Travel Mini Series: How I Pack My Beauty Thingies

Travel Mini Series: How I Pack My Toiletries and Makeup

Oh gee. How very eloquent. Beauty thingies indeed, tsk tsk. By beauty thingies, I mean toiletries and makeup. 😛

It has taken me years to sort my travel toiletries out because even though I no longer bring full-sized products with me unless I absolutely have to, the amount of products I end up with still make it seem as though I’ve overpacked. Yes, I really do use that much products. Yikes!

Having said that, I’ve learned the incredible usefulness of decanting and even though travel-sized products are more expensive per ml, I still love the smaller packaging and often get sucked in to getting them as I wait in line to pay for my items (clever, sneaky marketing ploy for beauty stores to line the waiting area up with cute travel-sized products. I’m looking at you, Sephora). For me to get all of my skincare, body care and haircare products in one toiletries bag instead of 3 is a vast improvement compared to years ago when I’d literally pack 3 toiletries bag for one short trip. Ugh.

While the whole travel toiletries thing is still a bit of a work-in-progress for me, I’m happy to say I’ve narrowed my travel makeup to a T. I don’t use a lot of makeup when I’m travelling and bring only what I need.

Anyway, after that long, rambling introduction, I thought I’d share with you how I pack my toiletries and makeup for travelling. In other words, my beauty thingies. By the way, these go in my checked-in luggage. I have a separate one for carry-on if I’m on a long-haul flight.


Let’s talk about toiletries first. This is where your hair, body and skincare items come in. Now I keep plenty of sample sachets of beauty products that were given to me by sales assistants at beauty counters and online stores. I also keep a lot of deluxe samples that are perfect for travelling. However, there are a few things where I draw the line on using beauty samples that I’ve not used before. When it comes to my skincare, I don’t use skincare samples that I’ve not tried before. This is when I’ll decant the products in my current skincare routine to small pots and bottles.

Travel Mini Series: How I Pack My Toiletries and Makeup

This amount of toiletries still needs to go down!

I’ve used skincare sample sachets for many of my travels and found out that while they’re fantastic to bring along, they don’t do much for my skin (by the way, I’m talking about the samples of products I’ve never tried before). In fact, some of the moisturisers even broke me out. As I get older, my skin doesn’t tolerate travelling very well and I tend to get a lot of dry patches on the lower half of my face (something I didn’t experience when I was in my 20s). As much as I’d love to bring along sample sachets of products I’ve actually used, it’s often not possible so the next best thing would be to decant the products I’m currently using into travel-sized jars and bottles and bring those with me instead. This way, I can at least be sure that even with the stress of flying and different weather, my skin wouldn’t act up so much.

There are plenty of stores where you can buy small jars and bottles for decanting. I’m partial to the ones from MUJI and DAISO. If I’m only going to be away from home for less than a week, I decant eye cream and serum into old contact lens cases (sterilised first, of course) as they take up so little room.

As for body wash, I’d bring a small bottle with me (usually 50ml or less) and a small body sponge. I’m a bit of a body wash snob as I don’t like using the ones provided by hotels unless they’re of known brands. You’d be surprised how far that 50ml can stretch when used with a body sponge. You use far less product and you get to use the body wash you like. Usually by the time the holiday is over, I’d chuck the body sponge and won’t bring it back with me. If I’m going to be away for over a week, I won’t bother bringing body wash with me and would just buy a bottle of shower gel at my destination. I’d bring sample sachets of body lotion with me and use those instead of a jar of body butter.

When it comes to hair care, it’s sample sachets for me all the way. I’m not a fan of lugging shampoos and conditioners with me so I’d save as many sample sachets of those as possible from magazines and gifts with purchase. As long as the samples come from reputable brands, my hair doesn’t usually go nuts with different types of shampoos and conditioners. Having said that, I’ll bring a small tube of the current leave-in hair conditioner/serum I’m using to make sure my hair doesn’t get too crazy from travelling.


Travel Mini Series: How I Pack My Toiletries and Makeup

Right, I’ve talked a lot about toiletries; let’s head on to makeup. I don’t know about you but it baffles me greatly how much makeup people bring with them when travelling. Unless the purpose of my travelling is to attend a wedding, a conference or any sort of event that requires me to look my Sunday best, I usually bring a minimal amount of makeup with me. My eyeshadow palettes stay behind. I have pared down a makeup routine that’s quick and easy without my needing a lot of products.

Here’s a typical example of the makeup I’d bring with me when I’m travelling:

  • Base makeup: Liquid foundation decanted into contact lens cases. Often times I’d battle between bringing foundation A and foundation B (y’know, for the times when you’ll need different finishes and/or coverage). Instead of bringing TWO bottles of foundation, I’d decant what I need into a contact lens case. Voila! Dilemma solved. I’d also bring a pressed translucent powder to set my makeup. A small tube of concealer.
  • Eyes: Tinted eyebrow gel or an eyebrow pencil. I don’t bother with eyebrow kits. An eyeshadow primer, because I cannot wear eyeshadow without a primer. One bronze cream eyeshadow (I love Maybelline’s Colour Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze). Two eyeliner pencils, black and brown (this must be smudgeable; brown is for days when I just need a quick eye-lining for the day and black for the evenings when I’d like a more intense smoky eye). One liquid eyeliner. One mascara. All these can be done with my fingers, which means I don’t need to bring eyeshadow brushes with me.
  • Cheeks: One cream blush in a jar or a stick. This way, I don’t need to bring a blush brush. I usually bring a universal colour like a peachy-pink so that I can wear cool and warm toned lip colour with it. I don’t typically use bronzers so I won’t bring that with me.
  • Lips: One lipbalm. One cool-toned lipstick. One warm-tone lipstick. Maybe one bright lipstick but usually I wouldn’t bother unless I know I’ll need to amp my makeup for special occasions.
  • Tools: One fluffy face brush for the pressed powder. Eyelash curler. Done.

Travel Mini Series: How I Pack My Toiletries and Makeup

You’d be surprised at how polished your makeup can be with just this small amount of makeup. I don’t need to bring multiple foundations, eyeshadow palettes, 10 lipsticks, 3 blushes and a whole set of makeup brushes when I’m travelling. Plus, if I’m going to be doing a spot of shopping during my holiday and I know I’d want to hit up, say, Sephora, then I’ll be bringing even less makeup with me because I know I’ll be buying more at my destination.

Even with my cutting down of toiletries and makeup, my beauty bags can still be pretty heavy so imagine if I’m bringing full-sized products, even if it’s just a few. I have to make sure that I’m only bringing the essentials with me as I can buy the rest when I’m at my destination. When I’m done with the products, I leave them behind unless I have at least 50% of the product left.

I hope this gives you an insight into how I pack my beauty essentials for travelling and that it gave you some tips on how to pack for your future travels. It’s not ideal, of course, but it suits me very well.

Do you have any tips on packing your beauty essentials? Do share with us in the comments. I’d love to learn a new trick or two!

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17 comments… add one
  1. Ms Jelena

    I used to take lots of beauty thingies on holidays with me. Because, you know, what if I want something I normally don’t use? :p
    All jokes aside, I have narrowed it down. I use travel bottles for shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and facial cleanser. I usually buy shower gel, sunscreen and whatever I may need at the destination to save up space and pretend I’m not overpacking 🙂

    With makeup, I do take minimum amount possible because on holidays I usually take it easy because we are constantly on the go, so moisturiser, foundation, setting powder, mascara, eyebrow pencil/powder and blush (and maybe contouring powder) is all I would normally use while away. I usually bring eyeliner as well if I need to glam up the look. And lippies! But they are already all over my handbag, so it doesn’t count :p
    Maybe I do pack too much…?
    Ms Jelena recently posted..Happy Valentine’s Day!My Profile

    1. Tine

      Hahaha sounds good! I’d use all those too. So, erm, definitely not overpacking. 😉

  2. Dawn

    I tend to pack really light when I go on trips!
    Like you, I find the amount of cosmetics people take on their trip quite baffling as well..
    So my travel make-up bag will consist of:
    -Translucent pressed powder (Thebalm’s Sexy Mama)
    -Brow Pencil
    -Gel Eyeliner
    -Cream eye shadow (either Maybelline’s Bad to the Bronze or Mac IndianWood)
    -A small eye shadow (maybe, if I’m going somewhere fancy)
    -4 lipsticks/lipbalm (Yes lip items are my weakness!)

    I’m lucky to have pretty good and well behaved skin, so can do without foundation and primer. Plus, often on holiday I’d be excited to set off for the day that I usually end up using less than what I brought anyway! 🙂

    1. Tine

      Lip items are my weakness too! You’d think that being the blush fiend that I am, I’d bring more blushes with me than lipsticks but for my last trip, I brought a lipbalm and 3 lipsticks. Not wait, make that 5. I forgot I had two more in my bag. Ooops! 😛

  3. Gabriela Sembalangi

    hi Tin,

    hope you are enjoying your holiday right now.

    one question though, do you bring your perfume/body mist with you when you are on holiday?

    1. Tine

      Thanks Gabriela, I did. 🙂
      Yes I do (hmm don’t think I mentioned it in my post, sorry about that!). In terms of perfume, I usually either bring tiny 1.5ml perfume vials that are samples (gift with purchases, samples from magazines, etc) that I save or decanted Travalos. I love Travalos; I decant my favourite perfume in them and bring them along instead of the full-sized ones.

  4. Fei

    I don’t tend to bring makeup products with me when I travel (except a few lipsticks) because I’m all for light travelling. I don’t mind going makeup-free (well, apart from lippies) while I travel 🙂

    I do bring a fair bit of skincare products though. That’s why I love buying David Jones deluxe sampler totes as you get heaps of travel size samples, and they always have a clear makeup bag with zipper, which is very handy

    1. Tine

      Oooh I love David Jones deluxe sampler totes! I get them from time to time too depending on the design of the tote and the items in it. Even though I already have a crazy amount of beauty products, those David Jones sampler totes suck me in most of the time. Tsk tsk. 😛

  5. Jade

    The contact lens case idea is genius! 🙂

    1. Tine

      Haha an idea I picked up ages go and still works a treat. Why bring bottles of foundations when you can just decant what you need? Plus you get to bring two different types, which sorts out all those “just in case” situations. 😉

  6. Beauty Box

    Yeah I know what you mean about how polished one can look with just a few makeup products. I tend to travel for a month or more and I’m amazed how unadventurous I am with my everyday makeup look while on the road. I just want something that works and is really quick to put on so I’ve pared it down to much less now. I used to haul around two big makeup bags – ridiculous! I end up not using much of it. I think it’s just a security blanket for my fears of missing my fave makeup too much haha….
    Beauty Box recently posted..Sydney Summer HaulMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Haha I totally know what you mean. This trip to Malaysia for CNY, I barely touched my makeup at all. I went bare-faced on almost all days, even when I went out. Bloody daring, I say, because my skin wasn’t even looking good. Yikes! 😛

  7. Andrea @ Sublime Finds

    I splashed out and bought the Verso travel kit to try – I’d been considering saving it until our trip given its handy dandy size… I’m so glad we had this chat! I’ll stick to what I know for travel. Yes indeedy. This is about the number of different products I’d bring too, Tine. Girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do! x
    Andrea @ Sublime Finds recently posted..Stylish at every age: Iris Apfel for kate spadeMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Ooooh did you get it from NAP? I’m tempted, really tempted. 😛

  8. sae

    I suck at packing. I really don’t know how to pack lightly. But your idea to decant liquid foundation in contact lens cases is really genius, never thought of that. I threw out my old contact lens cases few weeks ago because I can’t find any use to it. Well for my future trip I’ll be happy to use your idea. tq

    1. Tine

      Oh yeah, definitely a good idea to keep old contact lens cases for travelling. So many things to use them for:
      1. Decant foundation (wanna bring two different foundations on holiday but can’t bear to bring the full sized bottles? Sorted!)
      2. Decant eye cream and serum (don’t decant the photosensitive ones. Hydrating ones and ones that don’t oxidise immediately when exposed to air and light work. The contact lens cases are often fully opaque, which is an added bonus when decanting.)
      3. Store rings and small earrings
      4. Store medication/pills/etc.

      So many uses! 😀

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