Travel beauty essentials: makeup | Styling You

Checklist and tips: travel beauty essentials to pack for your next holiday

Nikki ParkinsonBeauty, Life, Travel 26 Comments

The countdown is well and truly on until we head away on Tuesday to Italy and Croatia. I’ve been prepping and planning for what I’m packing for a few weeks now.

On the clothing front, I’ve nailed a 20-piece capsule (follow on Instagram while I’m away to see what I’ve packed via my daily #everydaystyle posts). On the beauty front, it’s taken a bit more effort.

I am a lover of beauty products. If you are a regular on Styling You, you already know that, right?

If reading this in the hope of finding the secret to packing light when it comes to beauty travel essentials, I have to warn you. This is MY version of packing light when it comes to beauty essentials. It may not be yours.

If you’re not a makeup wearer on holidays – or at all – congrats. You’ve just lightened up your suitcase. Me? I’m on the vain side so will always travel with my basics.

I also do a full beauty prep before getting on that plane: hair freshen up; mani, pedi, spray tan; lashes and a blow dry on the day of flying. I know. Who am I? I’m someone who likes to feel good and confident in those holiday photos that will be around for years to come, that’s who.

On a longer trip, I break down my essentials into four categories: in-flight; skincare; hair care; makeup.

This helps me not only organise what I’m taking but to plan out how I’m best going to fit it in my toiletries bags.

Across all categories, try to source travel or sample sizes of your favourite products or buy clear travel bottles and decant your full-sized products into them. This prep work will really pay off when it comes to packing your suitcase.

Check the travel beauty section of your supermarket. At Mecca Maxima and Sephora, you’ll find lots of travel-sized options of your faves. Many skincare companies not only sell travel packs; they also have samples available. Ask at your local salon if you visit there regularly.

In-flight (meeting carry-on liquid restrictions)

  • Face wipes
  • Lip balm
  • Hand and body lotion
  • Hydrating night  face cream
  • Eye mask
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Essential oil blends (for immune boosting)
  • Tinted moisturiser/lip gloss (For helping me to feel human on arrival)

Travel beauty essentials - in flight | Styling You

TIPS: Look for samples or travel sizes of your favourite products. This means you easily come under the regulation 100ml for each product but that you also fit more into the regulation-size clear plastic bag for carry-on. When on board, I take off all my makeup and cleanse my face. Loving the individual sachets of these face wipes for travel (and handbag). I’ll then tone and moisturise but also spritz Dermalogica Antioxidant Hydramist and apply lip balm regularly throughout the flight. The eye mask is great for reviving tired eyes just before landing. One of my secret on-board weapons is Twenty8 Immune Boost essential oil blend. I pop a couple of drops behind my neck like an invisible shield against the potential bugs on board. The tinted moisturiser and lip gloss are part of my vanity necessities for landing.


  • Cleanser
  • Day face moisturiser with sunscreen
  • Eye cream
  • Night cream/serum (already in carry-on)
  • Body sunscreen
  • Gradual tanning lotion
  • Perfume
  • Essential oils
  • Nail file/clippers
  • Razor

Travel beauty essentials - hair care | Styling You

TIPS: Once again, travel or sample size products will serve you well here. On this trip, I’m using one toiletries bag for all my makeup and skincare/body products. I was due for a toiletries bag update so bought this one from Wanderers Travel Co. The size and space is great (read on for the other one I bought for hair appliances and products) plus there are two internal side pockets. I’ve packed my regular skincare and body products in travel size plus also a full-size sunscreen and gradual tan (not pictured) because they’ve got to cover the whole body as we’re at the beach most days. A new addition is Skin Boss Get Up and Glow hydrating facial oil – a nourishing treat for my face after a long flight. It’s the brainchild of Kirsten Smith (from Kirsten and Co) and launches next month. I’m loving and you will too. Details here


  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Leave-in treatment
  • Hair serum
  • Styling irons
  • Travel hair dryer
  • Comb/brush

Travel beauty essentials - hair care | Styling You

TIPS: We’re staying mostly in Airbnb apartments, so I’m unsure whether I’ll have access to a hairdryer. This sent me on the path to finding a compact travel hairdryer that would still deliver good power. I’m very happy with the ghd travel hairdryer I bought. And I also bought the Cloud 9 micro styling irons for a more compact offering than my everyday irons. I used to own these irons years ago but passed them on because I had long hair. Now my hair is short again, they’re perfect for travel. Love my bhave hair care products and Kevin Murphy styling products – all available in travel sizes. The bag all these products are going in is this one from Wanderers Travel Co.

Makeup (because I always wear just a little every day)

  • Primer
  • Lightweight foundation or tinted moisturiser
  • Concealer
  • Makeup palette (covers off on blush, bronzing, highlighter)
  • Eye palette (doubles for eyeliner with an angled brush)
  • Mascara
  • Eyebrow pencil or gel
  • Lipsticks for a pop of colour 
  • Brushes/beauty blender

Travel beauty essentials: makeup | Styling You
TIPS: Palettes are your makeup friends when it comes to minimising what makeup you pack. You can see how well my Hourglass highlighter/blush/bronzer palette is loved (this was limited edition last Christmas but you still might find some around). The eye palette will do for day and night and double as eyeliner for me. I’ve packed just the Hourlgass Illusion tinted moisturiser as my foundation, as it’s heavier than a moisturiser and really can double as both. It also doesn’t slide off your face. As we’re going to a summer destination, I’ve included a couple of bright lipsticks to keep things fun and fresh when going out to dinner (it will still be daylight).

So tell me, are you a travel beauty minimalist or do you find ways to take all your favourite things?



Comments 26

  1. Great list Nikki! My own list is smaller than what you’ve mentioned here. Since I usually stay at hotels, I leave most of my haircare products at home. I’m okay with using the hotel’s shampoo & conditioner, plus it’s also a great excuse to include pick up some new beauty bits. One thing that I never go on holiday without is my cuticle oil. I’m currently loving French Girl’s cuticle oil, as it comes in a handy rollerball.

  2. I’m on the same wavelength as you for beauty essentials Nikki. As you say, holiday ‘snaps’ have a habit of turning up in public forums for years to come and instead of looking all natural sans make-up I look like I’ve caught some dreaded lurgy! I don’t spend a lot of holiday time on it, just enough essentials on hand to look and feel human each day and a couple of quick hair ‘do’ tricks. We’ve just returned from Tahiti with a few days stopover in Auckland on the way home (talk about weather contrasts!) and its reminded me again that the success lies in getting products down to travel sizes. I did this with most things but looking to reduce even further next time, same products, smaller again containers. I have to stop taking a full size of my curly hair gel! My tip, take twist up lip and eye liners instead of pencils that need sharpening and Maybelline are doing a very clever brow pencil and powder all in the size of a small pencil. At 50+ thirty seconds of brow and eyeliner attention can make the world of difference if you’d ‘holidayed’ to hard and need to regroup the next day. Your suggestion of an eye mask for inflight is inspired, I’ll pack that next time. Enjoy your trip. Have fun & stay safe.

    1. Love that you’ve been working on this too. Yes, I keep the routine to a minimum while away but like to have the “full face” if going out to a nice dinner. Great tip re the brow pencil. I also got my brows freshly tinted ready for the trip too!

  3. Great advice Nikki. If you were forced to only take three skin care and three beauty products with you what would you (and other travellers) take?

  4. I love this post, Nikki. Can’t wait to see bits from your travels. I’ve just looked up the magnesium wipes – they sound great!

  5. well done nikki!
    seeing as a couple of years ago you probably would have taken twice as much!
    I am soo proud of my culling with my packing these days!
    ofcourse I don’t use many products so that lightens the load!
    I always take small containers too!
    have a wonderful holiday hun!
    much love m:)X

  6. Great post Nikki – very comprehensive. I would say I pack about the same as you – and just a little less when it’s a beach holiday ;). I really love looking after my skin and so want to use products I’m familiar with and suit my skin. Hair too – the change in water is often enough to change how my hair is behaving so having products I know helps. I’ve tried packing less variety but then feel frustrated when I’m away when I don’t have a product that I really want to use because my skin or hair is behaving a certain way. There are so many options now in samples and travel sizes there’s really no need to go without. And if course the bonus is that when you’ve used them up there’s some room for new purchases on the way home. Win win. Have a wonderful trip – 2 fabulous destinations!

    1. That is such a bonus – yes, the samples will be used up and I’ll be able to go home via Sephora! HAH. You’ve got great points about the water in different places playing havoc with hair and skin!

  7. Great tips. One thing I would add to this list is a molly hair clip. Fabulous for keeping hair up in the shower or even swimming.

    1. It’s leather, it’s beautiful and I know I’ll use it a lot. Will also double as a clutch if needed! Everyone’s budgets are different. I like to invest in things like this as I intend to have it for years to come.

  8. I hope you have a great holiday! I enjoy reading the packing tips you have on your blog. The Immune Boosting essential oil blend sounds interesting. Do you apply before you board or after you board? And do you reapply during the flight (if it’s long haul)? I guess it is something that you could also use if you work in an office and there are staff there who are sick?

  9. I love your tips Nikki I always save travel sizes for taking away and like you need all the things or I don’t feel like me.Your holiday sounds amazing Italy and Croatia Xx

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