Travelling with makeup is something I’ve always done.
Even when I backpacked through India, I had a small stash of cosmetic basics that I whipped out on a daily basis. I wouldn’t have had it any other way, but I did feel like there was a bit of judgment around it because, well, when you have a small amount of space to carry all your travel gear, vanity feels unnecessary.
Whether you’re travelling for three days or three months, every corner of your bag matters – especially if you’re backpacking – and if loved ones are helping you pack for your trip, they can be a bit judgy about what you choose to pack, asking why you’re bringing three bottles of foundation instead of an extra pair of flip flops. Suddenly the decision you made to fill one corner of your bag with makeup feels almost as though you’re prioritising vanity over practicality.
Makeup is often seen as non-essential – something people use to look different, or ‘better’, and many people assume that wearing makeup all about ego and aesthetics, but realistically people choose to wear makeup for a range of different reasons. If you’re someone who feels happier and more confident with makeup, then good for you! The decision to go travelling with makeup is yours, and should be a guilt-free experience.
The only real thing you’ll want to consider is how to use as little bag space as possible, which means keeping your products to a minimum. Here are a few things to bear in mind.
(There are some affiliate links in this post, but clicking on them won’t cost you anything extra. Check my disclaimer for more info)
If you’re someone who has separate containers of concealer, foundation and setting powder, consider looking for one single product that contains qualities of all those things.
You’re looking for something that applies as a liquid and it dries like a powder, giving you two products in one. Foundation-to-powder products have been around for decades with varying levels of quality, but these days, they’re actually pretty good, and all it means is that you save more space. Win!
My favourites are the Inika rage because they’re made with natural products, and they’re vegan, made in Australia, sold around the world, and they look great on your face!
BRING ONE APPLICATOR
Beauty companies and influencers have done a pretty good job at convincing humans of the world that they need an entire brush set and damp sponges to effectively do their makeup.
And sure, a smaller concealer brush will probably apply product under your eyes more effectively than a larger foundation brush, but when you’re travelling it’s not always possible to travel with a 20-piece brush set and sponges.
Think about what you actually need to get the job done – will your under eyes still look ok if you use a slightly larger brush to paint them? Your under-eyes may not look as flawless as you want them to, but they will probably be ok. The same goes for all brushes you normally use – think logically about what will get the job done.
And remember, you can always use your fingers. It’s technically frowned upon, but hey! You’re travelling and it’s you face – you can do what you want.
Hint: Depending on where you’re going, and the length of your trip, I highly recommend leaving the sponge or Beauty Blender at home. If the water in your destination isn’t good for drinking, you don’t want to put it on your face, and wetting your sponge everyday with clean water will use up a lot of bottled water. Regardless of the water quality, odds are you’ll also have to cram your damp sponge into your bag when it’s time to move on, which means the sponge will be in a dark, damp place for hours. Sponges are breeding grounds for bacteria as it is, and you might find you have to throw it out at some stage through out your trip.
PACK FOR LONGEVITY.
Do you have a tube of liquid brow filler or eyeliner? Consider bringing a pencil instead. Pencils can last years and remain sanitary because you can just keep sharpening them and shave off the used part after a while.
They’re also cheaper, they don’t leak or dry up, and where you might need a few tubes of liquid brow filler, you’ll probably only need one pencil. They’re also much less likely to sweat off, and you don’t have to wait for them to dry. I’ve been using a brow pencil with a smaller brush on the end, and it’s seriously the best!
PARE IT BACK
Think about what aspect of makeup is the most important to you. Maybe you have dark circles under your eyes, uneven skin tone, or hooded eyes – whatever element you feel the need to cover up is what you should focus on, and disregard the rest.
For example, I’ve always felt the need to cover up my uneven skin tone, so the most important aspect for me is foundation. Sure, I like highlighter, eye shadow and lipstick, but I’m ok without them – using those extra products doesn’t drastically change the way I feel about my appearance, so I priorities foundation above those other products.
If you feel good about yourself having covered up your dark circles, you’ll want to focus on those products before lipstick, bronzer, and eye shadow. That probably means a colour corrector and foundation before anything else – those are your essentials, and should be all you need.
YOU DON’T NEED A MAKEUP BAG
There, I said it.
Even if you get a small one, they’re still bulky and take up way more valuable space than necessary. Why try and cram a makeup bag in to your backpack or suitcase when you can fit an eye pencil and foundation bottle in to the tiniest spaces in your carry-on?
If you’re worried about the sanitation of your applicator, give it its own pouch in the form of a clean sock you’re not going to wear, or cut a rectangle of material from a shirt you don’t wear anymore and roll it up. There are a lot of options outside bulky makeup bags.
TRY MAKEUP ALTERNATIVES
Look at what makeup you’d like to bring, and see if you can replace it with something you’d be packing anyway. For example, if you’re packing fake tan, you can actually mix some in with your face mosituriser at night, and you’ll wake up in the morning looking like you have foundation on. True story!
You can also use clear lip balm as a highlighter, use a spool brush with some water on it to elongate your eyelashes, or use a CC cream or tinted moisturiser with SPF for an all-in-one moisturiser/sunscreen/foundation. There are loads of makeup hacks like this out there, and you can save so much space.
So there you have it! Makeup doesn’t have to take up a lot of room in your bag if you think a little outside the box and consider some alternatives :)