My Toiletry Packing Guide

My Toiletry Packing Guide

How to pack more beauty products in less space.

Some people might call me crazy for wanting to give advice on packing toiletries. Yes, I do pack a lot. But I think it’s important to note that I pack a lot in a very small amount of space. I keep the makeup and hair products pretty simple (at least I think so), but where I go a little overboard is with the skin care products. I really don’t have any justification for it except for that I never know how my skin is going to react to travel. I also really enjoy giving my skin a little extra love and attention to preserve my youth, so to speak. (At least I’m admitting it, right?)

Anyway, I used to pack three toiletry bags with me: one for my shower items, one for my skin care products and other hygiene items, and one for my makeup. I know, I know– it was excessive. But I didn’t want to remove all of my products from my bag. So instead, I got strategic with what I brought and how I packed it. I now travel with one cosmetics bag and another clear pouch for shower items. The only reason I don’t use one bag is because I honestly like to keep my shower items separate.

Now that we’ve got that all of out of the way (phew!), here’s my toiletry packing guide:

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First and foremost, pack everything in a three ounce bottle (or smaller).
For the products I know I’ll be using a lot of, like shampoo and body wash, I opt for three ounce bottles. I could probably get away with using two ounce bottles for my leave-in conditioner and face wash, but I already have these three ounce bottles, so they’ll do the trick for now.

Remember: You don’t have to fill them up all the way.
Consider the duration of your trip, and think about how much you’ll use. This will help to keep your bag light. I’m traveling for three weeks, and will probably need more than three ounces of these products, but I know toiletries will be available at most of my accommodations.

A full bottle of sunscreen is a must! I use Sun Bum because it’s not greasy and smells like bananas. Typically, I don’t pack dry shampoo. However, I’m going to Europe and may not always have the time or patience to wash my hair, so it’s coming with me! Whether you want to bring a sea salt spray or a small hair spray bottle is completely up to you. I use this one from Not Your Mother’s to create my beach waves.

Take toiletries from your hotel.
Whenever I stay at upscale hotels, I take the toiletry items home with me– especially lotion! They’re already travel sized, so you can refill them again and again for future travels if you don’t already have TSA approved bottles. I grabbed the tube pictured above from the Mandarin Oriental New York.

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Opt for multi-purpose products.
bobbi brown shimmer imageThis Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in bronze was actually a gift and not something I would’ve thought to buy, but it’s become a staple in my travel make-up routine. (Thanks Vanessa!) This one compact takes the place of my bronzer, blush and eye shadow! I typically brush a little on my cheek bones to highlight them, but if I’m going out, I’ll sweep the lighter stripes across my entire eyelid and press the darker stripes into the crease.

My retractable kabuki brush is one of my favorite items as it’s so compact. I use it to brush on my Clinique Almost Powder with SPF 15. I also bring a small MAC concealer brush that doubles as an eyeshadow brush. Hourglass concealer is my favorite for travel as it’s easy to apply and incredibly hydrating. For my brows, I use a Clinque pencil and Anastasia clear brow gel (one of my brows has a stubborn cowlick). Lastly, I swear by Maybelline’s Colossal Mascara. I’ve been using it since I was in high school and no expensive name-brand I’ve tried tops it. I bring both waterproof and regular as waterproof is more difficult to remove and doesn’t work as well. But that’s just me!

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This is where I start to get really strategic (or crazy?).

Confession time: I’m a sample jar hoarder. And by that I mean I intentionally go into Sephora and ask for a sample of something to get the jar. Try not the judge me. Anyway, I do this because they’re perfect for those products that you only need a small amount of, like eye cream and zit cream. I also bring a sample sized jar of moisturizer, brightening serum, and BB crème for when I want a little more coverage. I pack two jars of Peter Thomas Roth’s Cucumber Mask in case my skin freaks out from sun exposure or climate change.

The hydrating mist I use is from Benefit. I just started bringing this with me on trips because it’s perfect for refreshing my skin during flights and it sets my makeup. This may sound excessive, but I can fit it in my toiletry bag, so it’s coming to Europe with me. I also always bring this small rollerball of Flowerbomb.

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Instead of packing multiple pill bottles and a full first aid kit, I’ve put together what I like to call my ‘cure-all’ pouch. In it, I have Advil, Imodium, prescription strength nausea pills, Claritin, Unisom Sleep Gels, Band-Aids, bobby pins and Q-tips. I pack my toothbrush in a plastic bag instead of a toothbrush holder because mine was too bulky for my bag. Of course, I also pack a travel-sized toothpaste, floss and a razor.

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As you can see, I put everything I use in the shower in the clear pouch, and everything else in the purple cosmetics bag. I pack the clear pouch in the small, outer pocket of my carry-on suitcase and the cosmetics bag in my carry-on tote. Note: I’ve been searching for a travel toiletry bag that has multiple pockets for organization, but I’ve yet to find one that isn’t big and bulky. If you know of one, please let me know!

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It zips, I promise!

I hope my toiletry packing guide can help you to simplify and pack more in less space. But of course, you have to find what works best for you and your beauty routine.

Do you have a strategic way of packing your toiletries? Let me know in the comments!

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10 Comments

  1. sonja January 13, 2016 / 4:41 am

    try the lululemon mind and body kit! comes with clear pouches, multiple compartments, little feet to stand on a counter!! amazing

    • Jenna Jenna February 18, 2016 / 4:08 am

      Thanks for the rec! I’ll check it out :)

    • Melissa July 3, 2016 / 3:24 am

      Try the Tumi travel kit! I love it!

  2. Erin February 7, 2016 / 6:10 pm

    Look for a small travel organized bag on home …. I think it’s xhome. Or wish Website they carry things at a reasonable price… And I found me the perfect one I use for camping because it hangs …. Makeup I keep in a makeup bag in my Purse/bag …. For melting in the heat. …. But it does have room for them…. Check sizes … Under description on the upper right

  3. Angela February 11, 2016 / 9:46 pm

    Fun post! I’m with you – I hate wasting space on toiletries and always looking for a way to make this part of my packing more compact. I just read a tip that silicone travel bottles are great because they’re easier to squeeze the last bit of thicker liquids out (conditioner, lotion). I am not a jar hoarder, but recently asked for one at H2O to easily bring my moisturizer with me – SO MUCH BETTER. I also collect mini perfume samples and bring a couple on a longer trip – they take up no room at all!

  4. Ally April 27, 2016 / 6:59 pm

    Do you ever have problems with TSA when you put the toothpaste or liquid & cream make-up outside the 3-1-1 (clear quart sized) bag?

  5. Ally April 27, 2016 / 7:02 pm

    Do you ever have problems with TSA when you put the toothpaste or liquid/cream make-up outside the 3-1-1 (clear quart sized) bag?

    • Jenna Jenna May 11, 2016 / 9:21 pm

      I’ve never had a problem, but that’s just me! Some airports are more strict than others. You could always throw a gallon sized zip lock in your carry on in case TSA gives you a hard time. Hope this helps!

  6. Charlene Cunningham December 29, 2016 / 6:25 am

    I have so many, but keep coming back to the cinda b vertical cosmetic bag. It really just holds my toiletries and some hair stuff, as I have a lot of make up. I use one pocket for tooth stuff, one for contact stuff, one for Olay face wipes, q tips, and eye makeup remover, and one for deodorant and small perfume. Everything else fits in between in the bottom. I use travel size of shower type stuff.

  7. Lindy Cater April 27, 2017 / 7:02 pm

    In 2008 my husband bought me some Roc moisturizer before we left on a trip to Europe. The tubes (day and night cream) are tiny—1.7 oz and the cream is rich, so a little goes a long way. I love this stuff and use it daily. Great for travel when you are trying to get everything into a little quart size bag for TSA. The best place to buy Roc is Costco.

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