For most professional makeup artists, traveling is a pretty big part of the job. Sometimes it involves just hopping in your car without having to pack, and other times it means boarding a flight and making the dreaded choice between checking and carrying on your kit.

As a traveling makeup artist, you will likely encounter this situation at some point. If you’re not sure the best way to travel with your makeup, take a look at our traveling makeup artist tips and tricks below. That way you can be sure to keep your makeup and brushes safe and, more importantly, in good condition.

traveling makeup artist tips

Make a Packing List

So you’ve gotten booked for a job that you need to travel to – now what? The first step sounds simple, but it’s one of the most essential things to do when learning how to travel with makeup. You must make a list!

Make a list of everything you will need on the job once you’re there. This list should be extensive. Try to think of every possible situation that might arise. You want to be sure that you have everything you might need and aren’t stuck in a situation where you’re scrambling to find/buy something.

The other reason it’s important to make a list is that it will help you determine how best to pack your makeup and brushes and whether you should check or carry on. For some jobs, you may need tools or items that cannot be carried onto a flight based on airline restrictions. That’s why it’s best to have a full list of everything you need before starting the packing process.

Be Strategic About What You Bring

While it’s important to make a list so that you bring everything you need, you have to take into account the limited options you have when it comes to space. So if you’re wondering, “How do makeup artists travel with makeup?” The answer is strategy. 

With limited space, it’s important to be strategic when choosing the items on your list. Try to find items that will serve multiple purposes or can be used for a wide variety of skin tones (if necessary). Multi-use items, like lip and cheek stain, save you space and give you the chance to bring more of what you need.

Another way to be strategic in how you pack is by packing for the specific client(s) you’ll be working with. While you definitely want to be prepared with a variety of shades, instead of bringing everything you have, bring a couple shades that can be mixed together to form a range of colors that would work for that specific client.

How to Pack Makeup for a Flight

Now that you’ve created a list of everything you need and strategically narrowed that down to a list of makeup, brush and tool essentials, it’s time to start packing. As referenced above, there’s one major consideration when it comes to packing – are you checking your bag or carrying it on the flight with you?

Carry On

Maybe you’re worried about your bag getting lost. Or perhaps you are concerned that your makeup will get damaged through the rough handling of your bag. Whatever the reason, packing your makeup and brushes in a carry-on bag is a great way to ensure you know exactly where your kit is at all times. Plus, if you have to go to the job straight from the airport, carrying on saves you time in that you don’t need to wait to pick up your checked bag.

Of course there are downsides to carrying on though. The airline liquid restrictions can make it difficult to bring all the liquids you need – or at least in large enough quantities. 

One other downside is the size restrictions of carry-on bags. Depending on the items/tools you need to bring, the size restrictions might limit what you can actually fit into a carry-on. Carry-on bag sizes can vary slightly from airline to airline, so make sure you know the exact size limit for the airline you’re flying.


If you need to pack a bag that’s larger than a carry-on so that you can bring everything you need, a checked bag is really your only other option. For any qualified traveling makeup artist, the key to traveling with makeup is proper packing.

When it comes to packing your checked bag, follow these traveling makeup artist tips:

  • Fill all open space – if there’s open space in your bag for your makeup to roll around, it’s much more likely to get damaged. Fill the open space with bubble wrap, towels, clothes, or any other soft-sided item that will easily mold into the open space and keep your makeup and brushes from moving too much.
  • Secure tops – there’s nothing worse than opening your bag to find that a product has exploded or a cap fell off. Now you’ve got a huge mess and a bunch of wasted makeup. To avoid this, tape all tops and lids shut to secure makeup during transit. 
  • Add cushion – it’s very easy for compacts to break while traveling. Prevent cracks (as best as possible) by adding a sponge or powder puff to each compact. If you don’t have any available or that fit, throw in a couple cotton balls to do the trick.

Now that you’ve learned how to travel with makeup and everything is securely packed, you’re ready to head to the airport! One last thing to remember though… don’t forget a really good mirror! Check out our Travel Makeup Case and find the perfect mirror to bring with you whenever you travel with makeup.