If I hear the "If you were stranded on a desert island, what ONE thing would you bring?" question one more time, I might hit someone over the head with my suitcase. And it would hurt too -- the suitcase I have is brimming with the best beauty products and makeup because I will never, ever be stranded on a fricken' desert island. OK? OK.
Now, just because I am a self-proclaimed over-packer, doesn't mean I don't have meaningful debates with myself over whether or not to pack a 15-ounce bottle of conditioner. I know there are some beauty products I actually need, and some I totally don't (see nine unnecessary skin care products, whether you're on vacay or not).
So to knock some "you really don't need the jumbo SPF bottle"-sense into me and to help me learn how to effectively pack my beauty products in order to prevent my liquid-y products from leaking all over my silk blouses, I went to celebrity makeup artist Pamela Lljubo-Obrien and Justin Klosky of The O.C.D. Experience (Organize and Create Discipline).
Here are some of the pro packing tips they gave me:
Tip 1: Assess the situation
Before you empty your medicine cabinet into your suitcase consider the following:
How long are you traveling for? If you'll be away for more than two weeks, you're better off buying beauty products like shampoo (see the best drugstore shampoo here), conditioner, etc. at your destination rather than lugging them in your suitcase.
What will the hotel provide? Most hotels have hair dryers, shampoo and conditioner, body lotion and soap, but it's always best to call ahead and ask the front desk or concierge, says Klosky. If you have a lot of hair and don't trust the power of the hotel dryer, pack your own foldable travel size dryer like Conair Infiniti Pro1875-Watt Salon-Performance Tool, $40.99, which comes complete with a travel tote.
Tip 2: Decide what to pack
Things to bring: Your basics (toothpaste, toothbrush, razor, deodorant, every day makeup, shampoo and conditioner (unless you can make do with a hotel variety), face wash, face moisturizer and a brush.
Things to leave: Sunscreen (the tubes are usually big and you can find cheap sunscreen at your destination), body lotion and soap (if you are staying at a hotel), makeup that you don't wear everyday (you don't want to risk losing what you've collected, and less is more, says Lljubo-Obrien).
TSA only allows 3.4 ounce -- or less -- bottles (100ml) of all liquids, aerosols and gels that are enclosed in one quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag per passenger to be carried on board. Which means, unless you are *packing your beauty products in your checked baggage, you need to either buy travel-sized beauty products or get refillable plastic containers like Mini Kittour Just In Case Individuals & Refillables, $5-$8.
* Keep in mind, if you don't need full-sized products, LLjubo-Obrien recommends packing all your beauty products in your carryon. It's far easier for you to control the movement of your items (read: less chance for spillage).
When it comes to items like perfume and nail polish, you're better off keeping glass out of your suitcase. If you're determined to bring your favorite fragrance (like the perfume that has defined your life), don't ever try pouring it into a plastic bottle. Instead, go to a department store or Sephora and ask for a sample size of your scent. Most perfumes come in sample sizes and you can just ask the sales clerk for two.
As for nail polish, bring one bottle of the color that's on your nails when you leave and carry it on the flight instead of packing in your suitcase. You could also instead try nail polish strips like Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips, $12.99 that have no glass bottle and last up to two weeks.
Get a plastic-lined toiletry bag that has a lot of zipper compartments and dividers (at least three), which will come in handy if anything does break or leak, says LLjubo-Obrien. Also, look for one "that hangs on the back of a door for easy access to your products. This is also useful if your hotel has minimal counter space in the bathroom," advises Klosky. Try The Container Store Capri Hanging Cosmetic Bag, $19.99.
When the air pressure changes in an airplane due to elevation, your beauty products will react. To keep the products in their respective bottles and not all over your suitcase, make sure to release the air from your bottles and quickly close them back up before packing them. Then "tape the tops of your liquid containers to prevent leaking and exploding, and for double protection, recycle old grocery bags and wrap your liquids individually" before packing them away, says Klosky.
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