Carry on packing essentials
lifestyle,  packing tips,  travel tips

Clever tips for packing beauty essentials in hand luggage

Packing with just a carry-on/hand luggage can be a real challenge when it comes to beauty products and toiletries.

You’ve picked your destination; your tickets are printed, and now it’s time to pack.  But if you are anything like me, you’ll find it challenging to bring all your favourite beauty products along with you.

Carry on packing - mini toiletries and beauty products

I envy those travellers that sail through the airport with a half-empty plastic bag; those who can bring the bare minimum of products with them on a holiday.  To compound the challenge, I rarely travel with more than hand luggage, and even if I do have the luxury of a checked suitcase, the quality of products such as perfume can be compromised when travelling in the harsh conditions in the plane’s hold.

So what’s a beauty product lover to do? Although I’ll still struggle to close that little plastic bag before every trip, I do have some tips I’ve picked up over the years for packing beauty products in your hand luggage:

Buy a beauty box for travel-friendly products to pack

Not only will you usually get small, security-friendly sizes, but often these boxes contain products that are slightly more high-end than the ones you pick up from the tubs at your local chemist. Most importantly, there will often be perfume samples included, always the biggest beauty travel challenge!

Beauty box

I recommend using one that lets you pick your own products, such as Latest in Beauty, which lets you customise your own box (of 3, 6, or 9 products) and has a wide variety of holiday-sized products.  They also do collections, and you might just find a ready-made box with all your travel essentials.

Grab some sample sizes for your suitcase

full size perfume and mini carry on size perfume

If you’re not in the UK, checking out the sample sizes in Sephora by the checkout can be a great shout.  But otherwise, it is possible to get some great samples from various places, and sometimes they are even free.

Ask beauty counters in a department store if they have any perfume samples or see if you can trial a new foundation. Check out free online samples such as Feel Unique’s Pick’n’mix scheme. Or you can choose to stock up on favourites such as Cult Beauty’s minis.

Go for solid versions of liquid items

Where possible, avoid liquids all together in favour of solid or wipe versions.  Trade the micellar water for make-up wipes (biodegrable). Consider a solid deodorant or deodorant wipes over spray and roll-on.

Lush does some amazing solid products, including solid shampoos, conditioners, perfumes, and more, and you know they will be earth-friendly and smell amazing.

Buy easy-to-find items at the airport

If you know the airport you are leaving from pretty well and know there’s a chemist on the other side of security, opt to buy things such as hand sanitisers, deodorant, body wash, or any item where you don’t have to have that certain brand.  Save your bag for those special products you just can live without.

Don’t forget to check sizes while packing

Toiletries bag - mini products for carry on packing

Avoid being “that” person holding up the security line by trying to bring full-sized perfumes and shampoos through in your hand luggage. Always check the sizes, keeping in mind the 100ml (3.5 oz) limit you have to follow. Anything over can be filtered into flight-friendly bottles, available everywhere from Primark to Boots, even Poundland has them.

But I find even these can take up a lot of room, and what about those products you only need a little bit of? Grab some mini travel pots. Although I’ve had a lot of these crack and leak, and actually found that Systema Dressing to Go Mini Pots (new and unused) or even contact lens cases (don’t reuse after) work a lot better!

Pack beauty products that will work hard

Packing products that have multiple uses can also be a great way to save room.  For example, coconut oil can be used as a moisturiser, eye makeup remover, deep conditioner, even a shave gel! Aloe is also a great one to pop in your bag to act as a moisturiser and post-sun soother.

lavender calming multipurpose gel - multi use products make carry on packing easier

I also always try to fit in my go-to product for skin troubles: AA Skincare’s Lavender Calming Multipurpose Gel.  Not only is it natural and great on faces that get irritable in the dry air, but it’s also amazing for sunburns, insect bites, or any other skin issues that might pop up on holiday!

Still Have Room? Pamper That Skin!

products to combat dry cabin air

You’ve packed everything up and you still have some room (tell me your secret now please!). If that’s the case, it’s time to give your skin some extra love after it’s been exposed to yucky, drying plane air. Try a hydrating facial mist for a quick refresh, or treat your skin to some deep moisturising with your favourite night cream.

If you have run out of room (I feel you), grab a deep moisturising tissue mask. Guess what? It doesn’t count as a liquid!

What’s in my bag?

mini toiletries to pack in a carry on suitcase

My next trip (Croatia) is just over a week away, so I’m already getting my must-haves together.  Here’s what I’m taking on this trip:

My travel minis:

  • Daisy Eau so Fresh, Marc Jacobs (4ml).
  • Pocketbac, Bath and Body Works (29ml).
  • bareMinerals bareskin pure brightening serum foundation (3ml).
  • Pomegranate Skin Cleansing Bath & Shower Gel, Crabtree & Evelyn (50ml).
  • Neal’s Yard Geranium & Orange Body Lotion (sample, 7ml)
  • Toothpaste.
  • Mascara.

In travel bottles/pots:

  • Shampoo.
  • Conditioner.
  • AA Skincare Lavender Calming Multipurpose Gel.
  • Revlon Primer.

To buy at the airport:

  • Sunscreen.
  • Deodorant.
  • Dry shampoo.
  • Contact lens solution.

So what are your tips for packing beauty products in your hand luggage? Which must-haves are always in your bag?


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