Flatlay of The Best Travel Makeup Kits, Palettes, and Minis

Best Travel Makeup

*Last updated July 25th, 2017*

Looking for the best makeup for travel? We’ve got you covered! Here’s 8 awesome travel makeup options to help you pack light on your next trip while looking amazing.

If you’re not budging on your devotion to particular brand, you still 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. (Also, can we talk about how brilliant their travel size fragrances section is?)

Stowaway Cosmetics is one of our go-to brands for travel makeup, as they only make purse and travel sizes, and cover all the basics, from beauty balm to mini lipsticks. You can purchase makeup travel kits, or buy items individually for maximum flexibility. They’re reasonably priced too, at about half of what you’d pay for full size versions of similar products at Sephora.

What we love:

Just about everything! Their colors are on trend, with a nice variety to flatter most skin tones. They make quality products that exceed US standards, as they’re strict about excluding potentially dangerous chemicals that are banned in the EU.

What we don’t:

With just four shades available, their concealer and beauty balm may not work for everyone (they do however, offer returns and exchanges if an item doesn’t work out).

Smashbox consistently offers great travel size makeup; between their Try It Kits, Travel Palettes, and Mini Size Lipsticks, you’ve got a wealth of choices. As with Stowaway, you don’t necessarily have to purchase an entire set, you can pick and choose depending on what you need.

What we love:

Mini palettes! The variety is great — unlike so many other travel sets, you’re not stuck with just one color that doesn’t flatter you. The prices are also reasonable for the small sizes.

What we don’t:

Some of the sets are limited edition (snags those mini lipsticks while you can!).

 

Bareminerals always has at least a couple travel size makeup sets available, but our fave right now is the Ingrid Nilsen Be Your best Self 4-Piece Customizable Set. It covers your bases with a foundation, highlighter and brush, along with a cute cosmetics bag.

There’s also the Unwrap Complexion Rescue Set, which offers a tinted moisturizer and finishing powder.

What we love:

You can choose from a wide range of foundation colors, so most gals won’t have a problem matching their skin tone.

What we don’t:

The set is limited edition, so when it’s gone, it’s gone.

 

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

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 the 7 pc Travel Size Set with Lulu Dk Makeup Bag, and there’s many more to choose from.

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 Amazon, always check the merchant’s reviews to be sure they’re not selling expired makeup.

Sephora frequently puts together sets of customer favorites with mini sizes of popular products, and their Chic it Easy travel kit offers an awesome selection!

You’ll get 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:

The tinted moisturizer and concealer only come in one middle of the road shade, so pale or darker skinned gals are left out.

Benefit’s Dandelion Wishes travel kit includes travel sizes of some of their most popular pretty-in-pink makeup. You’ll get blush, lip gloss, mascara, highlighter, and tinted lip balm.

What we love:

The sizes are perfect for travel, and the soft hues will flatter many skin tones.

What we don’t:

We like when companies go the extra mile and include a cosmetics bag, but it’s still a nice set. We’d also like to see some more variety in colors, but if pink isn’t for you, check out Benefit’s many other sets and kits.

 

Amazing Cosmetic’s GoGo Amazing Travel Duo features their full coverage concealer available in a variety of shades, and a lightweight primer. The two can be mixed together to create a tinted moisturizer. They also offer a kit with these two items, plus powder and a concealer brush.

What we love:

There’s a reasonable range of concealer shades, and the makeup is versatile.

What we don’t:

Darker skin tones are left out.

Wander Beauty’s New York Minute travel makeup kit includes mascara, a dual cream eyeshadow and eyeliner stick, multi-tasking lip and cheek gel, and a slim cosmetic bag for travel.

What we love:

They’re perfect compact sizes, so you’re not taking more than you need when traveling. The colors are also fairly neutral and flattering to most.

What we don’t:

More color choices would be nice.

Don’t forget to travel-size your makeup brushes! These soft bamboo brushes by Matto include a handy travel bag to keep your brushes clean and organized.

What we love:

These are great quality, attractive (and soft!) makeup brushes at a really awesome price.

What we don’t:

While these brushes are convenient and easy to hold, they could still be a little more compact. See below for a smaller option for packing super light.

If you’re looking for a truly compact, easy to take anywhere brush set, this is it! Sephora’s Mini Deluxe Charcoal Antibacterial Travel Brush Set includes six versatile brushes, and a handy carrying case.

What we love:

They’re perfect compact sizes, so you can easily fit the brushes in your cosmetic bag (or an already stuffed-full carry on!).

What we don’t:

Short brushes can be a little more difficult to manipulate, so some might prefer longer handled sets.

 

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

 FAQs

What travel size items do I need? Can’t I just pack full size toiletries? 

If you’re checking a bag, there’s nothing keeping you from just packing your full size toiletries. If, however, you’re sticking with a carry on, everything in it is subject to TSA’s rules on liquids.

This actually may not be a problem with most cosmetics, as they’re often small enough to comply and not always liquid to begin with. You will however, need to be able to fit everything in a quart size bag. Overall, I just find that choosing travel sizes helps me to save space, whether or not I’m traveling with a carry-on.

What are travel sizes 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 that are 3.4 oz or smaller.

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!). The 3.4 oz rule means that if you try to bring a 6oz container that’s half full, it’s against the rules and will be confiscated.

Many items that you wouldn’t think of as liquids still fall under this rule. This can include items like lipgloss 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 happen if I bring 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, we 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 powder foundation for liquid (I’m a fan of Stila’s Illuminating powder foundation), lipstick for lip gloss, and even think about trying out a solid shampoo bar!

How long will travel sizes 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. Stowaway’s travel sizes usually last me for at least a couple 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!

 

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Freelance writer, full-time traveler.