Ask any beauty fanatic about how they pack their products for a trip, and you’re bound to hear some alarmingly thorough responses. Some decant their shampoos into smaller bottles, others use old contact lens cases as tiny compacts for small amounts of concealer and foundation. Others still, who can’t bear the thought of leaving behind their favorites, abandon all semblance of packing light and cram their entire makeup kit into their checked luggage.
In lieu of risking TSA℠ confiscating your go-to, dealing with a chaos-causing leak from a DIY solution, or losing your bags altogether, we have a much simpler solve: just pack miniature versions of all your top products. Here, our editors share their favorite travel-sized beauty goodies that they simply can’t travel without. Read on to discover indispensable dry shampoos, cleansing oil capsules, and more.
Who: Lauren Levinson, Editorial Director
Why: This is my tried-and-true MVP travel hair product, featuring a blend of marula, camelia, and argan oils. I add it to my hair before a long flight to keep my strands hydrated. If it’s a warm-weather or beach vacation, it’s my air-drying champion. It also works to coat hair before or after going in the pool to combat the dehydrating effects of chlorine. In cool, winter-y climates, a little oil rubbed between my palms tames flyaways and hat frizz. I also use it as a pre-blow dry serum and heat protector before I blow and curl my own hair. And, in a pickle, it refreshes a second-day blowout (just a little on the ends!), making the telltale dirty-hair scents.
Why: Find me a chicer compact! Seriously. One part of the mirrored duo houses a light eye cream that temporarily fills in fine lines. It’s light enough to apply multiple times on a long trip, but nourishing enough that you don’t need anything else. It also contains a lip gloss, which adds the most subtle sheen while also plumping lips. If you don’t have time to do anything else after that red eye, at least your pout will look pretty.
What: NARS® SoftcoreTM; Mini Blush and Balm Set ($24)
Why: Every season, NARS releases limited-edition holiday travel kits, and I hoard them. It’s the best way to get tiny versions of my favorite makeup essentials. This year, I’ve scooped up this blush and tinted lip balm duo in the iconic peach-pink OrgasmTM; shade. It’s part of NARS’ studio 54-themed offering, so enjoy the disco-inspired packaging in addition to the glowey hues. I don’t plan on removing either of these minis from my makeup bag until they’re completely used up.
Who: Joslyn Winkfield, Senior Visuals Editor
Why: I just checked my calendar and counted that I’ve been on 18 planes this year. This precious jar has been my companion on each trip I’ve taken, since most cleansing balms come in bigger tubs. It’s also on my general holy grail list because of its almost magical makeup melting properties, thanks to sunflower and ginger root oil. I love that it goes the extra mile, too, by gentling exfoliating my skin with papaya enzymes.
What: La Mer® Mini Miracles Set ($90)
Why: Tons of travel means my skin needs extra TLC. Enter the perfectly sized moisturizing trio from La Mer, which includes the Treatment Lotion, Eye Concentrate, and Soft Cream. These fan favorites are sold as a set exclusively at Nordstrom® and do wonders for my dehydrated skin (thanks recycled airplane air). I feel so sophisticated when I pull this luxe blue pouch from my carry-on.
Who: Emily Orofino, Senior Beauty Editor
What: Tula® Purifying Face Wash ($10)
Why: When I’m traveling, I need a facial cleanser that can cut through everything — tropical vacation sweat, special event makeup, the occasional stress cry-induced mascara meltdown — and that product is this cleanser from Tula. It features lactic acid to help exfoliate, antioxidants blueberry and turmeric to promote free radical defense, and both pre- and probiotics to help strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier. Plus, it’s sulfate free, and washes away all the grime on my face without leaving it feeling stripped or parched.
What: Klorane® Dry Shampoo With Nettle ($10)
Why: This is truly the MVP of any beauty lover’s travel bag. Of course, its primary benefit is magically cleansing the heck out of greasy hair. I have naturally pin-straight strands that tend to look oily two days after washing — and I’ve successfully used this to extend a blowout an entire week. Beyond that, though, it is also a stellar addition to clean hair. Try spraying it in your strands before and after curling it with a Beachwaver® to add serious and lasting volume and texture.
What: IT Cosmetics® Confidence in a Cream® ($16)
Why: I have professed my love for this IT Cosmetics moisturizer time and time again, so I won’t repeat myself too much here. Just know that the ceramide-packed cream delivers long-lasting, non-greasy hydration that plays well under makeup — and that you’ll probably repurpose the tiny jar, too (I keep supplements in mine!).
Who: Thia Laurain, Social Media Editor
What: Elemis® Pro-Collagen Rose Cleansing Balm ($14)
Why: I’m a very active traveler; I’m far more likely to walk 10 miles in pursuit of the perfect gelato swirl than I am to take a snooze by the pool. As a result, my skin often gets doused in extra sunscreen and extra grime from the elements, making double cleansing an absolute must for me while on the go. I am completely devoted to that ritual with the Pro-Collagen Rose Cleansing Balm from Elemis. The soothing formula removes all traces of the day gently and effectively, smells like my idea of heaven, and leaves no filmy residue behind. I can’t be without it — whether for a weekend jaunt or weeklong journey — so I’ll be stocking up on a few of these darling 20 gram tubs for all my holiday travels.
What: SK-II® Facial Treatment Essence Mini ($99)
Why: Essences are another essential part of my daily skincare routine that I refuse to compromise on for the sake of the TSA. And this flight-friendly 2.5 ounce bottle of the cult-classic SK-II Facial Treatment Essence ensures that I don’t have to. The formula is concentrated with over 50 different vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that easily absorb into skin with a few quick pats. Before long-haul flights, I splash this on in the airport bathroom after cleansing to ensure my skin stays hydrated, bouncy, and balanced during and after my time spent at 35,000 feet.
Who: Madisen Theobald, Social Media Editor
What: Drunk Elephant® The LittlesTM; ($90)
Why: Disclaimer: I am a huge Drunk Elephant fan. I have many of the brand’s full-sized products at home (a favorite being the BabyFacial®), so the extremely cute Littles collection had me falling in love at first tiny serum pump. This chic, TSA-friendly set contains eight cult-favorite products that have lasted me through six months of travel. (And, let me tell you, I travel all over the country for work!)
Some of my favorites from the bunch are the Beste No. 9® Jelly Cleanser to wash off daily grit, the B-Hydra® Intensive Hydration Serum for those mid-flight splashes of hydration, and, of course, the C-Firma® Day Serum for my daily dose of vitamin C to reset my jetsetter skin. My travel skincare routine would be nothing without these little (yet, oh so powerful) cuties.
Why: I will start by saying I simply cannot fall asleep without a coat of this antioxidant-rich Lip Sleeping Mask. Yes, I am addicted, so this travel-sized lip mask helps ease my anxiety of waking up with a crusty pout. This berry-infused, ultra-hydrating mask rescues flakey, tired lips overnight, plus it has the most gorgeous sheen. The duo includes a moisture-coating dewy lip balm that gives me all-day hydration and a sexy, glossed pout. These products are key for winter months.
Who: Sophie Wirt, Beauty Editor
What: Eve Lom® Cleansing Oil Capsule Set ($25)
Why: If you ask me, Eve Lom is one of the preeminent purveyors of oil-based skincare. The brand’s cleanser has become a mainstay in my routine — and in the routines of many of my friends who’ve tried it. I wouldn’t dare take my beloved balm with me on vacation, though. (Last time I traveled, my boyfriend’s solid hair pomade was confiscated; naturally, I have TSA trust issues.) Instead, I’ll be keeping these little individual, single-use pods handy in my carry-on. Not only will they breeze right through security, but I can rest assured that they’re not going to unfurl in my bag. Despite their tininess, these capsules are loaded with mighty-good ingredients: grapeseed oil, chamomile, and eucalyptus, to name a few. Most importantly, they facilitate double cleansing on the go.
What: Pour L’Air® Mr. RoseTM; Travel Candle ($24)
Why: Without my creature comforts — two of which are creatures (cuddly kittens) — I’m prone to bouts of homesickness. Alas, I can’t stuff my NYC apartment into my suitcase (tiny as it may be), but I can transport its scent. This candle is a travel-sized version of my go-to bedside flame: a cozy, sensual blend of bourbon, rose, and tobacco. Tiny as this one may be, it’s almost as potent as its full-size parent product.
Who: Cat Matta, Copy Editor & Fact-Checker
Why: Whenever I travel, I cram, jam, and roll whatever I possibly can to avoid checking my bag at the airport. And, aside from the TSA policy of 3.4 ounces or less, I fear the risk of forgetting full-sized products wherever I stay on my journeys, even if they’re technically able to get through security. A few months ago, I fell in love with this cult classic serum, which made my skin so velvety soft, I could barely keep my hands from touching it. So, when I found out that it came in travel-size, I was overjoyed I wouldn’t be without it while travelling. It not only absorbs quickly, but after continued, consistent use, my skin’s texture was smoother, softer, and more even than it’s ever been. It definitely deserves all the rage it gets from so many people, celebrities alike.
What: R+Co® BalloonTM; Dry Volume Spray ($18)
Why: Throughout the years, my hair has gone from thick and wavy to much thinner and almost bone straight, albeit still frizzy when it gets even the slightest bit damp. Interestingly, the first time I came across this volumizing mist was as a travel-size. With a few spritzes at the roots, and along my length, it’s amazing at breathing much-needed life back into my hair whenever it goes limp. I liked it so much, I was sure to get the full-size version, too. Pro tip: Flip your hair over, spray underneath, and tousle your strands for extra lift.
Some complimentary products were provided to the authors for the purpose of writing this article.
Product prices may vary from the time this article was written.
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