Travel and Beauty: Morgan’s Makeup Bag

For a trip around the world of indefinite length and destination, how do I pack?
Not my makeup bag, but here are my tricks

Narrowing down my choices for shoes and clothes proved extremely difficult, especially considering the size of my closet and shoe collection; I’m carrying only a hiking backpack on this adventure. However, most of the space in my bag is occupied not by clothing, but by beauty supplies.

During my 3-month stay in China, I learned that beauty supplies vary drastically across the globe. With a clearly defined length of stay in China, however, that problem seemed manageable. For this undefined sojourn, though, choosing my products felt more significant. I’ll detail what I took and whether each item has proven its worth, starting with my makeup bag.

Keep in mind, though, that so far the trip has only taken me through European countries (until next week, destination Morocco!).

My actual bag.

Makeup Bag

Let me just start by saying I’m no beauty expert. I could never create a tutorial on how to achieve any sort of ‘look’, how to knock out an amazing Halloween scary face (like my prosthetic makeup artist friends can), or even how to look sort-of-decent on a daily basis. I typically take about 5–15 minutes total to get ready, including my hair. To get my makeup routine started, I essentially walked into Sephora one day and said, “I have no idea what I’m doing. Please help me.” This was in my late 20s. Thus, everything I list below is extremely user-friendly.

I wear this every day. Its SPF protection proves useful on those sunny days, and its light-feeling composition allows a little coverage for days when I don’t wear foundation. The pore coverage promised makes only a slight difference.

This ends up on my face about 4–5 times per week. However, I don’t have a foundation brush with me (haven’t found a good travel-sized one quite yet), so I use my fingers to apply it (I know, I know). I don’t typically wear foundation for outdoorsy days, but I almost always wear it out for dinner , lunch, or days around town.

Oh, the acne! On days I use foundation, I apply this between the BB cream and the foundation. Also great for undereye coverage on those mornings after attempting to sleep on a bad mattress in a bed and breakfast (Odeceixe, I’m looking at you). I purchased this years ago at a Walgreens, and use only a few dots per application, hence its longevity.

Grabbed this one right before leaving as a comprehensive solution for my eyeshadow needs. I wanted something easy to travel with (notice the case closes around itself for protection, with no plastic parts to break upon impact) as well as versatile (it contains “basic” colors for day wear — the browns and beiges — as well as sparklier colors for evening. I have worn some of the brighter ones only once each or so; reds/purples look a bit weird on my skin.

Before the trip, I’d vacillated between the sharpener-required version of the Anastasia pencil (which contains more pigment and generally lasts longer, according to a Sephora employee) and this self-sharpening one. However, this time I focused only on the self-sharpening version to avoid having to carry a sharpener along, risking both a broken sharpener and pieces of pigment/pencil all over my bag (which has happened about a million times in daily life with the regular pencil). Both versions include the attached eyebrow brush end. The pointed tip of the Brow Definer, in contrast to the pencil version, allows for precise application on the corners of my brows. I use this brow pencil every day, even when I don’t wear any other makeup.

I use this travel-sized brush set every time I apply the eyeshadow or eyeliner. Each brush is imprinted with a clear label, just in case the pieces get mixed up and you’re not sure which one you normally utilize for each color’s application. The set contains 4 brushes: all-over shadow, crease, angled smudge, and liner, along with a pouch. For day wear, I generally only use the first two brushes. I could get by without the angled brush; I rarely use it (generally only for smudging eyeliner or dark creases). However, the small size of the set allows it to fit easily into my bag and keep organized, so I doubt I could have purchased each brush separately.

Only for dramatic wear, mostly nights (but occasionally days). I plan to wear it often in Morocco; from what I read, dark eyeliner in the day is common there. This takes the cake as the best eyeliner I’ve used, so it had to come on the trip!

Generally, I keep a travel-sized mascara in my bag (usually the Benefit Cosmetics mini), but I sprang for a larger size in case I couldn’t find something I liked on the road when the travel-ready version ran out. I dress the eyelashes 5–7 days per week, and keep mascara as a makeup bag staple.

  • Tweezer set

Used as often as I need it, and one of the most functional items in my kit! I’ve utilized the tweezers not only for their normal eyebrow functionality, but also to remove a splinter from my foot and to loosen tiny screws on my sadly-broken Kindle in order to investigate its issue. Purchased at a Big Lots for about $2.

A gift sample from my dermatologist in LA, this lip gloss is meant to plump lips using a small amount of acid. I’ve only worn this a handful of times in 6 weeks, and wouldn’t choose gloss again if I were to re-pack. Sticky and a bit too pink/shiny for the more natural looks I have been choosing, not to mention how often reapplication is required. Oh, and no noticeable plumping. It’ll likely hit the trash soon.

I protect my lips with this before an outdoor day, but I really should wear it more often (like every day). I occasionally put this balm on before a night out, since it provides a slight color without overwhelming. It provides me with confidence out in the sun because of its protection level for my lips. Until recently, the balm had been stored in a non-makeup-bag location, but its new home in the daily bag prompts me to wear it more often.

Bought this one before a festival as a last-minute wardrobe addition (easy, fun, stays on even in desert winds). The felt tip makes application simple and precise, and the color really does last. I have worn this several times on the trip, usually for a fun night out or a weekend. Fantastic purchase in my opinion — it’s lasted quite a while so far, with no signs of wear on the felt tip thus far.

  • Zum Lab Solid Perfume, Patchouli

Sorry for not providing a link, but I believe the manufacturers discontinued it. This little tin packs a punch with perfume! A hand-me-down, this perfume only requires a tiny bit to carry the scent, so I have hardly used any of it. The patchouli is recognizable, but subtle enough to not scream “hippie” unless you apply too much. Perfect size for traveling. Only one issue: when the perfume gets around the rim of the tin, opening the tin proves difficult (as in potentially requires a knife to pry). A rag and hot water cleans it up and solves the problem.

A gift from one of my best friends, this perfume has accompanied me for a long while now without running out. It’s a lighter fragrance with a bit of citrus, and I’ve noticed that it stays the same on my skin throughout the day, and the scent of it on my body matches the scent of the perfume alone. Many perfumes change with the body’s chemistry, but this one seems to stay consistent, which I appreciate. It works well with my natural deodorant (more on that in another post about my beauty products), and the rollerball setup is perfect for traveling (no leaks, no broken sprayers, etc.).

Overall takeaways:

  • Most of what’s in my makeup bag demonstrates itself as worth keeping. This won’t be true with many of my other beauty items, though!
  • Most quality products prove their worth and offer longevity. But…
  • Some cheaper products (tweezers, cover-up) also last surprisingly long.
  • Sephora receives a significant chunk of my income.

Stay tuned for reviews of the rest of my beauty product choices and their utility!