3 Makeup Packing Tips for a Weekend Trip

Published in: Beauty Tips, Makeup Tips/How To

Reason No. 3,456 why I like to travel? — learning new packing tricks (makeup or otherwise).


It’s like a personal challenge of mine, figuring out new ways to help my makeup bag streamline and be all it can be!

Here’s a few things I tried on this last trip…

1. Ditch the palettes

You can do a lot with as little as two eye shadows — one neutral matte or satin slightly darker than your skin tone, and one flattering metallic or shimmer that you really, really like.

It hit me in La Jolla last weekend. I was getting ready for dinner one night and started thinking about how I got by with just two makeup brushes that time in Redding when I forgot my brush bag at home. I wondered if I could do the same with just two eye shadows…

Turns out I could! For a few days. I wore MAC Soba, a golden brown with a satin finish, and MAC Woodwinked, a warm, shimmery gold, three nights in a row and didn’t feel like I needed another eye shadow.

On my eyes: MAC Eye Shadows in Woodwinked and Soba (lids and lower lash lines), Chanel Le Stylo Yeux Waterproof in Santal (upper and lower water and lash lines), Make Up For Ever Smoky Extravagant Mascara (lashes) and MAC Veluxe Brow in Deep Dark Brunette (brows)

Wearing MAC Eye Shadows in Woodwinked and Soba on my lids and lower lash lines

On each of the nights, I contoured and added depth to my eye looks with Soba and used Woodwinked for a flash of bling on my lids.

As for options, even though I didn’t wear a smokey eye at all last weekend, I know that I could have banged one out by layering either shadow atop a smudgy black pencil liner. Or, as another option, for something more colorful, I could have lined either my upper or lower lash lines with a bright teal, purple or green pencil liner.

You can cover a lot of looks and bases with two versatile shadows like Soba and Woodwinked. YES.

2. Forgo your foundation brush

To save every precious ounce and square inch in your carry-on bag, you can always use your fingers instead of a brush to apply and blend foundation.

Most of the time.

It depends on the foundation, of course. This doesn’t work well with all foundations, but it works pretty great with MAC Face & Body and Bobbi Brown’s Foundation Stick.

Oh, the sonnets I could sing to MAC Face & Body

It won’t budge and yet doesn’t look or feel heavy, and it covers everything. Plus, it’s finger friendly. It looks great even when you just apply it with your fingers.

mac face and body foundation application tips

With my fingers, I can really work it into my skin, and the result doesn’t look heavy or unnatural.

Because it doesn’t move or migrate, it’s a great choice for oily or combo skin types, or if you’re en route to someplace hot and humid (and hopefully wonderful).

Bobbi Brown’s Foundation Stick is another fave, especially when I’ll be passing through airports, because it doesn’t take up valuable space in my TSA-approved bag of liquids

Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick in Honey (a good match for MAC NC42)

I like that I can wear it sheer or layer it for more coverage, and yup, it’s easy to apply and blend with fingers. A good choice for dry skin, in particular.

Both of these foundations are very photogenic, too. They look great in pics, so you won’t have to fret while you’re snapping that selfie.

3. Swabbing makeup remover stories…

Sephora Targeted Eye Makeup Remover Swabs

Dude, how did I ever live without Sephora’s Targeted Eye Makeup Remover Swabs ($9 for a pack of 20)?

Basically, these are awesome. They’re like Q-tips with built-in eye makeup remover. You can use ’em to clean up makeup mistakes or remove your eye makeup. Just snap off the tip at the blue line, and the makeup remover comes out from the opposite end.


I used them all weekend long. At night, I’d wash my face and remove my makeup (foundation, blush, powder, eye shadow and mascara) with my trusty Neutrogena Gentle Cleansing Wash, and then use one of these Sephora Target Swabs to remove whatever remained on my lashes and water lines (they don’t sting my eyes).

They take on waterproof makeup, too, and the slim case barely takes up any room in my makeup bag.

So, so good, babe! These are gonna be permanent residents in my travel makeup bag.

I’ve got the blues… I’ve got the post-vacation blues…

I haz them.

It’s always hard getting back into the swing of things after a vacation, you know? I’m happy to be back home and sleeping in my own bed…but sometimes I wish our vacations were real life and our real life was like our vacations, LOL!


Oh, well. Whatcha gonna do?

I guess I’ll just have another sip of Pukka Love Tea (it warms the heart)…

I hope your week got off to a good start. 🙂

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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  1. Isabel says:

    Great tips Karen! I am really bad at packing for trips when it comes to makeup. Those Sephora eye remover swabs are a brilliant idea! I had no idea they existed!

  2. adelle says:

    I love your sunglasses !!

  3. Julissa says:

    I have those qtips and they’re amazing!! The funny thing is I’m going on vacation morning LOLOL!

  4. breyerchic04 says:

    I just took a trip with only two shadows and two liners (plus painterly which I use nearly as concealer as well as primer). MAC Free to Be and Stila Kitten. I took UD Whiskey liner and my navy blue gel liner (not sure the brand right now). Yeah it was kind of a summer wild look using matte coral shadow but it worked!

    Also I bought the new Maybelline Fit Me stick foundation before that trip because I’m a shade darker than normal so I didn’t want to spend high end prices on a tanner foundation. It’s not the best wearing thing ever but with a little bit of my benefit dallas bronzer dusted over my upper face very lightly it works and the finish looks great.

  5. Chantelle says:

    Great tips Karen! I’m terrible when it comes to packing light in general, even more so when it comes to beauty products!! Those little sephora swabs sound great, pity we can’t get them in the UK!

    Chantelle x

    The Girl In The Tartan Scarf


    When I travel I forgo eyeshadow all together. For me, my eyebrows are more important so I take an eyebrow pencil. I also prefer Shiseido Sun Protection Foundation Stick better than the one by Bobbi Brown. It’s more compact, has better coverage, and leaves my face less shiny looking.

  7. Kim says:

    Excellent tips! The TSA approved bag of liquids is what kills me and the reason that I always check a bag when I travel. I just have too much liquid! It’s also the reason that I have a quart sized ziplock full of things like glosses and cuticle oil and febreeze in my purse every day. 🙂

    I hear you about the vacation/real life switcheroo. The boys had hockey camp last week so I took half days to watch them in the afternoons. A full day at work yesterday was tough. HAHA!

    • Karen says:

      Ya know, I’d love to check in my bag, but the fact that so many carriers charge for it now makes me grumpy.

      Hockey camp, how fun! Did the boys enjoy it? I hope you got in some downtime, too.

      • Kim says:

        Oh, I agree. It’s definitely irritating to have to pay extra for a checked bag. There’s always a chance they’ll lose it, too, and then you’re pretty much stuck with nothing. Or, as I now see it, a great opportunity to go shopping. 😉

        They loved camp and it was nice to watch them, and get out of the 90some degree heat! One of the boys wants his own room so we started prepping in our downtime. Removed 5 layers of wallpaper (with paint between some of the layers) and scrubbed the walls down to get rid of all the glue. Now, we just have to repair some of the plaster with joint compound, prime and paint! I say “just” so I don’t get too depressed. HAHA! It’s been a pretty unpleasant surprise and I found myself hating anyone who would consider putting paint/more wallpaper over wallpaper. You should have seen the bottom layer, though. It was probably pretty fashionable in 1930. 🙂

  8. Bethany says:

    Almay also makes some of those makeup eraser swabs…24 count for 5.99. They are wonderful…use them all the time!

  9. Charisma says:

    Nars the multiple is always a must have for me! A great multi tasker.
    Charisma recently posted … Sonia Kashuk Lipstick in Sunkissed and Rosette Review w/ Swatches

  10. Danielle says:

    Okay – I am definitely getting those Sephora wipes the next time I travel! I do tend to over pack beauty products, but I am trying not to. I always feel the need to bring different blushes and lip products, but I can wear the same eyeshadow everyday.

  11. Karen hurt her were fantastic!

    this glasses heart is the most beautiful!

    Razed the tips, I also think very few nifty use shadows to create gorgeous looks, these are their shadows mac key piece to make a good makeup

    You know that I still have not brush base? I apply with my fingers and I always turn right, although if I had a brush from mac to do this work would be better.

    This foudation of mac seems like the perfect pen bobbi brown.

    I loved the hint of eye makeup remover from sephora, and even broker make up, need this treat at home.

    And be nice to travel more in our space is also good, I think it would also be tasty as we are on vacation

    Be welcome back Karen

    thatiane gomes recently posted … Linha Hmmm.. Candy , Avon Review e Foto

  12. Dollie says:

    Lovely post. I always love packing for holidays too (and simply hate the unpacking when we return).

  13. Sandra says:

    Hi Karen,

    could you list your favourite foundations for oily skin drugstore and dept store? I’m overwhelmed with all the different brands .

    Thank you!

  14. Rachel says:

    Loving those sunglasses! Can you share who makes them?

  15. Jen says:

    I love to travel and have my routine down. Mousse foundation in a small travel jar and one Loreal concealer in a tube (both blendable with fingers). One powder compact with mirror. Two MAC eyeshadows (Soba and Brule usually), one mechanical/twist up dark brown eyeliner (Maybelline’s is easy to blend and no sharpener needed), one Maybelline mascara (not waterproof so washes off easy with plain soapy water), NARS Orgasm blush, one eyebrow pencil (mechanical like eyeliner), and one MAC Lipglass (Viva Glam VI, Prrr, or Nymph depending on my mood). Brushes: one powder, one blush, one eyeshadow and one smudge. It’s versatile, fits in one small pouch, and is just enough to make me feel “put together” when needed on vacation.

  16. Jenn says:

    Just a tip- Almay makes the same type of q-tips. They’re much cheaper than the sephora ones and work wonderfully! I buy them at Target. Love your blog!!

  17. Chelsea says:

    I so want to see if there’s a MAC Face and Body Foundation match for me after all your raves about it! I’m not normally a MAC shopper, but the way you talk about this foundation…

  18. Suzanna says:

    I bring a makeup bag on vacation and then wear only lipstick and gloss. I am loving, though, the Puerto Vallarta Nars Multiple. I bought it a couple of months ago when I needed a little “boost” and it’s fantastic for a no-fuss, summer-y look.

    I do love, though, the BB stick foundation, and what a great suggestion (along with the others). This foundation makes a great concealer if you aren’t into the full-face-foundation routine on a holiday.

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