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You just booked that killer travel job you always wanted.

Deal memo signed.
Travel arrangements made.

CONGRATULATIONS!!! You are on top of the world, until you realize you need to pack your kit and panic sets in. How do you do this? You need everything! 

Glossies, I've been there. I promise - it is possible and you don't really need everything! Pro-to-Pro...I'm not going to tell you what products to pack, but instead, some stuff to keep in mind during the process (especially when traveling by plane). 

The process itself can be a bit overwhelming sorting through our stash when we're thinking "I need it all! What if the apocalypse comes while I’m working? I have to be prepared!” Deep breaths! You can do this!

Follow my lead Glossihoppers and I’ll fill you in on important travel details and teach you some tips and tricks I have learned from my own experiences.


how to travel with your makeup kit

Before you actually start packing ask yourself these three questions:

>>Who is my client? 
>>What kind of makeup am I doing?
>>What environment will I be working in?

Be realistic. This will help you narrow down your “must have” list. Focus on the makeup you have been hired to do and research your location. Only take what you need for the makeup job at hand. 

Often it is much easier to take out what you know you won't need first then narrow down what's left. If you’re doing a bride in Hawaii, maybe that neon color palette and black lipstick can hang back for this one? (Unless of course your client requested them, then ROCK ON!)   The same job in Alaska however, might require the need of different skin care and foundation products. Know your client, anticipate their needs and be aware of the environment you are working in. 


how to travel with your makeup kit

A best practice is to make a complete inventory list of what you're taking with you after you have picked your products. Keep one copy of this list with you, and one inside your kit bag with your travel date on it. Then the contents are clear to everyone. That way, when you open your bag to a love note from the T.S.A about rummaging through your stuff, there's no confusion over what's missing and what's just at home!

If you want to be extra cautious- snap a few pictures of the inside of your bag with the inventory list, so there’s a time-stamped image. Bonus reward - not having to remember how to repack it when you're heading home! These precautions are always helpful not only for peace of mind, but as back up in the unfortunate situation of having to file a claim with the airline. If you’re worried about the T.S.A. wondering why you’re an overzealous beauty fiend, stick your business card inside your bag too and don't forget a sturdy luggage tag with your current contact information on it for the outside.


how to travel with your makeup kit

 If you don't have insurance for your kit and you are traveling, look into getting some (especially if you are checking your kit.)  As careful as the airlines like to be with our luggage, things can still happen. I really like to be as positive as possible, but insurance is that little extra security blanket.

You landed safely in your destination and you’re super stoked about working, but your kit however could be M.I.A. (Cross my heart and hope to die, this never happens to me or any of you! And LAWD help the airline whose misfortune it would be to deal with one of us during this particular set of circumstances.) However, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Insurance policies vary just like car, health, homeowners etc... Policy holder requirements also vary through carriers. Finding a policy that’s right for you may take a day or two, but in the long run you are protecting your investment and your business.  Be sure you understand what type of insurance you are getting, what exactly you are paying for, and that you supply the company with the appropriate requirements to instate your kit insurance correctly.

>>Any legitimate agent can help you sort through the details. A simple Google search can help you find a local agent in your area. 


how to travel with your makeup kit

All my MUA’s I know what you’re thinking, “There is No Way I’m checking my kit!”  I got you. Carry-on info first! Carry-on kit travel is particular because of the T.S.A. liquid rule, sharp object specifications and airline bag limitations for above cabin storage.

Here are some basic rules to keep in mind:

  >>The Liquid Rule: One quart-sized (clear) bag (per traveler) of labeled liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes through the checkpoint. These are limited to 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. (Otherwise anything above that quart bag of liquids must be checked in a separate bag and go under the plane.)

 >>Sharp Object Specifications (particularly scissors): Metal scissors with pointed tips and a blade length greater than four inches measured from the fulcrum are not allowed. (Tweezers, nail clippers, eyelash curlers, rounded metal spatulas can be allowed, but I have found this really varies per airport and per security agent. Just be aware.)

 >>Basic Carry-on Baggage limits: 1 personal item: purse or backpack that fits under the seat in front of you and 1 carry-on case: 22" length x 14" width x 9" height (or smaller) that can fit above the seats in the overhead compartment. 

So what does this mean for you as far as your carry-on kit items? Think Solids!

I know the “rule” includes creams, but from my personal travel experiences and other artists I know who travel regularly; solid creams and powders are fine to board the plane as long as they are in a palette of some sort - i.e.: eye shadow, blush powder or cream, face powders, cream foundations like RCMA, Graftobian, etc... 


how to travel with your makeup kit

 Insider tip #1:  Make space in your carry-on for your palettes to help avoid breakage or melting in transport – even if checking. Sometimes softer pressed powders just can't handle the bumpy ride inside the checked bag even if they are cozy as can be.

 Insider tip #2: Carry-on your brushes! If anything ever happens and you find yourself in unfamiliar territory or Podunk, Nowhere - from personal experience - it is much easier to replace product than it is brushes. There is always a mall somewhere! (But they may not carry your favorite Hakuhodo...) 

Checking your bag in some cases might be easier because really, anything goes...well, almost. You don't have to worry about too much about bag size, liquid size, quantity, de-potting products etc... Sometimes the hardest part will be keeping the weight of the bag down. (Most airlines operate on the 50 lbs. weight limit per bag. Anything above 50 lbs. typically has an extra over-weight charge. Over-sized bags also have and extra charge F.Y.I.) If you’re not down for paying those, then bust out your scale and grab a smaller bag peeps. Trust me with our love of products 50 lbs. can happen real quickly. 

 Insider tip #3:  Even if checking use the quart bag as an emergency back-up kit if the worst does happen.  Throw in a moisturizer, atomizer spray, mascara, lip gloss, travel tissues, a few q-tips and a color cream palette like MAKE UP FOR EVER Flash Color Case or Le Maquillage Professional fard crème. That way if you can’t replace anything in enough time, you can still show up for work and make it happen. They may question your small kit, but put a smile on your face and wow them with your abilities!  


how to travel with your makeup kit

OK Kittens, both options still make you nervous. Neither one brought you to your happy place? Maybe you don't want the added stress of airline kit shenanigans. No biggie. Ship it!

There is nothing wrong with mailing your kit to your destination and following a tracking number. If this calms your nerves, more power to you!

Keep in mind most shipping carriers air transport packages unless you choose a method that is ground. Your bag is still flying even if you two are on separate planes.  Give yourself enough shipping time to get it there on the day, or pay the rates for overnight.

Just like traditional air travel you are paying for the weight of your package, so your cost could be more in the long run.  Remember shipping fees and kit baggage fees are a business expenses. We can't work without our kits, right? Anyway you choose to go, save your receipts! Your accountant or tax adviser can always help you sort through your travel expenses when that time comes.  

As mentioned earlier - what you put in that bag is entirely up to you, do you homie!  Either option you choose for transport, and whatever luggage preference you have is your own: hard case, soft case, duffle bag, Zuca... There are some guidelines to think about when organizing it all. 

Drum-roll please…The Actual Packing!!!


how to travel with your pro makeup kit

>>Pack everything tight and secure for happy products in flight. Fill those nooks and crannies, every last one!  

>>Line your bag of choice with bubble wrap or soft terrycloth bath towels for an extra buffer of product protection. 

>>Wrap palettes separately with bubble wrap, inside and out to help ward off pressed powder breakage.



 Insider tip #4: Measure the bubble wrap against the inside of the palette and cut a piece just big enough to fit on top of the powders snugly so the palette can still close properly. Then wrap the bubble wrap around the outside. Regular tape or elastic bands can hold the bubble wrap together swimmingly.

>>Keep fragile items in the middle of your suitcase and build around it. It helps add a little extra cushion between your delicate products and the outside elements.  

 Insider tip #5: Electrical tape around glass bottles will help absorb any shock from movement and avoid glass on glass friction that could otherwise cause breakage. (Tape them in a way that keeps any product labeling free to see color selection or needed branding notes.) 

>>Keep like items together. Skin with skin. Lips with lips…ya dig? It makes unpacking and prepping on the job a heck of a lot easier.

how to pack your makeup kit

 Insider tip #6: Clear cosmetic bags are great for product storage because not only can you see what's in them, but should it be that random time one of your liquids decides to erupt like a volcano, the plastic keeps the mess contained and helps to avoid possible time consuming yucky clean up later. They're also easy to wipe down and sanitize.

Keep in mind that altitude changes can cause excess pressure build up in liquids. If your ears are popping from air pressure changes in the passenger cabin, the same changes are happening below in the luggage cabin and possibly in your products too. 

>>Make sure bottles are sealed tight or taped shut if the cap is questionable, and get as much air out of your products and bags as humanly possible. 

>> Ziploc bags can be great for those random extras you find you need once you've organized it all in the endless game of Tetris we constantly play. Plus another easy clean up storage option!

>>Pack your metal palettes somewhere visible and easily accessible. Metal is a flag for x-ray machines, and these alone can attract attention for your bags anywhere in security. If you don't want your perfectly puzzle packed job messed with, put them somewhere T.S.A. can quickly spot upon opening and not have to dig to the center of your Mary Poppins bag to find. Remember if checking - x-raying comes into play after you have turned it over to the airline, so you won’t be there to re-pack it. (Help them out; you'll be glad you did!)

>>Put a Fragile Sticker on your bag for safety. Most airlines have them available, or grab one yourself at a local office supply store. It's not 100% foolproof, but it may help to ward off the heavy handed. 

>>Alcohol is big no, no! Just leave this at home folks. Our alcohol is a flammable product and cannot be checked or carried on. Just make a pit stop at a drug store after arrival and grab a small bottle. You can sanitize your little heart out once you land. 


how to travel with your makeup kit

Side note on airbrush packing: These are special machines and thus special care needs to be taken in securing their integrity to work. Bubble wrap is your best friend here. Keep those puppies safe!

Saving the original packaging has always been my suggestion when it comes to compressors and airbrush guns. That way if packing in a checked bag there is no confusion on what they are.

Additionally you’ll have the original buffers that came with the packaging. Both items are typically metal and airbrush guns can resemble other questionable items on an x-ray machine.

If packing in a checked bag keep the manufacturers guide on top of your products outside of the box were it is visible and identifiable quickly. This may save the T.S.A. time in trying to decipher the contents of the box.

The needles in your gun are also sharp and delicate. Pay careful attention to how and where you pack it. You don't want to put your gun at risk by packing it carelessly and breaking the needle. Even if you chose to make space in your carry on, be prepared for a security stop. They may have to verify it is actually an airbrush gun and an artist tool.


how to pack your makeup kit

Always schedule yourself enough time to check in and go through security if you are carrying on. All airports are different and all T.S.A. personnel are different. If security does choose to pull you and your kit aside at the check point, you don't want to be late for your flight because you need to repack your kit on the spot. (Bonus #2 - Those precious kit pics can be a life saver when you’re in a time crunch!)

As kind and careful as security may be unpacking the contents of your kit with their fancy blue gloves, they do not however, repack it for you at the gate entrance. That game of Tetris can be a doozy when you’re stressed out and in a hurry. Best case scenario, you fly through security, they don't check your bag, and you've just ensured you won't miss your boarding call. Sweet deal! Grab a coffee and a beauty mag. Sit tight my loves; you’re ahead of the game!

 No matter what, be sure to check the T.S.A. guidelines and your airline carrier’s luggage policies first before you pack. Guidelines and policies can change and not all carriers are created equal. And of course, be kind and patient with your airline crew and your new T.S.A. friends. Smile, be polite. Remember they have a job to do too. Fly's and honey y'all!

Now what are you waiting for? Get to packing Artists and safe travels


Special thank you to Desiree for this AMAZING article on how to travel with your makeup kit. Next time you see someone asking on how to travel with their kit, this is the ULTIMATE GUIDE. Thanks Desiree for the most in depth attention to detail! Check out her work at -Sonia