Makeup » Your Ultimate Travel Makeup Routine & Travel Beauty Guide

Your Ultimate Travel Makeup Routine & Travel Beauty Guide

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Maintaining a travel beauty routine requires a bit of planning, but for many of us, it’s important. You want to look your best in your photos, so a bit of travel makeup might be necessary, but you also don’t want to carry a massive bag that’ll weigh you down.

I have been to 12 different countries within the last 12 months, and I assure you I looked fabulous in every single one of them. The trick was learning to minimize my makeup routine for travel, and making sure I was using the most travel-friendly makeup products. In this guide I want to help you find the routine that will work for you, based on my own experience but also taking into account that each one of us has different preferences!

I even go through what I have in my travel beauty bag, so you can get an idea for the thought process behind packing your travel makeup. Then I’ll give some preparation tips, so you can get in the right mindset before you travel. I also included repackaging advice that will allow you to make your regular products that much more travel-friendly!

In this article:

How I Do My Travel Makeup

I give so many suggestions here, but I want to tell you a bit about what I actually do! Seeing where I was willing to compromise and why, versus where I decided to take what I love even if it’s not ideal might help you figure out what is important to you!

For me what was most important was having low-weight items that fit in a single bag since I travel with a backpack and only carry-on. I tend to stay in places for a long time, so when it comes to taking care of my skin I make sure to have my full skin care routine, with my cream, makeup-removing cleanser, hydrating night serum, sunscreen and anti-acne treatment in bottles that are 100 ml or less.

Everything I use is quite fluid, so bottles are best, and they also happen to be more hygienic than jars. I decided to leave my primers at home, since I don’t like layering too many things in the morning, and sunscreen is much more important to me than primer.

Travel Makeup Tips

When it comes to travel makeup, I prefer working with powders rather than creams. I have combination skin that can get quite oily, especially if I’m out and about exploring a new city, so creams tend to move around a lot while powders stay put. Those with dry skin might prefer an all-cream travel makeup routine instead!

I do carry with me a high-coverage foundation that doubles as my concealer, and a small stippling brush to apply it. While many people travel with a Beauty Blender in a mesh bag, I find myself worrying about packing it away when it’s still damp. I cannot travel without a setting powder, so I’ve decanted my favorite one into a smaller container, and I apply it with a kabuki brush that takes up almost no space.

I skip eyeshadows altogether. Instead, I have my contour powder, champagne highlighter, neutral blush all in one palette with a mirror, as well as a small brow powder duo perfect for doing ombre brows. The highlighter and blush are perfect inner corner and lid colors, while the bronzer and lighter brow powder are both awesome for the crease.

I use my darker brow powder for my brows, outer corner accent, and as eyeliner. For applying these I have a tiny blush brush, a fluffy angled brush for contouring, and a mini-sized set of eyeshadow brushes that includes a thin angled brush, a flat shadow brush, a rounded crease brush, and a blending brush.

I do have a black eyeliner pencil with me for when I want to get fancy, and a nice waterproof mascara. For the lips I have my go-to berry toned lip tint (which sometimes also goes on my cheeks), and an MLBB lip liner that I just couldn’t give up.

What Travel Makeup Products to Pack?

Travel Makeup Tips & Tricks

Learn Minimalism

Scaling back is 75% mindset. When you don’t travel often, it’s easy to see everything you own as absolutely essential. Of course, you need that palette! What if you’ll want to rock a red lip one night? Well, you gotta let go of those “what ifs” and start thinking more about whether every item you’re looking at is truly essential. This process can be painful, but once you’re in the air or on the road it’ll save you a lot of hassle.

Know the Airline Rules

Before you start packing make sure to review the airline requirements for toiletries, especially if you’re only flying with a carry-on. In most cases you’re not allowed to board an airplane with liquid cosmetic containers that hold over 100 ml of product, and you’re only allowed to carry items that fit in a single plastic bag.

Opt for Two-in-Ones

When you’re traveling, a makeup product that only has one purpose becomes very hard to justify carrying. Try to ignore the marketing and intended purposes, and open your mind to the possibilities. Look at your makeup products with a creative eye, and think how many uses you can get out of one item. A lipstick can double as a blush, concealer mixed with moisturizer can double as foundation, a contour and highlight kit can double as eyeshadow, an eyebrow powder can double as eyeliner.

Make Sure You Can Mix and Match

If you have a lipstick that only works with a specific outfit or a blush that only looks good when you wear a particular combination of eyeshadows, then leave it at home. You want to travel with things that all look good together; this applies to both makeup and clothes. Make sure each item you’ve brought will look good with every other item. It’s key to what we call a “capsule collection” and it will save you a ton of hassle.

Don’t Give up Your Favorites

While multi-purpose products are the best, it’s okay if you have some absolute Holy Grail items that can only be used for one thing. At the end of the day, you want to be happy with the makeup you’ve brought with you. As long as you actually use everything you carry, then it is justified.

Practice Your Minimalist Routine!

Before you actually decide what to take and what to leave behind, practice your minimalist face with the products you think you’ll take with you. It’d suck to assume that you’ll only need a few things, only to discover that you’re not happy with what you’ve brought once you’re actually away.

Square and Flat Packs Better

Circular compacts are tough to work with – they don’t fit nicely in a travel makeup bag or up against each other. Square compacts and thin tubes fit beautifully in a travel bag, and they are also much easier to put into Tetris-like order up against each other. This is why everything I recommended earlier comes either in a square compact or in a stick form!

How to Repackage Skincare and Makeup for Travel

Repacking your regular makeup for travel will save you the hassle of having to buy new things, and you might also be surprised to discover that it helps you stay organized when you’re home!

Travel Beauty Tips

Pressed Powders

Sticking all of your pressed powders in a single palette can be an excellent way of saving space! This can be especially useful if you are dedicated to a few eyeshadow or blush singles.

First, you’ll have to get your pressed powders out of their original compacts. You can do so by placing the compact over a source of low heat (a straightening iron is excellent for this) to get the glue to melt. Once it’s loosened up, pop out the pan with the pressed powder inside it.

Then you can stick magnet tape on the pan, and stick it into a magnetized Z Palette, or you can go for the complete DIY route by gluing the pan down into an old CD case.

Loose Powders

Loose powders are probably the least travel-friendly makeup products, but you can still make them work on the road. These little jars from Amazon are perfect for keeping loose powders safe and easy to use, and they help make you travel makeup bag less bulky.


For a short excursion, decanting your creams is guaranteed to save you lots of space. It’ll also allow you to bring your skincare and cream makeup in your carry-on without having to worry about liquid limits.

Heavier creams, foundations and balms can be decanted into jars, while lighter products like serums and toners can be poured into bottles. Make sure to use a small, clean spatula when taking products out of jar containers so that you can keep things clean and avoid contaminating your creams with bacteria.

By the way, contact lens cases are also awesome containers for when you’re only going away for a couple of nights!


Finding ways to cushion more fragile items is very important if you have a lot of pressed powder products in your travel makeup bag. I find a small piece of tissue or silicone netting indispensable for cushioning the pressed powders in my various palettes and compacts.

Photos via @marianna_hewitt, Instagram