The 12 Best Travel-friendly Makeup Products of 2023

From foundation to makeup brushes, these are the best beauty products to take on your next trip.

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Best Makeup for Travel

Travel + Leisure / Kristin Kempa

Maintaining your regular makeup routine on the road can be tricky but not impossible. Just like you edit your closet to only pack the essentials, you can do the same with makeup. The solution is to choose travel-friendly alternatives to your favorite products and adjust your beauty routine according to the weather at your final destination.

Keeping your makeup routine simple can leave more time to enjoy the destination and the company you're with. Whenever possible, avoid packing too many liquid products that need to adhere to TSA's 3.4-ounce carry-on rules (and could explode or accidentally spill in the middle of a trip). Now, check out the 12 makeup essentials we never go on a trip without from BB cream to blush.

Best Foundation

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick

4.2
Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick

Sephora

Why We Love It: It’s formulated with a blend of oils that moisturize the skin. 

What to Consider: Because it’s not a liquid foundation, it can become cakey if you don’t blend it properly.

Stick foundations are best for travel since they are compact and are not subject to TSA's liquid restrictions. Of course, not all stick foundations were created equal but we love Bobbi Brown's award-winning Skin Foundation Stick which has a unique formula with a transparent base to blend in seamlessly. 

Another reason to add this to your travel makeup collection is that it is rich in shea butter and olive extract to help keep skin moisturized when it needs it the most (as cabin air is notoriously dry). This foundation delivers medium-to-full coverage to cover imperfections and the look of fine lines and wrinkles. Also nice: it is water-, sweat-, and humidity-resistant and will stay on for many hours, so you don't have to worry about frequent touch-ups.

Lastly, a stick foundation is by far the easiest to apply on the go and, with 43 shades ranging from extra-light to deep, finding the one that matches your skin tone should be a breeze.

Size: 0.31 ounces | Shades: 43

Price at Time of Publish: $52

Best Foundation Alternative

MDSolarSciences MD Mineral BB Cream SPF 50

MD Mineral BB Crème SPF 50

MD Solar Sciences 

Why We Love It: It has SPF 50 along with light coverage.

What to Consider: It’s only available in three shades.

Heavy foundations are not everyone's cup of tea, so a BB cream is an excellent alternative. It offers light coverage and is perfect for concealing blemishes without giving the cakey feeling and look of some foundations. With a healthy blend of plant extracts, along with caffeine and niacinamide, this pick protects your skin from environmental aggressors and helps minimize redness and discoloration, too.

Another big plus of MD Solar Sciences' BB cream is that it has SPF 50 from naturally-derived zinc oxide. Even if you’re not traveling in summer or to a warm destination, UV transmission is significant at 36,000 feet, so you need extra protection for your skin during a flight (especially if you have a window seat).

Size: 1.23 ounces | Shades: 3

Price at Time of Publish: $40

Best Multipurpose Product

Westman Atelier Baby Cheeks Lip + Cheek Cream Blush Stick

Westman Atelier Baby Cheeks Lip + Cheek Cream Blush Stick

Sephora

Why We Love It: It can be used as blush, lipstick, and eyeshadow.

What to Consider: It takes some effort to blend.

With limited space in your carry-on, it is often better to invest in beauty products that do double and triple duty (without sacrificing quality, of course). And this customer-favorite Westman Atelier beauty stick certainly deserves a spot in your makeup case. It's formulated by celebrity makeup artist Gucci Westman to give your cheeks, lips, and lids a natural flush of color, while ingredients like jojoba seed oil strengthen the skin's barrier at the same time. 

The stick glides on smoothly and is easy to blend with fingers for a smudge-free, healthy-looking finish. The lightweight texture also allows you to build coverage or apply it on top of your foundation. We also love that Westman focuses on clean ingredients that are gentle to the skin and Mother Nature.

Size: 0.21 ounces | Shades: 6

Price at Time of Publish: $48

Best Lip Balm

Bioderma Lip Balm

Bioderma Lip Balm

Amazon

Why We Love It: It leaves lips moisturized without feeling greasy.

What to Consider: It doesn't provide sun protection.

The delicate skin on our lips is more prone to dehydration when we travel. That's why we never head out the door without lip balm. In fact, we always pack two of these Bioderma sticks (one in our carry-on and one in our checked luggage), so we never run out. The lightweight, super-hydrating formula (with shea butter and avocado oil) moisturizes without leaving lips greasy. And lipstick has the same color intensity when applied over top of the balm if that’s your preferred finish. Lastly, the unscented formula is a win.

Size: 0.14 ounces | Shades: 1

Price at Time of Publish: $13

Best Hyrdrating Lipstick

ILIA Balmy Tint Hydrating Lip Balm

ILIA Balmy Tint Hydrating Lip Balm

Credo Beauty

Why We Love It: It moisturizes lips and delivers buildable color. 

What to Consider: It looks best (and lasts longest) on exfoliated lips.

There's a reason Ilia's cult-favorite hydrating lip balm racks up awards and positive reviews. It is a wonderful alternative to highly pigmented lipsticks that can dry skin and leave your lips cracked or flaky. This lip balm is rich in rosehip seed oil and shea butter to nourish your pout with each application. 

Classic enough to flatter all skin tones, the eight colors range from warm peaches to darker plums and browns. Plus, the sheer formula allows you to go light or more intense, depending on the result you seek.

Size: 0.15 ounces | Shades: 8

Price at Time of Publish: $28

Best Mascara

Milk Makeup Kush High Volumizing Mascara

4.8
MILK Makeup KUSH Volumizing Mascara

Amazon

Why We Love It: It lifts lashes with dramatic volume.

What to Consider: It only comes in black. 

Good mascara that doesn't dry lashes or smudge under the eyes is not easy to find. But after testing several, Milk Makeup's Kush volumizing mascara delivered the best and the most long-lasting results. This award-winning product quickly lifts your lashes to make them look fuller, longer, and thicker. And, even if you need to re-apply another coat, the mascara includes nourishing hemp seed oil and beeswax inside, too. (Note: For the best results, use with primer.)

Size: 0.12 and 0.34 ounces | Shades: 1

Price at Time of Publish: $14 for mini and $26 for full size

Best Travel Eyeshadow Palette

Urban Decay Naked2 Basics Eyeshadow Palette

Urban Decay Naked Mini Eyeshadow Palette

Amazon

Why We Love It: It features beautiful, long-lasting colors in a compact palette.

What to Consider: It doesn't come with a brush.

Urban Decay is a favorite among beauty lovers, and if this is your first time using their makeup, you'll instantly know why. The brand’s eyeshadow palettes are especially popular because they deliver highly-pigmented, buildable results that last up to half a day. 

This neutral palette comes in a compact box with six shades. We love that the matte colors complement each other for beautiful results. And you can build color intensity for a natural or more dramatic look. The nude and taupe shades are flattering on various skin tones and are suitable for everyday wear.

Size: 3.21 ounces | Shades: 6 per palette

Price at Time of Publish: $29

Best Eyeliner

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner

5
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

Amazon

Why We Love It: It's waterproof.

What to Consider: The colors are not very intense.

Stila's liquid eyeliner is a game-changer. The pen's marker-like tip offers precise application whether you are at home or on the train. It allows you to draw super thin or thicker lines for the perfect cat-eye effect. The quick-drying formula is smudge- and water-proof and has a satin finish. The best thing about it is that it lasts all day, so there is no need for touch-ups in the middle of other activities, or before dinner. Just keep in mind that the colors are not very intense, but you can always re-apply for a more pigmented finish. 

Size: 0.02 ounces | Shades: 8

Price at Time of Publish: $24

Best Travel Brush Set

Shany Bamboo Makeup Brush Set

Shany Bamboo Makeup Brush Set

Amazon

Why We Love It: There are seven brushes in this travel-friendly set.

What to Consider: The bristles are synthetic. 

A high-quality set of makeup brushes is essential to getting the desired beauty look. They help you apply the product with more precision for better blending and more natural results. Of course, we've all seen full-size brushes, which can be quite bulky if you grab several for the road. That's why we love this travel-friendly set that comes in a super compact canvas pouch that can fit in a purse. The handles are made from strong and long-lasting bamboo, while the soft bristles (and we emphasize soft) are synthetic. 

The set includes a powder foundation brush, concealer brush, eyelash/eyebrow brush, blush brush, bronzer brush, sponge applicator, and angled liner brush. The quality of this on-the-go kit is truly impressive, and you won't experience any shedding or the bristles getting loose with time, if you care for them properly.  

Size: 8.5 x 4.5 x 1.75 inches | Material: Bamboo handles, synthetic bristles

Price at Time of Publish: $17

Best Bronzer

Code8 Bronze Summer Glow Powder

Code8 Bronze Summer Glow Powder

Bloomingdale's

Why We Love It: It delivers a natural-looking glow. 

What to Consider: It doesn't come with a brush.

Who doesn't like the I-just-came-back-from-vacation sun-kissed look?! Of course, when getting to a beach is not an option, a good bronzer is the next best thing.

Code8's bronzing powder has a finely milled buildable formula that gives you control over its intensity — whether you'd like a natural healthy glow or a deeper, more sculpted effect. And while some bronzers have a lot of shimmer, Code8 has just a touch of sparkle for a golden flush instead of a glitter overload. Apply it with the tip of a bronzer brush on the forehead, nose, and along the hairline for instant radiance. 

Size: 0.17 ounces | Shades: 4

Price at Time of Publish: $42

Best Powder

Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder

4.9
Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder

Ulta

Why We Love It: It sets makeup and controls shine for up to 24 hours.

What to Consider: It has talc in it.

This silky powder was an instant hit back when it launched, and it continues to be popular among makeup enthusiasts. Whether you use it to set your makeup or need a touch of coverage or shine control, this loose powder is a multitasker. It softens and blurs imperfections but doesn't give you that dreaded cakey look. This translucent product is lightweight and non-comedogenic, so it smooths without clogging pores, while plant-derived powders absorb excess oil for up to 24 hours after application.

Size: 0.3 ounces and 1 ounce | Shades: 3

Price at Time of Publish: $24 for mini and $40 for standard

Best Blotting Papers

Tatcha Aburatorigami Japanese Beauty Papers

5
tatcha-aburatorigami-japanese-blotting-papers

Sephora

Why We Love It: It absorbs excess oil on the go.

What to Consider: The sheets are on the small side.

If you are traveling to a place with a humid climate or have oily skin, make sure you pack these blotting papers in your carry-on. They do an excellent job removing excess oil without messing up your makeup or leaving a powdery residue. The secret is in the clean ingredients: abaca leaf and gold, which have been used for centuries by geishas in Japan. And while the sheets are small, you can use both sides of a single paper. Last but not least, these blotting papers are gentle on sensitive skin.

Size: 40 sheets per pack | Shades: 1

Price at Time of Publish: $14

Tips for Buying

Figure out your essential items

With limited space in your carry-on or personal-item bag, chances are you're going to have to narrow down your beauty drawer to a few makeup essentials to take with you on the road. Choose multipurpose products that will save you space. Also, to avoid accidental spills, consider leaving your liquid makeup at home and finding non-liquid alternatives when possible. 

Consider the climate and planned activities

Heading to a hot and humid destination? Simplify your regular makeup routine and opt for sunscreen (a must!), a lightweight BB cream, and a setting powder. Liquid, creamy, and oil-heavy products will crease and clog your pores, making you feel incredibly uncomfortable in the blazing sun. Another must-have item to pack for a tropical vacation? Blotting papers.

On the other hand, if you're heading on your annual ski vacation, bring extra hydration and choose products that are heavy on moisturizing ingredients. 

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What makeup is considered a liquid for air travel?

    TSA considers all free-flowing, aerosol, or gel-like makeup to be a liquid. The products that fit this description must abide by the agency's 3-1-1 rule that states you can bring a quart-sized bag of liquids (each limited to 3.4 ounces or 100 millimeters) through the airport checkpoint. That means your liquid foundation, BB or CC creams, liquid eyeliner, mascara, perfume, nail polish, lip gloss, paste-like makeup, or gels all need to go into a Ziploc or other clear travel bag. TSA has no quantity or size limitations for makeup in a solid or powder form.

  • How should I pack my makeup for a flight?

    For carry-ons, your (3.4-ounces-or-less) liquid makeup products should go in one quart-sized, clear bag. There is no limitation to the number of containers as long as they fit comfortably in the bag. Be mindful of palettes or other more fragile makeup items that could use extra cushioning while in transit as well.

  • How should I store makeup brushes for travel?

    First, before you pack your makeup brushes, ensure they are clean, so they don't stain anything. Second, store your clean brushes in a brush roll or a makeup pouch to prevent them from picking up any bacteria or dirt. If you have a hard case (you can repurpose an old sunglasses case), that's even better and will prevent the bristles from being crushed by other items in your checked luggage or carry-on.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

For this article, T+L contributor Dobrina Zhekova relied on research as well as her own personal experience as a travel and lifestyle writer to compile a list of the best makeup for travel.

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