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What are your travel must-haves?

I cycle between taking my custom Make Up For Ever XL palette (lots of bronzes, taupes, a few pops of color), Viseart Paris Nudes, and last time I traveled, I took a custom 8-pan Anastasia palette. My must-haves are lip balm, a good lipstick or gloss, my go-to makeup brushes (I’ll put them in the hotel safe, if I stay at a hotel, otherwise I trust my family!), current foundation, skincare, etc. I try to have a semblance of a plan of what I want to wear so I can avoid bringing everything!

— Christine


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erica Avatar

Nail slippers
Lip balm
Small bottle of lotion
You’ll be amazed if you don’t carry them you’ll need them!

I plan out a basic makeup look for day that can be deepened with minimal additional products for night. I take blush brush, eyeshadow brush, concealer brush, and stippuling brush. Try to keep it light as possible. Four eyeshadows, blush, lipstick, foundation, eyeshadow primer, powder, eyeliner, mascara. I use one makeup bag for makeup. One for everything else like contact solution, toothbrush, toothpaste etc.

Joyce Avatar

Oh, I didn’t even think to share those items! But yes definitely, definitely on nail clippers. I have them everywhere: my bag, my schoolbag, my nightstand, both bathrooms…!

Lacey Avatar

I don’t travel much (usually just one week of vacation a year), but I take an eye palette with neutrals and maybe one or two pops of color and a dark shade for smoky looks, or an all-neutral palette with colorful liners. I don’t allow myself to pack more than two blushes and lip colors. The rest is whatever I have in my day-to-day rotation at the time, with minimal brushes. I try to plan for whatever nights out we might have during the week so I can coordinate more dramatic or bright looks with my wardrobe.

Nancy T Avatar

It depends on the length of they stay, where I’m staying (hotel or private home), and the itinerary. But always taking at minimum: skincare products even if I have to put them in airline approved containers, foundation or BB/ CC cream, concealer, powder, waterproof mascara and liners, 2-3 lipsticks, lip balm, a gloss, 1 or 2 blushes, eyelash curler and brushes, and probably either my Lorac Pro Palette or 2 custom MAC quads that include the Orb, Soft Brown, Antiqued and Woodwinked one, the other one COLORS!

Pearl Avatar

Primers, sunscreens, lip treatments (balms and scrubs), makeup brushes, foundation and a bb cream, a palette (MAC, Viseart or Urban Decay) or quad (MAC or Tom Ford), coordinating blushes, setting powder, Guerlain Meteorites compact, daytime lipstick and a nighttime lipstick. I plan out my looks so I don’t pack too much, and since I can get it rather compact, I usually try to fit my make up pouch in my carry-on.

Marie-Estelle Avatar

I also tend to plan a bit what I feel like wearing and depending on the duration of the trip I’ll take extra things. Nevertheless, everything has to fit in my Laura Mercier Artist Portfolio!

The base will be my custom palette with MUFE and MUG eyeshadows, a gloss, 2 or 3 lip products, a blush fitting with any look, my laura mercier highlighter, my brow pencil, the foundation of the moment and a travelling size of the MUFE HD powder, a peach correcteur and concealer, a color tattoo for my eyeshadow base. Finally a color switch (helps to reduce the number of brushes I “have” to take!) and a few brushes.

If I leave for a long vacation I tend to take 2 blushes, my mini Nars lip pencils because you can customs colors easily on the go and a cleaning spray for my brushes.

My partner made fun of my when I put my portfolio in the safe during our last vacation… When I reminded him the cumulated value of it and it contents… HE was the one reminding me to put it back there lol!

Gillian Avatar

I’m not known for travelling light! However, if it’s only makeup and not skincare etc. I need to consider then it’s not quite so bad. Anyway, the essentials for me are:

Smoothing/mattifying primer
Liquid foundation (sometimes I’ll take powder foundation for convenience so that I can skip some steps)
Skin tone concealer (liquid or cream)
Under-eye corrector/concealer (liquid that sets)
Setting powder
Powder blush
Eye primer
A few neutral eyeshadows in a quad or something)
Double-ended black and brown pencil eyeliner (my current one broke in half ?)
Volumising mascara
Lip pencil that’s my natural lip colour
Lip pencil to match bright lipstick
A couple of easy to throw on wearable lipsticks plus one that’s really bright for special/fun occasions
Setting spray
Travel brush set

I usually take more than that because I hate not being prepared for every eventuality but that would be the minimum I would take. I left out brow products but I suppose that I’m filling them in most days so I would maybe add a brow pencil to the list. Oh, and it’s not makeup but my lip makeup wouldn’t be possible without it, an intensive lip balm/treatment because ESSENTIAL!

I have a long list of essentials typed up on my computer, essentials in every category. It’s long. I should probably amend it and try to make it shorter! I dream of travelling light but it never seems to happen. ?

Fran Avatar

Christine, I like your tip about keeping makeup brushes in the hotel safe. Excellent quality brushes are such a major investment, and they would be so easy to steal…

I haven’t actually traveled in a long time, but I’ll finish some of my school days with no makeup on because we’ll be practicing facials on each other, after which I’ll have to walk a mile through the city and go home on the train, so I’m putting together a mini-bag of basics. Here’s what I think I need:

the bare basics:
Sunscreen for my hands: Supergoop Forever Young hand cream broad spectrum SPF 40 PA +++
lip balm with sunscreen: a mini Jack Black Intense Therapy lip balm SPF 25.
Suncscreen/base makeup: travel size Dr. Jart+ Black Label Detox Beauty Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 25
powder/additional sunscreen: Laura Mercier Mineral Pressed Powder SPF 15 in Tender Rose.
Hourglass Retractable Kabuki Brush for applying the powder (I prefer this to the sponge).
Urban Decay Brow Tamer Flexible Hold Tinted Brow Gel in Neutral Brown.
blinc mascara (delux sample size): it won’t smudge on me.
a MLBB lip color: NARS Sheer Lipstick in Damage.
sunscreen renewer: Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF45.

A small selection of things for upping my game a bit:
Concealer: a nearly-used-up tube of IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye in Neutral Medium and a tube of Sephora Collection Bright Future Gel Serum Concealer in 05 Parfait for concealing broken capillaries on my cheeks.
A brow pencil: Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil in Ash.
An eyeshadow primer/base: I’ll probably use my Laura Mercier Eye Basics in Flax, since it has a bit of coverage and shimmer and is easy to apply with fingers.
A 3-pan Make Up For Ever magnetic palette containing:
a brightening wash of eyeshadow: Make Up For Ever Artist Shadow in D552 Crystalline Grey Beige;
a contour powder: MUFE Artist Shadow in M540 Grey Beige;
and a blush: MUFE Artist Shadow in D862 Farily Pink, I864 Baby Pink, D850 Nitro Pink, I 902 Quartz, or I838 Slate Pink, depending on my mood.
Highlight: a deluxe sample size of Josie Maran Argan Enlightenment Illuminizing Veil (I’m afraid my lovely new Hourglass highlighter might break if I dropped my bag).
OR: for contour, highlight, single-wash eyeshadow: Kevyn Aucoin The Contour Book Vol. I, with Urban Decay Rapture or Clinique Plum Pop or Pansy Pop for blush
Hourglass Retractable Foundation Brush for applying contour
IT Brushes for Ulta You’re Easy on the Eyes Dual-Ended Eye Shadow Brush Set, with travel-sized MUFE eyeshadow, blending, liner, and small cheek brush added to the case — spoolie present on eyebrow pencil.
Additional lip colors: MUFE Rouge Artist Natural in N27, Iridescent Blue Pink and Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Sunscreen SPF 15 in Tulip — two colors that always look good on me and are fuss-free to apply/renew
A setting spray: a deluxe sample size of Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray.
A small zip-lock bag with a few makeup wipes, and another with a few cotton buds, for cleanup.

I have a tendency to overload my bag, and don’t want to drag a ton of stuff around with me, but I think I could feel comfortable going anywhere to see anyone with this selection of products, especially since my contour powder will double as a crease/hood/blending eyeshadow shade.

Of course it may turn out that there’s lots of products at school or in my kit that I could use, lol, but I feel more comfortable if I’m prepared with products that I know look good on me and won’t upset my sensitive skin.

Mariella Avatar

Especially if I’m flying, “replaceable” is a must for me so I tend to rely on Naked 1 or 2 for eyes or Eyes Are the Window Spirit, which I’ve found CAN withstand going into my checked luggage! IT CC Cream (I now have the bonus size which is both a blessing and a curse, so I decant into a small glass jar so I’m not taking that giant tube if I’m flying); minis of Boscia cleanser, Clarins eye, day and night creams, La Roche Posay Anthelios for the face (for when I don’t want to wear the CC cream) and Neutrogena SPF110 for my hands. Minis of my shampoo and Alterna CC or Living Proof Style Extender and Moroccan Oil, a few Sonia Kashuk eyeshadow brushes I got cheap to make up a “travel set” when Target was pulling out of Canada, Cargo Concealer, Tarte Natural Beauty blush and Clarins Gloss Prodige. Oh, and a mini eyeshadow primer – UD or Bare Minerals. Not sure what I’ll do when I use up those travel minis but I guess the full sizes aren’t all that large….

Joyce Avatar


You haven’t found that the Stila Spirit palette crumbles/breaks during transit/travel? I bought the palette almost for travel purposes, but I’ve read reviews that they are quite fragile. Is that not the experience you’ve had?

Mariella Avatar

I’d read similar comments, Joyce, both at Sephora’s site and on Makeup Alley and I was pretty nervous but figured I’d give it a try since I could always replace it, if I had to, using Optimum Points (meaning it would cost me almost nothing). I was in India in February and took it with me in my checked luggage. I padded it well with my clothing and it was absolutely fine and we had lots of travel within India as well – loading and unloading our car, bumping up and down stairs. Not a single problem, which I was really pleased about.

Joyce Avatar

I’d say it’s just my makeup bag essentials at the moment:

Hard Candy Sheer Envy 12-Hour Primer
Hard Candy Glamouflage foundation/Neutrogena Healthy Skin foundation
Maybelline Fit Me concealer
Rimmel Stay Matte powder

Wet n Wild Ticket to Brazil bronzer
Wet n Wild Reserve Youe Cabana highlighter
TheBalm Hot Mama blush
(Or just bring my NARS Danmari palette instead of all these)

Too Faced Chocolate Bon Bons palette
NYC brow pencil
Sephora Love Affair eyeliner
Urban Decay Whiskey eyeliner
CoverGirl Super Sizer waterproof mascara

Whatever lip color I’m feeling-
Rimmel Kate Moss #104 (I think) lipstick
aerie Glow (similar to Too Faced Juicy Melons) lipstick
Shiseido Baby lipstick

Shiseido eyelash curler
RT Expert Face, Blush, Multitasking, Setting, Base Shadow brushes
Elf Complexion brush
Elf Eyeshadow, Blending brushes
Crown Brush brow spoolie, blending brush similar to MAC 217
EcoTools Angled Liner brush
ULTA large shader brush

Wednesday Avatar

CC cream (soft plastic tube) in lieu of foundation in a bottle
One of my Too Faced Chocolate bar palettes (the tin feels like it can live through a bit of a beating)
Skincare, Hair products: I scoop into hard plastic containers actually meant to hold goat milk samples for transfer to and from lab for testing. They have an excellent seal on the lid.
I typically carry far too many brushes and eyeliners. I likes having my tools.
Rollerballs of my fav perfumes

Lauren Avatar

I traveled twice this week. I don’t like to bring too much, so 1 eyeshadow palette, 1 face palette (I love to travel with them – for the second trip, I took a Nars palette with 4 blushes, Laguna bronzer, and a highlight), foundation that lasts all day (or a bb cream with a high spf if traveling for pleasure), and then odds and ends like a brow product, pencil eyeliner that doesn’t need sharpening, mascara, and assorted lip products. I especially like to bring lip balm because my lips get dry due to plane air as well as long lasting lipsticks so I look good for a while. Good moisturizer is essential as well. I also bring my drying lotion in case of a break out. Air travel messes with my skin.

Raeanne Avatar

I bring all my usual skin-care products decanted into smaller containers if I’m flying. I bring all my regular makeup, too, starting with my IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream and translucent setting powder. I go back and forth between the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush and the Complexion Sponge for application. I bring one bronzer – usually Sephora Fiji – and one or two blushes, usually MAC Rosy Outlook, Clinique Nude Pop, or Chanel Alazene. I don’t bring eyeshadows because I’m usually traveling for work, and ain’t nobody got time for that… ha… Now, lipsticks begin to quickly fill my bag because I like to bring waaaay too many. I try to mix up the finish, and color range so I have a few choices to cuztomize based on what I’m wearing. I also have to bring a small bottle of Clinique Take the Day Off, because I haven’t found any makeup wipes that even come close to being as gentle and effective at removing mascara.

Julia Avatar

I rotate through my eye palettes; if it’s a work trip for only one or 2 nights, I will bring my KA contour book because it’s the perfect neutral eye and I can fill my brows and highlight with it, too. Longer than that and I will want options, so I’ll bring a UD Naked or Choc Bar/ Bon Bons.

When I am packing, I mentally walk through each step so I don’t forget anything! The single most critical think to me is my concealer, to cover my dark circles and double as lid primer. I bring 2 eyeshadow brushes, but just 1 for everything else. I have my skincare bag always ready to go, since I have decants of all of my regular items. When I’m away there are a lot of other variables (weather, water hardness, weird hours) so I want to stick to my normal routine with my skin.

Linda Avatar

Regardless of makeup, I must bring my own shampoo/conditioner. I don’t like the sulfatey-perfumey hotel variety. I buy empty travel bottles from the drug store and fill them with something I know my hair likes (which changes every so often).

Other than that I try to stick with stapes and leave palettes (don’t want to break my Nakeds!) etc at home. Lately that’s been Hourglass Diffused Light, MAC Warm soul, mascara, All That Glitters eye shadow for a single easy wash, foundation and a few good brushes (and beauty blender!)

Ginny Avatar

Lately it’s been Colourpop eyeshadows, blushes, and highlighters because they won’t break and don’t need brushes. A cleansing balm in a gel or hard formula that won’t leak, and sample packets of moisturizer and mascara that I collect from my online orders.

Christine Avatar

My husband and I don’t usually go for daily maid service, so we usually just have a “do not disturb” sign on the whole time, but we still lock up all electronics, and I stick my brushes in there. For me, the reason is because I travel with some really high-end brushes like Chikuhodo/SUQQU, so replacing them at $100++ each is not my idea of a good time. There’s usually plenty of room in the hotel safe for stuff like that so I figure why not 🙂

Joyce Avatar

Once I invest in high quality brushes, I’ll probably do this. I read in a magazine that linens are almost always clean but glasses are only wiped with Pledge (no streaks). The article also said that things don’t typically get stolen, but maids might test people’s lipsticks and stuff. Wow!

Tracey E. Avatar

Travel must haves: skincare, concealor & corrector, foundation, a neutral eye palette, black eyeliner, mascara, 1-2 blushes (Hourglass &/or Charlotte Tilbury), CT brow lift, Hourglass Ambient lighting powder, 4-5 lip products, eye makeup remover & facial cleanser, and travel brushes.

Lulle Avatar

Travel is often when I get to use my samples or minis of skincare products. For makeup, I also try to have a plan! I’ll usually take an eyeshadow palette, blushes and lipsticks/glosses that could all be paired, a cream shadow or two for the days I want to do something minimal, a mascara mini, my usual concealers, powders and foundations, primers, brow products and a couple eyeliners. In terms of tools I’ll take my eyelash curler, and a bunch of brushes.

Bon Bon Avatar

I am on the road a lot so I leave all my facial needs including toothbrush and paste in my roll up makeup bag. I work out of it at home and on the road. It goes to whatever zip code I’m at any given time.

Meghan Avatar

This is perfect timing, I’m flying from Boston to San Francisco for work on Monday, I’ve never flown before! I’m bringing a z-palette with some key Anastasia eyeshadow sand highlighters, a fair amount of travel size skin care, and sample cups of foundations and whatnot! Hopefully I won’t have forgotten anything very important!

Laura Avatar

I use the medium Trish McEvoy planner. I find that having the wardrobe pages customized makes traveling easy, at least for short trips as you can also fit in about seven brushes as long as they are not extremely long handled. I take a separate cosmetic bag with skin care in mini sizes of the products I use. Sampling new products when traveling has proven to be a skin nightmare, so I only take samples of products I use regularly.
HOWEVER, I will be on a six week working trip across the USA beginning in May and packing for this one is becoming a challenge. 🙂

Donna Avatar

If I’m staying in one place more than a week, I will pack a flat rate box and ship as much as I can fit into the box. I always insure this box! Otherwise, it is two blushes, one bronzer, one highlighter, one primer, two brow products, two mascaras (in case one gets dried out), one palette with neutrals, one eye shadow with a lot of sparkle, one foundation, one contour and one translucent powder. Brushes are more difficult because I don’t use a creme brush more than once without washing in between. One blush brush, one face powder brush. One #217 MAC, one #239 MAC one fluffy brush, one eyebrow brush (double end with the spoolie), three #205 MAC (mascara fan brush), one beauty blender, then I’m always tossing more brushes in as we’re going out the door. Last is my MAC Fix+. Can’t leave home without it!

RMW (Rose) Avatar

It’s been awhile since I have traveled anywhere! But, I take with me, my shampoo and conditioner and put them in Ziploc bags, so they don’t leak out all over my clothes in the suitcase. I do the same with my skincare. I usually take 1 pallet of eyeshadow containing a mixture of both earth tones and vibrant colors. One waterproof blackest black mascara. Two shades of lipstick, a pink and a nude color. One foundation, one loose powder one pressed powder, one concealer. One versatile blush color, one eyeliner in black. (If I wanted to have a different color other than black, I usually can use a little water and eyeshadow and it works awesome!). My face primer which I use all over my face and my set and stay mist. And I’m good to go. I’ll add that I take 1 black dress with 2 shalls, to go from day to night. A pair of leggings, a longer shirt with a belt, and a light pull over sweater. I will also bring 3 pairs of shoes, one pair of heels, a pair of flats, and a pair of dressy boots. A few little accessories and I usually put the shoes in a laundry bag, so I can reuse the bag for any dirty laundry. And a bathing suit. 1 suitcase, 1 makeup bag, I’m good between 4-6 days. ** I know that you just wanted to know about makeup, but this is the whole package. L. * 🙂

Anne Avatar

I haven’t done like any travel lately because health stuff, but if I had to pack today, aside from the obvious skincare stuff, and assuming I was wearing makeup during my trip, I’d probably take primer, foundation or bb cream, concealer, powder, a blush/blush palette (probably Tarte Exposed or my Hourglass blush palette), and I’d probably bring the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow since then I don’t need to bring a separate highlighter and bronzer. For eyes I’d probably just bring a primer, Naked2 Basics and Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerize in Bette as it’s one of those no-nonsense cream eyeshadows that looks like you’ve put 15 minutes and 5 different colors on your lids when in reality it took 30 seconds, a black or brown liner, and whatever mascara was open at the time. I’d take along a handful of brushes and a Beauty Blender as well. I’d maybe bring a lipstick or stain, but more likely just bring my Burt’s Bee’s lip balm.

Arpita Avatar

A balm cleanser, serum, spf- tinted moisturiser, concealer, few colored eye kohls which i can smudge if i want to be used as eye shadows, lipstick and a pressed powder. Also try to squeeze in a tube of a face mask ( according to weather, my skin condition, where i am going, whether i will be travelling a lot). And yes; some samples of perfumes never go amiss. And if i am hopping airports, i put a bit of these things in small pots and carry along in a handy bag( to be used at any airport freshrooms). If i hav to wait for a longer time at some airport; i try to enter a spa cum facial liosks which many airports have now a days to relax my tired muscles. I dont put on much makeup during the actual travelling ( maybe a sunscreen/ tinted moisturiser) and a lipstick/ lipbalm.

mish-mash Avatar

I have had the worst luck with my make-up while traveling, it just seems to vanish from my hotel room. So now I bring small sizes of almost everything except my shadow pallet and keep it with me. Milan is the worst….

Nikki J. Avatar

Travel must-haves:
– primer – Monistat Anti-chafing Powder Gel
– foundation – Sephora Microsmooth Powder
– brows – Sephora Retracable Brow Pencil
– liner – Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner in Blacquer
– blush – Rock & Republic Shameless
– lipgloss – MAC Spice
– lipstick – Colourpop Mess Around; Colorpop More Better
– lip balm – Carmex

Laura Haslam Avatar

I forgot my make-up brushes on a trip to Japan so I bought some emergency ones and now they’re my travel ones. I also depot my foundation into a smaller pot as well as most of my skincare. I have Urban Decay’s All Nighter setting spray in the travel size but I’ve since used it and filled it up with Ben Nye’s Final Seal. I also tend to only take my MUA Undress Me Too Palette whilst travelling. Other than that I bring the rest of my normal make-up and any skincare samples I have collected.

Astrild Avatar

My essentials are NARS Radiant TM, Naked 1 or Naked 2, waterproof mascara and my current skincare. The rest of the products can change depending on the destination, how long is the trip and if I travel by plain or not.

Erin Avatar

Jeez, I travel with a lot. When it comes to makeup, it’s the least of what I take. I take my current skincare routine or any mini’s I have that I know are copasetic with my skin. I take a ton of grooming staples like brushes, tweezers, clippers and so forth. The I take my makeup brushes both full size and travel, my current base routine, two blushes, two palettes, maybe a few es singles, one mascara, a bronzer, and a metric ton of lip products from balms to color.

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