On Tuesday I discussed some general strategies for packing beauty products and toiletries for travel. Today in my packing how-to's series, I'll show you all the containers I keep everything in and how I pack it all up.
First off is the bag I keep everything in. I use this bag to carry quite a bit more than just toiletries; depending on where I'm going and for how long, I might also bring along a small first aid kit, sewing kit, lint roller, laundry soap, a few medications such as antacids and aspirin, and whatever else I think I may need. But no matter how long the trip is, everything must fit into this bag or I start culling things from the pile. This way my toiletries always take up the exact same amount of space in my luggage.
The bag I use is the Pack-it-Flat style from eBags.com. The design is ingenious because you can stack it right in among a pile of shirts and other clothes. It's also much easier to find everything when the containers are arrayed in a single layer. The middle compartment opens up and has a hook that can be used to hang the bag from a towel rack for even easier access.
I just love these little polypropylene containers that I found at REI. The sizes I find to be the most useful are the 2 oz. flat oval, the 1 oz. Nalgene bottle, and the 0.25 oz. pill box. Really and truly, you probably do not need more than 2 oz. of anything if you're only going on a 2-week trip. If I'm traveling for longer than that, I only bring a larger volume of things I know I won't be able to find while traveling and that I absolutely need to have every single day. Not too many products meet those criteria: I'd say my face cream is about the only thing, since switching brands abruptly can cause me to break out. Luckily since I don't go through face cream very quickly, I still bring less than an ounce even for a month-long trip.
Wherever possible, I replace full-sized items with travel-sized ones, even if it means using a different product entirely when I'm on the road. I never used to understand those fervent cyclists who will spend a huge pile of money for a part that shaves 2 ounces of weight off their bike, but after hauling my luggage all over Europe, I totally get it. Saving an ounce here and half an ounce there quickly adds up to a pound, and a pound can make a lot of difference when you're lifting your rolling case into an overhead bin or hefting that backpack onto your back.
When I travel, I replace all my various jars and compacts of eye makeup with the Try Me kit from Smashbox, which is about the size of a credit card and maybe twice as thick. Inside are a couple of colors of eyeliner, brow wax, brow powder (which I use as eye shadow), and cream shadow -- the tiny case, a couple of brushes, and some mascara are all I need for my eyes. I refill my sample-sized containers of tinted moisturizer and loose powder, and I also travel with a mini kabuki brush and the pocket-sized version of Benetint lip and cheek stain, which also includes a clear lip gloss. Compare my travel-sized makeup products with their full-sized counterparts in the photo to the right below. As you might imagine, I'm a total sucker for anything travel-sized, but countless hours' worth of hauling luggage around has taught me that it really does make a difference to scale down every possible item you can.
One last tip I'll share for beauty products is to make use of small sample packets. For instance, whenever you order from beauty.com you can choose 3 different samples with your order. I order from them fairly frequently, and when I do I try to choose things that I think will be useful for traveling. I may not need an intensive eye repair cream or a professional-strength conditioner every day, but after 13 hours of flying I find products like those to be incredibly useful. Since most sample packets have just a couple days' worth of product in them, they make great supplements to your regular selection of beauty products.