versatile in color; mocha-mac or orgasm-nars )

    2-3 eyeshadow (basically, neutrals or bronze colors)
    black eyeliner

    neutral lip liner
    red lipstick (Russian red -for glam looks)
    pinkish lipstick (lovelorn)
    neutral lipstick (high tea)
    1 clear lip gloss

    eyeshadow brush
    blending brush
    blush brush

    I guess that’s it.
    I carry all this in 2 makeup bags, one being larger to fit almost everything and one mini makeup bag that would fit my lipstick/gloss/eyeliner/blush/blush brush/powder – things i carry around for quick touch-ups.

  5. Valerie

    I’m so in love with your website! Great job.

  6. i usually bring along enough for 2 or 3 different looks, but that really only means bringing more lipstick/gloss and eyeshadows/liners. Mascara, blushes, foundations, etc……….those are all the same for all my looks (well, sometimes i put on colored mascara, but i save that for the clubs and such…..)

  7. zoe

    i have been at boarding school for the past 4 years and have had so many things break! It took me a while to find the perfect way to pack my make up because i came home everyweekend. My school was an hour away by train plus a half hour taxi ride on each end i wish someone had told me this ages ago before i broke so much and found it out by myself!

  8. Mal

    Thanks so much for this article. I just started travelling a lot on business with my new job, and I’m still learning what works. Last trip I tried to minimize by just bringing a couple things and I really did not end up looking my best (or feeling my best, since they go hand in hand) I’m going to follow this time and not be afraid to fill my ziplock bag with MAC!

    Thanks again, your articles are invaluable! :)

  9. Bridget

    I just found this website. I love the looks.. I can’t wait to start trying some. I am a big MAC fan. I try to find ways of packing easier. I just found out that you can buy empty bottles from MAC. They come in 2 sizes. Both of them meet the FAA size for carry on. They are great for a lot of things. I use them for my brush cleaner, contact solutions, face cream, and face wash.

  10. Yolanda

    Watch out for the security at the Madison, WI airport… they tossed my MAC gloss and a mascara. Apparently, make-up sends off some kind of bomb/security alert when it passes through the metal detectors at that airport!

    Be careful what you pack in your carry on!

  11. styrch

    Nice article! I would have loved to hear what you do for a carry on, though. I often have to travel for one or two night business trips and it can be tough. I find I usually can get by with my SFF, mascara, a couple of lippies and perfume in a plastic bag. Then a quad, my brushes, pencils, and mineralize skin finish in a separate bag. If for some reason I need more space in my plastic bag for security, I’ll ditch the SFF entirely and go just for the mineralize skin finish as a powder foundation (but I really dislike having to do that). Anyway, I’m always looking for ways to improve that type of packing and would love to hear your take on it.

    • Hey Styrch! Actually, the list I gave IS for carry on. I almost NEVER check my bags, least of all any makeup! I do a very good job of finding a way to get it all to fit in the plastic bag, lol.

      I put things in travel jars if I have to when packing more liquids, I find that I don’t need TOO much so a tiny jar of cleanser vs. the whole bottle helps.

  12. Candace117

    I am so minimalist…heehee…I bring:

    bronzer (Chanel Tan de Soleil or Body Shop shimmer bronze)
    mascara (Chanel Inimitable in bronze or Cils a Cils in Violet)
    203940294 lip glosses…of varying shades…either Chanel or MAC – anywhere from coral, to fuchsia, to pink.
    lipstick – Lancome vintage rose or well-to-do.

    See? Minimalist! LOL!!!!

    I always have great moisturizer and cleanser as well.

  13. Allison

    I bring:

    -Concealer (Physicians Formula)
    -Powder foundation (Pressed Neutrogena mineral stuff)
    -Blush (MAC, Pink Swoon)
    -Mascara (Lash Blast)
    -Lipgloss (Maybelline)
    -MAC neutral quad (Gleam, dazzlelight, all that glitters, woodwinked)

    All in a small $1 case from Target.

  14. jdog

    Hey Christine,

    I know this is a super old post but what do kind of traveling bag do you use? Especially for your brushes…