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Keeping Makeup Safe On the Road

By Amalah

I sometimes need to travel for work and, like everyone, want to look my best, so I tote around my makeup, but I found I have a traveling with makeup predicament.
I use a loose powder and whenever I put it in my makeup bag which goes in my checked luggage usually, it inevitably gets everywhere (not in the bag so much, but in it’s little tub, usually pouring out of the little holes). I leave the beauty puff in there (even though I use a brush to apply the powder) to minimize the powder getting everywhere, but it always winds up becoming a mess when I twist off the cap of the tub (imagine powder all over the sink counter, my hands, way too much on my brush, etc.). So, what’s the best way to travel with loose powder? I’ve tried putting it in my carry-on bag, so I can keep an eye on it, but it doesn’t seem to matter–the powder always gets everywhere. I just feel like I wind up wasting so much of my precious powder.
Also, at least one eye shadow invariably breaks and crumbles in my traveling creating another unpleasant mess. Any suggestions for curbing that or I am just a cheapo with not-so-good eye shadow?
Many thanks,
an editor trying to look her best

I figured this question would be quite apropos right now as many of you are packing up for the Blogher conference (those of you who are not like me, who wait until the day before to haul out the suitcase and then get distracted by something shiny and end up at your destination with 14 seasonally inappropriate shirts and no pants), even though I am super sad to report that I’m not going. After waiting and waiting for somebody, anybody to send me a bucket of money, it’s clear that we just can’t afford it right now. (You ingrates! I WANT MAH BUCKET.) So y’all have fun, be nice to each other and then drop me a line if you’re ever in DC and we’ll open champagne bottles with swords in my backyard or something.
coty.jpgDoes the inside little top to your powder open up, by any chance? Like, can you pull that part with the holes out? I can with mine, so I usually yank it out before traveling, pack it and then pop it back in when I get to my destination. This solves the dilemma of trying to apply a usable amount of powder when there’s a freaking mountain of the stuff spilling out all over.
If the top doesn’t separate from the package, you could try putting a layer of tape (I’m thinking packing tape might work) over the holes to keep spillage to a minimum. Or cut a circle of cardboard out and put that in, along with the puff or some wadded-up tissue to keep it in place.
As for shadows and other things that break, I will say that (in my experience, anyway), the cheaper the makeup, the more likely it is to crumble. I’m thinking of Maybelline and Ulta-brand shadows in particular — I’ve had those suckers break on me after setting them down on the counter a little too roughly. It’s probably as much the fault of flimsy plastic packaging as it is the product. Then again, I recently discovered that one of my NARS shadows had crumbled, even though that’s definitely not an inexpensive compact by any means, and the packaging seems pretty indestructible. It was several years old though. So…uh. I don’t know!
(I’ve dropped my uber-pricey Hourglass Shade shadow twice in the past month — once on tile and once on hardwood, and both times I was sure it was toast. Nope. Totally fine. Not even a cracked mirror. I think I might start throwing it against the wall for fun.)
(I got that shadow for free, by the way, in the interest of full disclosure and also to clarify that I’m not skipping Blogher because I spent all our money of makeup.)
(I spent it on shoes! Duh.)
The trick to getting your makeup there and back again safely is 1) padding, and 2) immovability. Which I am surprised to learn from my spellchecker is actually a word. Wrap stuff in tissues before putting it in your cosmetics bag and pack it tight. Or put things in plastic baggies and shove them inside your socks, then shove your socks into your shoes. Your bag is going to get tossed up, down, all around, but if you can ensure that the inside contents are packed tight enough that nothing will shift around, your makeup should be okay. (Of course, if your bag gets selected for a random extra security check where it gets opened, rifled through and repacked, all bets are off.)

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • BaltimoreGal

    July 16, 2007 at 11:02 am

    Is anyone going to BlogHer?

  • jen

    July 16, 2007 at 11:15 am

    if I’m allowed – I have a related question. I, like many readers of this site, have become converted to the religious experience that is philosophy purity face wash. however, I travel a lot and have yet to come up with a solution in which it doesn’t spill everywhere. original container, new container, smaller container, no matter what, it ends up seeping over into the ziploc bag. it’s not a huge mess b/c I always bag it but I hate wasting such nice stuff. does this happen to anyone else?
    btw, I’m also a loose powder user, and I generally swear by travel-sized containers of my powder when I travel. no spilling, no mountain of powder when you open it, life is good.

  • Alli

    July 16, 2007 at 11:22 am

    In another related question… what about the heat? The cargo hold of an airplane in July… pretty hot, I’m sure. Do I need to be packing all my melt-able makeup in my quart-sized carry on? Or will it survive?

  • BridehoodRevisited

    July 16, 2007 at 11:50 am

    I travel fairly often for work. When I first started I was using Bare Escentuals, and well, that had to stop for a variety of reasons (like it being really crappy). It gets everywhere. The best temporary solution I had was to get little tubs and put a wee bit of powder in there to travel with. My local Blue Mercury store gives them out for free, but you can get them from Sephora
    Also, if you’re doing the tape trick, pry the sifter thing out and put tape on the bottom of it, it tends to get less messy and you don’t lose as much of the powder since it doesn’t get as stuck to the tape. Also, pack extra tape. I also find that things like loose powders tend to seep out of the edges of the containers so you can wrap tape around them too.
    The bottom line is that there is no surefire way to prevent breaking and spilling while traveling, which is why I prefer to put things like powders in separate containers. And then I kill the environment with an unhealthy love of Ziploc bags. I put everything in Ziploc bags, and keep an extra quart size bag at the bottom of my make up kit (the ever so fashionable LLBean hanging personal organizer). I have had lots of things explode, leak, and break and I really don’t believe there is a surefire way around it. Bags are beaten to hell, no matter how you try to avoid it.

  • foodmomiac

    July 16, 2007 at 11:55 am

    Jen, the same thing used to happen to me! I just bought a little plastic bottle (with a screw top) from Target and put the face wash in there for travel. Works great.

  • BridehoodRevisited

    July 16, 2007 at 11:56 am

    Jen, I find the secret to liquids is to only have the bottle half full. Sometimes I wrap a rubber band tightly around the bottom of the screws on the bottle’s neck so that the bottom of the cap will just barely touch it. I like to think it creates a seal. It probably doesn’t.
    I’m still struggling with fitting into the liquid requirements as I very rarely check my baggage.

  • megan7673

    July 16, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    I don’t know about the loose powder problem, but I do have a solution for the broken eye-shadows and blushes. Just crumble the entire cake of eye-shadow into a powder, and add a little bit of rubbing alcohol to it to make a paste. Press the shadow paste back into its container and let it dry. The alcohol evaporates, and leaves your eye-shadow looking as good as new, no harm done!!!


    July 16, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    Great post! I’ll be in Herndon, VA, next week visiting the man’s family; I’ll be by for champagne, okay? I love these tips and like Bridehood have an unhealthy addiction to Ziploc bags. I had to travel to DC like two days after they started the liquid restrictions and had to check everything but my purse and laptop. To avoid spillage onto clothes I went out and bought the gigantic ziploc bags for storing sweaters, blankets, etc, and packed my clothes in one and then all of my makeup, hair product, etc, in another, and then put both of them in my luggage and done. Luckily nothing broke open but it also seemed to help security keep from making a big freaking mess when they decided to randomly search my bag as everything was already sorted, organized, and in clear plastic bags. Oh, and apparently I’m a major terror threat because every flippin’ time I get on the direct flight from Omaha to Nat’l my bag gets searched. Ugh. Anyway, ziploc rocks, now if I could figure out a way to keep all the stuff from exploding after I land when I go to open up packaging for the first time – it seems the lotion, hair gel, shampoo, whatever oozes out like mad due to pressure change? Maybe I should just land and go straight to Sephora for all new and forget about packing?

  • jen

    July 16, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    thanks for the tips! in the spirit of tip-sharing… the only way I sneak past the TSA liquid requirements is that I hoard the free travel-sized shampoo bottles I get when I stay in hotel rooms. I generally don’t like the shampoo they give me, but I save the bottle, pour out the contents, dry it out and use it to carry my own shampoo when I travel.
    ta-da — your personal hair care products + the ease of free travel-sized bottles. it’s the kind of recycling I can get behind.

  • Sarah in LA

    July 18, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    I use Nars loose powder and I was recently in the same dilemma. I looked around my bathroom for a solution…..and then I yanked off the plastic thingy with the holes in it, put a toilet paper square over the container and shoved the plastic thingy back on. Voila, no spills.