6 Beauty Essentials to Never Fly Without and 3 to Never Bring

travel passport makeup

When you’re a beauty junkie trying to travel light, the idea of fitting every toiletry you need in a ziploc bag can send you into a tail-spin. Sure, you can just check your luggage and bring along full sized products but who wants to take up precious room with 10 oz shampoo bottles? That’s space that could be used for all of the cool things you’re about to buy.

When I travel, I have 2 toiletry bags: a small one for my handbag with all of the things I cannot live without  on the plane, and a larger one in my suitcase for everything I will need on my trip. Both are clear, made of thick plastic with a zipper, and live on top of their respective bags to make the security checkpoints easy.

When I had just started traveling, I only had the one big bag in my suitcase. Throughout the flight as I needed things, I would either have to get them from the suitcase or just try and wait until we landed. I then started putting the toiletry bag in my handbag after security. This was an improvement except for the fact that it was heavy and took up a sizeable portion of my handbag. And thus, the idea for the mini-bag was born.

Packing toiletries is similar to packing clothing in that most people tend to over pack and only use about half of the things that they brought. I went from my mini-bag to being nearly as big as my toiletry bag to containing 6 items. Here are the 6 beauty items that are an essential on any flight (or train trip, or long drive, or particularly long walk):

travel stuff wtrmrk

1. Unscented Hand Lotion.

A couple of hours of recycled air will dry your skin out and as boring as it seems, your neighbors will appreciate you using unscented lotion. Some people very sensitive to scents may even get migraines if the scent is very strong. As a bonus, lotion can be rubbed on hair to get rid of frizz and give it a pretty shine.

2. Moisturizing Lip Balm.

I am one of those people that applies lip balm several times a day and it only gets worse on flights. This adorable Tony Moly one has a faint smell and taste of bananas which makes the process a lot more fun. I recommend having an additional lip balm with spf in it for when you do eventually disembark the plane, especially if you are headed to a sunny place.

3. The thickest facial moisturizer you can find.

It is possible to disembark a plane looking better than when you got on as long as you drink plenty of water and slather on the moisturizer. Some people bring a separate mask with them but in the spirit of minimalism, you can get great results by just applying a thick layer when you get to your seat and every 5 or 6 hours.

4. Eye Drops.

If you plan on reading, watching a movie, or just having a staring contest, your eyes will dry out leaving you feeling tired and even with a headache. Try to use every 2 to 3 hours that you are awake to keep eyes moist and happy.

5. Hand Sanitizer

Planes are dirty. I was one of those wishful thinkers hoping that they are sterilized after each trip but that is far from the truth. Try to get a scent free hand sanitizer and use it before eating and after going to the bathroom.

My pick is EO hand sanitizer spray from Whole Foods. It’s slim, organic, has a very light peppermint scent, and doesn’t dry out your hands.

6. Facial Mist.

If you want to give your moisturizer a little assistance rehydrating or if you just want a quick shot of refreshment, this is your go-to. Facial mist will plump your skin right back up and have you feeling amazing in half a second. As a bonus, it’ll wake you up which comes in handy if you’re in the unfortunate position of having to think after taking a red-eye.

My picks are any of the regular water aerosol ones such as Evian or Avene but if you prefer nutrients and gentle scents, you can also try Rose Water Spray or Tony Moly Mist.

Bonus: Mouth Wash

Brushing your teeth on a plane is inconvenient and not particularly sanitary. Mouth wash on the other hand requires only 1 small bottle, no hand to mouth contact, and no rinsing.


Equally important to knowing what to bring is knowing what not to bring. These items will make your seatmates uncomfortable – physically and mentally – and in some cases are illegal to have in your carryon.

dior perfume nails

1. Nail clippers/Nail File/Nail Polish.

There is a time and a place for everything and the place for nail maintenance is never on public transport. If you have ever taken a public train or bus and seen someone filing or clipping their nails, then you also saw the large empty circle around them as other passengers moved away trying to avoid nail clippings and filings.

The sound is annoying, the mess created is unsanitary, the smell of nail polish might make someone throw you out of the plane, and in some places it is illegal to have metal nail clippers and nail files in your carryon.

2. Perfume

You might adore the scent of musky roses/fresh linen/green apples but if the person next to you doesn’t then they are in for a very long ride. Save the strong scents for when you are in a well ventilated place like the airport or outside.

3. Sheet Mask/Clay Mask.

If you care far more about your skin than the bewildered looks you are going to get, then ignore me and go for it. If however, scaring children and easily frightened people does not sound like a good way to spend your flight, please skip the sheet mask that makes you look like a moisturized serial killer or the clay mask that makes your newly tight pores look like they are covered in mud.


Bon Voyage!


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