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30 Days to Packing a Better Bag – Day 18: The Essential Travel Beauty Kit

Day 18: The Essential Beauty Kit (for light travelers)

Welcome to Day 18 of 30 Days to Packing a Better Bag.

When determining what should go into your essential travel beauty kit, you have to decide what type of traveler you are. Are you a low key traveler who is fine with lip balm and tinted moisturizer? Or are you a fashionista who prefers to bring all the pieces including every shade of eye shadow and lipstick? As with every other packing list, start with the basics and build your essential beauty kit from there. Look for items that can double up, like blush and lip color or brown pencils.

We at Her Packing List like to keep our beauty kit as simple as possible, and you should, too! Why? Because travel makes you happy, and happy people are beautiful!

Tweet that mantra out right now!

Day 18:  The Essential Travel Beauty Kit (for light travelers)
We travel light at Her Packing List and believe that less is more in the beauty kit. In this case, our beauty pouch is the Tom Bihn Clear Organizer Pouch. Inside: Aroamas solid perfume stick, mascara, brown eye liner, eye shadow, eye brush and lip balm. Missing: solid sunscreen stick and tweezers. The BB Cream acts as a foundation and moisturizer, so we are going to put that in our toiletries (or liquids) bag. If going carry-on only, the mascara may need to go in liquids bag as well.

The Basics

Sunscreen – This should be on your packing list no matter what time of year, no matter what destination. You don’t want to worry about wrinkles or sun spots later in life. Go with a stick form sunscreen to cut back on those liquids!

Lip balm – I pack a small container of Vaseline since I have sensitive skin, but any sort of lip moisture will be better than none. Go with a lip balm with SPF to give your lips some added sun protection.

BB Cream – Packing BB cream is a great way to keep your items low, as it is like lotion, sunscreen and foundation built into one.

Eyeliner or brown pencil – Use your eyeliner as a brow pencil and lip liner if it’s in a lighter shade.

Mascara – Find a travel sized tube of mascara available at beauty stores like Sephora and Ulta and commonly given away with big purchases. It’s a small item that can make your eyes stand out.

Concealer – A small container of concealer is good for hiding those blemishes.

Face wash – Always wash off your makeup to keep your skin clear. You can use liquid wash or even wipes, as long as you have something. We covered this item in our essential toiletries kit yesterday, so hopefully you don’t forget that one!

essential travel beauty kit - different carrying options
Eye make-up remover. The wipes can double as face and body wipes.

Tweezers – Keep your eyebrows in check with a pair of tweezers. These can also come in handy for medical related things (like removing splinters).

Clippers and Nail file – Find some small clippers and a couple disposable files to travel with.


Eyeshadow – A simple palette with at least three colors should suffice, which will allow you to mix shades. A reader suggested putting broken eyeshadow in contacts cases to reuse them.

Perfume – Try a solid perfume to save on liquids such as those from Lush or Aroamas!

Lipstick – We rarely pack lipstick, but if you prefer some color on your lips, throw in a tube. Perhaps a tinted lip balm will be the better option while traveling.

Powder – Compacts are more difficult to pack as there’s the risk of breakage, but if you bring it, make sure there’s something in between the mirror and powder, like a brush or cotton ball.

Blush – Not everyone wears blush, but as with the powder, take caution to prevent breakage and spillage in your bag. Consider bringing a color that can double as eye shadow and blush to cut back on space.

Don’t forget: If worried about looks while on the road, just tell yourself that you will never see those people again.

Take Action: The Essential Beauty Kit
Start with the essentials of your beauty kit, like the sunscreen, foundation and mascara. Add whatever else you need to feel fresh and happy at your destination. Remember to place liquids in your TSA regulated plastic bag, which is just another reason to travel with less makeup!

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Gear We Use

speakeasy hidden pocket travel scarf ad
Speakeasy Hidden Pocket Scarves


Splice Jaisalmer Reversible Tunic
Splice Reversible Jaisalmer Tunic


Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes
Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes


tom bihn 3d organizer toiletry bag
Tom Bihn 3D Organizer Cube


Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack - Fits in the palm of your hand!
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack


Turkish Travel Towels


Travel Resources

HPL Learnables

Handbag Packing Masterclass – Learn to pack your lightest bag ever in this revolutionary packing class run by HPL founder, Brooke.

Creative Ways to Minimize Your Toiletry & Beauty Kit – Practical tips alongside DIY recipes designed to help you pack lighter, smaller & with fewer liquids. (Also included as a bonus to Handbag Packing Masterclass.)

Book Your Trip

Viator – Enhance your trip experience by booking from thousands of tours across the globe. – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. Jo says

    I like to keep my day-to-day make-up fairly minimal anyway, so this makes it much easier to just transfer my make-up bag from my everyday purse to my travel bag. It’s just tweezers, small mirror, (set of 3) travel brushes, glass/ crystal nail file, BB cream, translucent powder, mascara, tinted lip balm, eye pencil, neutral shadow and my favourite – Benefit’s Benetint to use as extra blush/lip colour.
    I don’t use everything everyday, but I know its enough for me to feel I’ve covered every occassion.
    I love this series so far – it’s really helping me to get rid of the unnecessary stuff from my travel bags!

  2. Helen says

    I do mainly week-long or less trips with carry-on only and take an eye pencil for every 2 days I’ll be travelling as they get blunt and I can’t take a sharpener because of the blade. I’m always on the lookout for nice retractable pencils! I also take a tiny creme blush rather than powder blush to save taking a blusher brush.

  3. Kristi says

    Awesome post Brooke!

    This will come in handy as I pack for Bali. I’m guilty of taking too many lotions and potions so this is a good reminder that you don’t need everything you have at home especially if you’re going to a warm, sunny place — then the bronzer and blush can stay!

    BB / CC / DD cream is a huge space and time saver! Love multipurpose items 🙂

  4. Holly says

    I actually use a contact lens case or those little “sample” tubs you can get from the makeup counters in places like Nordstrom’s or Macy’s to hold my BB cream, Foundation or, if I must have it, my gel eyeliner. You would be amazed at how much you can fit in those little cases!! I also check eBay or other sites to find .5 oz bottles or tubs. Look for keywords like “cosmetic sample bottle.” You rarely need 1 or 2 oz of a given product for anything less than 10-15 days. If you actually measured how many pumps or squeezes you use for say, shampoo or face wash, you need less than you think. I have 2 separate lists/kits I use for weekend trips and week or more trips. You can save a ton of space if you are strategic about it.

  5. Louise says

    This series has been great especially for me as I’m traveling in November. I always have St Ive’s apricot scrub with me and nothing makes me feel dolled up like mascara, lipstick and a dabb of rollerball perfume so those come too. I normally love my BB cream but this time I’m taking foundation (SPF, powder finish) instead.

  6. Karen says

    You can have your brows dyed too! One less thing to pack. Also Kiss Me mascara which is totally water and heat proof just wipe off so no remover required.

  7. M says

    Some great tips, Brooke!

    I would caution against using a pencil on your eyes that you have used on your lips or elsewhere on your face. This could lead to irritation or infection of the eye and/or surrounding area. It is worth the little bit of extra weight and space to pack a separate lip pencil and brow pencil.

    I love BB creams and the like, but you might consider wearing additional sun protection with them as most people do not typically apply enough of a BB/CC/DD cream to get sufficient sun protection (you should be using 0.25-0.5 tsp of sunscreen on your face alone). And don’t forget to reapply! You don’t only want to prevent burns but skin cancer and photo-aging as well. I like the idea of using a solid sun protection stick if one is available to you.

    For fragrance, if you cannot find a solid scent or prefer not to go that route, you might consider bringing sample-sized vials that you an dispose of once you have used them up. Remember to recycle if possible!

  8. Ruby says

    I like to pack as minimal as possible during traveling so I dont have to think about possibility of accidentally leaving stuff during upacking and repacking. I’m a fan of multi-use tinted products that you can use as lip and cheek stain (and sometimes even on your lids). Bobbi Brown has a very nice Pot Rouge that also comes in a compact with mirror. Anastasia Beverly Hills also have a nice gel shadow for brows that I sometimes use as eye liner.

  9. Jennifer says

    I always pack cuticle clippers (the ones like fingernail clippers) forgot them once on a trip to NYC, and ended up with a ton of painful hangnails. Stopped in a Walgreens, only pair they had was like $20. Also carry a tin of Rose’s salve, works for a ton of stuff, and stick sunscreen (doesn’t have to go in liquids bag).

  10. Sonya says

    I have a compartmentalised toiletry bag from Kathmandu. I use the small zippered section for jewellery and hair ties, etc. The larger zippered section for laundry and miscellaneous items and the zippered, detachable waterproof bag for my toiletries. Thus instead of having 3 separate bags, they are all in one.

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