Travel With Makeup


Beauty On The Go: Makeup Packing Tips From a Pro Traveler

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Yes readers, Spring is drawing to an end and Summer is upon us. And travel is on everyone’s mind right now! My mother has been a traveling consultant for a Forbes 100 Company for over a decade. She generally leaves on Sundays and goes “home” on Thursdays. Home can be her real Tucson ranch home or a weekend getaway or music festival with her friends, so she always needs to be prepared and plan ahead of time.

Needless to say, I’ve seen her pack for years and have also seen how her packing has evolved over time – especially with so many of the restrictions we face today as travelers. So whether you are planning a weekend getaway or you too travel a lot for work, her article gives you the best advice from one of the most frequent travelers I know who always has to look her best. So lucky she happens to be my mom.

Meet Barbara

Traveler Profile

Skin Type

Mature & Dry

Don’t know your skin type, click here >


Fair Golden

Barbara’s Travel Background

Having been a frequent traveler as a traveling consultant for many years, there have a been a lot of changes in the way people travel. It is much more complex than ever and has also changed the way I travel overall. With a busy travel schedule, I don’t always have time to fly home, refresh, recoup and repack in between trips and often go from business to nighttime to casual all within a few days on the same trip!

Coming from German heritage, I first started traveling on my own in high school between the States and Frankfurt for extended stays and short visits with family. In those days, I would travel with all my favorite full-size products — in three checked suitcases — and all for free. Of course those days have long since changed…. Airlines started charging luggage fees and many also have restrictions and fees for carry-on luggage as well.



This means I have to carefully evaluate what I take with me on a trip. So, what’s a girl to do?

For my shorter trips, it simply comes to paring down products and luggage to the things that count the most, travel light, and travel well.

For trips that take me back to the same hotel and location on a weekly basis, I generally have “two of everything” and leave a suitcase with the hotel, so I don’t have to hassle with refilling containers and all the restrictions. Since my reasons for traveling vary, I choose skincare and beauty products that are “all occasion.”

The skincare and makeup products I purchase are hydrating, camera-ready, longwearing, lightweight, and moderately priced.

Although I’m camera-shy and prefer not to be in front of a camera, if friends or family want to take a photo or selfie, the last thing I want to worry about is if my makeup looks okay! There are so many wonderful products on the market, but I tend to stay away from over-priced products. I don’t feel like they provide better results and I’d rather spend my money on other things that bring me joy.

Listed below are suggestions on some of my favorite products I nearly always pack as well as some images and text on how I pack for a weekend getaway at the bottom of the post.

Skincare Products to Pack




Traveling and the elements are harsh on the skin. It is dehydrating and can dull the skin, which takes away natural radiance, so I would never think of skipping my skincare products. One of my favorite skincare products is Kiehl’s Iris Essence. I splash the essence on my face and it quickly hydrates and prepares the skin for the layers that follow, such as, serum, moisturizer and primer.

Travel Tip: Grab a deluxe sample of this and refill — a bottle will definitely last a week!


After I prep my face, I use a serum.

Two of my favorite serums are Kiehl’s Hydro-Plumping Re-Texturizing Serum Concentrate and Lancôme’s Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate. Of course the best serum for you is the one formulated for your skin type.


Plastic vs. Glass?

Either serum is hydrating and prepares the skin for moisturizer. I prefer the Kiehl’s serum bottle, since it’s sold in a plastic container, which  makes it lightweight and easy to pack and travel with. The Génifique comes in a glass bottle, so I transfer the desired amount into a refillable plastic container for variety.




Regular moisturizers often contain sunscreen and can travel into the eye causing irritation and burn. Because I have dry skin and need hydrating products, I turn to Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Deep Moisture Balm or Oil of Olay Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream (this product made Natalie’s 2014 Fave Products list, see why here).


I make sure to take something for the neck too, since it is often neglected and tends to sag as we get older. If this is already a trouble area, look for a firming neck cream, such as, Maracuja Neck Treatment by Tarte.

I also highly recommend checking out Natalie’s interview with Sonia Roselli on Makeup For Mature Skin! It’s a great episode that touches on makeup AND skincare those of over 20.

For the delicate eye area, I use Stri Vectin Eye Concentrate for Wrinkles. It does a great job and the plastic tube makes it lightweight and easy to carry for travel.


Primers do a great job at smoothing the skin and preparing the face for flawless foundation. If you don’t know whether primer is even something you need, check out this article called a Primer on Makeup Primers!

I prefer a silicone-based primer, since I really like the end result and my dry skin plays nice with silicon based products.

Two of my favorite primers are Smashbox Photo Finish and Bare Minerals Prime Time. Both primers are sold in plastic containers less than 3 oz., making them lightweight and easy to travel with as you can carry them on.

Lip Balm



I have dry lips and traveling makes it worse, so I make sure to pack my Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Untinted. If you don’t normally wear lipstick or lip gloss, a product like this may be all you need! You can always pick up an inexpensive tube anywhere in the world. Caution, this product will melt if left in a hot room/car (just goes to show the quality is exceptional) but keep that in mind.

Makeup Products to Pack


Foundation provides me the additional moisture to the face I need, evens out my skin tone and is the canvas for the colors that follow. MAC Studio Sculpt in NW25 is my fave. This foundation offers medium to full coverage with a satin finish and has SPF 15. It comes in a 1.3-ounce plastic container makes it another great choice for travel. I like setting my foundation with a pressed powder as it holds the makeup in place for a longer period of time.

Tinted Moisturizer

If you’re on a budget, in a hurry, or don’t want to bother with separate skincare and foundation products, BB creams are great for travel. One of my favorite BB creams is Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream. It provides skincare, sunscreen protection, good coverage and also minimizes pores. It comes in a 2-ounce plastic container making this product easy to travel with. However, I prefer to wear foundation.

Pressed Powder




Although I love the feel of loose powders, they can be messy to travel with and aren’t generally easy to throw in your purse for quick touch-ups. Smashbox Photo Set Pressed Powder in Medium is one of my favorites, but I also really like Chanel’s Double Perfection Lumière in 30 Beige. Both compacts include a sponge applicator, which makes it easy to apply. The Chanel powder can also be used as a foundation! Depending on what I’m doing and how much time I have, I’ll add a little bronzer or powder blush to provide some contour, such as MAC Raizin.



I prefer a creamy blush on top on my foundation and use a neutral shade that won’t contrast with whatever outfit I’m wearing. As I have fair/light skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes — MACs Vintage Rose is great. Depending on the lipstick shade you pack – lipsticks can also double as creamy blushes!

Cream blushes, if applied properly, tend to last longer and then you don’t need to make more than one blush!



One thing I don’t skimp on when I pack is my full size professional makeup brushes. I think it’s easier to work with a full size brush for me personally. There is more variety with a full size makeup brush and the quality of the brushes tends to be better than its smaller counterparts.

My must-have brushes I travel with are:

(1) foundation – Sigma 3DHD Kabuki (Natalie uses this in her pro kit!)

(2) powder – MAC 138

(3) blush – Sigma F10

(4) eye – Sigma E40

(5) crease – Sigma E25

(6) lid – Stila 30

(7) liner – MAC 263

(8) Lancôme’s 18 double-ended brush to smooth pencil liner and apply a cream eye shadow base.

As Natalie always says, it doesn’t matter how expensive your makeup is if you don’t have the proper tools to apply them. The right tools can make most any makeup look great!


Makeup Brush Guide by Natalie Setareh

Eye Shadows

Palettes Are Queen, a Must Pack

When it comes to eye shadows, I travel with eye shadows that go from day to night. I prefer to create my own eye shadow palettes, but also look for single shadows that can be used wet or dry.

Dry eye shadows are great for a more natural daytime look, which is more appropriate for an office environment. For more intensity, I add a little water to the brush and dip into the shadow and mix the two until I get the desired consistency I’m looking for.



Applying a wet shadow enhances the shadow color for a more dramatic nighttime look.

Use caution though, not all eye shadows are designed to be used wet, so make sure you have selected an eye shadow that clearly states it can be used wet and dry or you may be disappointed. For eye shadows to last longer, I sometimes use a cream shadow as a base, which takes up less space than a separate eye primer. MAC’s Bare Study is a great go-to. For my blue eyes, my favorite handpicked 4-pack collection includes MACs Brule, Saddle, Antiqued and Espresso. Chanel Les 4 Ombres is another great pick, as well as Smashbox Photo Matte Eyes Palette. All these palettes are versatile and highly pigmented.







I don’t usually use concealer often – mostly because it’s an extra step I don’t often have time for – but concealer is great for covering those dark circles you might get from allergies or lack of sleep or after a long day of flying. A really great choice is IT Bye Bye Under Eye Anti-Aging Concealer. It’s creamy and just a tiny, tiny amount goes a long way. Plus, it lasts all day.


To add depth to the eyes, I travel with two eyeliner pencils – one in dark brown and one in black. I prefer Kohl eye pencils, since they are easy to apply, blend easily and are a bit creamier and more intense than other pencils. They can be adjusted to provide more or less color, depending on how heavy you apply it.

My all-time favorite pencil is MAC Teddy. For a black color, I like MAC Smolder. Thanks Allura for this great review/swatch comparison of the two.


I prefer a water-resistant mascara – not to be confused with waterproof.

Waterproof mascara is longer lasting than water-resistant mascara, but it is harsher on the eyelashes and requires special removers to take off (see Natalie’s awesome post on the 101 of waterproof mascara here). Packing makeup remover can take up space fast!

Water-resistant mascara doesn’t run or rub off like mascara and lasts much longer and they generally come off with a mild cleanser.

Benefit’s They’re Real! Mascara is my favorite water-resistant mascara. This cult-favorite mascara was also featured as one Natalie’s sister Azadeh’s fave mascaras in her recent post here. Bonus! Mascara does not count as a liquid or gel and all varieties are lightweight, so no worries about traveling with this product as a carry-on.

Tip! Travel is a great time to use those unexpired mascara samples! Not sure if your mascara is expired? Check out this post here.

Eye Brows


Finishing your eye brows help open the eye area and provide balance to the face. This is more noticeable for people like me who have fair skin and natural blonde brows. An eyebrow pencil is an easy way to quickly define the brow, but powder shadows work well too. For brows, look no further than Senna Cosmetics! Her brow products are a staple in Natalie’s kit (and so many pros around the world). Anastasia (of Anastasia Beverly Hills) was a client of Senna’s founder Eugenia Weston… if that means anything. Natalie interviewed Eugenia Weston, which you can check out here.

Tip: Look for self-sharpening eyebrow pencils or brow gels MAC also has a nice self-sharpening eyebrow pencil, which I really like too. I use MAC Fling, since they are the closest matches to my hair color. They do have a tendency to dry out so opt for the pencil or powder if brows aren’t your everyday thing.


Lipstick is to a face is what an accessory is to an outfit.


I personally feel that lipstick makes for a complete and polished look. I gravitate to more natural, neutral lipstick for day, since I work in an office environment and it’s more appropriate for business.

Two of my daytime favorites is MACs Ramblin’ Rose or L’Oreal Peach Fuzz.

For nighttime, I prefer a more intense color, such as, Lancôme’s L’absolu Rouge in Bordeaux, Lancôme Color Design in Groupie, or MAC Fresh Moroccan.


Blending colors also give you more options, so experiment with your favorites.

I trade out colors for variety or to match an outfit. Sometimes I’ll buy a lipstick that catches my eye just because a girl can never have too many lipsticks. Lancôme, MAC, and L’Oreal have been some of my go-to favorites for lipsticks for many years. Their lipsticks are moisturizing, longwearing and offer a great variety of colors.

If you read Natalie’s dupe post MACs Ramblin’ Rose, you’d know that Lancôme falls under the L’Oreal brand umbrella – so if you don’t want to spend the $30 on the Lancôme, check out the L’Oreal. Natalie also has an amazing section in her book on the “Business of Makeup” — you don’t want to miss it if you want to be an educated and empowered consumer. If you have >6 empty MAC containers, you can trade those in for a FREE lipstick. To learn more about how to be a sustainable makeup consumer, click here.



Lip Gloss

Although my days of wearing strawberry flavored lip-gloss are long, sometimes a touch of lip-gloss really elevates my look. I don’t know what it is about lip gloss, but it gives my lips a moister look and is perfect for special occasions. One of my favorites is LORAC Lip Lustre Gloss in Ruby. I don’t always travel with gloss, just sometimes.

Lip Pencil

I rarely use a lip pencil, but when I do, I coordinate the pencil to match the lipstick I’m wearing.

Two favorite lip pencils I use are MAC lip pencil in Spice for lighter shades, and Estee Lauder’s Automatic Lip Pencil in Terra, for darker shades. What’s great about the Estee Lauder’s pencil is that you don’t need to pack a sharpener. It’s a twisty!

How To Pack Your Beauty Products

Next up is what I do to meet TSA requirements and how I assemble everything. The nerd in me does reference the TSA site to make sure I know what I can/cannot travel with.

Most skincare products fit into the liquids and gels category. TSA limits these items to 3 ounces or less per container and all these items must fit into a zipped 1-quart bag. In order to carry everything, I look for deluxe size travel products that come with a gift-with-purchase deal or I’ll buy a travel-size refillable container. Most travel containers work just fine, but REI carries some great containers too.

Depending on the length of the trip, a single use sample works well. Packing those samples is also a great way to spruce up your beauty regime – Natalie wrote a great post on that here! Natalie gifted me a Lay-n-Go Cosmo Cosmetic Bag last Christmas for easy packing and portability and I’ve used it ever since. The Lay-n-Go bag has elastic holders for brushes and a zipper compartment for loose items, such as, eye shadows, pencils and lipsticks. The products lays out nicely when opened and collapses into a small unit that fits nicely into your travel bag. You can see in the photos how nicely everything can be compacted and closed easily with the drawstring.

Now everything is assembled and it’s time to pack and go! Set the Lay-N-Go on top of your packed items in your carry-on so it’s in easy reach to pull out you zip bag for TSA. Be environment friendly and take a refillable water bottle. Click on images to enlarge.



If you have any questions or comments about any of the products mentioned here, please feel free to contact me in the comments below!

Have a beautiful day! Stay hydrated and safe travels! Barbara If you have any travel tips you’d like to share or wish you would’ve seen, please let me know in the comments below! If you found this helpful, please forward to your friends!

As always, stay beautiful and subscribe.


Natalie Setareh

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Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself. You can't put on make-up, or dress yourself, or do you hair with any sort of fun or joy if you're doing it from a position of correction.

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