Considering traveling with makeup and wondering how best to do it? There are two overarching elements to traveling with makeup that you need to know: regulations and efficiency.
First off, you’re going to want to make sure that every makeup product you pack complies with TSA regulations (fairly simple). Secondly, you’re going to want to pare down your products and pack methodically (a little bit more difficult).
I’ve been packing cosmetics on my trips for years — every single trip I’ve gone on as an adult, in fact. I even wrote a musing a few years ago about why I wear makeup and why I think there is no shame in either wearing it on trips or not.
In this article, we’ll cover how to pack makeup in a carry-on bag, what products to leave at home, the best containers to use, my favorite travel makeup products, and so much more.
From TSA rules to how to make your packing job more efficient, here are my 13 best travel makeup tips!
13 Essential Tips for Traveling with Makeup (+ my packing list!)
#1 – Be Minimal in Your Carry-On Bag
First off, according to the TSA, there are no limitations to packing powder-based products in your carry-on bag. I’d recommend still being quite minimalist in this regard, but you won’t have any palettes or loose powders confiscated.
Of course, it’s a bit of a different story when it comes to liquids in your carry-on bag. The biggest factor is making sure your liquid cosmetics stay within size rules.
As a general rule, liquids, aerosols, and gels can be no more than 100 milliliters (3.4 ounces), and you’re limited to one quart-sized bag (large Zip-top bag) full of these little bottles per passenger. Make sure this zip-top bag closes securely so there are no spills during travel.
When packing makeup in your carry-on bag, I recommend going as minimal as possible. In fact, unless I’m traveling carry-on only, I never pack makeup in my carry-on — always in a checked bag. Then, I just bring my toothbrush, toothpaste, and face cleanser with me onboard.
That said, it’s all about your priorities.
#2 – Use Small Containers
As I mentioned, if you pack makeup products in your carry-on bags you’ll need to meet the size requirements of 3.4 ounces or less. Additionally, I recommend being as minimal as possible while traveling with makeup and condensing your larger products into smaller bottles or containers.
Remember, you’ll have to lug around everything that you decide to pack, including your travel makeup, so cutting back wherever possible is key.
For liquids, creams, and gels, I recommend contact lens cases, leak-proof squeezable bottles, and small reusable jars for beauty products such as liquid foundation, moisturizer, serum, toner, and face wash.
Plus, I find that many people who wear makeup or use beauty products already have these kinds of jars from products they’ve used up. Don’t throw away your next round of containers — save them for travel and fill them up with other products!
🔥 My travel bottle recommendation:
#3 – Skip Compact Powders
As easy as compact powders are to use at home, they can become major pains-in-the-butt when traveling.
Yes, pressed powders are ok by TSA standards, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve brought a compact blush or bronzer with me while traveling only to have it completely shatter in transit (admittedly, it’s only been a couple — I learned pretty fast.)
As any long-time makeup wearer probably knows, compact powders are delicate and it’s not a ton of fun trying to fuse them back together after an incident. If you travel with these kinds of products, then try to find a cream version that will stay intact no matter the conditions.
#4 – Don’t Fall Prey to “Travel-Size” Makeup
Like most mini products, makeup that is branded as being the perfect travel size is not the best bang for your buck.
Not only do specially-made mini products unnecessarily use more plastic packaging, but you’ll also be spending more money for the convenience of small containers when you could just put your normal-sized products into your own smaller reusable containers.
Yes, travel-sized products are great for carry-on bags, but condense the products yourself instead of relying on companies to do this for you.
The exception to this rule is makeup samples. Travel-friendly makeup samples are awesome for bringing on the road as 1) they don’t cost you any money, 2) they pass all TSA regulations, and 3) they (generally) don’t use as much packaging.
Travel makeup samples for the win!
👉 Read More: 20 Essential Tips for Solo Traveling As a Woman
#5 – Use a Leak-Proof Makeup Bag
Whether you love liquid makeup or the powder variety, a leak-proof makeup bag is a must when traveling with makeup.
Due to pressure changes on airplanes, getting bumped, and just movement in general, spills happen to the best of us and all we can do is be as prepared as possible.
One of the most important tips for packing makeup, a leak-proof makeup bag is a perfect safeguard between your makeup and the rest of your luggage. It only takes one incident before you learn this the hard way.
#6 – Bring Easy-to-Apply Products
While your makeup routine might be more comprehensive at home, keeping it simple on the road will make your travel life a lot easier.
Pare down your makeup brushes to just the essentials and leave the multi-step-process systems at home. Even if you think you’ll need all your hardcore products when packing, chances are you’ll be too busy having a blast to go through the full meal deal in your destination.
#7 – Consider Your Trip
Different people will have different travel makeup needs depending on the kind of trip, the activities, and the destination.
For example, your makeup needs on a hiking trip in Utah may be vastly different than if you’re going on an art-viewing experience in Italy.
Everyone is unique in their routines and what makes them feel comfortable, but considering what activities you’ll be doing the most will go a long way in deciding what travel makeup to pack.
Another factor is if you’ll be traveling with checked bags or carry-on only. Bringing large luggage will obviously give you way more space, while carry-on only is hyper-efficient.
👉 Read More: My 20 Best Tips for Traveling on a Budget
#8 – Use Multi-Purpose Products
To save weight and space in your bag, try and bring multi-purpose products whenever possible. For example, bring a lip tint that also acts as a blush (I love this lip/cheek tint from MILK makeup), or decide whether you prefer liquid foundation vs concealer.
Bringing multi-purpose travel makeup will give you more space in your bag, cut down on weight, and give you a more efficient application time — leaving more time for adventures.
#9 – Prevent Your Products from Exploding
I mentioned it in passing above, but don’t bring any products that could, you know, burst in your bag.
On this point, the most important thing to consider is if you’ll be flying to your destination.
Air pressure changes on airplanes make gases expand, and this could affect your liquid makeup/ toiletry containers. To stop your bottles from potentially leaking all over your checked baggage, use plastic wrap between the lid and the bottle’s body and squeeze out any excess air from the bottle before packing.
Getting to your destination and realizing that not only is your product all gone but that you have to wash all your clothes is, in the truest sense of the word, a bummer.
Again, always use a leak-proof makeup bag.
👉 Read More: 11 Ways Solo Travel Changes You
#10 – Bring Your Own Mirror
For any of you backpackers out there, don’t rely on the idea that every hostel or homestay room will have a mirror, especially if you’re going more off the grid.
Even just a travel-sized mirror stashed in your bag is a good bet for making sure you can grab a glimpse of yourself now and then.
Applying travel makeup without a mirror is only for the very self-assured and misguided. I have done this a few times and the photos never lie.
#11 – Don’t Skip the Sunscreen
I feel like this is an obvious point for many, but when traveling, don’t skip applying sunscreen as part of your daily makeup/skincare routine.
Wearing makeup while traveling generally means deviating from your routine, but there are some things that you just shouldn’t leave behind — sunscreen being one of them.
About my “use multi-purpose makeup products” point above, try and choose a moisturizer or foundation with added SPF to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.
#12 – Bring a Setting Spray or Powder
Often, traveling means long exploration days in your destination. It means a lot of sun exposure, exercise, and sweat (unless you’re one of those mannequin influencers sans sweat glands, that is).
Bringing a quality makeup setting spray (that you know won’t clog your pores) will keep your makeup in place all day long.
This way, your foundation and eyeshadow won’t slide off your face and your eyeliner won’t smudge to your hairline.
#13 – Switch to Solids
Though I mentioned different ways to pack liquids above, there are so many solid (but not compressed powder) swaps for makeup these days. For example, you can buy a foundation cream stick instead of a liquid.
And this doesn’t just apply to makeup. As far as toiletries go, you can now buy solid face wash, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toner, moisturizer, sunscreen, lotion, and mouthwash. We’re living in the future, people.
Again, buying solids are always allowed in your carry-on bag, will prevent explosions in your checked luggage, and overall just be easier to manage.
The Best Travel Makeup Products
👜 Leak-Proof Makeup Bag– This clear travel toiletry bag is perfect for communal bathroom situations, is TSA-approved and allowed in carry-on bags, includes travel-sized containers (most are under 3.4 ounces), and won’t leak any liquids.
👛 Travel Makeup Bag – If you’re looking for something a little more organized, then this travel makeup bag is perfect. The bag includes adjustable dividers, brush holders, and is easy to clean.
🛍️ Re-Usable Zip Top Bag – To cut down on plastic consumption, these reusable zip bags are awesome for travel. They’re clear, leakproof, and travel size.
🖌️ Travel Size Makeup Brushes – If saving space is a priority but brushes are essential in your beauty routine, then these mini makeup brushes are the way to go. It includes brushes for eyeshadow, eyebrows, blush, and concealer. Plus, these brushes are vegan.
Traveling with Makeup FAQ
How do I pack my makeup for travel?
Top tips for packing travel makeup include keeping liquids 3.4 ounces or less, putting all bottles in a one-quart bag, keeping your makeup selection small, and keeping your sites condensed to one bag.
Does makeup have to be in a clear bag on a plane?
All travel-size liquids must be under 3.4 ounces and carried in a one-quart clear bag for carry-on luggage. All liquids over 3.4 ounces must go in your checked bag.
How do you travel with makeup and skincare?
Top tips for packing makeup and skincare include paring down items to just the essentials, carrying the least amount of liquids as possible, putting liquids into leak-proof bags, following TSA guidelines, and packing what you can into your checked bags.
Will TSA throw away makeup?
TSA will throw away liquid makeup if you do not comply with their security rules. If you’re unsure whether you can take an item in your carry-on, stash it with your checked luggage.
That’s it for my top 13 tips for packing and traveling with makeup! I hope this gave you some extra confidence to wear makeup while traveling and ideas for how to be efficient.
And remember, when in doubt, check the TSA rules, bring a powder, or stash it in your checked luggage.
Have fun traveling!