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How To Organize Makeup for Traveling: Tips & Tricks

Travel Tips

From liquids to creams to solids and powders, figuring out how to organize your beauty routine for upcoming travel definitely requires a bit of a game plan. 

How can you stay organized when you get to your final destination? How can you consolidate your routine without sacrificing the way you look and feel? Thanks to Subtl Beauty, the word “sacrifice” doesn’t need to be in your vocabulary while traveling. Follow these storage ideas, organization tips, and packing hacks to become the best makeup organizer around.

Your Trip Details Tell You What To Pack

When it comes to organizing your makeup for traveling, one thing you’ll want to consider is when you’ll be wearing makeup and for what occasions. This is one tip that any makeup artist’ll tell you — depending on where you travel, the makeup you wear will be different.

What Will You Be Doing?

If you’re going to be catching trains and planes left and right, you’ll want just the bare essentials like concealer, bronzer, blush, and a lip color. When packing these, think if you want to keep them by your side for quick touch-ups or if you can put them away in your baggage. 

If you’re going to a special event during your trip and want to glam it up, you may want a few more items to ramp up your look, like an eyeshadow palette, a highlighter, and a shine control powder. Since you’ll only be bringing out this makeup for your dazzling nights out, you won’t need it by your side all the time.

What Will You Be Wearing?

Pick out your outfits for any planned events before traveling, too. This can save time when you’re getting ready later and help you choose what makeup products to bring to complete your look. There’s no need to bring three Lip and Cheek color options when you know the one looks best with your outfit.

Put your outfit and makeup for your special event in their own baggie or travel compartment in your luggage or carry-on. This’ll keep the items you need together, so you can easily find them when you’re getting ready to go out. Plan to always put your makeup bag in the same spot during your trip so that you don’t lose it, too.

Consider Your Travel Plans

With so much movement while you travel, like running through a train station, bumping down a plane aisle, or tossing your bag above your head or below your feet, you’ll want to make sure that your makeup doesn’t get messed up along the way.

Whether you’re traveling light with a carry-on or going all out with a full suitcase, you’ll want to ensure your makeup arrives as safely as you do. To do this, pack your makeup in a special padded makeup bag. This’ll keep your makeup from getting knocked around or jarred while you travel.

If you don’t have time to grab one, a good hack is to pack your clothes and other soft items around your makeup so that it doesn’t get jostled around as much. After all, no one wants to open their makeup kit after an 8-hour flight to find an explosion of bronzer everywhere. 

Also, you can pack your makeup in a plastic bag in case something does happen. This way, even if your makeup doesn’t make the trip, it won’t get all over your clothes.

Check the Weather

Weather can also play a role in how you organize your makeup. Not only can weather dictate how we wear makeup and how often we need to apply it, but it can also change where we store it.

Simply Googling your destination, the month, and “weather” will give you a breakdown of average temperatures and how often it rains. This can help with general packing ideas, so you’re not rushing to put everything in your bag the night before your flight and potentially leaving some things behind (and this can help you declutter, too).

A few days before you leave, check the forecast for your specific travel dates. A more certain forecast will also help narrow down what you need to pack and what should be left at home — and we’re focusing specifically on the makeup here.

Visiting a city on hot summer days may require extra powder for touch-ups — so you’ll want to make sure you have your portable Shine Control Pressed Powder to take with you on the metro. You may also want a primer or CC cream with SPF. If you don’t include any other skincare products in your routine while you travel, you should at least make sure to include one of these so you can protect your delicate skin from the sun.

If you’re visiting during a rainy week, you’ll want your mascara to be waterproof so it doesn’t run if you get caught without an umbrella.

If you know it’s going to rain or be humid, you can pack your best humidity/rain-friendly makeup. This means all your products are in waterproof containers, there are no powder products (which don’t always do best in high humidity), and they don’t need to be applied with brushes (these may get wet more easily on rainy days).

Use a Clear Bag

Even though no one likes stuffing all their liquids into a large plastic bag for TSA, using a clear bag can actually be a great organizational solution. 

Colorful, patterned makeup storage bags are a fun way to show off your personality, since they can range from classy and sophisticated to cute and whimsical. However, after your makeup bags are packed, it's impossible to see everything that’s in them without opening them up and rummaging through them. This can be a big hassle if you’ve brought more than one makeup bag and are searching for that one perfect lip liner or eyeliner.

If you use an acrylic makeup organizer or other clear organizer, you can more easily see what’s in each bag and quickly find the makeup you’re looking for. If you don’t want to go out and buy a new clear bag, get thrifty and use some transparent containers from home, likeTupperware containers or even sealable plastic bags.

Only Pack What You Need

We know, we know. Overpacking feels almost inevitable. But when traveling, you’ll want to save space with items that be used for multiple things. That way, you don’t need to pack a lot of extras. This is not only a great organizational solution; it’s also a wonderful storage solution.

The easiest way to do this is to write down your general makeup routine as well as any special looks you’ll want to do on your trip. What tools are needed? Look for opportunities to slim down your makeup supplies where you can, and leave superfluous products at home. 

Ask yourself: do you really need to bring a makeup collection with cream contour palettes, multiple lip products, five compacts, and a huge 36-pan eyeshadow palette? At that point, you’ll need more than a makeup bag. You'll have to bring your entire makeup drawer with you, which might be a bit much for traveling.

Don’t get us wrong: options are great. But think about it — how many times have you packed everything but the kitchen sink, only to end up using one lip gloss and only two or three of the eyeshadow colors?

This is one of the best DIY makeup organization ideas we have to offer — just bring your favorite products and leave the rest at home.

Look for versatile products that can be used in multiple ways, such as our Lip and Cheek. This creamy product can be used as both a blush and a lip color. It’s also buildable (another important feature), so you can apply multiple layers for bolder, more vibrant looks. There’s no need for multiple shades to achieve different results.

How To Deal With the Liquid Dilemma

For the sake of simplicity and efficiency, a carry-on bag is the most popular way to travel when you’re flying, especially for short, quick trips. Those traveling by plane and not checking a bag will be subject to the TSA 3-1-1 rule. This means any liquids brought on board in your carry-on suitcase or personal bag (and not placed in a checked bag) must be 3.4 ounces or less and fit inside a singular, transparent one-quart bag. 

One of the easiest ways to get the most out of your space is to go down your toiletry and cosmetics list and pack your non-liquid items first. Once those are out of the way, revisit your list and see if you can find solid versions of whatever is remaining.

Soap bars and toothpaste tablets are great substitutes for essential toiletries. If there’s no alternative product and it’s an essential step in your routine, set it aside for your clear bag. 

Until recently, a lot of cosmetics fell into the liquid category. Even when alternative cream and powder formulas were developed, bulky packaging and unnecessary extra steps plagued our suitcases and took up precious space. 

But guess what? None of our products here at Subtl Beauty are liquid, so they won’t take up an ounce of valuable space in your one-quart liquid bag. Being solid also alleviates any concern of products leaking in your bag, creating a sticky mess that could stain your belongings. 

Our simple packaging also takes up minimal space, so you can bring along every component you need to look great when you’re on the road or abroad.

Subtl Beauty Has Everything You’ll Ever Need

At Subtl Beauty, you can customize your own Makeup Stack to fit your specific needs. Overwhelmed by choice? Let us do the work for you.

The Starter Stack, one of our premade Stack options, which includes five of our best-selling essentials packaged together, is a great place to begin. You pick your concealer shade and we put the rest together on your behalf. 

The Starter Stack includes a Cream Concealer, a Highlighter, a Bronzer, a Lip and Cheek (a creamy two-in-one product that can be used as both a blush and lip color), and a Shine Control Powder

These beauty products are buildable, lightweight, and will last for at least 60 applications. Each component is easy to use on the go and can be applied with your fingers, but if you want to keep your fingers clean, a Stack Brush BFF is included with every order.

Want a few more tools to get ready? The Ready Set Go is the stackable all-in-one set for you. This kit consists of a Cream Concealer, a Lip and Cheek, a Shine Control Powder, a Lip Balm, and a 4-Piece Brush Set. The makeup brush set includes a stippling brush, a powder brush, a dual-sided eyeshadow brush, and a lip brush. 

With your perfectly curated stack in hand, it’s infinitely easier to simply grab foundation or tinted moisturizer, an eyebrow pencil, and mascara and toss them into your cosmetics bag to complete the look. 

Make Packing and Organizing Easy

With a little planning and some innovative products like our Makeup Stack, organizing your makeup for traveling is a breeze. Packing is less stressful, more space is available in your bag, hotel rooms are cleaner, and getting ready is simpler. This leaves you with more time to explore your destination, spend time with family and friends, or take care of business in the boardroom. 

Take the Subtl Beauty Stack Quiz today to create your perfectly curated Stack, and enjoy a more organized cosmetic bag on your next trip.


Down the Tubes: Should You Brush Your Teeth With Toothpaste Tablets? | Beauty | The Guardian

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) | FDA

What Is the 3-1-1 Liquids Rule? | Transportation Security Administration

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