Challenge Accepted: Travel Skincare for Carry-on Luggage

I’m going to start by admitting that this was a requested post. It was, in fact, requested by multiple people. I didn’t want to write this post because if I’m honest I very rarely travel without checking a bag. Why? Because I can’t fit my skin care into a quart-size Ziploc bag. That’s not to say that if it’s an overnight trip I haven’t done it, but a weekend or, egads, a week? No. I have never attempted it. However, after several requests to write this article, I decided to look at it as a challenge. And a challenge it was.

I stared at that Ziploc bag with disdain for what seemed like an eternity, not knowing where to begin. I decided I would simply start with my morning routine in order of operation and take it product by product to see if I could manage five days-worth of products into this insidious piece of plastic.



Luckily in the morning I only use one cleanser, having double-cleansed the night before. I would have to find a cleanser that I could put into the bag that would double as my morning and evening second cleanser. I would need something rich enough that I didn’t need much for it to be effective. Several gel cleansers were out immediately; they wouldn’t spread well enough. I tried formula after formula on my hand before settling on the Skinceuticals Replenishing Cream Cleanser. I didn’t need much of this to completely cleanse my face. I filled a 1-oz travel bottle with the cleanser and I have no doubt it will get me through two cleanses a day for the four days with no problem. It would likely get me through several more days.



I’m packing my Mario Badescu Facial Spray for use on the plane. It can double as my toner. It’s a slightly larger bottle, but I need it on the plane so it’s worth the space.


Morning Serums

Skinceuticals C E Ferulic and H. A. Intensifier. I always keep sample-sized bottles of this on hand. We run out of the samples frequently, so I simply keep mine and transfer product via the dropper into the sample bottles. This way I always have travel-friendly versions. Each one of the little bottles will last me a week, no problem.


Eye Cream

Zelens Triple Action Eye Cream. Luckily a little of this product goes a long way. I scooped a bunch of the product into the small black travel jar we sell. There is plenty in that jar for morning and night.



Zelens 3t Complex Moisturizer. I use this moisturizer morning and night, so that made it easier. I tend to use more moisturizer than eye cream so I picked the 1-oz travel jar we sell and filled that half way. I won’t use all the product in the jar, but I don’t want to be scraping product out of several smaller jars so it was worth the extra size the jar took up.


Make-Up Eraser

This is a towel so I don’t have to put it in my Ziploc bag. I would ordinarily use an oil cleanser to remove makeup first, but I don’t want to take up too much room trying to make that fit. So, I packed this towel. I will use it as a first pass to remove makeup before my other cleanser.


Eye Makeup Remover

We give a travel size of the Klorane eye makeup remover to everyone who purchases the large size. I funnel the product into the travel bottle over and over. The travel size will remove my eye makeup for a week.


Night Serums

Zelens Power A and Power D Drops. I can’t live without these serums. The A is my favorite retinol of all time and the D is my fortifying serum. The problem is that they take up too much room in their bottles. The oily consistency means that the small travel jars that work well with creams will leak with the serum. The only thing I’ve found that works is small perfume vials. These little perfume vials hold enough of these oils for more than a week leak-free. [Editor’s note: Genius! I learned the hard way re the travel jars, sigh.]



Thank you Dr. Dennis Gross. His peel pads are individually wrapped. Because they are pre-moistened towelettes, I have never had to include them in my Ziploc. I can put those straight into my toiletry bag. I can put one in for every day of the week and take up next to no room.


Lip Balm

I take a lip balm with density like the Kiehl’s Buttermask or Fresh Sugar Lip Balm. As long as it’s thick, it doesn’t read as a liquid and I don’t have to include it in my plastic bag.


Shampoo & Conditioner

Yes, the hotel room will have these. Will they be good? Who knows. I’m not going to risk it. I always take Amika, Moroccan Oil, or Living Proof travel sizes with me. I like these in their containers. I don’t want to accidentally wash my face with conditioner or put face cleanser on my hair. This has happened. Back when I was funneling everything into travel containers this happened. No more. Now I take these products in the containers that God intended. Okay, maybe not God, but L’Oréal or some other equally large behemoth.



Supersmile travel size. Marvis if space is tight.


Contact Lens Solution

There’s no way around this one. I just try to take the Bausch + Lomb. This bottle is longer and thinner and therefore easier on my plastic bag. The other ones are fat and short and distort the bag too much. I couldn’t find a travel one when I was doing this post so I used a larger travel bottle.



I take two types. I take one that is a liquid consistency: Supergoop, Skinceuticals, or Coola. That gets funneled into a 1-oz bottle. The other is a mineral powder brush. That stays in my purse.


Facial Mask

I always take tissue masks when I travel. I have packed up to ten and never been given grief about it. Yet another non-Ziploc item. I love using them in the hotel at night or in the morning to de-puff.



Believe it or not, you can fit all of this into the plastic bag and still have room for your liquid makeup products. I managed to do it, but I don’t like it. I like my bottles. I like my items to look neat. I like checking a bag. Admittedly, I don’t travel as often as many of you. I might change my tune if I did. As a result, I managed to get past some of the product identification issues by employing my label maker. Who knows, maybe I’ll get used to this and become very Spartan in my packing and therefore only carry on my luggage in the future…oh, wait.  I just remembered the other reason I always check a bag…my shoes…so many shoes.


  • 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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