The makeup I pack for travel is entirely dependent on where I’m going. If Mr. Salt and I are visiting family, I pack very little: skincare, haircare, maybe concealer, eyeliner, and lipstick. (I already wear more makeup than anyone in either of our two families, so there’s no point in bringing false eyelashes).
But when I’m going to NYC to represent the category of beauty (for fashion week, or on this trip with Neiman Marcus), I want to have all my bases covered. It’s a balance: I don’t want to risk losing or breaking any of my valuables, but I’ll need options.
What I end up packing are my tried-and-true, can’t-fail products — plus my favorite lips of the moment — and I thought I’d share with you what those are.
Let’s start with what I pack it in: my Stephanie Johnson ML Traveler is one of my most prized possessions. I formerly packed my products in an infinite series of small (flat) GWP bags — the older bags are more valuable, because companies used to make them out of thicker (more protective) material. Life is simpler now: everything lives harmoniously together in one case. The ML traveler has sections for everything I need, and provides even better protection than the old system. I also love being able to see what’s in each compartment. I find myself working out of the bag, instead of unpacking everything upon arrival. (Click here for photos of an empty ML Traveler: each little bag snaps/velcroes in.)
The brushes (Ecotools bronzer and MAC 129SH blush brush) do have to ride separately, because I don’t want to get powder everywhere inside my Traveler. They’re in my trusty Estee Lauder GWP pencil bag.
Flat packet samples are so valuable for travel. They contain so little product, I don’t even worry about putting them in my one-quart bag. In the top clear zipper compartment of my Traveler go the packet samples: this time I had Kate Somerville Deep Tissue moisturizer (for night), Cytocell moisturizer (for day), Cytocell eye cream, ExfoliKate, and Quench serum. I also had a Deborah Lippmann Stripper to Go. These things are the BEST, but I have to save them for traveling. Inside is a little ridged finger mitt with lavender-scented nail polish remover. They are brilliant at taking off any polish (even nail stickers) — a necessity on a long trip.
The first mesh bag holds mainly tools: my five-piece Ecotools eye brush set, teeny folding sewing safety scissors (don’t you always need scissors when you travel?), mini tweezers by Susan Posnick (because I always find never-before-seen stray brow hairs when admiring myself in an unfamiliar hotel mirror), dental floss, Tweezerman metal lash comb, mascara spoolie, plastic lash comb (for brows), and Q-tips. Q-tips are a must have: I never apply my eye makeup perfectly, I just clean up when I’m done. There are also a couple of lipsticks in there because I had room.
The second bag is the exciting stuff: the “real” makeup. I always pack my go-to mini Bobbi grey eyeshadow palette. Released a few years ago, it’s called Shadow Basics Neutral, and contains Bone, Cement, Slate, and Smoke. I also have my go-to brown palette: Vincent Longo’s eyeshadow trio Evolution (the perfect dusty pink, brown crease color, and dark brown for the lashline).
To make sure my eyes look good from morning to night, I packed Laura Mercier’s Eye Canvas in EC-2. Also inside: Cle de Peau concealer in Ivory, GWP Diorshow Maximizer lash primer, GWP Diorshow Extase mascara, and the rest of my lip options.
Knowing that bold lips are in right now, I didn’t bother packing nudes or demure pinks. I brought L’Oreal Volcanic, YSL Glossy Stain #6 Camel Croisiere, NARS Wonder lipgloss, Lancome Rouge in Love 146B Miss Coqueliquot, and Estee Lauder Mad Men lipstick in Cherry.
Between mesh bags 1 and 2 I also stash some triangle sponges (for blotting foundation if it’s looking too cakey).
Eyeliner is probably the single most important piece of makeup I put on, so I’ve got OPTIONS. I packed Prestige Waterproof Eyeliner in Charcoal Brown (my everyday shade; great for tightlining), NARS Larger Than Life Eyeliner in Campo de Fiori (its dull gold is awesome on the waterline, and I know it won’t move), Bobbi Brown Eye Kohl in Black Chocolate (a second waterline option), Prestige Total Intensity eyeliners in Bold Brown and Intense Olive, Lancome Artliner in Brown, and L’Oreal Hip Loose Kohl in brown.
Also in this pouch: pencil sharpener (super important!), NARS brow pencil in Ipanema, a Laura Mercier palette (which feels a little frivolous, given that I already have two great eyeshadow options). The palette is from a few years ago. It’s called the First Blush Face Palette, and the eyeshadows (Buff, Tawny Apricot, Granite) are great for a lighter (day) look. It also contains a peach blush and a pink blush, so I’ve got all my bases covered in a fairly sturdy package. This palette also has three lip colors, which I have never (and probably will never) use.
I also have my Physician’s Formula Healthy Wear SPF 50 Powder Foundation in Translucent Light. This is such a versatile item. It can be light foundation (if I’m in the mood), spot powder for selectively taking down shine, color corrector under the eyes, and a little extra sunscreen.
Also, between the second mesh pouch and the clear plastic bag in the back, I’ll store my wide-toothed comb (curly hair only gets brushed when it’s wet).
So if I took all the bags out in order, this is what you’d have:
And this is everything I packed:
As for the liquids and that painful one-quart-bag rule: I can’t even fit all my hair products into a quart bag. Before I travel, I steal a couple of sample jars at the counter and decant shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion, sunscreen, and foundation. By the time I’ve also packed toothpaste, lens solution, a mini spray bottle of John Frieda Spiral Style, makeup remover (usually a GWP of Shu Uemura cleanse off oil and Lancome Bifacil), I’m out of room.