Master the Art of Packing A Carry On With ALL Your Beauty Products

Travel outfit, long sleeve button down satin coordinate set

The art of packing…or lack thereof? We’ve all been there for the chaos.

You’ve left your least favorite task ever until the very last minute again, packing for another vacation or work trip.

Now the anxiety sets in.

You’re 12 hours out from a week-long trip, and nothing has made it into the suitcase yet. You have an idea of what outfits *might* be a hit but aren’t sure so you panic pull a few options from the closet and hope for the best. Now it’s on to beauty packing. How does anyone fit all this sh*t in? You obviously need your skincare holy grails because over your dead body will you have an acne breakout on an important trip where the camera will be out!

Clearly, checking a bag is the only way you’ll survive…or two, or three. Especially as a high-maintenance gal whose favorite vices are her fashion and beauty products.

This may piss you off to hear…but no, it’s not.

What if I told you you could take everything with you, lose 75% of the stress that comes with packing, and quit spending money on checking tons of bags/risk losing one? I’ve been doing it for years and have got it down to an art.

Here’s exactly what you need to do to master the art of packing a carry-on.

How To Master the Art of Packing a Carry On

Prior Planning Eliminates BS

The ace in the hole of this whole operation is a well-strategized beauty bag. Break up with your catchall abyss of a bag and invest in one that has adjustable compartments. You’re going to save the most room in your bag by eliminating as many full-size products as possible and packing them in a bag designed for organization.

I personally love this one, I’ve used it for a week, a few days, and longer during the holidays.

ALWAYS have a travel set of all the beauty you’ll use on a trip. Including travel-size brushes. This eliminates 90% of the stress of packing, not to mention the added toll of added baggage charges for no reason other than laziness. It will take a few rounds to build up as creating this can be pricey up front. It’s worth it in the end, as it’s saved me so much money on baggage charges.

A lot has changed in the beauty space as more high-end skincare and makeup are being made in travel size. Shout out to the brands doing God’s work on this one: Peter Thomas Roth, Dr. Zenovia, Nars, Charlotte Tilbury, K18, and Drunk Elephant! One of my biggest hacks is to use your Sephora points to snag travel-size makeup like mascara, blushes, primers, lipsticks, and hair oils. They currently have my top mascara, YSL Lash Clash in the Sephora Points Bazaar. It lasts me 2 weeks with daily use and is only 100 points. I also do the same for fragrances. You can usually get some killer ones for free with your free samples on your regular beauty orders through Sephora. At the least, you can go into the store and snag samples of your signature scents. I pack around 3-5 small vials per trip.

Getting it in the Bag

How does it all fit? Let’s break it down.

How to pack beauty products in a carry on

Beauty in First

If I am doing a longer trip, I’ll have a separate small bag for shampoo/conditioner/heat protectant spray. Shorter trips allow me to only carry travel-size dry shampoo, hair spray, and a texturizing spray, which all fit in the main cosmetic bag.

How to pack beauty products in a carry on beauty products that fit inside a carry onHow to pack beauty products in a carry on carry on cosmetic case organization

Put the travel cosmetic bag at the very bottom. It’s heaviest and sturdy, so it won’t get smashed by shoes, and vice versa. Pack your shoes at the top, and Tetris shit around it to fit everything in. One of the most surprising pluses of investing in the Dyson Airwrap is its ease of packing in small spaces. I usually take 2 attachments (brush/wrap) and it fits alongside 2 pairs of shoes and all my extras like jewelry, client decks, brushes, scrunchies, and more. I highly recommend investing in the Airwrap or the Shark dupe version for this reason alone! You’ll save so much space, especially on international trips when you absolutely want to take your own hairdryer.

cosmetic case inside a carry on suitcase

Clothing Comes Next

The key to packing even more beauty (*cough* devices) is to roll your clothing and fit them in around it. Bonus points if you roll items and pack them in categorized cubes. This will save you space and make unpacking a breeze. I love these ones, they fit in both my carry-on and larger suitcase. The key to eliminating most wrinkles in flight is rolling them in a dry-cleaning plastic cover. I personally save these from Rent the Runway; your clothes will arrive without deep creases that can be easily refreshed while you’re taking a steamy shower or with an iron upon arrival.

Having a strategy for your outfits is another KEY point for fitting everything in. Break up with last-minute panic packing. It takes less effort than you think! In college, I was a HOT mess and couldn’t go anywhere without two checked bags. Now, I can’t even fathom adding that chaos (and cost) back into my life. Do you *really* enjoy the fear of lost luggage, or worse, schlepping a million bags from baggage claim to an Uber?

Train yourself to block off an hour of time to put together a look list and find items you can style differently with the same items for max efficiency. For the full breakdown of the clothing side of the game, check out my other article geared toward the macro view of this subject. This gives you the complete strategy on how to master the art of packing a carry on with everything, not just beauty.

Master The Art of Packing A Carry On

Now that you have the general blueprint, let’s get your gear in order. I’ve broken down my top beauty product lineup below by category, add what you need and leave what you don’t. Every carry-on will be different based on your needs and lifestyle, but the sentiment stays the same, these are the absolute holy grails of travel skincare and makeup! Link to the Sephora Reward Bazaar to top off your bag. This is how you master the art of packing a carry on.

Carry On Skincare Musts


Carry On Makeup Musts


Carry On Hair Musts


Extra Credit: In Flight Beauty Musts



Shop The Post

Don’t see it in the lineup below or above? It’s from Amazon! Follow my Beauty list to stay updated on new finds in addition to these staples. Snag my go-to travel outfit, this coordinate button down set will have you bombarded with compliments from the airport to happy hour at your destination!


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