Travel Makeup: The Best Travel Size Kits, Palettes, and Minis 2021

Best TSA Friendly Travel Makeup

Looking for easy to pack makeup for travel? Packing light is a breeze with these awesome TSA compliant travel makeup sets and kits. Whether you’re headed to a summer festival nearby or taking that vacation to Europe, you want to look look great without lugging a ton of makeup around. Here’s how:

Quick Comparison Chart

If you’re not budging on your devotion to particular brand, you don’t necessarily have to pack full size makeup– be sure to check if Sephora has your favorites among their huge travel size makeup collection.

Travel Makeup SetCan Choose Shades?Comes with Travel Cosmetic Bag

Tarte Makeup Minis
YesNo

Nars Minis
YesVaries

Chanel Travel Palettes
YesNo

Sephora Favorites Travel Kits
NoVaries

Birchbox Discovery Kits
NoYes

Clinique Travel Sets
NoYes

Sigma Travel Brush Set
NoYes

Best Makeup for Travel: Our Picks

The idea travel makeup bag will be different for everyone, but hopefully we can start you on the right path. If you haven’t already, think about what you’ll be doing on your trip, and what might be left at home. Are you going on a foundation-optional beach vacation? Or is that eyeshadow palette a must have for glammed-up nights out?

Tarte Makeup Minis- Editor’s Favorite

Tarte is clearly committed to making travel easier for you, with a prodigious selection of mini size makeup and skincare! You’ll find foundation, concealer, bronzer, mascara, and eye palette, just to name a few. With all their favorites available in reasonably priced mini sizes (including 3 different mascaras!), Tarte ranks as one of our top picks for easy, packable makeup.

What we love:

A huge variety of high quality, travel size makeup in fun, colorful packaging.

What we don’t:

Honestly, there’s a lot to love here! The shade ranges may not work for absolutely everyone, but unlike in many travel kits, your shade choices are fairly extensive.

Chanel Travel Makeup Palettes – Luxe Splurge

I have to admit, even at $95, I’m more than a little tempted by Chanel’s sleek makeup palette. With lip, eye and cheek color, applicator brushes, and a mini mascara, you’ve got almost all your bases covered.

As of the most recent update to this post, there’s just one other travel palette available, a blush and illuminating powders set, but because many items are limited edition, it doesn’t hurt to head on over and search for “travel makeup” so see if there’s anything new.

What we love:

On-trend colors, and almost everything you need in one chic package.

What we don’t:

Only one color combo is offered, so the hues available won’t work for everyone.

Nars Minis and Travel Kits

Nars offers a fantastic variety of their blushes, eyeshadows, concealer, lipstick, and mascaras in mini sizes–including their cult-favorite Orgasm shade.

What we love:

With so many shades available in mini size, you don’t feel like you’re compromising by purchasing a travel size.

What we don’t:

There’s no foundations to be found in their minis section.


Looking for travel size toiletry bottles that won’t leak? Check out our travel bottle picks HERE!

Sephora Favorites Travel Kits

Sephora Favorites French Travel Makeup Kit

Sephora frequently puts together sets of customer favorites with mini sizes of popular products, which make perfect travel sets!

The recent Chic it Easy set seen above includes so many awesome elevated basics like a Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer, Nars lipstick, Makeup For Ever eyeliner, Yves Saint Laurent concealer, Klorane dry shampoo, Formula X nail polish, Caudalie toner, and Atelier Cologne fragrance– all in travel-perfect sizes.

What we love:

These are all awesome, proven products that are beloved by Sephora’s customers–and we can personally vouch for at least half of them!

What we don’t:

You’re stuck with middle of the road makeup colors in these sets, so the foundations in particular won’t work for everyone.


OUR FAVORITE SHEET MASKS FOR MID-FLIGHT HYRDRATION:



Birchbox Discovery Kits

The Best Travel Makeup Kits and Sets

So you might have given Birchbox’s subscription box a try in the past, but did you know that you can buy individual kits and products from the Birchbox store without a subscription? We’re loving their Discovery Kits as a way to snag all the travel sizes products we need.

What we love:

They’re perfect travel sizes of some of the best cult favorite makeup and skincare.

What we don’t:

Birchbox offers so many different kits, there’s not much to complain about here!

Clinique Travel Sets

You can sometimes pick up Clinique travel sets as gifts with purchase, but if you missed out, or just want a little set for vacation, they’re a great option. The set above is no longer available, but there’s many more to choose from, including the Best Sellers Kit, which is a steal at $10!

What we love:

There’s great variety of sets, and they generally include some skin care as well as makeup.

What we don’t:

Some are a bit overpriced, and if you’re not purchasing directly from Clinique or items sold by Amazon, always check the merchant’s reviews to be sure they’re not selling expired makeup.

Sigma Travel Makeup Brush Set

Don’t forget to travel-size your makeup brushes! This quality set by Sigma include a handy travel case to keep your brushes clean and organized. They’re a compact size, but not so small they’re difficult to handle. The wide variety of brushes has you covered for nearly everything.

What we love:

These are great quality, attractive makeup brushes at a really awesome price.

What we don’t:

While I appreciate having an included carry case, it’s a little bulky. I tend not to bring the whole set, I only bring those brushes I know I’ll use–which helps me to pack extra light, so no big deal.


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Travel Makeup: The Best Travel Size Kits, Palettes, and Minis

 

FAQs

Can you travel with makeup?

You can absolutely travel with makeup! The only TSA rules that affect traveling with makeup are the restrictions on liquids in your carry-on bag. Your liquids must be 3.4oz or less, and fit in a quart size bag. There is no limit on liquids in checked bags.
See below for more info on TSA liquid rules.

What is the definition of “travel size” anyways? 

While travel sizes may not have had much standardization in the past, nowadays travel sizes almost always comply with TSA’s 3.4 oz liquid rule.

So basically travel sizes are smaller size of your cosmetics and toiletries. Usually that means 3.4 oz or less.

What are TSA’s Liquid Requirements? 

The TSA says: “You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item.”

Medications and food for infants and children are excluded from these limitations.

They’re sticklers about these rules (I’ve had them harass me about lip balm that I didn’t think to remove from my purse and put in the quart size bag!).


It’s important to understand that the 3.4 oz rule means that you cannot carry on a 6oz container that’s half full. Any container with a capacity larger than 3.4 oz must be in your checked bag, regardless of how much liquid is in it. (The exception here is obviously that a completely empty bottle is fine. Many people bring empty water bottles to fill after they get through security.)

Many items that you wouldn’t think of as liquids still fall under this rule. This can include items like lip gloss and toothpaste.

And if you have more 3.4 oz containers than will fit in ONE quart size bag, you’re similarly out of luck. Take a look at your liquid cosmetics and toiletries, and you’ll see how easy it is to fill up a quart size bag, even with travel sizes. Every bit of space counts!

The full TSA rules are available here.

What will TSA do if I bring large sizes of liquids or too many liquids with me? 

There’s no limit to liquids if you’re checking a bag, so you only need to be concerned about what’s in your carry-on.

If you get to the TSA line, and are told that you have too many liquids, or your bottles are too large, you’ll be given a couple options:

The first is for TSA to take the offending items and throw them away. As long as your liquids weren’t something dangerous, you should be free to continue on your way– minus your favorite shampoo or sunscreen.

The second option is to leave the line, go back to the airline counter, and check your bag. At $25+ to check a bag, this isn’t always worth it, but you may want to consider checking your carry-on if your large liquids are expensive or can’t be found at your destination.

Finally, some airports have post offices or UPS branches. You may be able to leave the security line to mail your liquids back home, or to your final destination. You can then return to security with your carry-on, minus the offending liquids.

Yeah, I know, the whole situation is kind of crazy when you think about it, but it’s good to know your options!

How should I pack liquids in my luggage? 

The last thing you want is your liquids leaking all over your suitcase!

If you’re traveling with a carry-on, be sure to place all liquids in a quart size bag. This can be a quality ziploc bag, or clear toiletry bag designed specially for TSA rules. If you’re worried about leakage, go ahead and double bag– just be prepared to remove your quart size bag from the larger protective bag so TSA can examine it.

Those traveling with checked luggage have a little more leeway. We recommend using a good cosmetics bag with a separate compartment for liquids, or a separate liquids pouch altogether. Good travel bottles will also prevent leakage; see our travel bottle recommendations here.

How can I get around TSA’s liquid rules? 

While we don’t recommend trying to sneak through liquids that exceed the rules, there are some things you can do to maximize your packing while still following the rules:

One option is to take advantage of your travel companion’s liquid allowance. If your husband or boyfriend doesn’t need to travel with many liquids, you can transfer some of your items to his quart size baggie.

Alternately, you can arrange to share certain items with your traveling companion, cutting down on the liquids you need to bring.

You should also think about avoiding liquids when there’s a solid version available. Sub a powder foundation for liquid, lipstick for lip gloss, and even think about trying out a solid shampoo bar!

Finally, consider how much of each liquid you’ll really need. Could you get away with a handful of sample packets instead of a bottle? Some brands sell sample size packets, but Sephora always offers free samples with each order. It can be worth saving up those samples for vacation.

How long will travel size makeup and skincare last? 

Some people don’t pack travel size toiletries because they’re not sure the small sizes will last for an entire trip. This is of particular concern if you’ll be gone longer than a week.

I generally find that travel size makeup will last for weeks, if not months.

When it comes to things like shampoo, I often struggle to stretch a 3.4 oz bottle for a two week trip– though I’m told this means I use too much! The solid shampoo bar mentioned above is a good solution here, as it will last much longer than liquid shampoo.

Longer trips often call for a checked bag, and in that case, there’s nothing wrong with packing larger sizes of items you know you’ll use more of. Just leave room for souvenirs!

Where can I buy travel makeup?

Some of the best place to buy travel makeup are Sephora, Birchbox, and Tarte. Also, take a look at our specific mini and travel size makeup recommendations in this post.

What’s the best makeup for travel?

We’ve provided some suggestions for travel size makeup in this post, but it’s really up to you. While some want a full makeup palette to stay glam while they travel, others take the opportunity to pare back their makeup routine. Just don’t forget sunscreen!


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Sophia
Freelance writer, full-time traveler.