After a fair amount of trial and error, we’ve found some unique toiletries that we love to take when we’re on the go — things that you won’t likely find in the travel cosmetics bins at Target. (Though that’s also a great source of goods!) Consider upgrading your next trip with products from this list of Travel Gear We Love: Cosmetics Edition. This post might contain affiliate links from which we make a very small commission. We only write about things we actually use and love. If you choose to purchase through an affiliate link, we THANK YOU for supporting our work.
When picking travel gear, longevity, lightness and sustainability play a key role.
HEATHER: I travel carry-on only, so I focus on things that are lightweight, serve multiple purposes, are super concentrated, or I just love them.
This herb-infused oil is handmade in Austin, Texas, and is such an all-purpose moisturizer. I am 50-plus, so I need a lot of moisture for my face. A little of this goes a long way. I can take a small dropper bottle and make it last for a solid two weeks. I use it on my face, neck and decolletage, run it through the ends of my hair when it’s frizzy (hello humidity!) and use it around my eyes on flights. It also helps remove eye makeup.
I don’t carry a lot, so I wash my face with whatever is on hand and generously apply my Magic Face Oil. It sits nicely under my foundation. I also have a tin of the salve, which I keep in my purse as a hand lotion or for any dry spots anywhere. This is face gear I can’t live without!
I was skeptical but had gotten so many ads for it that I finally bought it after trying a lot of natural deodorants. I can’t use anything with baking soda, so I was really hoping this would fit the bill. It’s AMAZING. They promote it as a whole-body deodorant that is aluminum-free and baking soda free. You can use it ANYWHERE on your body (and they provide some graphic descriptions). It really works.
I have hiked through the swampy summer in Savannah, Georgia, traveled for 30 hours straight, and I wear it to the gym. It boasts 72 hours of odor control. I rarely go 72 hours without a shower so I can’t attest to that, but even if I start to smell, I put more on and it KILLS THE ODOR.
I went to NYC in June and walked 20 miles a day. It was hot, I was sweaty, and it worked wonderfully. But, what I really love is you use SO LITTLE. You can buy it in a tube; I squeeze a few ounces into a small travel container, and it will last me two weeks or longer. That saves so much space when I pack! I love the Fresh Tangerine. Keep in mind — this is not an antiperspirant. You will sweat; you just won’t smell. This fits the bill for a small amount of travel gear that goes a long way.
These silicon pots are road tested and approved. If you like to travel light, these are for you! I use them for my toothpaste or toothpaste tabs, my Lume Deodorant, eye cream or even to store pills like ibuprofen or melatonin. I’ve yet to have one spill on a trip, and they take up so little space! You can’t put foundation in these without it getting clumpy, so use hard plastic pots or some other small container for your foundation.
I am not a big makeup person but when I discovered this mascara, I was blown away. I like to play up my eyes, and this mascara makes my lashes look a mile long. I do take the full-size version; this is one make-up product I can’t travel without.
If you like to keep your teeth feeling clean and your mouth fresh, these are the best! I can fit up to 20 of these in one of my silicon pots, and I keep them in my purse, not only when I’m traveling but all the time! If I need to freshen up, I pop one in my mouth, chew it up and then rinse with water – spit, don’t swallow! If I am traveling, especially on long-haul flights, I keep my toothbrush on me and can give myself a proper brushing. These are environmentally friendly, contain no synthetic dyes or flavors and are vegan. Leaping Bunny certified and made in the USA. Pairs nicely with the Wowe Bamboo Toothbrush that we both travel with — did you know you can compost bamboo toothbrushes?!
Julianne has a wide variety of solid bars she travels with — from solid shampoo to solid lotion bars. These bar soap bags are a travel must-have if you are staying in an apartment, hostel or Airbnb that doesn’t provide toiletries. Soap bars — whatever kind you are traveling with, lather up wonderfully with these, and they dry so fast. No more mushy bars of soap in a plastic container. I even use these at home. The soap lasts so much longer, and the mesh bags are exfoliating, eliminating the need for a washcloth. In many countries outside the U.S., washcloths are not provided, even in some hotels. This little soap bags pulls double duty!
I use eye-gel patches every day. My eyes always look so tired, no matter how much sleep I get. I wear these for 20–25 minutes while I drink my coffee in the morning, and voila! — I look at least two years younger. I’ve even been known to drive to early morning meetings with them on! When I travel, I always take these along. Ten pairs fit in one of the silicon pots mentioned above. Often I can find these at my local discount store, but when I can’t, I order these; they are my favorite brand. Eye-gel patches are biodegradable and can be composted. Be sure to buy the tub of them and not the individually packaged silicone versions if you want to compost them.
JULIANNE: I sometimes check a bag, because I tend to travel in the winter when it’s cheaper, so I need to pack bulky clothing. But I also sometimes fly with just a carry-on, so most of my cosmetics go both ways. My big focus when choosing travel gear, especially travel cosmetics: environmentalism, and my super sensitive skin.
Whether it’s because of my drippy nose or a lack of toilet paper (a real thing in so many places I travel), I like to have a travel pack of tissues handy. Seedling by Grove tissues are tree-free, made of 100 percent sustainable bamboo, and shipped in recyclable paper with a low carbon footprint. Each tissue packet is packaged in recycled cardboard (no plastic!), and Grove plants a tree for every 25 Seedling packages purchased.
I use an electric toothbrush at home, but I hate traveling with it. If I’m just going somewhere for a few days, I’ll pack the plastic toothbrush that my dentist gives me inside my plastic toothbrush case, and I’ll throw both into the dishwasher when I get home. This lets me use the plastic one over and over. But if I’m going on a trip for a couple of weeks where conditions are grubby, I’ll include a bamboo toothbrush from Wowe in my travel gear and feel ok about tossing it on the last day in my destination. It also comes packaged in cardboard.
Disclaimer: I’ve met the founder of Spinster Sisters, Kelly Perkins, because I applied for a job there once. I didn’t get the position, but I buy their stuff. It’s made just down the road from me in Golden, Colorado, and the place where they handcraft everything smells divine. I’ve walked up to see a big batch of organically grown lavender distilling for their lavender goods. It’s the real deal.
They’re women-owned, wind-powered, all-natural, Leaping Bunny certified, with Fair Trade ingredients, packaged in recyclable paper coatings with recyclable ink … I’m probably forgetting a few features. Best of all, their products work. These are all solids, so easy to carry on, plus free from parabens, sulfates, water and plastic. Here’s what I have right now:
- Body Butter Bar in lavender
- Shampoo Bar in rosemary mint
- Hair Conditioner Bar in rosemary mint
- Face Cleanser Bar in turmeric and argan oil
- Face Serum Bar in hyaluronic acid and blue tansy
Not technically a travel cosmetic, but these do help me smell nicer. Sometimes you need to wash out your bathing suit or other garments when you’re gone for a while or wearing them multiple days. (See our Travel Gear We Love: Clothing Edition blog.) These laundry sheets can go in a carry-on, and you can seriously suds up your clothes on the go. If I’m just washing a couple of small items in the sink, I’ll cut one in half.
Of course, each of us brings a stash of other toiletries and cosmetics on our trips. But if you’re looking for some lovely little treats for your next trip, the travel gear above includes things you might love to try too!
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