Best Travel Makeup for Packing Light

These versatile makeup products will ensure you look your best and keep your suitcase light

Credit: Flickr /Sirah Quyyom

Choose makeup products that serve a double duty to keep your suitcase light

When it comes to packing makeup for a trip, it is possible to pack lightly without sacrificing the essentials

Some might consider makeup to be expendable when packing for a trip but you want to look good on holidays or work travel. Here’s how to pack lightly and smartly, bringing fewer things that you can use every day and packing items that serve double-duty.

Best Makeup Products for Travel

I have dry skin so my products are geared for this skin type, so the items you decide to pack will differ, although the overall concepts should apply to anyone. 

I’m also not particularly skilled at makeup application, so you’ll see my bias toward items that are fairly goof-proof, which is always a plus when you’re travelling and tired. I also don’t bother with touch-ups throughout the day, aside from my lip product or if I need to change it all up for an evening event.

Most of these products are available at Sephora or Murale. The Shu Uemura products are available at Holt Renfrew.

1. Tools

Aside from my eyelash curler, all the tools I pack are brushes. I have mostly travel-sized brushes that I use every day because I not only prefer that size (I find it easier to control the bristles), but I refuse to keep two separate brush sets that perform the exact same function. My favourite brushes come from Bobbi Brown, Shu Uemura and Quo.

2. Make Up Forever Full Cover Concealer ($36)

Since I don’t wear full-coverage foundation, I like to use a little bit of concealer to even out any red areas on my face before I fluff on my powder. A little concealer goes a long way in helping to freshen up appearances after a day of travel.

3. Diorskin Forever Compact ($52)

I prefer powder foundations because they’re a breeze to apply and you can really control the level of coverage. And in a pinch, it’s something I can easly apply in an airport bathroom or even on a train. For an average day, I’ll use a large fluffy brush to lightly powder my face. This is just enough to even out my skin and blend in the edges of the concealer. I like keeping things translucent during the day for a more natural look. For evening looks, I’ll use a synthetic flat foundation brush and take a bit more time to apply the powder until I have a more airbrushed effect. For those who prefer a liquid foundation, be sure to ask for a sample the next time you’re buying your product at a counter so you can travel with a smaller bottle.

4. Smashbox Brow Tech ($30)

I’m a recent convert to filling in my eyebrows and now that I’ve started, I can’t go a day without it. Eyebrows really do frame the face and I find just a touch of powder applied to my brows really does help polish my overall look. It’s a subtle change but I do feel for the 30 seconds it takes to apply, it’s well worth the effort. Bonus that this product comes in a teeny tiny pot that also contains brow wax.

5. Hourglass Calligraphy Liquid Eyeliner ($37)

I never line my lower lashline but do take the time with my upper lashes. When I’m on the road, I’ll always take this liquid pen because it’s effective, compact and has a built-in brush so I don’t have to pack anything else. For daytime looks, I’ll line just at the roots and keep it thin. For the evening, the line gets extended a bit and is a bit thicker to give a more dramatic look.

6. Shu Uemura Eyeshadow ($19 + $7 for single case)

I like to make my own eyeshadow palettes and prefer Shu Uemura for quality and packaging – their pans are minimal and sleek. I have a four-pan palette that consists of cream, beige, bronze and taupe. All very neutral, but all very versatile. It’s tremendously convenient to have these colours all housed together in a single palette that’s not much bigger than all the pans put together.

7. Blinc Mascara ($29.95)

This mascara won’t give me mega volume nor will it lengthen dramatically, but it gives my lashes a lovely extra oomph and – most importantly – it doesn’t run, smudge or flake. At the best of times I might have time to check my mascara for flakes and smudges and and can clean things up throughout the day. But I don’t usually have this luxury when I’m travelling so this is the one I bring.

8. Blush + Lips (together)

If I’m really struggling for space, I’ll use a single product for both lips and cheeks. The lasting power for these products isn’t quite as good as if separate items were used, but they definitely do an adequate job and definitely do save a lot of space.

For spring and summer, I’ll use something pink or coral; for autumn and winter, I’ll work with wine or berry colours.

Some that I’ve tried and liked are Stila’s lip and cheek stain ($32), NARS’s The Multiple ($46), and Sephora’s Lush Flush lip and cheek stain ($16).

9. Shu Uemura Glow On Blush ($21.50 + 11 for case)

I love these blushes because they really do make you seem as if you’re glowing from within, which is so lovely for my travel-weary complexion. Also, the colour payoff is fantastic and it lasts on me for a decent amount of time. Moreover, the packaging is in clear Lucite and is minimal, just enough to encase the rectangle of colour, so it’s easy to see immediately what colour I’ve got and it’s small enough to justify tossing one or two into my bag.

10. Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment ($26)

If I can bring only one lip product, this is it. I have dry lips so I’m constantly applying lip balm. Not only is this the best lip balm in the world, but it contains SPF 15 and comes in a variety of tints. I love the plum colour and can layer it to look impressively pigmented. And as the balm wears off, it does leave a lovely stain of colour on my lips so I’m never left looking too ghostly. This is a triple-duty product that I absolutely adore and would never be without when travelling. Plus, it’s a cinch to apply on the go without a mirror.

Catherine Tse is a freelance writer and editor based in Vancouver who brings her love of style to a variety of print and online publications. She discovered early on that writing and an ambitious penchant for lovely things was a good combination.