How To Pack a Minimal Makeup Bag for Long Trips

This post was a suggested topic from a Stylebook reader. I admit when I first saw this suggestion my first thought was, “I am the last person to give this advice!” I take a ridiculous amount of product, both skincare and makeup, when I travel. But then I sat and really thought about it and I realized that although I take all that product I really don’t end up using most of it.

So, what do I end up using and why? Most of us have a go-to makeup looks, the one we wear every day and then our special occasion makeup. When I travel, I find I use my “every day” makeup almost exclusively and then maybe amp it up one night. So what is that everyday makeup?




I find that I can get away with less makeup when I prime well first. One of my customers said, “It always takes longer to prime than to paint.” I start with an overall face primer from Smashbox or Kevyn Aucoin, depending on the weather: Smashbox if it’s hot and humid, Kevyn if it’s cold and dry. Don’t forget a skin tone eye primer; that alone can brighten your eye when in a hurry.



A good, all-purpose concealer can really do a lot.



Unless you’re a tinted moisturizer only person, I think a buildable foundation is a much better travel companion. I can put a little on for light coverage or build it for a flawless look when I want that. I, personally, am a big fan of the Surratt foundation (I know…I sound like a broken record) because it has the brush attached. It doesn’t get more travel-friendly than that.


Custom Palette

I have 20 eye shadows at least, but I really only use two colors most of the time. I find that a small palette that also contains my blush takes up less room and is all I need most days. Then I take a cream shadow crayon for the days or nights when I want to amp up my look. I can use it as a liner or a shadow, depending on how I apply it.


Gel Eyeliner & Tubing Mascara

A black gel eyeliner under the lash line gives definition to my lash line and makes my lashes look thicker. If I can only take one mascara with me, it’s a tubing mascara. I don’t want to worry about whether my mascara is smudged when I’m out and about all day in a different city.



I like to take a lipstick that leaves a bit of a stain, but feels creamy, that way I can rub it in when I want more color or swipe on when I want more hydration.



You can fit all this into a very small cosmetic bag. Now, please…please don’t ask me to do this with skincare.



  • The latest from Angela
I have been a beauty junkie for what seems like forever, but before I did anything about it, I went to law school. (Yes, my life is a little like the reverse of Legally Blonde.) Then, I worked as a prosecutor in Sonoma County after which I moved to the DC area with my husband in ’97. I served as Majority Counsel to the Senate Banking Committee followed by a year-long stint at a lobbying firm. You get the picture. It was then that I decided to act on my dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Finding my favorite beauty products proved to be impossible without stepping foot in a mall–the horror. So, I decided to bring my favorites to Alexandria. A few trips to New York and a flight to France and Bellacara was born in March 2000.

Located in historic Old Town Alexandria, for more than 17 years Bellacara has been Northern Virginia's preeminent boutique for high end cosmetic, skincare and haircare products. At Bellacara you will find premiere beauty products that have been carefully edited by the store’s owner, Angela Sitilides, who personally tests all the products sold in store. The boutique carries only the best product lines – Kiehl’s, Jouer, Dr. Dennis Gross, Christophe Robin, Moroccan Oil, Bumble & Bumble, Fresh, Molton Brown, Skinceuticals, Smashbox, Stila, Mario Badescu, Clarins, Dermalogica, Kevyn Aucoin, Kai, Child, St. Tropez, Smith and Cult, and many more.

1000 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314


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