14 Beauty Products I Never Pack When I Travel (and 21 I Do)

When it comes to beauty products, I’m not really one to pack lightly. Since traveling is such a shake-up to a normal routine as it is, I try to make an effort to maintain some normalcy, and sticking to a beauty routine that’s similar to my normal one (albeit with some modifications) brings me comfort when away from home. Not only that, traveling can wreak havoc on a girl’s skin and hair, so there’s always a little damage control to consider when packing my toiletry kit and makeup bag. 

There’s plenty to say about what beauty products I do pack when traveling, but I also have reasons for deciding what to leave at home. Usually, it’s that the item in question is unnecessary, bulky, or takes too much time to use. But luckily, beauty brands seem to be on the same page with me, and have developed (or just shrunk) plenty of products that make packing for travel a breeze.

With that, read on for the beauty products that I’ve learned the hard way are no-gos for travel (in my opinion) and the ones I pack instead.

Nothing against self-tanner (I use these drops myself), but I make a point to use it before I depart for my trip, to save space for more essential items like sunscreen. This excellent one is full-size but the tube is compact.

Obviously there are exceptions to this (i.e. if you’re going to a wedding or have a hair cut that requires some styling), but for the most part, I try to avoid fussing too much with my hair when traveling and embrace its natural texture to save both time and luggage space.

Airplane air and climates you’re not used to can do a number on skin (and hair), so I make a point to pack a soothing mask to apply post-flight.

Instead of digging around my makeup bag for that one product, I recently started packing palettes that contain shades I’ll actually use, like this beautiful new one by Ilia.

I find applying sheet masks to be too messy and time-consuming when on the road, but applying a moisturizing face mist while in-flight is heavenly.

I try to avoid makeup that takes time and precision to apply when traveling, but I won’t go anywhere without my trusty eyelash curler. It makes me look wide awake, which is something I’m usually not post-flight.

I swear by retinol when at home, but I prefer to take a few days off from it when I travel. Dry plane air combined with retinol can irritate my skin, so I stick to lightweight moisturizers. 

Micellar water is my makeup remover of choice at home, but even the travel-size bottles are a bit bulky. I stock up on these travel-friendly wipes instead. 

I usually get a gel manicure before a trip, but even when I don’t, I worry about nail polish breaking or leaking in my bag so I opt to leave it at home. That said, nail clippers and files can cure a lot of manicure sins.

Another thing that’s rather bulky is bottles of shaving cream, so I make sure to pack a creamy body wash, which can double as shaving cream if needed.

To be fair, I’m not a big hair spray user to begin with, but I’d definitely never allow it to take up valuable retail space in my luggage (unless I’m traveling to a fancy event like a wedding). Instead, I always pack a mini hair oil for added polish.

I feel like my hands aren’t as clean as they typically are when I travel, so I opt for a more sanitary option than a lip product in a pot, like this glossy nude stick that I’ve been using all summer.

With all the travel fragrances on the market, I find it worth investing in one to save space. This Le Labo scent is the best rose perfume on the market, in my opinion.

I certainly realize the importance of taking care of your cuticles, but rubbing a little extra hand cream into them also does the trick. One less step.

I don’t love dealing with makeup brushes and sponges when I travel, so creams that I can apply with my fingers are what I seek out.

A vitamin C serum is an important part of any skincare routine, and I try not to neglect that when I travel.

I don’t usually get enough sleep when I travel, but these drops make me look like I got at least 8 hours.

I buy travel-size versions of face washes I use anyway, so as not to freak out my skin. This is one of my current favorites. 

The Róen Beauty palettes are so beautiful on and so easy to apply with your fingers.

This is my favorite makeup-prepping moisturizer, so leaving it at home isn’t really an option.

Applying this lip balm is part of my nightly routine (even though it says daytime), and I really notice when it’s missing. In the toiletry case it goes.

Next, 20 products that have totally failed our beauty editor.

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