Travel Beauty Booty: Make-Up Bags on the Move

I like to believe I’m all about the paring down.

Then I take one look in the mirror and laugh heartily at myself. I plaster copious amounts of products declaring themselves to have that skin-like, no make-up feel onto my face every day; spending far to much time and effort than is necessary trying to perfect that “natural” look. I’m a skincare and makeup junkie. And I’m refusing to admit I might have a problem. 

I should probably be clear on one thing at this point, however:

I am not, nor ever will I be a fan of the caked on, masked lady, uber Barbie look. But I am a girlie girl who loves her slap, despite doing a job that can involve steel toe capped boots and dirty hands (think Flashdance, but substitute the welding get up for a hard hat and a high-vis coat)! Maybe it’s only natural that a girl immersed in what’s considered to be a profession for the boys would choose to rebel outside of the workplace. (And I’m not ashamed to admit to wearing pink now and again, either.)

Make Up Drawer

I don’t have a make-up bag at home. I have a make-up drawer (don’t judge me). This photo is in black and white to try to make the quantity of products less disturbing.

As usual, I digress…

The question here is what cosmetics do we really need to take with us when we’re away?

I’m talking day to night looks which can be created from a stash of products that won’t mean you have no room in your luggage for anything else besides one bikini and a flimsy cotton kaftan (flip flops optional). It’s taken time, but I’ve decided I’ve finally got it down. And from someone who owns nearly as many lipsticks as she does pairs of shoes (oh, if you only knew), I hope I can speak with a reasonable amount of authority!

I’m a part-time traveller, so there’s no long term backpacking on my travel horizon, and with that in mind, here’s my essential kit for breaks that usually last between a few nights to two weeks:

I’m trying to make sure I’m packing carry on only these days, so there are no “just in case” products here. And obviously nothing over 100ml.

Compact Foundation

What you choose is largely dependent on your skin type, but I’m currently loving DiorSkin Nude Natural Glow Creme Gel Makeup. It’s not too dry, has a bare, skin like coverage and comes in a shade light enough to suit my pale and interesting complexion. I don’t need powder with this, so I’m leaving that at home.

Eye Shadow Quad

To get the most versatility out of an eye shadow compact, I usually go for a quad. Although I have a gorgeous natural eye kit from Too Faced that’s also an excellent multi-occasion winner. Whichever brand you go for, don’t be afraid to mix the shades to change up your look.

Too Faced Natural Eyes

An ultimate any occasion eye palette.


If you really do want to go bare-faced, this is always going to be the one thing that you really will benefit from packing. It should be in any make up kit, and all the light-reflecting under eye concealer in the world won’t save you from a sleepless night if you don’t have any mascara. I’m packing a plum shade these days. I like black for an evening, but for multi-tasking, I prefer something less harsh. Plus the purple is excellent for emphasizing my green eyes.


I’d usually only pack this in summer, but the right shade doubles up as a blush quite easily, making it an all year round product.The key is the right mix of sparkle and matte. There are plenty of half and half style compacts around (Estee Lauder springs to mind) to give you extra versatility if you think you need it. Personally, I’m keen to try Chanel’s new Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder.

Looks like a stop at the Duty-Free is in order.

Chanel Les Beiges

Chanel’s new Les Beiges – soon to be tried by moi.


This does help banish those shadows and cover those pesky spots, and you never know when you’ll need it, so it’s going in the bag. Plus, it doesn’t need to be a bulky product – think Bobbi Brown’s Face Touch Up Stick. Smaller than a lipstick, it’s a no-brainer. That said, if I know I’m off somewhere I’ll be regularly getting less than my eight hours of sleep, I’ll bite the bullet and pack something designed for under eye brightening, too.


I’m old school. Gloss alone just doesn’t do it for me. And no matter how many I try, when you have long hair you like to wear loose, a gust of wind will always mean you end up on the verge of snacking between meals on your tresses. Sticky lips and long locks do not a good combination make. So I’m taking a peachy, nude lipstick in a light weight formula. And despite being the owner of so, so many, I’m investing in and recommending Chanel’s Rouge Coco collection. My current favourite shade: Chintz

Chanel Rouge Coco - Chintz

My Fave! And the “click” of a Chanel lippy is the sound of sophistication

Brush Kit

There are so many fabulous mini brush collections available at all price points (Bobbi Brown and Dior are just two brands with great, space saving kits). And a good eyeliner brush used with the darkest shade of your eyeshadow compact will mean you avoid the need for eyeliner itself. Applying your products with good brushes will also help them last longer, so you can worry less about stuff slipping off your eye lids and more about doing your travel thing.

Bobbi Brown Travel Brushes

The right tools for the job are always a good idea!

Though these are my absolute essentials,it’s worth noting that if I know I’ll be dressing to impress, I might throw in some shimmery highlighter (it’s all about the cheekbones) and a red lippy, although this list is really all you need.

I might be a high maintenance kind of gal, but there’s no way I’d spend hours in the morning in front of a hotel mirror when there’s a new destination waiting to be explored.

So what’s in your travel make-up bag? Share your must-haves in the comments!



  • Lucy says:

    I’m pretty low maintenance on the make-up front but there’s a few things I always carry – a foundation stick (though I like the idea of the gel one you mention), pressed powder (in a compact that doubles up as a mirror), dark brown eyeliner and a clear mascara (I have unruly eyebrows!). Then maybe a blusher/bronzer and eyeshadow set for evenings. One thing I am oddly obsessed with though is painting my toenails, they’re always a silvery colour and I carried nail varnish and some removal pads around the world with me even when I was an otherwise scruffy backpacker!

    • Clare says:

      The Dior gel is pretty good, I have to say – I find powder foundations can be a bit heavy so it’s a nice alternative (it’s a beautiful compact too, the kind of thing you want to wave about!).

      I know what you mean about toenails – mine are bright red at the mo – I don’t think I’ve seen them bare for longer than it takes to re-do them in about 10 years! I love nail colour on my fingers, too – but I never bother when I’m away from home. No matter how many different top coats I try, it always chips (Seche Vite is the best I’ve found though – Boots sell it and it dries in 60 secs).

  • Just like you Clare, I don’t like to wear too much makeup and feel like I’m wearing a mask. But of course I bring some things on the road, even if I keep it simple! đŸ™‚ There’s always a mascara, eye shadow, eyeliner, and lip gloss in my cosmetics bag.

    • Clare says:

      Yours definitely sounds like a “less is more” travel make-up bag! And that can only be a good thing! Sometimes I think the mascara is all you need!

      Thanks, Pola!

  • Aeroplane and Apparel says:


    I am so glad I found your blog. It’s so nice to learn from you. I hope you will come visit me, you might like the travel part….

    Much Love

  • Naomi says:

    I’m not great with makeup so I’m all about the BB cream. Kills lots of birds with one stone, a quick swish of mascara (Avon do a really good one weirdly) and Carmex lipsalve and I’m good to go. I always manage to lose my Carmex which is gutting because it doesn’t seem to be available in many countries. Chapstick is no substitute!

    • Clare says:

      I LOVE Carmex – I can’t find mine and I’ve been having a right moan! Where do they go?

      I think I really need to try BB cream (I haven’t yet, despite trying nearly everything else under the sun). Do you recommend a particular brand?

      As for Avon – I think they’ve really upped their game in recent years! I’ve used one of their mascaras, too!

      Thanks for reading, Naomi!

  • Vanessa says:

    Great article! I’m doing a carry-on only round-the-world, so I have to keep make-up to an absolute minimum. So far, the list includes one (or maybe two??) NARS Multiple Stick(s), Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey (yep, like the rest of the world), an eye shadow duo, an eye pencil, and mascara. Will stick with a tinted moisturizer w SPF for my skin (still deciding on which brand), and some of the Body Shop’s mineral face blotting/powder tissues.

    I also carry EOS lip balm, Simpatico solid perfume, and a nail buffer

    • Clare says:

      Thanks Vanessa! Glad you liked it! Sounds like you have the minimalista make-up bag sorted for your trip (btw – show me a gal who doesn’t like Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey and I’ll eat several of my holiday hats)!

  • Jo says:

    Hi Clare. My two key packing tips for cosmetics and skincare, are multitasking products, and samples. I always take my Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser that is also an SPF15, so does triple duty. I don’t wear lipstick but always take a lip balm. I collect gift with purchase samples. I find they are often big enough to last a trip for a couple of weeks. If you travel in a premium air cabin the goodies in their amenity kits are often good to use on future trips.

    Great post.

    • Clare says:

      Multi tasking all the way! It’s one of the reasons I love Vaseline. I’ve also just discovered Dior BB cream which has high SPF and loads of people have commented on my skin, which makes me very happy! It’s my 32nd birthday next week and I am starting to get skin obsessed. Aaargh.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *