I have a love/hate relationship with traveling. I can’t even count how many times I’ve landed at my destination to find out one of my highlighters or blushes shattered some time after bag check. Whether I have to bring my makeup kit across the US to New York City to do full face applications or just 500 miles to L.A. for a vacation, I’ve learned many tricks and tips on how to travel safely with makeup, and look polished when I’m far from home.
Leave big bottles at home
Even the best plastic sealed bags can’t keep your shampoo from deciding it wants to explode. The best way to bring your shampoo, conditioner, and other hair and beauty products that come in bottles are to NOT bring them at all. Instead, I save sample-sized items that I receive from Sephora, Nordstrom, Planet Beauty, and I even grab all of the shampoos and free hotel amenities and save them in a box at home for future travels. I will hit up all of the beauty counters that have shampoo and hair samples and let them know I will promise to test them out on my trips.
If grabbing samples isn’t an option, there are plenty of stores that carry sample-sized hair products like Walgreens and even Bed, Bath and Beyond has a great aisle of mini toiletries. If you can’t do without your holy grail shampoo and conditioner, you can always opt to purchase travel bottles (and a funnel) to put your prized liquids inside of. The point is not to bring big and bulky bottles with you.
Ditch makeup remover
Using makeup remover usually requires cotton pads or balls, and again, you’re carrying another product in a bottle. Even if you carry makeup wipes, which I usually don’t recommend for complete makeup removal, you are still carrying a bulky product that you don’t really need. I highly recommend makeup mavens to try makeup removal cloths like the CVS Beauty 360 version ($8). These tiny cloths only require water to work, and boy, do they work! The cloth is simply a plush microfiber material that gently removes eye and face makeup (even waterproof mascara) without any mess or additional products. I wash the cloth after every use and hang it up to dry. These are super easy to toss in your luggage and weigh nothing!
After using the cloth, I do recommend using your face wash (I use a cleansing oil, then foaming wash–sample sizes) to make sure all traces of makeup are removed.
Cardboard is your traveling buddy
When traveling, if I’m working on clients, I prefer to bring as much as I can in palette form instead of single compacts. And of course, if I’m traveling for leisure, I want to bring my favorite products with me as well. Both Tarte and Kylie Cosmetics have been lifesavers for traveling! These brands offer great shatter-proof cardboard packaging that I’ve relied on heavily in the past year.
The Tarte Clay Play Palette ($46, on left) has everything you need to slay your contour and eyeshadow while away from home. Every item in this kit is matte and perfect for creating everything from a classic smokey eye to a soft nude look. With a wide range of cool and warm brown tones, you can use this every day to complement all of your looks–and it works with all skin tones!
I am a huge fan of Kylie Cosmetics, and when the “In Love With The Koko” collection came out, I screamed. I toss the Koko Collection Face Palette ($40, on right) in my luggage for every single trip–business or pleasure. In addition to my Tarte palette, I use this for blush and highlighter (there are two!), and for an all over bronze, the shade that comes in this palette is perfect for me. I’ve used this palette countless times and it doesn’t even look like I’ve made a dent in it. A great value for such a versatile product–I’ve even used this alone as my eyeshadow, blush, highlighter palette and it worked fabulously.
Watch for sales because these two products have occasionally been on sale at huge discounts.
I must tell you that Kylie Jenner knows what’s up when she creates her palettes and mini collections. Another kit I have in my bag is the Birthday Collection Mini Kit Velvet Liquid Lipsticks ($36). You get six stunning liquid lipsticks that will get you through any occasion. From nudes to corals to a hot fuschia, you’re all set for day and night. These especially come in handy if you are only carrying a small clutch to an event. Trust me, a full-sized lipstick bullet takes up a lot of room in a clutch!
Right now, Sephora has a ton of mini lipstick kits for the holidays, so stock up!
Those of us out there who go every two weeks to get a fill on their acrylics will know my pain: Breaking a nail away from home. It’s equivalent to that recurring nightmare when you can’t remember your padlock code in high school and you’re late for class. Pure panic. Let me tell you, I was stuck in Lower Manhattan for two weeks and none of the nail salons did acrylic. It was super embarrassing walking into a nail salon asking for a fill, then getting side-eye. When I finally did find a salon that did acrylic, it was so secretive, and it was done in a fancy way that cost me $100. Never again!
Let me introduce you to a product from my childhood: press-on nails. I used to rock Lee Press-On Nails when I was 9-years-old, because yes, I was in full makeup at that age. Thankfully, today’s press-on nails are made of a durable material and they don’t look cheesy. I just bought a box of KISS brand Gel Fantasy Ready-to-Wear Nails for $8 at Target, and I am all about it! Even designer Christian Siriano has his own line of press-on nails, and I’ve got them on my Xmas list. My nails are pure perfection and it is said they’ll last for two weeks. If a nail breaks, no problem! The kit comes with extra nails, a file, and very strong nail glue. No sweat!
Hair too fussy to fix? Hot Buns is your answer
Almost every single day my hair is in a bun. Why? Because I have coarse hair that doesn’t want to do anything. It takes me thirty minutes to wrap all this hair around a curling wand, and by then I’m exhausted and just want to take a nap. In about thirty seconds, I can roll my hair into a beautiful smooth bun thanks to Hot Buns ($8 for two). Probably made by the same lady that invented BumpIts, these long mesh tubes can roll your hair into a gorgeous bun fit for a ballerina. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been complimented on my perfect bun when wearing my Hot Bun.
If your hair is short, bring some bobby pins so you can secure the loose hair in the back. Other than that, you’re set with a classic bun that can withstand the winds!
I hope your holiday travels are safe and your makeup stays secure! Let me know what you think of my travel tips below in the comment box.
Hello! I am a makeup artist veteran with almost 20 years of experience in the retail, freelance and editorial world of beauty. I’ve been beauty blogging for 10 years, with a focus on color cosmetics and skincare. Want me to review something? Just give me a holler!