How To Pack Makeup For Travel

How To Pack Makeup For Travel (And Break Proof It In The Process) | Petit ElefantFeeling fresh and pretty at 40,000 feet can be about as easy as figuring out middle seat armrest etiquette. Mainly because: makeup. Our favorite blushes and balms aren’t always very travel-friendly, crumbling faster than the little behind you who can’t pop his wee ears.

But if years of travel have taught me anything, it’s how to pack makeup properly. Streamlining is key of course, and comes down to focusing on the essentials you’ll need to feel your best – primer, foundation, mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, lipstick, blush and finishing powder; plus the implements (think brushes and an eyelash curler) to apply them.

How To Pack Makeup For Travel (And Break Proof It In The Process) | Petit ElefantThese are my tried-and-true favorites, and despite being accidentally stepped on (carry-on bags have a tendency to slide during takeoff and landing), dropped in hotel bathrooms and otherwise handled less than gently, have stayed intact and mess-free, making me feel a lot less stressed and a lot more pretty. (Nothing goes on worse than that shattered powder blush you just tried to scoop off the floor with a postcard, thinking you can just pretend it’s the loose mineral variety. Trust me.)

Then there’s makeup bags. We all know there are some super gorgeous ones that make us happy whenever we pull them out of the vanity at home. That being said, think about how you would feel if they got dirty, which is often an unavoidable side effect of travel. If it bothers you, try going with something machine-washable like mine instead.

How To Pack Makeup For Travel (And Break Proof It In The Process) | Petit ElefantCrafted from soft-sided material with one large compartment, my bag makes it easy to pack quickly and securely, especially since I divide everything into small plastic zip-bags organized by brushes and eyelash curler; eye makeup; powder, cheek and lip color; and implements. Squeezing out the excess air and rolling the extra bit of bag around the products acts as extra padding, so that way, if anything were to break, it’s contained to its designated bag and doesn’t end up absolutely everywhere.

How To Pack Makeup For Travel (And Break Proof It In The Process) | Petit ElefantTo prevent powder products from cracking and breaking, consider going with cream versions. Or, pick up a few inexpensive round makeup sponges and layer one under the lid of each powder compact, right on top of the color. That way, if things get jostled, which they will, there’s an extra shock absorber built right in. To lessen the possibility of breakage even more, consider packing a makeup palette. With coordinated eye, cheek and lip colors curated beautifully into one hard-sided complimentary collection, you just nixed the need to pack a lot of separate products.

How To Pack Makeup For Travel (And Break Proof It In The Process) | Petit ElefantAnd to avoid primer and foundation leaks if you use the liquid kind like I do, an easy way to avoid spillage is plastic wrap. Simply cut a square big enough to cover the opening of each tube, lay it over the tip, screw the lid back on and boom – a simple way to keep those high-altitude explosions at bay. This also works well for perfumes, astringents and face creams if those are must-haves you just can’t leave at home.

How To Pack Makeup For Travel (And Break Proof It In The Process) | Petit ElefantIf your collection of pots and potions is large and you’re not sure how you’ll ever narrow it down, consider the clothes you’ve chosen for your journey and go with what you absolutely know you’ll use. And don’t forget about the 3.4 fluid oz. limit when traveling by plane. Big box stores sell empty travel-sized containers that comply with TSA regulations, and if you have some empty contact lens containers around, they make for great mini-makeup holders, especially if you only have a tiny bit of something left that you really want to bring along.

What’s on your makeup packing list?

Photography by Pilar Clark


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A native of Chile with deep Chicago roots, Pilar and geekdom have been mutually exclusive since tight-rolled jeans and slap bracelets were in fashion, making it rather fitting she married a Star Wars nerd, made two nerdlets, and became the world’s okayest mom. An award-winning writer, social media strategist, photographer and geeky pop culturalist, her commentary has appeared in and on some cool sites like Babble, CNN, Huffington Post, Yahoo and Fandango (where she's Contributing Editor of the Family Room).

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