2011 will go down in my diary as the Year of the Suitcase. I took a total of five trips this year, which is nothing, I know, compared to hard-core travelers, but it was a lot for me.
And one fantastic side effect of those trips was that they forced me to upgrade my approach to packing. I went from starting the year as a contender for “Crappiest Packer Ever,” and ended it as a middleweight semi-pro packer with a handful of new tricks.
If you have plans to fly (or drive) over the next few weeks, here are three things you can do to eek out a few more cubic feet for makeup and beauty in your luggage.
1. The door is a jar
I’m a gal with a weakness for products, and there’s only so much room in those TSA-approved plastic baggies. By filling up little sample jars with your must-have skincare and other liquid products, you can fill your allowed plastic bag to the brim.
Sometimes you can find the little bottles at drugstores, places like Bed Bath & Beyond and even Target, but I like the free ones from Nordstrom. They hold less than an ounce, but for most things that’s usually enough product to last me a couple of weeks.
(I ask my favorite makeup artists if I can have a couple of them every so often when I visit a counter.)
Don’t forget 3-1-1
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) 3-1-1 program limits the size and number of liquid-filled products that can be brought aboard planes in carry-on bags. Travelers can bring aboard liquid-filled bottles no larger than 3.4 ounces (100ml) by volume and must store those bottles in a single quart-sized, clear plastic zip-top bag.
Oh, and ever since the time I accidentally used my face cleanser on my hair, I’ve taken to putting labels on the jars, small rectangular ones from Office Depot, and I write the name of each product with a waterproof Sharpie, just in case the outside of the jar gets wet.
For my next trip — and yes, I admit it sounds a little OCD — I plan to add numbers to the labels to indicate the order in which the products should be used.
I guess I just like the idea of seeing the jars all lined up on a shelf…
(TIP: Empty contact lens cases will also work in a pinch.)
2. Does the brand make a travel version?
Some beauty products aren’t easy to squeeze into new jars, like a dry shampoo, and for those things, I try to track down travel-size versions, like the little 1.4-ounce bottle of Oscar Blandi Pronto Invisible Volumizing Dry Shampoo Spray To Go ($11), the portable Clarisonic Mia ($119) and the 2-once bottles of Bumble & Bumble Gentle Shampoo and Super Rich Conditioner ($7) in the picture at the top.
There are a few stores I frequent to find portable products, like Sephora (they usually keep them near the cash register), Target and Bed Bath & Beyond.
And then after your trip, if there’s still any product left in the minis, you can always stash them for emergencies in your car, a purse, a gym bag or on your desk at work.
3. Keep a tiny bag for touch-ups
If I have to catch a 6 a.m. flight and need to get out of the house by 3, I kid you not, I’ll get up at 2 to make sure I have enough time to do minimal hair and makeup, because I like to look put together at airports, even at jacked up times (you just never know whom you’ll meet!).
True story — A friend of mine, when she was just about to graduate from business school, was freaking out about not having a job. She decided to visit her family over spring break and took an early morning cross-country flight.
Even though her flight was early, she decided to do her hair, put on some makeup and wore a nice outfit. On the plane, wouldn’t ya know it, she ended up sitting next to an executive at Revlon, and by the end of the flight, she’d scored herself a job.
On trips I also like to bring a tiny makeup bag filled with touch-up products like powder, liner, blush and lipgloss, and I keep it separate from my larger travel makeup bag, usually in my purse or in a front pocket in my luggage.
That way, if I have to spruce up, I don’t have to go digging through my luggage to find what I need.
If you have plans to travel this season, travel well and safe, and hopefully streamlined.
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,