Best 28 Travel Makeup Options: Pack These in Your Travel Makeup Bag

Nasreen Stump Avatar

View of the makeup aisle in a drugstore.
You can lose hours in a drugstore makeup aisle looking at options. We save you time with our tried and trusted picks for best travel makeup. Photo credit: Nasreen Stump

You may have your beauty routine perfected. You’ve found your favorite products, you’re brand loyal and you know what works. Heading on a trip though? That can change everything. Beauty products may only be optimal for specific climates. We’re here to run you through the very best travel makeup products to add to your makeup collection. And of course we’ll share travel size options that are TSA-friendly.

If you’ve ever stood in the beauty aisle at a major drugstore you know how overwhelming all of the choices can be. We’ve rounded up the ones that work well for travel, have great ratings and that we buy again and again. Most of these items can be found on Amazon. Don’t forget to put together multiple makeup items in one order and click Subscribe and Save for sizable discounts!

1. e.l.f. Holy Hydration! Skin Daily Moisturizer

E.l.f. is a fantastic easily accessible brand that can be found in most drugstores. When you’re traveling, especially by air, your skin can suffer. It’s super important to practice good skincare and lock in extra moisture whenever possible.

Why e.l.f. Holy Hydrations! is the Best Travel Moisturizer

  • Under $10
  • TSA-friendly 2.6 oz size (larger ones are available if traveling by car)
  • Very lightweight and perfect for your nighttime routine
  • Aloe vera and jojoba ingredients are soothing to dry or sunburnt skin
  • Great for sensitive skin

2. RunnerUp: CeraVe Ultralight Moisturizing Lotion with Sunscreen

If you’ve got sensitive skin or want to make sure you’re getting SPF on your face when you moisturize, CeraVe is a fantastic choice. This gentle formula is the perfect beauty essential to pack in your travel makeup bag.

Why CeraVe Ultralight with Sunscreen is a Must-Have Moisturizer

  • SPF 30 protects your face from UVA and UVB rays
  • Paraben-free, fragrance-free and noncomedogenic formula
  • Not greasy and won’t leave a white residue
  • Moisturizes and contains ceramides to promote continued hydration of the skin

3. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Primer and Serum

Have you ever spontaneously bought a new primer or foundation and then been disappointed when you used them? Maybe they seemed to react to each other? I know I’ve had this happen. That’s because primers and foundations need to be matched. The ingredients in some gel-based foundations and mattifying formulas may flake on top of certain smoothing primers. Always test your picks together before packing your cosmetic bag for a trip.

Primer can lay down a great base for the best looking makeup however make sure you’re matching your primer to the climate as well. Using a putty-type or gripping primer in a hot destination can cause it to settle into pores and imperfections giving your skin the texture of an orange peel (yuck). We’ll give out two Bests in this category – one for hot climates and one for chillier vacays.

Why Neutrogena Hydro Boost is the Best Primer for Cold Weather

  • Pulls double duty as a primer and a serum, saving room in your makeup bag
  • Dropper with vial top seals tightly to prevent spills in transit
  • Contains hyaluronic acid which moisturizes and gives a light glow
  • Perfect for under makeup or on days you want to look healthy, dewy and fresh without makeup

4. e.l.f. Tone Adjusting Primer

This product glides on so smoothly and feels so luxurious that you would never guess that it’s a $10 bargain buy. It’s ideal for neutralizing redness and masking skin imperfections. When visiting a humid climate it’s pretty common to have minor skin flair ups or redness. The green tones will make you picture perfect despite what the sun is attempting to do to you!

Why e.l.f. Tone Adjusting Primer is the Best Primer for Hot Climates

  • Good for both dry and oily skin
  • Can be used as a base with no makeup on top just to even redness
  • A little goes a long way! One pump is enough.
  • e.l.f. as a brand has a fair trade certified factory, produces vegan products and is certified cruelty-free
  • Slightly smaller travel size is available but we love that the larger size is also under 3.4 oz

Too Faced Shadow Insurance 24 Hour Wear – 6 mL / 0.20 Fl Oz White
$22.99 $20.92 ($104.60 / Ounce)
Buy Now
03/10/2024 04:51 am GMT

5. Bonus: Too Faced Shadow Insurance Primer

While you don’t need an eyelid primer, it is a good idea if you’ll be wearing eye shadow. This primer is the superglue of the makeup world. It essentially coats your eyelid so that shadow sticks to it and doesn’t move. Looking for a version with no shimmer? This Too Faced option has a natural finish but is applied with a wand.

Why Too Faced Shadow Insurance Eye Shadow Primer is the Best Primer for Times You Might Cry

  • Locks down your eye shadow – trust me it isn’t going anywhere
  • A must if your plans include shimmery eyeshadow- you don’t want glitter in your eyeball
  • Expecting a proposal? Heading to a big emotional event? Or going to be in the cold with watery eyes? This one step will save your eye makeup appearance in photos.
  • Don’t want to do full eye makeup? Use a bit by itself, it will give lids a neutral shimmer  
  • Fantastic for mature or oily skin to keep shadows from settling into creases in an obvious way

6. Ecotools Retractable Makeup Brush and Eye Enhancing Set

When traveling there are two “categories” of makeup brushes that I bring with me. I take a shadow brush and angled brush to do eye shadow and liner. I also carry a large fluffy brush for powder and blush. Over the years I’ve discovered that finding the perfect travel version of each in the same set is not likely. Finding the best one individually though? Easy. These brushes work well with a huge variety of makeup. Just be sure to clean them both regularly.

Why These Two Ecotools are the Perfect Travel Makeup Brush Combo

  • Soft cruelty-free bristles on the retractable makeup brush
  • Retractable bristles with a cover ensure that the brush stays intact and clean during travel
  • Eye enhancing set comes with two brushes that are perfect for lining and shadow
  • Having two lets you bring one and save one as a backup for later
  • Bristles stay in place and don’t shed on all brushes

7. RunnerUp: 4-in-1 Physicians Formula Makeup Brush

If you want one brush that does it all the 4-in-1 Physicians Formula Makeup Brush is a great pick. Personally, I like having a full handle to hold onto but this brush is one I’ll occasionally make an exception for when space is tight.

Why Physicians Formula 4-in-1 Makeup Brush is our RunnerUp

  • The softest synthetic bristles ever that won’t fall out
  • Easy screw-on, screw-off sections last longer than ones that snap on and off
  • Great price point
  • Brushes don’t have covers so grab a silicone container to carry it in, especially if it will be in your purse

8. Catrice HD Liquid Coverage Foundation

Surely I’m not the only one who seeks out makeup produced in countries with more stringent regulations than the US? This Italian-made liquid foundation adheres to EU cosmetic regulations, ensuring that more than 1,500 banned ingredients aren’t utilized. By contrast, the US only bans 11 ingredients!

Why Catrice HD Liquid Coverage is A Favorite for Travel

  • Vial and dropper screws on tight preventing leaking during adventures
  • Long-lasting with a finish that’s matte but looks airbrushed
  • Since you only need a few drops the container lasts a long time
  • 23 colors available

Read More: How Many Ounces Can You Bring on a Plane

9. Laura Geller Baked Balance-n-Brighten Powder Foundation

Powder foundation can be a great option for travel. You don’t have to fit it into your liquids bag if you aren’t checking luggage and you don’t need to worry about the item oozing out after air pressure impacts it. This pigmented mineral-based powder allows you to build to the level of coverage that you desire.

Why Laura Geller Baked Balance-n-Brighten is Our RunnerUp Foundation

  • Apply with different brushes to get different coverage levels (kabuki for light, dense for more coverage)
  • Light, silky feel for a no-makeup makeup look
  • Runs a bit darker in almost every shade we’ve seen so order a shade lighter than your normal foundation
  • Fantastic for people who don’t want to pack concealer and are looking for a color balancing foundation

Makeup Tip: Compacts can be messy if they get banged around during travel breaking the powder. Put a foam applicator (or several cotton rounds) between the cover and the powder to fill the space and prevent breakage. You can also put them into small squeeze purses to protect them more. We love these ones, which are also great for earbuds and jewelry.

10. Mally Beauty Plush Pen Brightening Concealer Stick

Concealer is one of those makeup items that either makes or breaks your look. There are so many cheap concealers out there that actually impact your final look negatively! If you’re going to use concealer spend a little more for a quality formula. It will pay off in the long run.

Why Mally Beauty Brightening Concealer Stick is the Best Travel Concealer

  • Sponge-like applicator tip won’t tug on delicate under eye area like a wand applicator
  • Ideal for those with olive, yellow or warm undertones
  • Perfect travel size
  • Amazing at concealing under eye circles and giving you an awake look, even when you’re not

11. RunnerUp: Tarte Creaseless Undereye Concealer

If your skin tone veers closer to neutral or cool, the Tarte Creaseless Undereye Concealer is a better choice. The formula changed in the last couple of years and is thicker. You don’t need much but I’d recommend dabbing it on your finger to swipe on versus using the applicator.

Why Tarte Creaseless Undereye Concealer is Also a Favorite

  • Heavy coverage for problematic undereye circles
  • Waterproof
  • Formula creates a dewy appearance giving a youthful and refreshed look
  • Lasts a surprisingly long time because you need so little

12. Rimmel London Natural Bronzer

Looking for a sun-kissed head start? Rimmel London’s Natural Bronzer is a great, affordable bronzer to have on standby.

Why Rimmel London Natural Bronzer is our Favorite

  • Under $5
  • Natural-looking shades that work for most skin tones
  • SPF 15
  • Waterproof

13. Han Skincare 3-in-1 Multistick

This product can pull triple duty in your travel makeup kit as blush, lip color and eye color. Sticks are a great option for blush because they’re easy to pack.

Why Han Skincare 3-in-1 Multistick is the Best Blush for Travel

  • 8 shades available
  • Darker shades can also be used for contouring
  • Cruelty-free, vegan and made in the USA
  • Smooth texture
  • Lasts for a long time – a little goes a long way

14. RunnerUp: Covergirl Instant Cheekbones Contouring Blush Palette

If you’re looking for options or contouring from your blush, this Covergirl palette is a great choice. Pair it with one of our makeup brush recommendations. 

Why Covergirl Instant Cheekbones is our RunnerUp Blush

  • Dermatologist tested to be safe for sensitive skin
  • Blendable formula
  • 3 complementary shades
  • Affordable

15. L’Oreal Paris Lash Paradise Mascara

Years ago I was told I had long lashes and “wasn’t I lucky that I’d never have to worry about mascara!” Well, I didn’t wear mascara until my late 20s and that’s when I learned that mascara isn’t all about long lashes. It’s about looking awake! Mascara has been in my makeup bag ever since so that I look like I’m bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. The best mascaras provide a lift and definition to your eyes without clumpy, raccoon-like side effects.

Why Lash Paradise by L’Oreal Paris is the Best Travel Mascara

  • Doesn’t flake or clump
  • Washable formulas are great for travel so you don’t have to pack heavy-duty cleansers
  • Water fun on the list? Pick a waterproof option of Lash Paradise.
  • Goes on incredibly smoothly and doesn’t require extra brushing or fussing

16. RunnerUp: e.l.f. Clear Brow and Lash Mascara

If you’re headed to an off-the-beaten-path destination or a super-humid destination sometimes mascara is more work than it’s worth. Humidity and sweat combine to make mascara fight to stay in place. Don’t have black smudged eyes in photos. When you want to look put together but not worry about looking like a bandit in photos, turn to clear mascara.

Why We Love e.l.f. Clear Brow and Lash Mascara

  • Clear formula defines eyelashes but doesn’t smudge
  • 2-sided wand allows you to also have brow gel available
  • 100% cruelty-free and vegan
  • Super affordable price point

17. L’Oreal Paris Infallible Grip Precision Felt Eyeliner

When it comes to eyeliner, you want a product that’s easy to use, hard to smudge and that lasts. This L’Oreal Paris eyeliner checks all of those boxes. It might be just me but if I’m going to lose or ruin a product on a getaway, it’s eyeliner. The price point on this one makes it a good pick to keep several colors (or backups) on hand.

Why L’Oreal Infallible Grip Precision Felt is the Best Eyeliner

  • 4 Star and above rating by 92% of purchasers
  • Waterproof formula
  • Pointy felt tip gives you a precise application
  • Comes in black, brown, grey, green and blue
  • Good for sensitive eyes/skin

18. RunnerUp: Covergirl Perfect Point Plus Eyeliner

In travel, anything that saves space or eliminates another item is a win for us. Covergirl has been around forever. For many of us, it might even be the first brand we ever used. Their Perfect Point Plus eyeliner comes with a smudge stick on one end for those smoky eye looks on the go!

Why We Also Love Covergirl Perfect Point Plus Eyeliner

  • Self-sharpening design eliminates the need to pack an eyeliner pencil sharpener
  • Five color options
  • Blendable formula can create both precise and smoky looks
  • Super easy to apply

19. Revlon Illuminance Creme Eye Shadow Palette

Eye shadow is always one of the trickier travel makeup items, especially if you’re a traveler who loves variety. If you’ve got eye shadow palettes at home where you use only one or two colors, the space they take up can seem like a waste. In addition, the makeup cases on traditional palettes can bust open and leave a mess. Cream eye shadow can be a great choice for travel!

Why We Love Revlon Illuminance Creme Eye Shadow

  • Pocket-sized and easy to pack
  • Ophthalmologist-tested and good for sensitive eyes and skin
  • Eight great color options including shimmer, neutral and bold
  • Buildable pigmented shades- just add more layers for more saturated results
  • All palettes contain a mirror
Image of a Sephora Pocket Palette (Sun  Shadows), one of the best travel makeup options.
Picking an eyeshadow palette that includes neutrals and shimmer takes you from day to night. Photo credit: Nasreen Stump

20. RunnerUp: Sephora Golden Hour Eye Shadow Palette

Sephora palettes can be a great travel option. They’re constantly putting out new color options and themed palettes. One of the other great things is that they aren’t hard plastics they’re less prone to shatter and leave you with a powdery mess. You can pop them into a ziplock bag for safekeeping.

Why We Love Sephora Eye Shadow Palettes

  • Great mix of matte, shimmer and metallic shadows in one palette
  • Perfect size for travel
  • 6 shades to choose from
  • Palette slides in and out of heavy cardboard case

Read More: 22 Best Travel Eye Shadow Palettes

21. Rimmel Stay Glossy Lip Gloss

As a huge fan of lip gloss, I’ve tried hundreds over the years. While I prefer a tube of lip oil in my daily life, they aren’t ideal for travel. Tubes pressurize on flights and when you open them they start uncontrollably oozing. It’s not a headache you want to deal with. Wanded lip glosses are great for travel and this Rimmel one is the best of the bunch.

Why Rimmel Stay Glossy is the Best Travel Lip Gloss

  • Wide range of color choices that look good on many skin tones
  • Stays on for 6 hours with no touch-ups
  • The wet look is great for when you want to give the impression that you did your makeup without wearing a full face
  • When choosing a color, assume it’s slightly lighter than pictured

22. NYX Professional Butter Gloss in Sugar Glass

If you’re looking for the perfect clear gloss this is it! Most of us have used NYX for years. With its affordable price point, you can keep one in every cosmetic case and makeup bag you have so you’re always ready for your next trip.

Why NYX Professional Butter Gloss is the Best Clear Lip Gloss

  • Smooth formula that isn’t sticky
  • Cruelty-free company
  • Super light scent and no harsh taste if you accidentally lick your lips
  • Sheer colors are also available

23. Aquaphor Lip Repair Lip Balm

Yes, we’ve got lip gloss and lip balm on the packing list! Did you know your lips can sunburn? Whether you’re in a hot climate or a cold one, sore lips are never fun on a vacation! We swear by Aquaphor for quick relief.

Why Aquaphor Lip Repair is a Must-Have for Travelers

  • Seals in moisture and provides long-lasting relief
  • Slanted tip provides easy application
  • #1 dermatologist recommended lip brand

24. Beauty Bakerie Flour Setting Powder

Y’all I didn’t even have to think about what my favorite setting powder was. It is Beauty Bakerie Flour powder hands down. Their translucent powder sits on top of a made-up face locking all of your hard work in like nothing else I’ve found. It’s smooth and works every time. You only need a little bit so splurge!

Why Beauty Bakerie Flour is the Best Setting Powder

  • Lightweight and super smooth
  • Adorable themed packaging
  • Matte finish kicks your look up a notch
  • Vegan paraben-free ingredients
  • Wide range of powders available to match all skin tones
  • Black-owned business

25. Skindavia- The Makeup Finishing Spray 16+ Hour Setting Spray

Setting spray is a makeup must-have for me. Honestly, I don’t know how I lived for so long without it. My first exposure to it was when it came in a Beauty Bakerie mystery box I ordered. Living in Texas the humidity would melt my face off on some days. Not when I locked it all in with setting spray though! Unfortunately, they discontinued theirs so I’ve had to test out other brands to find a replacement.

The best setting sprays use an even fine mist. You don’t want one wet spot on a cheek and no spray on your forehead. A lot of travel sizes have pump sprayers vs pressurized so be sure to “practice” before your trip.

Why Skindavia Makeup Finishing Spray is the Best Travel Setting Spray

  • Used by makeup artists to lock in looks for long days and nights
  • Great for all climates – moisturizing helps on ski trips and oil control helps with hot and humid spots
  • Doesn’t settle into wrinkles and imperfections like some setting sprays
  • Convenient travel size

Makeup Tip: Tropical getaway in a super humid climate? Spray after applying your foundation, concealer and contouring. Let it dry. Complete the rest of your makeup and spray it again. It will keep your makeup in place all day and night!

26. Neutrogena Makeup Remover Towelettes

An important part of a makeup routine is removing your makeup at the end of the day. However, makeup-removing wipes are usually packaged in a way that is anything but travel-friendly. They are bulky, have flaps that don’t actually reseal and sometimes leak liquid. For quick trips where you only need three or four wipes, bringing a big full-size pack seems like overkill. These individually packaged wipes are perfect to keep on hand for trips as they come up.

Why Neutrogena Makeup Remover Towelettes are Perfect for Travel

  • Individual packages make it easy to pack only what you need for the trip, saving space
  • Wipes remove even waterproof and water-resistant makeup
  • Ophthalmologist, dermatologist and allergist tested
  • Compostable
  • Full-sized wipe

27. RunnerUp: Juno & Co Exfoliating Face Wash

If you have never tried a powder-to-foam cleanser as a part of your skincare product routine, you’ve been missing out! The first time I saw a powder-to-foam product was when one showed up in a subscription box. You shake a little powder into your hand, add some water and lather it into a creamy foam. It’s perfect for travel. You can dose out a little bit into travel containers based on how long you’ll be gone.

Why Juno & Co Exfoliating Face Wash is the RunnerUp Makeup Remover

  • Removes makeup, cleanses and exfoliates at the same time
  • Hypoallergenic and great for sensitive skin
  • Leaves skin feeling clean and fresh
  • Great for travel since it doesn’t have to go in your toiletry bag of liquid products

28. Majestic Bombay Fine Point & Slant Tweezer Set

Tweezers are a must-have for any trip. Whether you need to tame some eyebrows or pull out a splinter, they’re good to have with you. You may think that all tweezers are created equal, but they’re not. A lot of the generic drugstore ones don’t get the best grip on hair. We have a favorite set that locks onto any hair they find.

Why Majestic Bombay is our Favorite Tweezer Set

  • Set comes with slant tweezers and point tweezers
  • One of the best pair of point tweezers we’ve found, super accurate
  • Fun bright colors available

Picking the Best Travel Makeup For Your Style

Makeup is a deeply personal decision. Different people like different looks, have different skin tones, have aversions to different textures or have different skin needs. In the long run, you are the one who needs to be happy with your choices. Hopefully, this list gets you started as you pack the carry-on for your next adventure. Happy travels!

Nasreen’s adventures started out as business travel. Working as a territory sales manager she covered 21 states during her tenure, traveling 3-5 nights a week. As she visited new cities and states, she always worked in a quick stop at a unique or iconic site. A travel writing career was born. When her father-in-law’s cancer came back she started writing and consulting full-time around his chemotherapy schedule. Traveling with her firefighter/paramedic husband, kids, friends and solo allows her to cover a variety of situations and topics. Her four kids (19 year old boy, 13 year old girl, 11 year old girl and 7 year old boy) are professionals at the cross country road trip. After 10 years in Texas, their family is back in the Northeast exploring both familiar and new destinations. There she runs her own business providing go-to-market, sales strategy, podcast, and content marketing consulting for websites and B2B businesses. Whenever possible she writes for a variety of publications in the podcast, travel, and business space. Connect with her on LinkedIn to chat about travel, content, sales, and podcasts!
Read full bio

Leave a Reply

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