Traveling with your cosmetics

Cosmetics consumer advocate Paula Begoun (who has authored a number of books on practical cosmetic tips and sells her own line of skin care and cosmetics), recently discussed the topic of how to pack your cosmetics for travel in her syndicated radio show. You can listen to an archive of her show here.

Paula explained that she flies between 150,000 to 200,000 miles per year for her job (since she oversees overseas manufacturing of her products), and that she has a standard regimen she follows when flying. Some of her more handy tips include:

Laying out everything you plan to pack, on your bed – this lets you see if you’re taking anything unnecessary, and also lets you see if you’re missing anything important.

Wearing sunscreen on the plane – this is something most people don’t think about. But when you are flying at 30,000 feet during the day, you are getting a lot of UV rays through the windows.

Wear shoes that expand – Paula talked about all the women she saw in the airport wearing high heels who are in agony because their feet swell when they fly. Paula recommends comfortable stylish shoes from manufacturers like Merrell and Clark, and orders her shoes from (so do I!). She warns against wearing flip-flips because they provide no support.

Wear loose, comfortable clothing – Paula is particularly keen on wearing jersey knits, and mentioned as a great Web site for purchasing comfortable clothes for full figures, and Missook for women with a bigger budget. While I agree that jersey knits are comfortable, I have to disagree with Paula here, because jersey knits are a pain to hand wash. Unless you plan to stay in a hotel with laundry machines, stick with travel-friendly fabrics like “scrunch cloth” from Orvis.

Wear easy-to-remove make-up on the flight – Paula recommends that you go ahead and remove your make-up once you settle down on your flight, using a baby wet wipe, which will take everything off except the stubborn mascara. Once your make-up is off, she recommends keeping your face moist with face cream to combat the dry air in the cabin.

Paula carries the following in her quart-sized resealable bag, which she keeps in her carry-on:

  • Nasal decongestant spray (such as Afrin) – this helps you breathe easier and prevents pressure problems when your plane is about to land. If you are tight on room in your quart-sized bag, my suggestion is a nasal decongestant inhaler stick (like Vicks Vapor Inhaler). The stick is the same size as a stick of lip balm, and is a solid. Be careful: Both of these products clear your sinuses by shrinking the membrane, and you don’t want to use it all the time.
  • Your favorite fragrance – this makes you feel a little more feminine. Be careful not to spritz on too much; the last thing people like to do is smell strong perfume in an enclosed cabin. Just a dab on your neck will do.
  • Your entire full skin care routine, in travel-sized containers – Paula recommends toner, cleanser, moisturizer, etc. for her regimen.
  • Travel-sized stick of deodorant
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Moisturizer for your hands, like shea butter or cocoa butter – the Body Shop has little travel-sized tins of their Body Butter that is perfect for this. She says your hands will only feel greasy for a short while, but that the extra thick moisturizer will keep your hands from drying out during the flight.
  • Lubricating eye drops – since your eyes dry out as much as your skin does.
  • Silicone serum for your hair – keeps hair from frizzing out. She recommends the Garnier Fructis Brilliantine Shine Glossy Spray, which conveniently comes in 3-ounce spray bottles.

Paula likes to remove all her make-up on the flight, and then go through her entire skin care regimen and put her make-up on before the plane lands. If you brush your teeth and get all your make-up back on, you will feel like a civilized person when you land, and you’ll be able to hit the ground running.

For the most part, I think she’s got the right idea. Since I recommend taking everything with you in your carry-on, though, it means you need to be a little more organized about what you pack in your quart-sized toiletry bag. For example, the silicone serum spray might be handy since it comes in a 3-ounce bottle, the reason Garnier sells the product in a 3-ounce bottle is because most people will only need two sprays to tame their hair. Nobody in the world will run out of this product during their vacation trip… so there’s incentive for the Travelite packer to transfer the silicone serum into say a 1-ounce spritzer bottle.


  1. Silicone anything is one of the worst things people prone to frizz can put on their hair. The other is the shampoo with sulfates required to get it back out. Curly girls (those with the most frizz problems) shouldn’t use anything with sulfates or cones. Check out for better solutions to the problem.

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