Travel Beauty: Carry-On Skincare That Will Go The Distance

Ruby Feneley

Beauty & Health Writer

Jan 04, 2022

The risks and rewards of travel are plentiful. But one of the most underestimated challenges is packing a travel skincare regimen. Executed poorly, it can have a disastrous consequence. Loss of assets (TSA seizure) and grievous bodily harm (breakouts, dryness, the horrifying list continues).

I previously had the opportunity for work-related international travel. Five stop-overs and a deep-rooted fear of losing my luggage meant to carry on packing was my only option. This decision meant some serious logistical manoeuvering for my “comprehensive” skincare regimen. I am happy to say that I nailed it. So draw up a chair and read my top travel skincare tips. They will save you TSA heartbreak, and skin outbreaks, next trip – thank me later.

Travel Skincare Step One: When In Doubt Decant

Travel Skincare Essential: Decant your cleansers with Miniso travel bottles
Miniso Travel Bottles, $1.99, at
Simple Cleansing Oil, $9.99, Essano Gentle Rosehip Foaming Facial Cleanser, $14.99 from Priceline and Cremorlab Mineral Treatment Essence, $80,

Travel is already a severe stressor to the skin – so the fewer curveballs you throw at it during transit, the better. I decanted my tried-and-true cleansing routine into mini 15ml bottles. These bottles from Miniso are winners in my books because they have pumps, which is convenient, and lockers so you can rest assured they won’t spill in your carry on (inconvenient).

Eye creams invariably come in unnecessarily bulky packaging. I am unsure if this is this to make us feel better about forking out $200 for 15mls of the product. If so, somebody, please tell skincare companies that there is no correlation between the size of a jar and the customer’s ability to read “15mls” on its side.

Putting conspiracies to the back of my mind, I decanted a week’s worth of my precious Chantecaille Nano-Gold eye cream into a clean Mecca sample pot. It hurt, but not as much as saying goodbye to it at TSA would have.

Trave Skincare Step Two: Minis Are Your Friend (For the Most Part)

Travel Skincare Hack: Find the same ingredients in smaller sizes when traveling
Medik8 Hydr8 B5 Intense Serum $99, and Ultraceuticals Ultra B2 Hydrating Serums from the Ultraceuticals Skin Essentials Travel Set, $75,

Serums are too messy, and frankly too expensive, for me to think about decanting. Instead, I opted to take a mini. It can be tempting to hit the beauty-to-go at your local Mecca or Sephora. I find the siren call of a no-strings-attached beauty affair hard to resist at the best of times. However, I would advise against getting hot and heavy with untested skincare on an overseas trip. Think of it like traveling with a new significant other. An unknown ingredient may get on your skin’s nerves and cause a breakout. Or, the formulation might let you down when you need it most – pilling, slipping and sliding unexpectedly. If you can’t simply purchase your current serum in a smaller size, check out its key ingredients and match them.

For example, I have been using Medik8 Hydr8 B5 Intense Serum. The primary ingredients in this serum are Vitamin B5, glycerin, and sodium hyaluronate. I opted to take a 10ml mini of the Ultraceuticals B2 Serum. The Ultraceuticals product contains Vitamin B5 and Vitamin B3 in a sodium hyaluronate and glycerin base. No curveballs for my skincare or makeup routine and a serious space saver.

Travel Skincare Step Three: Think Outside The Box

Like many people, my daytime and nighttime skin care products are as different as… well, night and day. At night, I rotate between two higher and lower strength Vitamin A treatments. Currently, I am working my way through the Medik8 Retinol 1% Serum and the Beaute Pacifique Skin Repair Serum. Often I will follow this with the Beaute Pacifique Creme Metamorphique Vitamin A cream. If I’m feeling dry, I may even add an oil. While it works for me it is not a regimen that will fit in a one-liter plastic bag.

If faced with a similar predicament, I would suggest looking at the function of the skincare products you are leaving behind. As Hannibal Lecter instructed Clarice Starling: “What is it in itself? What is it’s nature? What does it do?”. While you might not be trying to catch a killer, the same investigative mindset will save you heartbreak at the airport. Dr. Lecter was a flawed man, but I bet he was great at packing an overnight bag.


Hannibals got you covered

For me, my Retinol products act as gentle exfoliants, keeping my cells turning over at a cracking rate, and keeping my skin smooth and blemish free. Do you know what does the same thing? Exfoliating pads. I brought a small box of five Dr. Dennis Gross Extra Strength Alpha Beta Peel Pads – they contain AHA and BHA to exfoliate your skin and cleanse deep within your pores. The second step neutralizes the acids and even contains a small amount of retinol. Best of all? They added absolutely nothing to my liquid quota.

Travel Skincare Made Simple: Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads and Kora Organics Noni Glow Face Balm
About as travel-friendly as it gets: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel Pads, $26-$229 at and Kora Organics Noni Glow Face Balm $30 at

I use oils and night time moisturisers to create a seal, so my water-based hydrating products don’t evaporate. Nifty solution? Face balms. I spotted the Kora Organics Noni Glow Face Balm at Sephora. I figured if you’re looking for a frequent flyer with exceptional skin, you can’t go past Miranda Kerr. Because balms are measured in grams, not MLS, so they don’t count as a liquid. I thought this was a little risky, but my balm passed the scrutiny of airport security from Dubai to Copenhagen while keeping my skin juicy. Cheers Miranda (and Dr. Lecter).


By Ruby Feneley

Beauty & Health Writer

Ruby Feneley is The Carousel Beauty contributor. Her obsession with makeup and skincare started when she modelled in her teens. While she studied English Literature at Sydney University she pivoted from front to behind the camera – receiving her Diploma of Artistry and working as a makeup artist, assisting industry leaders across multiple top brands. In 2017, she moved to New York where she worked as a copywriter for celebrity children’s wear label Appaman Inc. Ruby is now combining her love of makeup and skincare with her passion for writing. She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of makeup and skincare – she can spot a Nars lip from 30 feet and recommend skin creams and treatments from chemists to La Mer at a glance. She is always looking for the next big thing in beauty whether it’s an “unsung hero” product, a highlighter hack or a technological innovation to accelerate your anti-ageing regimen.



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