What’s In My Travel Makeup Bag?

As a former flight attendant, I have a lot of experience packing for a trip! I also used to travel a lot for business and have taken  many fun vacations. Throughout the years, I’ve honed my packing skills so that I have as many options as possible with as few items as possible. That doesn’t always translate into extreme light packing. It does mean efficient, smart packing without taking unnecessary pieces, my whole wardrobe, or makeup collection. At the same time, it also means not making travel a hardship by sacrificing the things I want to have with me!

I just uploaded my What’s In My Travel Makeup Bag video, where I show you the types of items I pack in my travel makeup bag when going on a trip. This video was a collaboration with my friend Cathy, whose YouTube channel is called Catharine’s Life. She also uploaded a video where she shows you what’s in her travel makeup bag.

**Please note: This post is not sponsored. Some of the links below may be affiliate links. If you click on the link and/or shop via that link, I might receive a small commission. Of course, this would be at no additional cost to you.

Travel Cosmetics Bag

I usually travel with the cosmetics bags I get when my favorite cosmetics brands have a gift with purchase. Most of the cosmetics lines offer a pretty makeup bag along with samples in their GWP. The one in the photo above is from a Clinique gift with purchase from a few years ago. It’s small enough to pack in my suitcase, yet roomy enough to hold everything I need. I’ve accumulated several cute cosmetics bags this way, so I have my pick whenever I travel!

Eye Makeup

Eye palettes are perfect for travel. I find that palettes provide me with lots of options for a day look or evening look, using warm shades or cool shades. The Too Faced Natural Eyes Palette is great for this. It contains neutral eye shadows in both warm and cool tones and in both matte and shimmery finishes.

Eye shadow primer is a must for me, so I toss my Urban Decay Anti-Aging Eyeshadow Primer Potion in my bag. It’s small enough to travel with and I don’t have to be without it.

Two eye pencils are good to bring with your palette. A brown shade, like the Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Eye Pencil in Coffee and a charcoal gray shade, like MAC Eye Kohl in Phone Number will go with all of the shades in a neutral palette.

Small trial size mascaras are so easy to find now! You can either get them in the latest cosmetics gift with purchase, purchase a smaller travel size, or even purchase a kit of trial size mascaras. My Nars Audacious Mascara is from a kit that I got a Sephora.

For brows, eye pencil travels well. I like my Sania’s Brow Bar Mechanical Eye Pencil. It has the pencil on one end and a spoolie brush on the other end (so there’s your spooly brush to groom your brows).


Since I pack an eye palette that gives me warm and cool options, I like to bring both a warm and cool blush with me as well. The Urban Decay Naked Flushed Blush Palette in Strip  is good for when I want to wear a rosy, pinkish blush. This palette contains the blush, a highlighter and a bronzer. For a warmer look Manna Kadar Blush in Paradise is a pretty option. I have this shade in a sample size that I got in my Ipsy bag. While regular sized makeup items are usually small enough, sample sizes are great to travel with!

Lip Color

To go with my blush, I also pack at least one warm lip color and one cool lip color. By Terry TerryBly Velvet Rouge Lip Color in Lady Bare is a beautiful warm lip color. It’s comfortable to wear and I love how the color looks! I also love Clinique Pop Matte Lip Colour in Blushing Pop when I want to wear a cooler palette.

It’s good to be efficient by bringing a neutral lip pencil and clear lip gloss so that you have to only pack one of each. MAC Lip Liner in Boldly Bare is a great neutral lip pencil to wear with both colors. I pretty much use this shade with all of my lip colors because it’s similar to the color of my lips. Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Crystal is a great clear lip gloss for adding shine to any lip shade.

Foundation, Concealer and Powder

Of course, I wouldn’t forget my foundation, concealer and powder! Most of the time, I just pack my full size foundation in my travel makeup bag. Foundations are usually small enough and don’t take up a whole lot of room in my bag. Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation + Concealer is great because it provides good coverage but doesn’t have to look heavy if you just apply a little bit.

Even though Clinique Beyond Perfecting is a foundation and concealer all-in-one, I also like to use a regular concealer. Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Concealer is a good one and travels well.

Loose powder is my powder formulation of choice, so I do seek out smaller containers for powder.  Loose powder usually comes in a container that can take up too much room in my travel makeup bag. I currently have a sample of Dermablend Professional Loose Setting Powder, which is the perfect size for travel. Once I’m finished with the sample, I can use the container to decant my regular powder when packing for a trip.

BeautyBlender is a must, so I also pop that in my travel makeup bag. I like keep the original container it comes in, because it’s handy for travel. It’s still important to keep a BeautyBlender clean when traveling, so I take BeautyBlender Blendercleanser Solid with me. It travels well because it’s just like a bar of soap! My advice here is to not clean your BeautyBlender on the day that you’re traveling. You don’t want to pack a damp BeautyBlender in your makeup bag!

Makeup brushes are also important. I have a set of travel makeup brushes that I’ve been traveling with for years. They have brushes on either side, so I have eight brushes that take the room of just four brushes! I’m not sure whether these brushes are still available, but the brand is Essence of Beauty. I purchased them at CVS. I highly recommend investing in a set of travel makeup brushes.


I usually tuck my fragrance in my travel makeup bag. Scentbird is perfect for travel! It’s a subscription service where you receive a rollerball-sized fragrance spray for $14.95 per month. With your first order you get a travel-friendly case for your fragrance. You can pack either Scentbird, a rollerball or a fragrance sample from your latest cosmetics or fragrance purchase, since they don’t take up much room in your bag.

Packing Liquids

It’s important to keep in mind that if you carry on your makeup bag (rather than check it in your baggage), you’ll have to comply with TSA limits for all liquids, gels, creams, pastes and aerosols. (It’s best to check with your airline every time you travel to make sure you’re in compliance with the latest rules.) The current size limit (as of the date of publication of this post) is 3.4 oz. or less per item. You’ll need to place all of these items in a clear plastic bag that is no larger than one quart. Keep this separate and take them out of your bag to screen when going through airport security.

If you pack your makeup in your checked baggage, you don’t have to worry about sizes. But definitely place any liquids, creams, or gels in separate plastic bags to prevent any possible leaks from damaging other items in your bag.

For more ideas, see my What’s In My Travel Makeup Bag video and Cathy at Catharine’s Life’s What’s In My Travel Makeup Bag video.



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