TRAVEL | What’s In My Travel Makeup Bag

I always think you can tell a lot about someone’s beauty-product preferences by taking a look at their travel makeup bag. I mean, if you’re going to haul a particular product halfway around the world, after all, you must REALLY like it, right? It must be a true, “can’t live without it,” kinda thing, for sure.

As an unashamed over-packer (look, I believe in being prepared, OK?), I have a tendency to find myself getting out of bed the night before a flight, just to try and cram one more item into my already over-stuffed suitcase. When it comes to makeup, though, I’ve been doing my best to try and curb that tendency, partly because I just can’t be bothered hauling my entire makeup collection halfway around the world (and then having to rummage for ages to find that lipstick that always seems to work its way to the very bottom of the bag), but also because hot sun and a ton of makeup aren’t exactly a great combination. I find I wear less makeup anyway when I’m away, and now that I have a baby to deal with (And thus TWO people to get ready every morning), I just don’t have the time any more for a lengthy beauty routine. Or, indeed, the space in my suitcase for a bulging travel makeup bag.

For our trip this week, then, I’ve managed to pare my collection down to just the absolute ESSENTIALS. I’m taking less makeup with me than I ever have before, but I should probably point out here that Max isn’t the only reason I’m able to go “minimal”. Er, FOR ME, at least. No, it’s also because of…

My must-have travel beauty productso1.

I got my eyebrows microbladed back at the start of the year, and I actually just had them topped-up again last month. This was honestly one of the best beauty-related decisions of my life: in fact, my only regret is that I didn’t get it done years ago. It wasn’t cheap, and it wasn’t particularly comfortable having it done, but it means that I wake up with good eyebrows every morning, and, aside from a bit of gentle tweezing, I don’t need to do anything at all to keep them that way.

So, this year I’m not packing an eyebrow pencil, a brow gel or one of those little brushes to keep them in check. I’m also not having to set my alarm for 20 minutes earlier than the already-hellish time I’ll be getting up at to catch my flight, just so I can painstakingly draw in a pair of eyebrows: I mean, what’s not to love, really?

(For anyone interested, I get my brows done by Nikki, who you can find here: I can’t recommend her enough…)

Semi-permanent eyelash extensions

I first tried semi-permanent eyelash extensions before my last trip to the Canary Islands, back in 2016, and, since then, I’ve been getting them re-done every time I go on holiday, basically. It’s a little bit of an extravagance, true, but it’s one I really recommend, because it just saves so much time. So, not only will I be able to ditch the mascara for this trip, I can also forget about packing eye-makeup remover, cotton pads etc, too. So, my suitcase will be lighter, but my eyelashes will look better than they would have if I’d taken all that stuff with me: win-win.

And, with all of that said, here’s what I AM taking with me on my next trip:

Inside my travel makeup bag…


Clarins Sun Wrinkle Control Cream in SPF50

The most important item in the travel makeup bag: this isn’t actually my all-time favourite facial sunscreen (That would be this one by Chanel, which I love, but which I ran out of a few months ago, and didn’t bother replacing as it’s pretty expensive, and I still had this Clarins one to use up. If you don’t mind paying a bit extra, though, go with the Chanel: you will not regret it…), but it does the job, and is easily absorbed, so I don’t end up looking too much like an oil slick. (Just a little bit like an oil slick, then… ) I also have the matching SPF 50 body lotion, and really like it: again, it’s high protection, but without feeling too sun-screeny, if that makes sense? Probably not. Moving on…

The Ordinary Serum Foundation

I reviewed this just a few weeks ago, but forgot to mention that it also has an SPF of 15, so some added protection there – not that I’ll need it, obviously. I don’t always wear foundation during the day on holiday, but, when I do, I like it to be as lightweight as possible, so this is perfect as the serum-like formula never looks caked-on.

Tan-Luxe The Face and The Body Illuminating Self-Tan Drops in Light

These are brand-new purchases – as in, they literally arrived about 20 minutes before I took this photo – so a proper review will have to wait until I get back from my trip, having actually tried them out, but I have high hopes of them. The idea here is that you add a couple of drops of these to your usual skincare or body lotion, and they give your skin a bit of a sunkissed glow, which is totally build-able, depending on how much you use. I don’t normally use self-tanner on my face, but lately I’ve been scaring even myself with the death-mask look, so I thought I’d give these a try, purely to take the edge off the extreme pallor, and take me from ‘pale blue’ to ‘white’.

According to the reviews I’ve read, they’re supposed to create very natural-looking results, without that hideous fake-tan scent. Sounds good, but I wasn’t quite ready to commit to the full-sized/full-priced versions, so I bought these travel-sized versions as a set, to see how I get on with them. I will report back…

Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer

Reviewed here, and just the best budget concealer around, basically.  I am slightly concerned that if the Tan-Luxe products do their jobs they way they claim to, my foundation and concealer will be too light, but, well, there’s not much I can do about it now, and, as I said, I don’t always wear foundation etc on holiday anyway, so I’m sure I’ll either cope, or find a beauty counter somewhere.  Or complain a lot. One of the three, anyway.

NARS ‘The Multiple’ in Orgasm and Copacabana

I use ‘Orgasm’ as blush, and ‘Copacabana’ as highlighter, and have done for years now. I might actually ditch the highlighter on this occasion, though – I’m sure I’ll be shiny enough without it…

Ermana Skincare Cleanse Balm and Revive Face Oil

These were both PR samples I was sent a few weeks ago, and I obviously liked them, given that they’ve made it into the travel makeup bag. At home, I’d generally use more than just two products in my skincare routine, but I like to keep things as simple as possible when I’m travelling: my skin never seems any the worse for it, and we’re only away for a week anyway, so it makes sense to me to streamline my routine, and just take the essentials – in this case, cleanser and a moisturising oil. I will also take an eye cream -I’m still using the Vivo Per Lei one I reviewed earlier in the year – I just forgot to add it to the photo line-up!

travel beauty bag

A look inside my travel makeup bag


So, given that I no longer need to pack either mascara or brow products, all I’m taking with me for eyes is…

Benefit High Brow 

Another product I’ve been using for years, to highlight the arch of the brow, and also on the cupid’s bow of the lips, to create the illusion that I HAVE a cupid’s bow on my lips…

Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Glam Glitter Gel Eye Crayon in Glitterbug 39

This was a PR sample I was sent a few weeks ago, and I’ve used it every day since it arrived – mostly just to tightline my upper eyelids, but sometimes to do a bit of a cat’s eye flick, too, if I’m feeling fancy. This is the product that finally made me understand why people buy high-end eyeliner: until it arrived, I’d assumed that all eye pencils were much of a muchness, really, but, nope! It turns out you get what you pay for, and this one may be a bit pricier than some other brands, but that’s because it’s BETTER than them, too. I mean, it’s thick, smooth, lasts forever, and has a touch of glitter to it, so I could not love it more.


(We’re almost done, I promise…)

Glossier Generation G Sheer Matte Lipstick in Zip

I’ve been using this lip colour ever since Glossier launched in the UK, and am now onto my 3rd tube. (I’m taking two with me because I’m paranoid about losing one: THAT’S how much I like it…) This is my go-to, everyday lipstick, and I like it because it’s red, without being RED, if you know what I mean? Like, it’s a daytime red, rather than a nighttime red, and it goes on really easily, without the need to faff around for ages with lipliner and brushes etc. My one criticism is that it tends to break quite easily, which is why I own three tubes (None of them have actually been used up, but two of them have broken inside the tube…): not a deal-breaker, because I love the colour, but annoying nonetheless.

NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl

If Generation G is my daytime red, Dragon Girl is my night-time red. And, OK, I’m travelling with an 11-month-old baby, so I’m not exactly likely to be painting the town Dragon Girl red, but if I DO want something with a bit more of a pop to it, this is what I’ll use. This one does tend to need a lipliner, so I’m also taking…

MAC Lip Pencil in Ruby Woo

I bought this to use with the matching lipstick: I LOVE Ruby Woo for the colour, but find it really drying on my lips, so I tend to only break it out for special occasions. This pencil also works well with Dragon Girl, though, though it’s earned its place in the travel makeup bag.


And I think that’s it! Of course, this line-up is focusing purely on makeup and skincare: I will also obviously be taking basic toiletries, like toothpaste etc, but I can’t imagine many things more dull than me talking about my toothpaste, so I’ll spare you all of those details.

One final tip:  I like to pack my travel makeup bag early, not just because I love my makeup and I don’t want to forget it, but also because it gives me time to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything essential. After a few too many trips where I ended up having to buy mascara at duty free, having realised en route to the airport that I’d left it next to the mirror in the bathroom, I now decant the makeup I want to take with me into my travel makeup up, then spend a couple of days using only those products: it’s an easy way to make sure you remember everything you need, and also to make sure that you don’t take anything you probably WON’T need, which is another problem of mine.

Tell me then: what’s in your travel makeup bag?
Liked this post?? Take a second to support Amber on Patreon!
  • Mia


    Don’t forget a pencil sharpener!

    August 18, 2015
  • Thifaine


    Perfect ! I have a checklist and it’s pretty much the same. Have a great holiday !

    August 18, 2015
  • Rosie


    Hi Amber!
    Great post, I especially like your advice on packing the make-up bag earlier and then using it’s contents to see if anything is missing/too much – how did this never occur to me?! I am also a notorious over-packer, I will definitely try it out for my next trip!
    Love from Austria
    xx Rosie

    August 18, 2015
  • I love reading posts like this. Don’t forget to pack a makeup remover.

    August 19, 2015
  • I love the decanting idea, I always have that moment at 4:00 a.m. where I’m leaving for the airport and my favourite concealer/foundation/mascara is suddenly all that will do and I’ve packed it so I’m rustling around in my packed makeup and inevitably leave something essential behind! It is such a juggling act! I would totally read a “toiletries to carry on the plane” post (if you didn’t already write one) because that is one of my great obsessions in life! I didn’t realize Collection did the lip marker things, definitely checking them out thanks! 🙂

    October 9, 2015
  • This is such a helpful post! I used to be an over packer, but have massively improved. I’ve got a holiday booked in August. We’re going on a cruise, which I’ve never done before, so I’m not quite sure what I’ll need to pack. Seeing what other people take in their makeup bags is really helpful! Xx

    Tania | When Tania Talks

    June 5, 2017
  • Brenda


    Amber! Can you tell me if the Chanel sunscreen is scented or not? If so, is it fairly strong? I have found over the years that I am really sensitive to scented products but it is kind of hard to find a facial sunscreen that isn’t scented. I hope you have a lovely trip!

    December 3, 2018
  • I got my eyelashes done 3 years ago and I haven’t stopped since! I love the fact it looks like I have makeup on as soon as I wake up (because I actually hate wearing the stuff). I had to pick between nails and lashes and the lashes won!
    Debs @

    December 3, 2018
  • Carrie


    I enjoy reading your articles and wondered if you had tried any of the other NARS Multiples.. I have South Beach (mini size) but would like another shade. I have dark blonde hair hazel eyes and a fair to medium skin tone.

    April 28, 2019
  • Alina Morgan


    This looks great! It will make a perfect list while traveling.

    July 12, 2021