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20 Best Travel Makeup Products + Tips From a Pro

Last Updated: November 8, 2021

Packing for a trip is stressful enough. Between triple checking your packing list to expertly trying to fit all of your outfits into your suitcase, the last thing you need to worry about is how to pack your makeup.

Bringing your entire makeup collection on a trip is probably not going to happen, so the best thing to do is stick to the essentials. I know what you’re thinking: easier said than done, right?

That’s why we talked to makeup artist Theresa Novicky of Makeup By Theresa to give you the best advice possible. Keep reading for tips on how to travel with makeup, as well as the best makeup products to take with you.  

Best Travel Makeup Products

Multi-Use Products

One of the best ways to travel light with makeup is to look for products that work overtime, aka multi-use products.

Look for 2-in-1 products such as blush and highlight duos, double-sided eyelash and brow products, and other multitask makeup like “cream blush that can also be a lipstick,” says Novicky. “My clients love these!”

You can also search for foundations that work double or even triple duty like Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer, which acts as a lightweight foundation, moisturizer, and SPF all in one.

Other Multi-use Favorites:

Kosas: Crème Cream Blush & Highlighter Duo
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Benefit Benetint Cheek & Lip Stain Mini
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Anastasia Brow Wiz
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Travel-Size Favorites

One of the most obvious ways to travel with makeup is to bring travel-size products. The good news is that many beauty companies offer some of their best-sellers in mini sizes, so you don’t have to compromise on quality. 

For example, Ulta has a whole section dedicated to travel-size products containing many of your all time faves. These mini items are also perfect for travel because of the liquid limits when traveling by plane (we’ll discuss this more later). 

Our Recommendations:

Tarte Shape Tape Concealer
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Hoola Bronzer Mini
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KVD Kitten Mini Tattoo Liner
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Cream Products

Travelling with powder makeup can be tricky because of it’s messy nature and, if you’re travelling with pressed powder, there’s a high chance that it will break during your trip.

That’s why carrying cream products is ideal for vacation, weekend trips, or any other getaways that involve packing makeup. Try to choose cream products that can work on your lips and cheeks, like the multitasking products we mentioned above. 

One of our favorites is the Milk Makeup Lip + Cheek Cream Blush, which is perfectly blendable and buildable!

Plus, when you bring along cream products, you don’t usually need a brush! You can apply directly with your fingertips. Talk about a space saver!

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Other recommendations:

Physicians Formula Sculpting Bronzer
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BOBBI BROWN Pot Rouge for Lips and Cheeks
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Revlon Illuminance Crème Shadow
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Makeup Kits

Another great way to make sure you have all your makeup essentials on a trip is to purchase a makeup kit. These kits usually contain all the products you need to apply to your face, such as blush, highlighter, and eye shadow.

“I travel with a small palette and bring one or two additional shadows,” says Novicky. In her professional opinion, one of the best palettes to travel with is the MAC Semi-Sweet x 9 Palette. It’s ideal for travel because it contains a “light highlight, a black [shadow], a transition color and other colors you can build on.”

Our Makeup Kit Suggestions:

Maybelline New York Gilded Makeup Kit Palette
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Benefit Cosmetics City Lights Party Nights Set
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IT Cosmetics Naturally Pretty Essentials
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Build Your Own Palette

For existing favorites that you just can’t live without, building your own palette can really come in handy. One of the best ways to keep them all in one spot is to invest in a secure, sturdy, customizable palette. 

These palettes are almost always magnetic so you can add and subtract makeup products as you please. A great affordable option is this magnetic palette from Makeup Forever.

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Some other great choices:

Ulta Medium Z Palette
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Tarte Pro Custom Magnetic Palette
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KVD Customizable Magnetic Palette
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Travel-Friendly Makeup Brushes

If you feel as though you can’t live without your brushes, try reaching for some that come in a compact design, are double-sided, or even retractable

As an added precaution, Novicky suggests storing your brushes in a pencil case. “Pro tip: most professional MUA’s do too!” she tells us. “It doesn’t crush your bristles and it stands up!”

Travel Brush Favorites:

Sigma Travel Makeup Brush Set
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Sephora On The Go Brush
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KVD Customizable Magnetic Palette
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What Makeup Can I Bring on a Plane?

Now that you know the best products to travel with, let’s talk about the rules for bringing different kinds of makeup on airplanes.  

According to the TSA, if your makeup is in a powder form, there aren’t size limitations for your carry-on bag. 

However, you’re only allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, creams, pastes, and gels in your carry-on, with each container weighing 3.4 ounces or less. Anything over 3.4 ounces must be placed in a checked bag. 

This rule covers a lot of products that you might not typically consider a “liquid,” including concealer, foundation, lip gloss, and even mascara

If you can’t fit all of your liquids into one quart-sized bag, the leftovers will also have to go into a checked bag. To avoid paying a (usually hefty) fee for a checked bag, make sure you’re only packing essentials in your carry-on!

Although it’s not required, it is highly suggested that you pre-pack all of your liquids into one bag separated from the rest of your items to speed up the screening process. Having all your liquids in one bag will save you a ton of stress and time when you go through security.

Tips For Traveling With Makeup

Even if you have the right products, packing your makeup to make sure it holds up during a long trip is essential. Here are some of Novicky’s top tips for travelling with makeup:

  • “I always put plastic wrap over my containers to avoid a leak,” says the makeup artist. This is the best way to make sure no products spill onto your other items. You can even cover bottles and containers with plastic wrap and then twist on the lid for extra safety.
  • Repackaging makeup when travelling is a must. If your product is too big to put in a carry-on, try transferring it into something smaller. Some of Novicky’s favorite containers are “small sample containers that twist off like these from Amazon.” Don’t be afraid to get creative! You can even transfer products like moisturizers and cleansers into contact lens cases like Novicky does!
  • Finally, even if you don’t have a multi-tasking product on hand, that doesn’t mean you can’t use makeup products in different ways. Try using lipstick as a cheek stain, bronzer as eyeshadow, or a soft eyeliner pencil as an eyebrow pencil (this works best with a brown eyeliner unless you have very dark brows). 

To Sum It Up

Even though travelling with makeup products can be stressful, it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Think small, but powerful. Multitasking products will be your best friend, and plastic wrap your lifeline. 

With these product recommendations and travel tips from professional makeup artist Theresa Novicky, we’re confident that packing makeup for your next trip will be a breeze.

Keep these best travel makeup products in mind next time you book a flight, and you’ll have no problem getting glammed up on your next trip.

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