Makeup for Traveling: What You Should Bring and 10 Packing Tips

clear makeup bag packed in a suitcase

Preparing your makeup for traveling is not an endeavor to be taken lightly. After all, with TSA regulations and baggage handlers who don't care that you have a fragile, limited-edition makeup palette in your suitcase, it's a rather harrowing experience for your beauty products. Okay, so we're being slightly hyperbolic. Packing a travel makeup bag isn't exactly a quest on par with throwing the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom, but it can be tricky. Should you pack that eyeshadow you've never worn before but could suddenly be struck with a need for? What's the best way to travel with a liquid foundation? And seriously, when will we learn how to pack makeup for a flight?

To answer these questions (and more), we turned to celebrity makeup artist Mary Irwin and makeup artist Gabriel De Santino.

Meet the Expert

Keep scrolling to learn how to travel with makeup.

Invest in a Padded Makeup Bag

Large Toiletry Bag
Away The Large Toiletry Bag $75.00

According to Irwin, investing in a padded makeup bag like this one from Away will help keep all of your precious products safe. Also, when packing your carry-on, she says to put the makeup bag in the middle of your case and surround it with soft items (like clothing). "This assures that it's well-padded and you won't arrive with an explosion of eyeshadow," she says.

Save Space By Packing Palettes

Ritzy Eyeshadow Palette
Sigma Beauty Ritzy Eyeshadow Palette $29.00

"When traveling, pack palettes [versus single eyeshadow pans] to save space and give you options for both day and night looks," says Irwin. This nine-pan palette from Sigma Beauty hits all the notes—a mix of mattes, shimmers, and metallics allows you to build multiple looks without taking up a ton of space in your bag. And, if you're a frequent traveler, peep their On-The-Go Eyeshadow Palette Set ($139) which contains every color you could possibly need because let's be real, we need options.

Customize With Magnetic Palettes

Mega Vault Palette
Makeup Geek Mega Vault Palette $20.00

Traveling with palettes only make sense if you know you're going to be using all of the shades. If you'd rather pick and choose which shades to travel with, Irwin suggests using a magnetic palette that you can customize yourself. Try this one from Makeup Geek—you can build and refill with the exact pans you'd like (translation: you won't be stuck with colors you won't use).

Always Pack Travel-Sized Products in a Carry-On

Best Skin Ever Liquid Foundation
Sephora Collection Best Skin Ever Liquid Foundation $20.00

De Santino has some sound advice when it comes to packing your liquids: Always use a carry-on. "I always like to keep my makeup and skincare in my carry-on, so I stick to solids and travel sizes for all liquids. You'll be able to retouch before you de-board the plane, and worst-case scenario, if your luggage gets lost, at least you'll still be able to wash your face and throw some makeup on to feel a little better," he says.

Irwin agrees, adding that makeup products are delicate and baggage handlers tend to want to make a 50-yard pass with your suitcase? "Protect your makeup investment and make sure it gets there with you," she says.

Pack Multipurpose Products

Gabriel Cosmetics Multi-Pot $19.00

"I like to use traveling as an excuse to streamline and stick to crossover products, like my Multi-Pots and Gabriel Cream Highlighter ($19), which can be used on eyes, cheeks, and lips," he says. Packing products that don't require the use of brushes is also a good idea not only for space purposes, but this will also preserve the life of your brushes, as being cramped up in travel bags is not ideal.

Pre-Plan Your Makeup Looks

True Feather Brow Marker Gel Duo
Kevyn Aucoin True Feather Brow Marker Gel Duo $28.00

That baby blue liquid liner you've been meaning to test for the last year? It likely has no space in your travel makeup bag. Before you pack, De Santino suggests actually planning out your looks and assess what actually needs to come with you. That being said, this doesn't mean you can't have fun with your makeup looks while abroad. For example, if you know feathery brows are on the horizon, be smart about your picks: a pack a dual-sided brow product like this one from Kevyn Aucoin will set your brows in place on no-makeup makeup days and help you achieve the fluffy brow trend on more adventurous days.

Use Refillable Travel Containers

The Original High Fiver
Palette by Pak The Original High Fiver $39.00

If you'd rather remain loyal to your beauty products (versus going with the unknown at a hotel), investing in leak-proof travel containers is a safe bet. There's nothing this one from Palette by Pak can't store—from liquids and oils to creams and even your face powder, this five-piece container lets you bring your favorites on the go.

DIY Your Travel Containers With a Contact Lens Case

Opti-Free Contact Lens Case $3.00

Rather DIY it? De Santino says to put your lotions, serums, and any other liquids, like foundation, into a contact lens cases. "They look tiny but can hold a surprisingly large amount of product and seal up really well, so you don't have to worry about spills in your bag," he says.

Protect Your Powder Compacts With a Cotton Pad

Butter Bronzer
Physician's Formula Butter Bronzer $16.00

"If traveling with powder compacts, ensure they arrive intact by placing a cotton pad (or, if you still have the puff that came with it) inside and pack on the top of your makeup bag. Pad the top of your bag with additional cotton pad for extra cushion," De Santino says.

Preserve Your Looks With a Makeup Refresher Spray

Travel Size Hangover 3-in-1 Replenishing Primer & Setting Spray
Too Faced Travel Size Hangover 3-in-1 Replenishing Primer & Setting Spray $17.00

Travel schedules are busy and sometimes hectic, so it's helpful to have something on hand to refresh your makeup when you're running from A to B. This spray hydrates and brightens both bare skin and foundation whenever the jet lag kicks in, as well as sets makeup to keep it in place, no matter what's on your itinerary. (Not to mention, it's the perfect pick-me-up on the airplane.)

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