Travel Cosmetics Nuggets

When I tell people that I am a "carry-on only traveler, the first question they ask is, "What about all of your cosmetics?" A friend's husband once told me that if his wife was only allowed a carry-on, she would leave her clothes at home and fill the bag with beauty items!

This is the one area where I constantly have to use self restraint. Because beauty items are small, I'm always tempted to throw in "one more thing." I have to remind myself that unless I am going to a remote third world country, any place I go will have beauty items I can buy there. And it's so much fun to come home with special items that I find in another country!

I also had to come to the realization that traveling is about what you see, not about who sees YOU. Do you really want to spend an extra half hour attending to your makeup in the morning or do you want to see the Eiffel Tower?

Here are the basics that I always bring when I travel: (nothing larger than 3 oz, of course!)

A really good, heavier face cream.

The flight, climate changes, and stress of traveling can make your skin require some extra moisture. You don't want to re-apply a cream if you feel dry during the day, so make sure your face is dewy and fresh with some extra TLC. I like Dr. Hauschka's Rose Day Cream (about $40 from Whole Foods or Amazon).

TIP: Go to a nicer department store and find a brand that you like. Ask for samples. Get the samples for both the day and night creams, and make sure the day cream has sunscreen.

Castor Oil

If you read Annie's Nuggets (click here to read) you know I'm crazy about castor oil. I only bring about 2oz with me when I travel, because "a little dab will do ya." It's great for soothing tired feet after a day of sightseeing, rubbing on muscles sore from sitting for several hours in a cramped airplane, and massaging into your face and neck after you wash your face at night.

TIP: Use a screw top travel bottle and put the castor oil bottle in a separate baggy from the rest of your beauty items. It can leak during travel.

Garnier Skin Renew Anti-Dark Circle Eye Roller 

This handy gadget is much more than an under eye concealer. I use it strategically to cover red splotches, tone down brown spots, and even out my skin tone. It rolls on thin and does not cake or collect in the folds (I wouldn't want to call them wrinkles!). It takes the place of a concealer and foundation in one handy little stick. It is small enough to easily fit in a purse pocket. You can get it for about $13 at Ulta, Target, or order on Amazon.

Tarte Cheek Stain 

Everyone has their favorite blush. Mine is Tarte Cheek Stain (about $30 at Sephora, Ulta, Amazon). I like it because it doesn't disappear into my skin, I can also use it as a lipstick, and it travels easily.

Chanel Lip Gloss

Call me a lip gloss snob, but hands down, this is my favorite beauty product. Believe me, I would LOVE to find a replacement for this $30 lip gloss, but until I do, it will always be within my reach. When I can't buy it in France or from the duty free shop, I order mine from Nordstrom and it is delivered to my door with free shipping. (At least I don't have to pay for gas!) Order HERE.

St. Ives Apricot Scrub

I always have a travel size of Apricot Scrub in my travel bag. It's great for washing your face, exfoliating your feet, and getting rid of rough spots. Use it very gently, after all, it's skin, not the kitchen floor you're cleaning! I use it all over for an invigorating shower. Look for the travel size at CVS, Target, and Walgreens. 

GoToobs/GoGear Travel Bottles

My shampoo and conditioner are in my beauty bag, in GoToob Travel Bottles.

These little travel bottles are truly a nugget all on their own! I've seen them for $10- $20 for a pack of three 3 oz bottles, depending on where you buy them. What makes them so special? They are made of really soft, squishy silicone and have a screw on top with a wide mouth. It is so easy to dispense shampoo, conditioner, or any other kind of cream from these. I use them for all kinds of things. They even go into the dishwasher!

GoToobs and GoGear are competing companies, but the products are basically interchangeable. I was digging through the travel area at CVS and found the last pack of GoGear for about $10. I haven't seen them since. If you want to compare them on Amazon, CLICK HERE.

What I don't bring in my beauty bag:

Eye Makeup, etc

I know for some this is going to be difficult, but I don't travel with eye make up. I used to, and found that taking mascara, eye shadow, eyelash curler, and then eye make up remover is just not practical. And after spending all day out sightseeing, sometimes in unforeseen drizzle, eye makeup tended to actually make me look worse. I would look in the mirror at the hotel at the end of the day, and I had black smudges under my eyes that made me look 20 years older.


This is tough for me because I'm a real "smell good" kind of girl. But have you ever sat on the plane with someone doused in Chanel #5? Perfume is just one more thing that you want but you don't need, and actually can be bothersome to your travel companions. If you really want to use some kind of fragrance, bring a small tube of body lotion that has a nice, light scent.

Curling Iron/Hair Dryer

I always contact my hotel before I arrive to inquire if they furnish a hair dryer. It is a real waste of space and weight to carry a hair dryer with you. Same with a curling iron. Both require special electrical converters (more than just a small adapter). Better to bring a few very lightweight velcro rollers and just heat them up in the morning with the hairdryer from the hotel.

I would love to hear about your "can't live without" beauty items! Leave a comment and share!

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