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How To Pack Makeup for Travel: Complete Guide to Looking Great On-the-Go

How To Pack Makeup for Travel: Complete Guide to Looking Great On-the-Go

Travel is one of the best ways to get away from the stresses of everyday life and enjoy some much-needed R&R. However, even the most highly-anticipated vacations can create other kinds of stress in our lives. You know what we mean — the travel-prep stress. The worst of this often comes from packing and planning everything you have to go through to get to your destination.

There’s a lot to consider when packing for any trip, including luggage limitations, planning your outfits for special events, and making sure you've got all the makeup you need without packing everything in your bathroom cabinet. Sometimes it feels like it would be easier to win a season of Survivor than it is to pack for an extended trip.

At Subtl Beauty, we understand the frustration and anxiety that can come with packing makeup for travel. That's why we've compiled this complete guide of easy and efficient tips and tricks for packing an on-the-go beauty routine for travel. Soon, they’ll be nothing left to do except enjoy that time out of office.

A Solid Reason To Ditch Liquids

No matter how long or short your journey is or how you plan to reach your final destination, ditching as many unnecessary liquids as possible is going to be a game changer. Seriously, we stand by this advice. 

If you're traveling by plane and don't plan to check a bag, you have a limited amount of lotions, creams, and other liquids that you can bring with you. Even if you're traveling by other means, like a train or a bus, and this liquid-limiting rule doesn't apply to you, you can still be subject to weight and space limitations. Full-sized shower gels, shampoos, and other similar products can weigh down your bag and taking up unnecessary, precious space — space that you could use for another outfit option or for bringing back some well-chosen souvenirs.

Liquids are also tough to travel with because they can beso messy. Even if you're only driving a few hours out of town, items can shift around in your bag, causing leaks and spills onto your clothing, shoes, and other belongings, some of which might be irreplaceable.

Many travel experts suggest covering the top of any bottles with a layer of plastic wrap before returning the cap, though this method is not completely foolproof. We think you’re better off just skipping the liquids — period.

Bringing solid replacement products, like toothpaste tablets, soap bars, or powder shampoos, keeps your bag cleaner and saves space. These products are usually easier to store, are more lightweight, and cause less worry about ruining anything else in your bag.

Plan for Changes in Air Pressure

When it comes to flying, many people don't consider how the change in air pressure can affect your things. You've likely felt this change in the form of a popping sensation in your ears, which is why some of us chew gum for takeoff and landing. 

However, it's not just people that are affected by the change in air pressure on planes, Certain items in your luggage may also be affected, and not in a good way.

Think about it this way: as you go higher in the atmosphere, gasses in the air start to expand. For your luggage, this means that the air trapped inside any bottles or other sealed containers will also expand. 

The more air that's in a bottle of shampoo or other product, the more pressure that’ll build up inside the bottle. This pressure can continue to increase until it's released, or in this case, until the bottle ruptures, creating a goopy, liquidy mess all over the inside of your bag. No thanks.

Tips for Packing Makeup and Toiletries for Air Travel

While it's not realistic to completely avoid bringing liquids onto a plane, there are a few steps you can take to lessen your chances of opening your bag after a flight and finding a big mess. 

Here are a few tips for packing with air pressure changes in mind:

  • Try packing your liquids in flexible, collapsible containers like plastic bottles or reusable zip-lock bags. Using a soft container as opposed to a hard plastic one allows you to "burp" your product and squeeze any extra air that might be inside.
  • You should also try to fill your containers to the top. It might be a habit to only fill something up partially because you know it's all you'll need. However, filling the container up all the way gets rid of excess air and prevents your products from the dreaded explosion inr your suitcase or carry-on.
  • Make sure that whatever bag your liquids go in is waterproof. Sometimes, the unexpected will happen, and your product containers will still break open during your flight. A waterproof bag will at least contain the mess in a singular area and prevent it from getting into all of your luggage.
  • If you have room, pack some cotton balls, cotton rounds, or even makeup sponges into the crevices of bags containing liquids. It won't completely mop up a potential mess, but it can absorb whatever leaks and make a sticky situation a little more bearable.

Refrain From Cramming and Stuffing

There’s a myriad of reasons why you should minimize what you bring with you when you travel, aside from the fact that it helps keep your bag lightweight and organized. If you cram your bag full of highlight and contour kits, multiple bright lipsticks, and huge tubs of translucent powder, you’ll have less room to pack other essential items and bring home any souvenirs.

Filling your bags to the max can also put a strain on your luggage, causing it or the items you store in there to break. 

Overstuffing your bag can also make finding important, need-to-have-now things like your wallet, keys, charger, passport, and such very difficult. That’s not even considering the fact that you'll have to figure out a way to stuff anything you had to take out back into your bag somehow. That's why consolidating what you pack, especially your makeup and skincare routine, can be a major space and time saver.

One good way to space some space is to look for multi-purpose items, like our Lip and Cheek, which can double as both a blush and a lip color. Plus, this product is buildable, meaning you can apply it lightly for a softer look or apply it more heavily for a bolder one. 

Find products that are versatile and leave your 70-step red carpet look at home. You likely wouldn't use even half of those highly specific products with all the running around, having fun, and exploring you'll be doing at your destination.

The Downside of Single-Use and Travel-Size Items

It's no secret by now that single-use and travel-size toiletries are not cost-efficient or long-term realistic options for travel. They meet TSA regulations for the most part, but beyond that, you have better options.

Packaging on so many of these products just doesn’t work with how limited our space is when we travel. Oversized components, boxy caps, and excessive glass just make many mini products unsuitable for their actual intended purpose. 

As if that wasn’t enough, a lot of single-use and travel-size items don’t come with enough product to last the duration of a trip that lasts a week or more. You'd either have to choose what days you wash your face or bring along multiples of one product to make sure you're completely covered.

Then, there’s the environmental impact. So many single-use bottles and travel-size containers create a lot of plastic waste, especially since you go through more of them more quickly. 

One great alternative to buying single-use products is to keep a set of reusable bottles on hand. You can easily find these at any major retailer or reuse a plastic bottle you've already purchased that’s the right size. Once you're done with the product inside, just rinse it out well and refill it with whatever product you need. 

Subtl Beauty Has Long-Lasting, Travel-Sized Convenience

Another alternative to buying single-use items and travel-size products is buying products that are meant to travel and be long-lasting, like our Makeup Stacks. These compact products were created to be small but mighty. 

They're designed to be stackable, so you can easily add or take away products to create your ideal makeup routine as you travel. And despite their small size, our Stacks are long-lasting, with enough product for at least 60 applications. Imagine a concealer or highlighter that you could take with you not just on one trip but on multiple trips because you knew it would last.

Look for Multi-Use Products

Aside from bringing as many solids as opposed to liquids as possible, how can we further condense our makeup routines and make our trips even easier? The addition of a few multi-use products can make all the difference in the world.

One example of this is our Cream Concealer, which does more than just cover up dark circles and acne. This formula is so creamy that it can be used as a hybrid concealer and foundation, so long as you aren’t going for a full-coverage look. 

Some concealers are sticky, tough to spread, and quick-drying, which can result in spotty application, uneven coverage, and dry patches. Luckily, our formula is designed to be spreadable, so you have time to cover any imperfections to your satisfaction before it dries down. 

You can apply this cream as an on-the-go foundation with your fingers, an applicator, or a damp beauty sponge. When it's time to use it as an actual concealer, just apply a second layer on top of any problematic areas and pat it into place as opposed to rubbing it. This will really concentrate and build up the color while helping any imperfections to disappear into the background.

For really tough areas, intentionally let the product dry a little on top of imperfections to add a full layer of opaque coverage before blending it out.

Our Lip and Cheek is another multi-use item that’ll help you on your travels. Similar to the concept of using your lipstick as a cream blush, this formula is easy to spread and work with to highlight both your cheekbones and your pout. It's buildable, allowing you to create more dramatic looks for nighttime and special occasions or more natural looks for the daytime.

Subtl Beauty Powder Options

If cream products aren't your favorite, don't worry, we also offer powder bronzers, powder blushes, and super flattering powder highlighter choices. These items can transform your look and bring out your best natural features — and all without taking up extra space in your bag. 

Bronzer can bring a sunkissed glow to your complexion, emphasize your bone structure, and act as a neutral yet enhancing eyeshadow shade. With a little blush, you can change your face shape depending on how high on your cheekbones you apply it and which direction you sweep it in. A highlighter is perfect for creating a bright, youthful look and adding a bit of that disco ball shine that we live for.

Prolong Your Look and Spend Less Time Fixing It

There’s one thing that most traveling promises, and that’s long days filled with lots of activities and fun. That means you’ll have to work a little harder to ensure your makeup stays where you applied it all day long. That starts with a good makeup primer, translucent powder, and a setting spray. These are, of course, optional, but they can seriously help prolong the life of your makeup.

If you choose your primer wisely, you could be providing your skin with extra nutrients, vitamins, and other benefits like sun protection. A primer will also help lock your look in place and is the first step to having a look that lasts all day. This alone could help minimize the number of items you have to bring along with you for touch-ups throughout the day. 

Creamy products should always be set in place with translucent powder — at least, if you’re planning on wearing them for a long time. This doesn't mean you need to bring a full-size jar of loose powder along with you — a few swipes from an oil-absorbing compact will do the job nicely. 

If primer is the essential base, then a good setting spray is the other half of this dynamic duo. Setting sprays can bring moisture to dry skin, keep your makeup from moving or separating, and limit the need for touch-ups throughout the day. Depending on what option you choose, they can also help your makeup melt into your skin for a more natural, glowing look.

As always, we recommend prioritizing skincare and suncare, so if you don't have room for these steps, don't sweat it.

One Powerful Powder

We designed our Shine Control Pressed Powder to be lightweight, ultra-portable, and help keep oily skin at bay when you need it most. This powder is also transparent, making it suitable for all skin tones without leaving a white mask behind. While every Subtl Beauty order includes a retractable, portable Stack Brush BFF, the powders come with an applicator that’s ideal for spot treatments on the oilier parts of your face. 

This Shine Control Pressed Powder goes a step further to protect you from another common enemy of the 21st century. Today, we’re constantly exposed to electronic screens and their blue lights, whether we like it or not. While it's widely known that blue light can affect our eyesight and interfere with our sleep patterns, fewer people know that it can damage our skin — the literal base of our everyday look. 

To put it simply, you may not feel blue light rays like you feel the sun, but they actually penetrate a lot deeper than other rays. Over time, repeated exposure can negatively affect your skin's elasticity and texture. 

It's a small step, but our Shine Control Pressed Powder offers a layer of protection against this daily danger, while doing the double duty of helping to set your makeup. 

Remember To Bring a Mirror

We all know how photos on the internet can be misleading. Even though you saw photos of your hotel on their website, you may not always know what kind of hotel or vacation rental you really are staying in until you arrive.

Sometimes, the places where we stay are surprisingly devoid of mirrors. There may only be one mirror in your Airbnb, hostel, or hotel room, and you could be sharing it with several other people. Instead of waiting for a spot at the mirror or using your phone's front-facing camera to do your face (because we all know we don’t look our best from that angle), add a small makeup mirror into your bag.

It doesn't need to be large or extravagant — a simple folding compact will do just fine. Our Travel Makeup Mirror includes a regular mirror on one side and a magnified mirror on the other — yet another great multi-purpose travel option.

Leave the Glam Looks at Home

When preparing for your big trip, remember why you’re going in the first place. Will you really need your 15-step makeup routine if you're traveling for work? You might have important meetings to attend, but it's unlikely you'll have an occasion to break out a Khloe Kardashian-level glam look. 

If you're embarking on one of your bucket list vacations, chances are you've spent a lot of money, and you've been planning for a very long time. The last thing you'll want to worry about, or even have time for, is what your face looks like. You'll be too busy climbing mountains, jumping into exotic seas, and eating world-renowned cuisines. 

This is an occasion where you may want to leave your troubles and your glam squad at home.

Traveling With Subtl Beauty 

When it comes to packing makeup for any trip, you don’t need to be stressed. Streamlined regimens, minimalistic packaging, multi-functional makeup gems, and a little basic organization can go a long way to creating a more relaxing packing experience. 

Hereat Subtl Beauty, we've taken these issues on to provide products that fulfill your needs. With flexible purchase options, flattering colors, and great assortments of everyday basics, you can have all the makeup you need in the palm of your hand whether you’re heading out of town or not. 

From the Starter Stack to customized creations and à la carte refills, we’ve created the blueprint for what travel-sized makeup should be, and we want to serve as an inspiration point for what our on-the-go beauty should look like. Take our quiz to see which options work best for you and get on the path to an easier, more streamlined travel situation today. 



Liquids Rule | Transportation Security Administration

Bar Soap Vs. Body Wash: Which is Better for the Health of Your Skin? | Healthline

Is Blue Light Bad for Your Skin? | MedicineNet

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

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