7 Ways to Downsize Your Travel Beauty Bag & Streamline Your Skin & Makeup Routine

Summer is right around the corner and that means beach trips, weekend getaways, and more time to relax!  Of course, it’s not all fun and games – planning those vacations can be both fun and time-consuming.  And then there’s the packing…

To make things go a little smoother whenever I travel, I try to pack as minimally as possible.  Even for week-long trips, I’ll aim to fit everything into one carry-on, not only to save time, but to also avoid having to lug around and check-in a bunch of suitcases.  This can be tough though, especially if your vanity is covered with makeup, and skin, hair and body care begging to come with!

But the good news is, with a few product swaps, it’s possible to significantly lighten your travel bag (while also streamlining your beauty routine), without having to make too many sacrifices. Here are 7 that I’d recommend trying out for your next trip…

summer travel essentials - the multi-stick

Invest in a Multi-Use Lip + Cheek Stick

Multi-sticks are one of the most multi-functional makeup products you can add to your travel bag.  They double as a blush and a lip color, and a lot of times you can use them as an eye shadow too, meaning fewer products to pack!  That, and they also speed up your makeup routine, give you a summer-perfect glow, and come in travel-friendly tubes that you can pop in your purse for touch-ups on the plane or after the beach before going out.

If you’re looking for some new ones to try, I highly recommend checking out Onomie’s Boosting Lip + Cheek sticks (which I just recently reviewed here).  They’re super pigmented, super blendable, and I imagine they’d work great for all skin types as they’re hydrating and balmy, though not overly creamy or slippery.   For normal to drier skin tones, I’d recommend ILIA Beauty’s Multi-Sticks (they’re a bit creamier).  And for oily skin, I’d recommend trying out Au Naturale’s Anywhere Cream Multi-Sticks or W3ll People’s Nudist sticks – both are a bit on the drier side compared to the other formulas, so they’re the least likely to slip around.


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how to downsize your makeup travel bag

Swap Heavy Formulas For Cushion Compacts

If you prefer to wear liquid foundations or creams, but don’t want to lug around one of those hefty glass bottles, why not swap it for a cushion compact?  Not only are do they weigh significantly less in your travel bag, they almost all come with their own applicator puff (so you can leave the makeup brush or beauty blender at home).  And the side benefits?  They can be applied on-the-go (like in flight, or after a day at the beach if you don’t have time to go back to your room to freshen up).  The application process is super speedy and practically mess-free, plus the formulas tend to be more lightweight and hydrating than foundation or heavier creams, making them perfect for summertime wear.

One of my most recent favorites is LANEIGE’s BB Cushion Hydra Radiance.  Their formula feels so light and airy, not to mention incredibly hydrating and refreshing.  Although it’s a ‘BB’ formula, it actually provides a decent amount of coverage – enough to even out the skin and cover any redness – and settles to a natural, dewy finish (that goes on to protect your skin with SPF 50+!).  Best of all, it comes with a mirror and (antimicrobial) applicator, so you can check off both on your packing list!


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how to downsize your travel beauty bag

Be on the Hunt for Minis & Travel Sizes

With the beauty industry constantly pumping out new products, sometimes we over-indulge and find ourselves with more makeup than we’ll ever be able to use up, at least by the time they expire.  One solution?  Buy travel-sized versions, whenever possible.  In my opinion, it’s much better to have 3-5 fresh mini tubes of mascara in rotation that I know I’ll use up within 3 months (a typical tube’s lifespan), than to splurge on 3-5 full size tubes that I’ll have to toss early (or worse, feel so guilty about buying that I continue to use them way past their prime – which is never a good idea when it comes to face and eye makeup especially!).

Another side benefit of opting for smaller-sized products is that they, of course, travel very easily!  They take up less space in your bag and weigh less, and yet they aren’t so small that you have to worry about running out of product.  And fortunately, Sephora, Nordstrom, Dermstore, and other beauty retailers now carry smaller versions of lots of popular products, including a few of my personal favorites like Amazing Cosmetics’ Concealer (.2 fl oz is their travel size), Fresh’s Sugar Lip Treatment (which I got in this cute set), and Lancome’s Monsieur Big mascara.  I also love Everyday Minerals’ mini sizes when it comes to all types of loose powders!


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how to pack a travel beauty bag - makeup samples

Divide up Your Favorites into Small Containers

Headed out for a shorter trip, or want to have lots of options while you’re traveling?  That’s where these mini containers come in.  Forget the contact lens case, these are the ultimate minimalist travel accessory when it comes to your beauty bag!  Fill them up with your favorite products (like lipsticks, cream blushes, concealer, foundation, and even skincare) by using a clean knife to slice off a bit of product from, say, a lipstick tube.  Or use a tiny spatula to scoop out product from a jar.

Alternatively, if you want to be adventurous and try out some new beauty products while you’re traveling, I’d recommend checking out The Detox Market (especially if you’re a fan of clean beauty).  They offer little sample kits where you can pick out 4 products from their site, and they’ll deliver them in cute little containers, like you see above.  They typically contain enough product for 3-5 uses for makeup, and 1-2 uses for skincare (at least, that’s what I’ve gotten out of mine!) which is plenty for weekend trips!


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how to downsize your travel beauty bag 1

Eliminate Bulky Packaging with Compact Palettes

Another way to make sure that you have lots of options for creating different looks – without sacrificing too much space in your travel bag – is to bring along a makeup palette.  It beats having to lug around a bunch of bulky, single-housed shadows/blushes/lipsticks, plus it makes getting ready much quicker if you have everything in one place.

Nowadays, you can find palettes that cover just about everything – cheeks, lips, eyes, and face – giving you all the essentials in one compact.  My personal favorite? Urban Decay’s Backtalk palette (which I reviewed here). It includes eight eyeshadows – in a range of gorgeous rose and berry tones – along with two blushes and two highlighters, and a removable mirror.

Here are just a few others that combine two or more products into one, saving you lots of space in your beauty bag (while also cutting down on the time it takes to get ready!)…


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Or, if you’re more interested in, say, eyeshadows, and already have your HG blush and highlighter packed, then it makes sense to pick up a palette that focuses on just the one product. One that I’ve been loving lately is Urban Decay’s Naked Petite Heat palette, a travel-sized version of their Naked Heat palette.  It’s so compact and lightweight, and yet it manages to pack six versatile shades that you can use to create subtle neutral looks, all the way to more dramatic ‘fiery’ evening looks.


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how to downsize your travel beauty bag 4

Simplify Your Cleansing Routine

When it comes to skincare, one way to cut down on all the liquid products (without having to worry about makeup clogging your pores at night) is to pack makeup remover wipes.  Not only are they perfect for quick clean-ups when you’re feeling too tired (or simply too lazy) to wash your face at night, they also cut down on the products your need to bring along.  If you find one that’s well-formulated, it can take the place of your eye makeup remover, cotton pads, and a cleanser.

The Garnier Micellar wipes I’ve found to work especially well.  They manage to remove all my makeup – even stubborn mascara and eyeliner – quickly and without having to rub too hard (the cloths are actually made of silk fibers, so they’re very gentle on the skin).  Most days, if my makeup is light and minimal, I can get away with using one cloth and then (if I can drag myself to a sink) I’ll finish with a few splashes of warm water.  Now, I wouldn’t recommend making this your routine for a full week, but for weekend trips, it gets the job done!


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Kahina Argan Oil

Swap Moisturizers & Lotions for a Multi-Use Oil

If you’re looking to streamline your skincare routine even further, look no further than the miracle multi-tasker that is argan oil.  It works amazingly well as a facial moisturizer, full-body oil, hand treatment, and nourishing hair oil treatment.  And because it’s rich in fatty acids and antioxidants, argan oil helps fight free radicals caused by sun exposure, so it’s the perfect addition to a summer skincare routine.

Surprisingly though, not all argan oils are created equal. To produce the highest quality oil, the argan nuts must be harvested at the right time, with its pulp still intact, and then cold pressed to retain its nutrients.  Kahina is one of the few brands that follows this process to a tee, and I noticed the difference immediately when I switched to their version.  Whereas cheaper oils tend to be darker in color, thick, and often nutty in aroma, Kahina’s Argan Oil is lighter in color, with a thinner consistency and a very subtle earthy scent.  When applied to the skin, it doesn’t feel heavy or greasy, but rather, it’s lightweight and absorbs surprisingly fast.  I use it on my feet, knees, elbows, nails, hair, face – just about everywhere – and it does an amazing job at locking in moisture, well into the next day.  Even better, it comes in a handy travel-sized bottle (which is about 3x larger than what you see above).


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What are some of your favorite beauty products to bring along with you when you travel?

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