Beauty Travel

Beauty Essentials: Travel

Over my years of traveling long haul flights, I’ve gone back and forth on my plane beauty routine. There was a period where I just wore my normal makeup – only to land at my destination with raccoon eyes and gross feeling skin. Then I started going makeup free entirely – but to be honest, I generally like to have at least a little bit on for confidence. Plus, during my single periods, there was always the chance that you’d end up sitting next to someone really good looking (which over my hundreds of flights…has yet to happen).

Over the years I’ve perfected a stash of products that I have ready in a little Kate Spade pouch to be dropped into whatever handbag I happen to be traveling with. Here are some of the favorites in my plane travel kit!

Travel Beauty

Evian Facial Spray. Despite several attempts of mine to substitute some water in a spray bottle and save some money, nothing beats these little sprays. They are the perfect size to tuck into your bag, never spill or spray accidentally and are great for hydrating your face. I use one of these whenever we’re about to land – the cool spray wakes you right up. Plus, they’re also great on the ground to help keep you awake when jetlag hits!

YSL Touche Eclat. For years I’ve been looking for the perfect dupe for this fairly pricey highlighter. I’ve tried quite a few, yet keep coming back to the original (I love #1 and #1.5). I never wear foundations/heavy powders when flying and try to keep my skin as bare as possible so it can breathe. I dab Touche Eclat around my eyes before landing to brighten my face and it always does the trick. By the way, if you are looking for a cheaper version – make sure to check the quantity! YSL’s pen comes with a fair amount of product while the drugstore versions often have half the amount.

Tarte Cheek Stain: I’m a bit of a blush addict and loved it so much when I first discovered it back in high school that I definitely had a few clownish days freshman year (all captured in the yearbook). I love Tarte’s blushes and their Cheek Stain is super easy to apply (I just swipe on and use fingers), and it lasts forever. I usually have this on already for flights and just do a light re-application if necessary towards the end.

Fresh Sugar Treatment: I hoard these and vastly prefer them to whatever balm is usually in the amenity kit. These smell great, are super moisturizing and I love the “Rose” color for a hint of pink on the lips while still looking completely natural.

Tarte Maracuja Oil: My skin always gets really dried out on planes, so periodically I’ll put a few drops in my hands and just lightly pat them on my face (usually right after the stewardess brings by the hot towels which I use to wipe down my face and clean my hands). This oil always seeps in very quickly and helps keep a nice dewy look. Also, if my hair is all gnarly after sleeping on the flight, a few drops run through the ends helps to smooth things out.

Tatcha Aburatorigami Papers: As someone with classic combination skin, I always, always have a set of oil papers on me at all times. Tatcha’s versions are one of my favorites, along with Yojiya’s from Kyoto. I love the smaller size of these papers and for some reason the charcoal versions I find are super absorbant. I use these typically towards the end of a flight after I’ve woken up – it helps keep my face clean and soaks up excess oil.


By the way, while I have the full size versions of all of these products, I always try and snag sample/trial sizes for travel purposes. The Tarte Cheek Stain, Maracuja Oil, and Sugar lip treatment above are all smaller sizes. I usually wait for a Sephora promotion or also often find these in little gift kits like this one, from Fresh.

What are some of your go to beauty essentials?

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  • Drew
    April 1, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Thanks for sharing – I really enjoyed this post. I always wonder what other people carry in their makeup bag when they fly. I’m Australian – so I will substitute your Maracuja oil with a locally made Rosehip one. πŸ™‚

  • Rubiiee
    April 1, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Great tips! I always like bringing blotting papers and a cooling spray as well, though I seldom travel with no makeup…

  • Edwina
    April 1, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Nice and simple list! I’ve narrowed mine down to blotting papers (must have Tatcha!), mist spray (also Tatcha), 302 lipbalm, and sunscreen! I’ve read that UV radiation is magnified in planes due to the altitude so I always apply extra sunscreen during day flights. I’ve always wanted to use those facial paper masks on planes, but can’t work up the guts πŸ˜‰

  • Tabitha
    April 1, 2013 at 9:28 am

    I once met a boyfriend on the plane! He asked me out before we landed and we dated for about 4 months.
    I would love to be make up free when flying, I get so oily and feel quite repulsive by the time I reach my destination but like you I need a little for confidence.

    • Katherine
      April 1, 2013 at 9:49 am

      What, a rare plane success story! I love it. A friend of mine met a guy on a plane once, he asked her out on a “movie date” right there and they each watched the same movie on their little screens. Cute right? I guess though that this guy constantly pulled this trick on planes whenever he sat next to women, and was actually married!

  • Ella Pretty Blog
    April 1, 2013 at 10:09 am

    I used to travel frequently between London & Toronto (around 4 times a year) so I had my travel routine down pat…once the seatbelt sign was off, I’d wipe my face with a makeup wipe, braid my hair (to avoid in-flight hair frizz) and put on a moisturizer. Before landing, I’d brush my teeth, blot my face and reapply makeup (concealer, blush and lip gloss) and undo my hair (so it was wavy). I’d also LIGHTLY spray some lemon-scented cologne – and I’d feel fresh and ready to go πŸ™‚

    • Katherine
      April 1, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      Lemon scented cologne sounds like a wonderful refresher! Do you have any specific brands you’d recommend?

      • Ella Pretty Blog
        April 1, 2013 at 7:12 pm

        I like Jo Malone’s Lime Basil & Mandarin…or if you can get Johnson Baby Cologne at an Asian grocery store & put it in a spritzer – it’s also very light & inoffensive (I know people are very sensitive about scent on a plane…so subtle is always good!)

  • Skyflyer3
    April 1, 2013 at 11:58 am

    I usually go very light on makeup as well – ditto on the water spray (Avene is my go-to) and sunscreen, as well as some La Mer or other heavier moisturizer and a little bit of argan oil I bought in France from a small farm producer that I rub into the ends of my hair and scalp to protect against dryness. I also use a highlighter – RMS Beauty Living Luminizer – and a little cream blush – also from RMS – as I am trying to use more natural cosmetics. Lastly, I bring a ton of lip balm and hand cream as both always get dry. I have heard that Bobbi Brown puts on bronzing cream or tanner before landing to avoid the pale creep – I may try this myself….

  • Anna
    April 1, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    I love these products, I haven`t been flying much lately but I think these would do for my everyday handbag too. I always bring Carmex lipbalm because it`s my favorite though something with a slight natural tint could be great. I also bring some gum, it`s great for the start to make your ears pop and helps freshen your breath in case you are not one of those people who actually go and brush their teeth on the plane. I`ll be honest, I usually don`t. I like to bring a hand cream/face cream but the moment I love most is when they bring those hot towels, those are just so great!
    Hope you had a lovely easter!

  • Shan
    April 1, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    Hi Kat, do you have any recommendations for greasy hair? One of the things I hate about international flights is, at the end of the flight, my hair feels greasy and limp! I can’t carry dry shampoo with me because it’s typically in an aerosol can, so I still feel dirty.

    • Katherine
      April 2, 2013 at 6:29 pm

      You know, the only thing I do is what another commenter recommended – braid my hair during the flight to have waves at the end of it. Have you tried baby powder?

      • Shan
        April 4, 2013 at 12:30 pm

        I have not tried baby powder yet, but I think I will give it a go on my next flight! Thanks!

    • Alyx
      April 20, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      I basically swear by Klorane’s dry shampoo, for travel purposes (it comes in a mini travel size too) or for everyday use.

  • reeder
    April 1, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    I bring a Skin Food sleeping pack decanted into a small container, lip balm, and a 0.75L water bottle. Drinking a lot of water really helps with dry skin and makes me feel a lot better. The sleeping pack helps keep the air from drying out my skin.

    • Katherine
      April 2, 2013 at 5:26 pm

      Sleeping packs are so intriguing to me – I’ve heard great things about them. Thanks for the input πŸ™‚

  • Cindy
    April 1, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Great post! Most people complain about flying because of the food or motion sickness, but I really hate what it does to your skin!
    Rose Gold Whimsy

  • Cynthia
    April 1, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Maybe it’s because I pretty much don’t use aerosol sprays, but I thought you couldn’t take them onboard as handheld?

  • Kitty
    April 1, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    I have to try the ysl highlighter. I’ve heard so many good things about it. When I use to take the 10 hour redeye to see my boyfriend in buenos aires I always packed my Rothko mint eye drops, toothbrush, blush and eyeliner. By the time I got off the plane I looked refreshed and awake. Or at least I thought so. Eh, at least we got married.

    • Katherine
      April 2, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      Mint eye drops! What a great idea. Congratulations on getting married πŸ™‚

  • Cassie
    April 1, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    I’ve tried 2/3 of these products so far, so the last two are intriguing me πŸ™‚ Great tip about checking the volume on the makeup!

    For travelling in the winter and when it’s super dry on the planes I use the sample sized pots of La Mer moisturizer. If I don’t have a fresh sample then I just refill one of the pots, because they’re one of the only sample containers I’ve found that I can do that with!

    • Katherine
      April 2, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      Hmm! I love La Mer products but often cheap out – I’m going to keep an eye out for the next sample opportunity πŸ™‚

  • adele
    April 1, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    This is a great list of essentials. I never fly with out my Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Skin Protectant!
    Last chance to enter my Trench coat Giveaway!
    Have a fab Tuesday Hun xoxo

  • Makeup Morsels
    April 2, 2013 at 12:40 am

    Love this! Have you seen Lisa Eldridge’s video about her long-haul flight routine? It’s the best. My self-consciousness completely flies (har har) out the window on long-haul flights, so I go ahead and slap on a sheet mask on top of all the usual things. It feels great in the dry cabin air, and my skin is always so much happier than when I don’t use one. I also covered the front of my sleeping mask with aluminum foil last time I flew to Asia LOL, just to completely block out the light. It was very effective! Probably got some weird looks but I couldn’t see them πŸ˜›

    • Katherine
      April 2, 2013 at 5:23 pm

      No but I love Lisa Eldridge – I have to go look that one up! I’d love to use a sheet mask, they are so easy to transport too πŸ™‚

  • Marlene @ chocolatecookiesandcandies
    April 2, 2013 at 8:05 am

    I’m clueless when it comes to make up so thanks for the tips. I rarely wear a lot of make up on the plane either and I almost always look like a fright πŸ˜›

  • Chic 'n Cheap Living
    April 2, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Fresh lip balm is a new discovery of mine and I love the hint of color and super moisturizing effect!
    I agree with all of your picks and would also include a tiny bit of Cetaphil or another cleanser to serve as both a cleanser or makeup remover as well as some BB cream/tinted foundation to even out skin tone.I travel between the US and Asia a lot and if all else fails, I still have a big pair of sunglasses and a hat!

    Chic ‘n Cheap Living

    • Katherine
      April 2, 2013 at 5:22 pm

      Yes! Big sunglasses are key!

  • T
    April 5, 2013 at 8:55 am

    I love this list! Always on the lookout to snoop into other people’s makeup bags πŸ™‚

    I use Laneige’s water sleeping pack on the plane, which is a leave-on mask that hydrates really well. Just before we land, crew usually hands out another warm towel so I use that to clean it off.

    For frizzy hair solutions, I also braid my hair. Lush has a wonderful dry shampoo that smells heavenly so if the flight is longer than 6 hours, I usually pour a generous amount on my hair and then comb it through.

    I love Clinique’s Chubby Sticks – they are lip balm sticks that hydrate really well, plus there’s a whole range of colors to choose from.

    And of course there’s the BB cream and concealer for covers, especially those pesky dark circles!

  • How I Pack for Travel » Feather Factor
    May 15, 2013 at 8:38 am

    […] You can also read about my full beauty travel essentials list, here. […]