With vacation season in full swing, there’s no better time to pare down your beauty assortment to curate your must-have travel makeup essentials. Whether you’re adhering to TSA guidelines or just want to pack lightly, most of us will not be traveling with our complete makeup collection.
While planning your trip details and what to wear are certainly exciting tasks, editing your beauty stash can actually be quite stressful. The entire process makes one reflect on what you’ll need on hand once you reach your destination—especially if you’re going somewhere without a drug store for last-minute beauty buys. Regardless, you’ll want at least one complexion product to even skin tone and veil imperfections, along with multitasking pigments to bring warmth and subtle color to the face. And let’s not forget how you’ll store all your makeup to avoid spills or damage.
Here, we’ve created the ultimate makeup packing guide for your summer holiday and beyond.
First things first, determine what travel makeup organizers work best for you. Maybe you already own the best toiletry bag that can fit both your skin-care and makeup necessities, or perhaps you’d prefer to store them separately. Away’s water-resistant case offers spacious compartments, transparent pockets, and even a detachable makeup brush organizer—perfect to secure in your carry-on. Otherwise, consider Longchamp’s zippered pouch, which is compact enough to pop in your purse or personal item for easy access.
From the Oscars red carpet to the Met Gala, experts wax on about the importance of skin prep for glowing, beautiful skin with or without makeup. So, rely on skin-nourishing products and face primers to prep your base. We’d reach for Tatcha’s The Silk Canvas to weightlessly nourish, blur, protect, and prime—or, the French beauty favorite Embryolisse cream to restore skin moisture and leave a satin finish.
Maybe you’re fine with applying all of your makeup products with your fingers. If not though, don’t forget to pack the beauty tools you rely on at home to perfect your look. For brushes, consider a dual-ended option that pairs two different brush types in one, like this Hourglass option suitable for powder, bronzer, blush, and highlighter. On the other hand, classics like the Beautyblender sponge make blending liquid, cream, and powder products a dream.
Selecting your vacation complexion products is arguably the hardest part, with so many different types of foundations, concealers, and powders to choose from—many of us requiring multiple shades for a brightened under-eye or combat hyperpigmentation. You can’t go wrong with Ilia’s Super Serum Skin Tint for lightweight, dewy coverage that even boasts sun protection and nourishing ingredients (read: niacinamide, squalane, and hyaluronic acid). For concealer, the Kosas’s creamy formula not only offers dewy medium coverage, but brightens, soothes, and plumps skin over time thanks to a blend of caffeine, peptides, vitamins, and hyaluronic acid. Seriously, who can say no to efficacious clean concealers and foundations?
Set the Look
Even on vacation, it’s important to lock your look in place appropriately. Charlotte Tilbury’s setting powder is excellent to have on hand to reduce shine and blur skin where you need it, earning bonus points for mess-free application (as opposed to loose setting powder options). Then, spritz your face with Supergoop!’s mist that sets and protects against UV rays and pollutants. In fact, a similar formula by the brand saved Vogue commerce writer Alexis Bennett’s makeup during Coachella.
Bring your go-to eye look on your tip by way of the best mascara and eyeliners—both of which work wonders to make your eyes pop and enhance their shape. For smudge-free lengthening and lifting, reach for Merit’s clean mascara. To perfect your signature wing or add some dimension to your look, Ilia’s liquid water-proof formula allows you to precisely etch liner however you see fit, thanks to a fine felt tip.
Makeup artists say that the key to nailing a minimalist makeup look is adding an accent of color. One of the easiest ways to do so throughout travel is by keeping a tinted lip product on hand for a statement-making moment. Kosas’s gloss delivers a lip filler effect by visibly plumping the lips—especially if paired with a lip color complementing liner. Not a big gloss fan? Reach for Merit’s satiny lipstick for sheer, buildable color no matter the occasion.
We’ve quickly become huge blush enthusiasts, from viral TikTok picks to the best cream formulas. Either way, blendable blushes, and multipurpose color pigments allow you to customize your glow and place colors wherever you want. Versatility is key on any kind of vacation. Tap Merit’s creamy tint across the eyes, lips, and cheeks for a skin-like wash of color. Prefer a liquid formula? Saie’s water-based Dew Blush creates a natural tint after just one dot from its doe foot applicator—blended with one of the previously mentioned makeup tools.
Brows say a lot about a person, so think ahead to perfecting yours when you’re packing for travel. Draw realistic brow hairs in sparse areas with makeup pro Dani Kimiko Vincent’s ultra-fine pencil, or comb hairs in place with a brow gel like Ilia’s to volumize and thicken with flexible hold.
Maybe your travels are for a wedding or gala that requires full glam, or maybe you’re not quite sure what your itinerary entails. Nevertheless, a few products specific for camera-ready, longwear glam is essential. Think false lashes to amp up the drama; with this Velour Lashes kit, you have everything you need to apply natural-looking lashes on the go without trimming or measuring. Finally, the last thing you want during full glam is an unnecessary bout of shine. Stop oil in its tracks with Tatcha’s blotting papers without budging your look—housed in packaging small enough to fit in your party handbag or clutch.