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7 Must-Follow Hacks for Packing Makeup in a Carry-On

The top beauty gurus share exactly how to fill your makeup kit for easy, breezy beauty on your next big getaway.

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Leave your powders at home

No one likes opening an eye shadow palette after a flight, only to have cracked pieces crumble everywhere. The fact is that your carry-on is likely to experience a few bumps along the flight. To avoid ending up with a grainy mess, leave your powders—both loose and pressed—at home. Divya Gugnani, Co-Founder of Wander Beauty, experienced these hiccups firsthand before creating a line of beauty products specifically designed for busy women on the go. “As a beauty enthusiast and a working mother of two kids under 5, I looked at the cracked powders and dirty brushes in my makeup bag and knew there was a better way,” Gugnani says. Instead of packing breakable, powder eyeshadows, bring cream shadow like Wander Beauty’s Exquisite Eye Liquid Shadow, and instead of powder blush, use a cream like the Wanderess Cheek Tint.

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Bring a roll-on fragrance instead of spray bottle perfumes

When asked what types of beauty products women should avoid traveling with, Gugnani says, “the first one to cross off your list is perfume. Opt for a roll-on fragrance instead.” And we have to agree. After all, who wants to risk being forced to surrender their prized bottle of perfume at security? To avoid going over your liquid limit, a travel-sized roll-on like the Kai Perfume Oil will keep you smelling great. Plus, if you’re feeling a bit grimy after a long flight, a roll-on perfume is much easier to apply in your seat once you land. (In a hurry? Get these quick makeup tricks to speed up your routine.)

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Choose multipurpose makeup

When you’re packing beauty products in your carry-on, you don’t need separate blushes, illuminators, bronzers, and concealers. Instead, find multipurpose products that combine these different functions into one sleek item. “We focus on innovative, double-sided componentry and multi-use formulas that are enriched with globally inspired skincare ingredients,” says Gugnani. “So, you have your makeup and your skincare essentials all in one, and it’s versatile, multi-functional, and compact.” For example, the On the Glow Bronzer & Illuminator is a double-sided stick that will serve you well and save space, and the Crayon Lip and Cheek Gel doubles as both lip gloss and blush. The Eyes on the Fly Dual Cream Shadow and Eyeliner is another great double-ended option.

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Pair down your essentials

The number one rule when packing beauty items in your carry-on is “less is more.” Do you really need five lipsticks for a weekend trip? Will you actually use that cleanser, toner, and serum? The truth is, probably not. (Unless you are more faithful to your regimen, and if so, bravo! Consider the tiny skincare arsenal that is Éminence Organic Skin Care Must Have Minis—with a gel wash, moisturizer, firming fluid, eye serum, and exfoliant, all in one tidy TSA-friendly case.) For the rest of us, instead of cramming the makeup bag full of beauty products that will go untouched, stick to the absolute necessities. We recommend one heavy moisturizer and a day cream with SPF. If you typically like to carry a million lip colors, Wander Beauty makes Dual Lipsticks with a different, versatile color on each end—two shades in one. Here are the lipstick hues you need for every occasion.

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Remember that solids are your friend

The reality is that carry-on bags accommodate very little stuff, and you’re even more limited with how much liquid you can bring. That’s why it’s a great idea to make the switch from liquid makeup products to cream sticks and compacts. This is a clever way to get around that strict liquid limit without having to compromise the quality of your coverage. Rather than bringing messy, liquid foundation and concealer, try a stick like the Flash Focus Hydrating Foundation or new solid serum foundation like Confidence in a Compact from IT Cosmetics—it’s an anti-aging serum, pore-camouflaging makeup, and SPF 50+ all in a travel-friendly compact. Tip: Deodorant sticks are also much better for travel than liquid deodorant sprays.

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Fill reusable mini bottles

“I buy mini, empty, plastic bottles and put my favorite fragrance-free lotion, shampoo, and conditioner in them. It spares me the chore of carrying the extra weight of my favorite products in their full-size bottles,” Gugnani says. Mini travel bottles are an excellent idea for anyone with specific hair needs. After all, there’s no guarantee that your destination will have the anti-frizz or anti-dandruff products you rely on for great hair days. If you know which products work best for you, pack the smaller versions in your carry-on and leave the full-sized bottles at home.

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Pack your products in plastic

Finally, you should never throw your beauty products freely into your carry-on, or even keep them loose in your makeup bag for that matter. When traveling, all of your products should be carefully wrapped in plastic bags to contain any spillage, breakage, and unintended messes. (Check out the packing tricks to prevent messy disasters.) “Once all of my beauty products are in their respective plastic bags and bottles, I put them in another bigger plastic bag and wrap it in my favorite pajamas, which is then placed in the center of my suitcase so that it doesn’t get banged up and explode all over the place!” Gugnani says. And you’d be wise to heed her warning. Plastic bags not only keep your clothes safe from makeup stains, they also make it easier for you to get through security, and ensure that you know exactly where your products are when you go to find them. We call that a win-win-win!