12 Travel Essentials for Women: Beauty + Skincare + Haircare

Words by:

Nyssa P. Chopra

TRAVEL ESSENTIALS FOR WOMEN — As a supreme procrastinator, I tend to pack very, very last-minute, almost just moments before I leave for the airport. I’m getting better, but still it’s never no more than a few hours before. But that’s when being a seasoned traveler comes in handy. Very handy. I have the art of packing down to a T, gathering every essential beauty product and knowing perfectly well how to make space for that necessary extra pair of shoes.

As a huge makeup junkie, I wish I could lug my entire collection around with me, but alas, I can’t. But with a little trial and error, I’ve streamlined my essential beauty products, makeup + skincare + haircare, into one small bag that occupies a teeny tiny corner of my suitcase and that travels well even in just a carry-on bag (TSA-approved!). Having done this hundreds of times, I now know how to look fabulous on the go AND not bog half of my luggage down with creams and makeup products. Whether you’re going on a safari in Africa or roaming the wintry streets of Paris, looking your best is always en vogue and I firmly believe in the reciprocal relationship between looking your best and feeling your best. And on holiday, feeling my best is what I’m all about.

What I pack primarily depends on climate, where I’m staying (hotel, with a friend, etc.), duration of the trip, nature of the trip (the itinerary), etc., as each factor demands different things from my skin and hair. But a multi-purpose product is a traveler’s best friend.

12 travel beauty essentials

1) 100% Argan Oil by Josie Maran

This is one of my favorite multi-tasking products. I use it to moisturize my face (night), fill in the fine lines under my eyes, soften my cuticles, make my hair shiny and healthy, and take the place of a makeup primer in the winter months.

2) Peter Thomas Roth Ultra-Lite Oil-Free Sunblock SPF 30

I don’t leave the house without SPF. Period. Pre-mature aging? No, thank you. Sunburn? Definitely not interested. This formula is perfect for the face and body, and is ultra-lite and oil-free, smells lovely, and provides protection against UVA and UVB rays. You may have to transfer this to a small bottle if you’re taking only carry-on luggage, as it’s 4 oz.

3) Make Up Forever Full Cover Concealer

Sadly, I was not blessed in the dark circles department. It’s half genetics (thanks, mom!), half lifestyle choices, i.e. sleeping late and routinely not getting enough sleep. But this magic concealer lets me fake it and get away with it without a trace. The tiniest amount patted under my eyes, and voilà, I look like I’ve indulged in a 12-hour snooze fest. It’s oil-free and waterproof, meaning it stays put all day long, even in warmer climates.

4) Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Even Finish Foundation SPF 15

I have very oily skin, and this my friends, is the BEST foundation I have found to give me that all-day shine-free coverage. It’s oil-free, has SPF 15, and has minimal oxidation by the end of the day. A clear, luminously even skin-tone is literally one of your best accessories, and sometimes all that you need.

5) Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder in Translucent

Loose powder is perfect for keeping the shine at bay, setting the makeup, and polishing off the look. During the warmer months, it’s a heaven-sent product because I don’t have to keep retouching every few hours. Sometimes, depending on how much time I have, I’ll put a dab of concealer and sweep this all over, and I’m ready to go. And of course, it’s oil-free and non-comedogenic.

6) Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick

Ahh, I absolutely love this product. It’s a highlighter. It’s a blush. It’s a bronzer. Above all, it gives my face a natural glowy look. I’ll even dust it on my décolletage and shoulders for the perfect bronzed look during the summer.

7) MAC Quad Eyeshadow Palette

Eye shadows are a lot of fun to play with, but very cumbersome to carry around in their individual pots while traveling. I have one quad palette that has 4 shades, all neutral colors (1 shade lighter than my skin tone, 1 shade of my exact skin tone, 1 shade that’s 2 colors darker than my skin tone, and black) that serve a variety of purposes: taking the eyes from day to night, highlighting, contouring, filling in eyebrows, and eyelining.

8) L’Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara

High and low, L’Oreal’s Voluminous Carbon Black mascara is what my lashes respond to best. No high-end product has been able to surpass the quality of this mascara for me. Maybe comparable, but definitely not surpass. If you don’t want the bulk of carrying an eye-lash curler, but still want voluminously thick lashes, I’d say you’ve found your match. Two coats on, and you’re out the door. Better yet, try out eyelash extensions, and you’ll be managing only 11 essential items!

9) Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 in Rose

An essential in my purse and makeup bag is this lip treatment. In the winter months, lips tend to be much drier and beg for more moisture, so I always favor thicker formulas. Two added benefits are that it’s tinted and gives a perfect rosy sheen to the lips and that it has SPF 15 protection.

10) Oribe Haircare Travel Collection Set

Instead of pouring liquids into small travel-size bottles, using sample packets from the Oribe Travel Collection Set is so much better and more manageable for me (no potential leaks). Curly hair, by default, is super high-maintenance and frankly, a big pain in the a$$. I get regular Brazilian Blowouts to keep the frizz at bay and to keep my hair healthy, but to maintain the longevity of the treatment, I have to use certain products without sulfates, etc., meaning generic shampoos/conditioners don’t work well for me. These compact packets are the perfect compromise because it’s quality haircare without the bulk. One set (a few packets) can literally last me a few weeks on the go.

11) Dry Shampoo

This is my curls’ best friend. This is seriously the greatest thing since sliced bread. I have incorrigibly curly hair that I hate to keep curly, so I try to prolong my blowouts as much as I can in between washes. This gives my hair that extra oomph without much effort and extra styling.

12) Philosophy Purity Made Simple Facial Cleanser

This product is brilliant. It leaves my face squeaky clean, velvety soft, and makeup-free. Best of all, it does not irritate my eyes. When at home, I use it with my Clarisonic Mia brush for a deeper clean. I couldn’t ask for a better cleanser.

Recently, a friend facetiously quipped that my beauty products are so much more well-travelled than she is. I laughed, but it was true. It’s how I reward them for their awesomeness. 😉 Jokes aside, I love all these goodies and am thrilled to pieces that I’ve narrowed my favorites down after years of trying and testing.

Whenever available, I use the mini versions/sample packets of products and always have them ready in my bag. Everything else, from toothbrushes to loofas, can be found at the hotel and/or on the airplane, so I don’t bother taking them. Though you could use your fingers for just about everything, including eyeshadow and foundation application, I carry a few side accessories like my beauty blender sponge and a few brushes.

Also, if you’re wondering how these products hold up in photos, don’t worry, they’ve been tried and tested over and over again; they’re all shutter bug-friendly.