So right now I know you’re like, “Uh Rachel, do you actually wear makeup? How’re you gonna tell me what makeup I need to pack?” (Not because I’m so naturally beautiful that I don’t need it, but because I’m not really in-the-know about makeup and generally inept at applying it.) I am great at packing light though!
And you’re mostly right. I really wear only wear makeup about 50% of the time while I’m traveling, and even then it’s usually the basics: Moisturizer, BB Cream, and maybe some bronzer. But that’s why there’s other stuff on this list!
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In seriously hot and humid places (like Cartagena and most of Southeast Asia), good luck trying to wear makeup at all! I’ve found that I have a proclivity for face sweats in those environments and anything I put on my face would just melt off.
Moisturizer and sunscreen for sure, but mascara and eyeliner, no way! I have seen some girls pull it off (uh, hello partying in Gili T) and yes, sometimes during the night or in higher altitudes, it will be cool enough to wear makeup out to the bar, but be sure whatever you pack is waterproof!
And let’s not forget that I went to Europe on this trip too, where things don’t drip off your face quite so bad because it’s not so damn humid. However, I also really attempted to avoid winter over the past year and half, so staying a bit tan eliminates the need for too much makeup for me (yeah, feel free to hate).
For other non-makeup stuff I packed, check out the Gear page.
What I pack is really the basic stuff. I keep it simple and when you’re packing carry-on only, I’d suggest that. Wear what you wear at home, but less – way less. You don’t really need options. Plus, you won’t know that many people when you’re traveling long term, so as long as YOU think you look good, it really does. not. matter. You won’t find many people in hostels judging.
(But PS – For real, if you’re wearing a bathing suit for a majority of the time in any destination, why would you bother wearing makeup?! Put on some sunglasses and don’t be a try-hard…)
Makeup For Long Term Travel
Garnier BB Cream – This stuff is a staple and most days it’s all that I wear. It makes my skin look a little smoother and all-around nicer and it has SPF. I use the medium-deep color.
Sephora Baked Bronzer – Well, I got this bronzer because I went into Sephora, looked around, and discovered that it’s the most affordable (duh). But now I dig it and this is my third case of this stuff. I get the “honey heat.” Just makes ya look a little bit more tan. They have a pinker shade for lighter skin tones.
Avon Shimmer Cube Blush – My mom gave this to me years ago (yes, I probably should’ve thrown it out by now but it’s lasted forever, makeup hygiene be damned). I like it because it’s light and shimmery and you don’t have to commit to one blush color, which I always get wrong. The texture is different too, like a little more moist than powdery, and I mean that in the best way possible. Also you can use a few of the golden cubes for eye shadow, if you ever need to get that fancy – multipurpose! (This is probs out of stock, but I’d still pick a blush palette for all these reasons.)
Stila Eyeliner – Oh man I’m terrible at eyeliner. But I learned about this stuff from Birchbox back in the day and I love it. It’s fine, like an actual pen, and it’s forgiving. (As in, it’s not there forever like a permanent marker when you put it on and inevitably mess it up.) Because I’m blonde with green eyes, I get the brown color – it’s not so intense.
Waterproof Mascara – Uhh don’t even think about wearing mascara that isn’t waterproof when it’s Southeast Asia hot. Actually, most days don’t even think about wearing mascara. Save this for Europe, special occasions, or places where you can feel the occasional cool breeze. Okay okay, maybe after a few beers, throw it on in South America and Southeast Asia when you’re heading somewhere besides the hostel bar for drinks.
Olay Daily Moisturizer – Who doesn’t use this? It has sunscreen, it’s lightweight and not greasy, plus it’s cheap and one bottle lasts forever Technically, it’s 0.6 ounces over what the carry-on limits say you can have for liquids (4 oz. vs. the 3.4 oz limit) but I’ve never had it taken from me and I rarely check my bag. (Of course, I don’t take it out and put it in the “clear plastic bag” with my other liquids when I scan it… rebel.)
Lipstick – I am recommending this not because I wear it all the time, but because when traveling it is one thing you COULD wear all the time to look really put together and not so backpacker-y. I’d like to take my own advice, but I always feel so silly wearing bright lipstick. So I save this for the occasional night out. This particular one is cheap and though it says it’s pink/coral, it looks rather red on me, without looking too T Swift.
Vaseline Petroleum Jelly – Okay, it’s not makeup, but it’s great for EVERYTHING! Get the 1.75 oz. tub for travel. It’s lasted me over a year and I use it almost every day. I put it on my lips multiple times a day and when I have a little excess on my finger (ie, always) I rub it on my motorbike scar on my ankle (is that gross?). It’s also good for protecting cuts and scrapes… yeah, historical note, that was actually its original purpose.
Other Stuff I Pack (and Seriously Need)
Tweezerman Tweezers – These are expensive for tweezers but they’re so great and I’ve had them for years. Fun fact: I’ve never had my eyebrows waxed in my life
Lush Dry Shampoo – I like this loose cornflower version of dry shampoo better than the usual spray stuff. You get WAY more uses out of it and I think it works better. Plus it smells nice. If you don’t want to splurge on the Lush brand, a travel-size baby powder will do a solid job too. Because on the road you never know when your next quality shower will be…
Wet N Wild Megalast Nail Polish – I know it sounds crazy, but this notoriously cheap brand is my favorite nail polish ever! It lasts the longest of any I’ve tried, but the best part is that its rounded brush makes painting your nails (and not getting any on your skin) way easier. And in Southeast Asia and South America, manicures and pedicures are super cheap, but they often have lower quality nail polish, so this way you can bring your own! (That great idea is from Hippie in Heels.) I like this color and their other light pink because if it chips, it’s not as noticeable.
Sun-In is my savior. If you’re blonde-ish and don’t want to pay for highlights, this stuff is a godsend. My old standby for years, I don’t pay for professionals to lighten my hair anymore. You just need a hot and sunny day out or a hairdryer. People joke, but this shit works. (Don’t forget to put it in one of these.)
Dove Deoderant – Why is Rachel recommending deoderant? Of course, I’m going to pack deoderant! *Rolls eyes, stops reading* Okay, obviously you don’t have to use Dove specifically, but if you like your deoderant in stick form, be sure to pick some up in the US. For some reason, it seems everybody else in the world prefers spray deoderant or roll-on…
Vaseline Lotion – Or any tiny size bottle of lotion that smells good. I’ve been through the Vaseline brand with aloe and this repairing version, but this one smells better. It’s available worldwide and in carry-on friendly sizes, so it’s usually what I end up with. No complaints.
Acne Spot Cream – I feel like my face has gotten exponentially clearer since traveling. I still haven’t decided if it’s all the time I spend outdoors OR sweating OR in the sun OR if I just have very little stress in my life. But for the occasional pimple, I use the off-brand, Rite-Aid version of this (same formula) and keep buying it over and over.
Tide To Go has saved many a shirt that would’ve fallen victim to my curry eating. And when your wardrobe is limited like mine, you need it.
A Couple Other Random Things
Sample Size Perfumes – You can buy ’em or you can go to Sephora and get free samples… I recommend the latter. For real, just pick a few perfumes that you want to try (preferably the popular and expensive ones) and ask the salesperson to fill up the little vials (you don’t want a little spray on that piece of paper, thanks). Don’t feel bad, it’s what they’re for! Like, it’s protocol. I’ve done it at a Sephora in Raleigh and in France. I also travel with the rollerball version of this Kate Spade perfume I got a while back, which has been handy.
Plastic Comb – No, I didn’t originally pack a brush or a comb when I left to travel. Sounds cray, but I don’t have much hair, you guys! About 7 months in, I bought a plastic comb in the Philippines when things started getting really tangly and breaky. But I could probably even get rid of it now that I have this short haircut…
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