Take the stress out of packing with our go-to guide

Packing beauty products is never easy. Do I take one lipstick or five? And will I need an oil, serum and moisturiser? The temptation to pack everything is high, but the reality is that no, you don’t need to take all 30 products with you. To help whittle down your travel make-up kit, we’ve curated an edit of multitasking must-haves that are worthy of space in your suitcase. 

But first things first: consider where you’re going. As with your holiday wardrobe, your beauty staples will vary depending on destination. While light layers and pops of colour suffice for a beach holiday, city breaks require multi-use, handbag heroes that can be used on the go. Check the weather, too. Will it be humid and hot? Pack a refreshing facial mist if so. And if it’s set to be cold, a rich moisturiser is key. 

From skincare essentials to the ultimate make-up kit, we break down the beauty essentials for every type of summer holiday that will take you from sightseeing to late-night dancing.

How to pack travel make-up and skincare 

Before consulting our holiday beauty edit, read our top tips on how to pack your products like a pro. 

Tip 1: Invest in a clear travel bag

Flying somewhere further afield? Invest in a clear cosmetics bag that can house your travel make-up and skincare saviours, saving you from frantically putting your liquids into a transparent bag at the airport. Opt for a sturdy and spacious design that will last for the foreseeable. Try the Boots Clear Cosmetic Bag (£4) – its see-through panels mean you won’t need to waste time searching for your holiday staples.

Tip 2: Buy travel-sized products   

The main rule to remember when travelling by plane is that liquid products must hold no more than 100ml in your hand luggage. To avoid confiscation, buy travel-friendly products, such as Batiste On The Go Dry Shampoo (£1.60) or decant your go-tos into smaller, refillable bottles.

Tip 3: Pack products as you apply them

When deciding on your make-up set, we recommend packing the products as you apply them. This way, you’ll always have your absolute essentials. Also, pick some products that can double up, such as a buildable base, a cream blush for cheeks and lips, and a bronzer that works equally well as an eyeshadow – this saves on precious space.

What products to pack for every type of holiday… 

City breaks: make-up kit + skincare staples 

Planning a city break? From Paris to Berlin, we have your travel beauty essentials sorted with our day-to-night edit of multitasking heroes. Think cooling mists that double up as SPF for when it gets hot above or underground, a contour and highlighting duo to see you through al fresco drinks during the day to night time bar-hopping, as well as a setting spray to dancefloor-proof your base. 

No7 City Light Tinted Moisturiser

• Size: 50ml

• Six shades

Offering lightweight, sheer coverage that feels comfortable and airy as well as 5* UVA and SPF15 protection, this base is brimming with benefits to answer a range of base control needs.  

NARS Afterglow Lip Balm

• Fragrance-free

• Alcohol-free 

Off sightseeing for the day? Why not forgo heavy lip layers in favour of something lighter – like this Afterglow Lip Balm? The nourishing formula hydrates and protects lips, while imparting a rosy tint of colour. Apply to high points of the cheek for a dewy, shimmer-free highlight to see you from tour bus to bar.

NYX Professional Makeup Wonder Stick

• Size: 36g

• Six shades

• Contour and highlight 

Not only will this two-in-one stick save precious space in your beauty bag, it will also take your look from landmarks to late-night dancing in an instant. Swipe the deeper shade along the facial contours before highlighting with the lighter shade. 

MAC Mini Fix + Original

• Size: 30ml

• Non-acnegenic 

This dinky, travel-friendly facial mist refreshes and soothes jet-lagged skin with cucumber, camomile and green tea, while also boosting the staying power of your make-up. Spritz on whenever you need a pick-me-up. 

Beach breaks: make-up kit + skincare staples 

Heading for sandy shores? Load up your suitcase with smart SPF formulas, a waterproof mascara,  and lightweight make-up must-haves that will take you from sun lounger to rooftop-ready in seconds. Now, where’s that margarita?

NIVEA SUN Lip Balm with SPF 30, 4.8g

• Size: 4.8g

• SPF30 

Spending the day at the beach? Take this handy SPF lip balm with you. It locks in moisture and protects your pout from harmful UV rays. Reapply throughout the day for on-the-go protection. 

Hello Sunday The Take-Out One Solid Body Sunscreen Stick SPF30

• Size: 35g

• SPF30

• Sweat and water-resistant

• Vegan  

Not all suncreams are created equal. This one, from Hello Sunday, boasts an invisible, silky formula that’s brimming with hydrating properties, as well as broad-spectrum protection in a nifty stick applicator.

Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Waterproof Mascara Black

• Size: 9.6ml

• Waterproof

• Ophthalmologist tested 

Forget melting make-up, this waterproof mascara from Maybelline stands up to hot, humid climes with its smudge-proof formula that clings on to lashes, for a fuller flutter that will stay put for hours.

Huda Beauty Cheeky Tint Blush Stick

• Size: 5g

• Five shades

• Vegan 

• Waterproof 

Balmy summer nights call for a floaty dress paired with a radiant complexion – courtesy of this buildable, beautiful blush that can be swept across cheeks, lids and lips for an all-over rosy glow. It’s also waterproof, the ideal poolside multi-tasker for during the day.

Avène Thermal Spring Water Spray for Sensitive Skin

• Size: 300ml

• Suitable for sensitive skin 

Yes, it’s a biggie. But this soothing spray is worthy of the suitcase space with its ability to cool and calm skin, thanks to the brand’s signature Thermal Spring Water. Mist on whenever you’re hot and bothered for instant relief.

Country retreat: make-up kit + skincare staples 

For a little R&R, why not take a trip to the English countryside? The slower pace of life can filter down to your skincare and make-up choices with light layers, breathable formulas and barely there textures. Consider it a break for your skin, too. Driving? Opt for travel-size alternatives of your faves where possible to save space. 

IT Cosmetics Travel Mini Your Skin But Better CC Cream SPF50

• Size: 12ml

• Six shades

Skincare meets make-up with this multi-purpose base. Providing a veil of buildable coverage, a welcome dose of hydration and an SPF of 50, its dinky 12ml size will fit into the most filled of carry-ons. 

Burt's Bees Pomegranate Lip Balm

• Size: 4.25g

Prepare your pout for all weathers with this nourishing, conditioning lip balm that’s laced with shea butter and hyaluronic acid for soft, hydrated and subtly tinted lips.

Soltan Once Advanced Face 8hr Protect SPF30 Sun Cream

• Size: 50ml

• SPF30

• Water-resistant 

SPF is a daily essential that deserves pride of place in your beauty travel bag. This one from Soltan offers long-lasting protection in a non-greasy formula that sits exceptionally well under make-up – perfect for long walks in the countryside.  

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser

• Size: 50ml

• Cruelty-free

• Contains 1 x pure cotton cloth

If the full-size version of this cult cleanser’s a skincare staple of yours, get your travel-size fill with this smaller version. Complete with a pure cotton cloth, it makes light work of end-of-day dirt and grime, while leaving skin feeling supremely soft. 

Barry M Fresh Face Cheek & Lip Tint

• Size: 10ml

• Five shades

Whether you’re getting cosy in a cabin or off out for some fresh air, complete your look with an outdoorsy, flushed complexion using this sheer colour tapped on to lips and cheeks. Choose between five flattering shades for a rosy glow.

Looking for more summer beauty inspo? From boob sweat to BO and bacne, here are 10 (not-so-embarrassing) summer truths we all experience – and how to deal with them.

All prices correct on date of publication