My husband and I are lucky enough to be able to travel a lot, anywhere from a quick weekend getaway to a major 2 week trip. I am a chronic overpacker from way back, and so the process of learning to pack light has been rather arduous for me (him, not so much - he packed for a week in NYC including workout gear in a small roll-aboard suitcase this week with no sweat!).
Part of this process has been learning to distill my makeup needs down to their essence. This is especially key now, because while the products from my daily skincare regimen are all under 3oz and can come with me on the plane, they take up almost all the room in my TSA-approved clear toiletry bag for liquids.
As I mentioned here, I used to have a Lancôme travel palette from a duty free shop. In the end, I realized that although everything you’d need to construct a variety of looks was theoretically included, the color scheme didn’t work well for me. There were too many eyeshadows, and about half of them I’d never wear because they’re too warm-toned; the blush was really more of a highlighter and barely showed up on my skin; the eyeliner pencils were so tiny I couldn’t sharpen them; and the concealer colors were both too dark if we’re really being honest about just how pale I am. I gave the Lancôme palette the good old college try, toting it as my singular makeup solution on pretty much every trip I took in 2015 and 2016, but after seeing myself in mirrors and photos I had to call it quits. Life is too short to look a bit off!
Every supposed solution that doesn’t work is a learning experience, though. I realized that I really do want to have bronzer, highlighter, and blush available when I travel, and so I spent months looking at every makeup palette out there (seriously, makeup ads are following me all over the internet). I finally settled on this limited edition but fortunately not yet sold out NARSissist Blush, Contour, and Lip Palette. It contains NARS’ famous Laguna bronzer and Albatross highlighter, plus three blushes (including the now discontinued Roman Holiday), and a mini lip gloss. I’m especially happy with the blush colors, all three work well on my skin and give a wide range of options. I prefer a cooler toned bronzer and highlighter, but there’s a reason these two are some of NARS’ best sellers, they’re neutral and look pretty good anyway! And really, one can’t go wrong with a light pink sheer lip gloss.
I also realized that I missed the experience of using high quality brushes to apply my makeup while traveling. However, I am not willing to squish my gorgeous Tom Ford brushes into my suitcase, those suckers were expensive! Fortunately, the right solution appeared during the holiday season: a set of travel brushes from Marc Jacobs Beauty, one of the rare sets that includes all the brush types I normally use. The brushes are synthetic and sturdy while still applying makeup easily and evenly, but I am going to have to get a brush roll and stop traveling with the metallic zipper case - it’s a serious waste of luggage space!
On my most recent trips, I’ve packed the NARSissist palette, a Chanel eyeshadow quad, a travel sized mascara (trying to use this one up but I must say I do not love it, the applicator is so scratchy!), a lightweight foundation sample, my Guerlain Metéorites Compact, an additional mini lipstick or two, and the Marc Jacobs Beauty brushes. That is 100% enough for me feel polished while traveling, with enough options to glam it up a bit if I want to and neutral enough products that I can just throw on some mascara and blush and go.
You might notice I’m missing 3 major things from a typical beauty routine: concealer, eyeliner, and eyebrow product. I just ordered the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla in the travel size to test out, and if it works that will start coming with me as well. It has more oomph than my beloved daily standby YSL Touche Éclat, but really, travel is the time to have a sturdier concealer on hand since jet lag, pollution, and varying climates can wreak havoc on my skin. I rarely wear eyeliner, and am only just dipping a toe into the world of brow products, so I’m comfortable leaving both of those out of my suitcase.
You will very rarely see me recommend travel specific products - I’ll get into the details of that in a future post! But a combined face palette, mini products, and travel sized makeup brushes save so much room in my suitcase compared to those same products at full size that I’m willing to use up the bathroom drawer space to store them in between trips!