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The Ultimate Makeup Packing List For Vacation

Packing for an upcoming trip? Not sure what makeup to bring with you? Use this handy makeup packing list to ensure you have all your makeup essentials for your next trip.

Not to toot my own horn here, but over the years, I’ve gotten really good at packing travel makeup.

If you would have looked at my travel makeup bag three years ago, it would have been stuffed with every brush, palette, and lip gloss possible, but these days, I take a much more minimalist approach to packing my makeup.

Not only does this save on space, but it’s also much easier to find the products I’m looking for, rather than digging through a stuffed makeup bag (been there, done that).

Because, trust me, you might think you need that bold lipstick or that fancy eyeshadow palette, but for the most part, you’ll end up sticking with your everyday products when you’re travelling.

Having said that, there are different factors that can affect what you pack in your makeup bag for your upcoming trip, so to start, answer these questions prior to packing your makeup:

Questions To Consider Prior To Packing Your Makeup Bag For Vacation

travel makeup bag

1. What is the climate?

If you’re headed on a beach vacation, your makeup is obviously going to be a little different than if you’re headed to Colorado in the winter for some skiing. Consider things like humidity and dryness, but also don’t forget the importance of sunscreen, moisturizing lip balms, and your skincare.

For skincare tips for dry weather, check out this article to help you hydrate your skin.

2. What events/activities will I be participating in?

Your makeup bag will also be impacted by what events you have on your schedule. For example, sitting on the beach in Florida versus heading to a classy wedding in New York requires different makeup.

If you have any special events or particular outings you plan on participating in, keep these in mind as you pack your makeup bag.

3. Will I be swimming?

If you’re going to be in water, I always recommend considering waterproof products, because seriously, what’s worse than mascara running down your face when you’re going for that beach babe look, right?

4. Am I taking a carry on or checking a bag?

For the most part, you should be okay with your makeup in a carry on bag in terms of any liquid restrictions; however, I always recommend keeping any of your larger palettes with you on the plane, if you choose to check your bag.

I’ve had some of my nicer palettes break when stored in my checked bag. When I keep them in my backpack, where I know I can be gentle with them, they have a much lower chance of breaking. In addition, if you go the opposite route, and you solely bring a carry on, it’s important to go as minimalist with your makeup as possible for the sake of giving yourself more room in your bag.

5. What products do I use on a daily basis?

When stuck between which makeup products to bring on your travels and what to leave at home, always ask yourself the above question. If you have go-to makeup that you use on a daily basis, these are the products you’re going to want to bring with you on vacation.

The rest? They’re probably unnecessary and will just take up precious space/weight in your luggage.

Please Note: This post does contain affiliate links, meaning if you choose to make a purchase through one of my links, I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

Clearly there are a lot of considerations to make when packing your makeup bag for travel, meaning nobody’s makeup bag is going to be exactly the same.

Having said that, though, as mentioned, I’ve gotten pretty good at packing my makeup bag, and really, minus a few swaps here and there, my makeup bag essentials remain the same, no matter what the trip.

If you’re looking for a makeup packing list that’s versatile, minimalist, and easily suits a variety of different occasions/events, I highly recommend this makeup bag packing list.

My Go-To, Versatile Makeup Bag Packing List For Vacation

1. It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream

your skin but better cc cream


If you’ve read my blog before then you already know I’m obsessed with the It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream.

There are three primary reasons why I love this CC cream and why I think it’s great for travel:

1. It’s buildable coverage, so if you’re looking for something to wear when headed to the beach, this product can be nice and light. On the other hand, if you’re going out for dinner at night, simply apply more product and you’ll get a full coverage look, but still with the natural finish of a CC Cream.

2. It’s easy to apply. You certainly can use a makeup sponge or brush, but honestly, with this CC cream I always just use my fingers and the finish never disappoints.  Plus hey, who wants to spend a ton of time on their makeup when there are things to do and see on your travels? Certainly not me!

3. There’s SPF 50 in it, which is perfect for travel, especially for hot weather destinations. I’m not a huge fan of putting sunscreen on my face, but with this product in my makeup bag, I don’t have to (note: some people might disagree with me on that, but I use this as my sole sunscreen and I’ve never got a burn on my face).

If you’re interested in the It Cosmetics CC Cream and all of its benefits (there are a lot!), you can read my full review here.

2. NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer

Again, another go-to for me that I use everyday and that I absolutely must have with me on vacation.

Not only do I love that I can apply the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer with my fingers for easy use, it also only takes a couple dabs of this under my eyes and I instantly have brighter eyes.

You can read my full review of the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer here.

And if you’re looking for some tips on how to cover up dark under eye circles, I have a full tutorial here.

3. Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder

hourglass ambient lighting powder

I’ll be honest, this only comes with me if I have an event to attend while travelling, like a wedding, for example.

In the past, I would have brought this for any travels, but I found on my last trip (a 5 week Europe trip), I very rarely reached for this.

I just find with the quality of the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, I don’t really need to set my under eye, and generally I don’t get very oily so powder isn’t something I use in my daily makeup routine.

Having said that, if you’re looking for a high quality powder that is virtually undetectable on the skin, the Ambient Lighting Powder is it. The price tag is a little high, but I’ve had this powder for two years and the quality is definitely there. For vacation or not, I’m confident you’ll love this powder.

4. Nars Laguna Beach Bronzer + Orgasm Blush (palette)

NARS blush and bronzer duo

This NARS palette is the perfect travel companion.

The palette contains two of the top selling NARS shades: Laguna Beach (bronzer) and Orgasm (blush).

Both shades are versatile for many skin tones, and they go on flawlessly. Some Laguna Beach around the perimeter of my cheeks, and blush on the apples of my cheeks if I’m going for a more “done” look, and this is one of my favorite travel makeup products.

Can’t go wrong with 2-in-1 makeup when it comes to travel, that’s for sure.

5. Essence Pure Nude Highlighter // Glossier Haloscope

best drugstore highlighter

You’ve heard me rant and rave about the Essence Pure Nude Highlighter time and time again, and I’m not planning on stopping anytime soon.

This is one of my absolute favorite drugstore makeup products, and at less than $5, I think I’m fully justified in my obsession (read my full review here).

It goes on smooth, it’s compact for travel, and it doesn’t have any weird sparkle in it. It’s the perfect versatile highlighter that you can use on your cheeks, on the inner corner of your eyes, or even down the bridge of your nose (one of my favorite “secret’ spots to add highlighter for a luminous glow).

If you prefer a cream highlighter, though, I absolutely love the Glossier Haloscope, especially when I’m going for that natural makeup look. It’s a super quick, no-fuss highlighter that you can apply with your fingers, but with a finish that is still bold enough to give you a glow, but not so bold that you feel like you have on a blinding highlight.

Either way, the price and quality of both of these products make them worth checking out.

6. Waterproof Mascara

huge extreme lash mascara

If you’ve read any of my beauty posts, then you know I’m not super picky when it comes to mascara. Oftentimes, I just pick up whatever mascara is the cheapest at the drugstore before my trip, so here are some of the top waterproof mascaras currently available on Amazon:

For the best mascara I have ever used, I was absolutely blown away by this Stila mascara.

It makes my eyes look huge and it gives great volume. In addition, I recently wore this mascara while swimming when I didn’t have anything waterproof, and it actually didn’t give me crazy raccoon eyes, which makes it a great product to have on hand for those unexpected days in the water.

7. Eyeliner

To be honest,  I don’t often use eyeliner when on vacation, especially a beach vacation. However, because eyeliner takes up such little space, I’ll usually take the time to pick up whatever eyeliner is cheapest at the drugstore and throw it in my bag.

My only requirement? It has to be a black, mechanical (twist up) eyeliner. When I’m travelling, the last thing I want to do is sharpen my eyeliner.

Again, here are some of the top sellers on Amazon:

8. NYX Microbrow Pencil

best drugstore eyebrow pencil

Can you tell I like drugstore makeup? (check out my full list of the best drugstore makeup here)

I don’t fill in my brows a lot, but once I started filling them in just a small amount, it made all the difference in my look.

Plus, with the NYX Microbrow pencil, it’s so easy to use, it looks natural, and it has a brush on the end if you like brushing your eyebrows into place.

I’ve been solely using this brow pencil for the past three years, and I have no plans of changing to anything else.

9. Fresh Advanced Therapy Sugar Lip Treatment

fresh sugar lip treatment

And last but not least, for lips, I generally only bring/wear this one product.

I’m not big on glosses (too sticky) and lipstick just tends to bug me, but not the Fresh Sugar Lip.

The finish is perfect, it’s not sticky, and if you want just a little color on your lips without a full lipstick, this is the perfect compromise.

Not to mention, it also helps moisturize like crazy and keeps my lips both feeling and looking their best.

You can go for the advanced option like me (I get really dry lips), but if you want more color options, try out the regular sugar lip for 10+ shades.

Pro Tip:

If you’re prone to dry lips like myself, especially when travelling, you have to check out the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask. It is by the far the best investment you’ll make for dry lips. You can read my full review of the product and how it combats dry lips in this post.

And there you have it: those are the 9 makeup products that I travel with.

It’s not a lot, but it gets the job done, while keeping my makeup bag minimalist.

If you also don’t want to spend hours on your makeup, but still want to feel great for your travels, these are all tried and tested travel makeup products that I can recommend with full confidence.

Try them out for yourself, and let me know if you have any makeup travel must haves. I would love to know.

And, if you’re looking for a makeup routine that shows you how to use these travel products for a natural makeup look, you’ll find many of them mentioned in the following posts:

The Ultimate Guide To Easy Makeup For Hectic Mornings

Simple Tips To Help You Achieve A Natural Makeup Look

The Sweat Proof Beach Makeup Routine Every Woman Needs

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travel makeup

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