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How To Pack Checked Beauty Items

June 4, 2015
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There’s absolutely nothing relaxing, exciting, remotely fun or an enjoyable aspect about packing for a move, or travel, or in my case – both. As most of you lovelies know, I moved back to my beautiful hometown of Las Vegas almost 3 weeks ago after spending the last 4.5 years in Oregon, and it has been nothing short of amazing to be back in my city, my home, my dry heat desert bowl. I feel great. Anyway, I’m starting to become sentimental over here so let’s move on to the topic at hand. Packing. The word still sends shivers up my spine and they are not the good kind. After having packed my entire household into boxes for movers to come and everything up, I was left with the one task even more dreaded than everything else, packing beauty/toiletry items.

Every woman has her regalia of beauty products, full-sized may I add, that she either uses daily or every once in a blue moon, or not at all but it is fun to keep around anyway. Like shoes you haven’t worn in 7 years, you know you’ll never wear them again but you don’t want to donate them either. I got you, I see you, we’re on the same wavelength. Knowing that the checked bag weight limit was 50 lbs for the airline I was flying with, $75 extra if it went beyond that, it was an extremely nerve-racking and anxiety inducing task to decode the whole toiletry situation. What do I pack? What do I check? What do I toss? And after pondering late into the wee hours for a few days, because I could always use less sleep, I finally figured out a strategy that may have not been the most politically correct, but goddamnit it worked because every bottle I did check survived, even products in glass bottles. Yahoo, motherfucker.

I started off by displaying every beauty item I owned onto the bathroom counter and taking my time going through every single one of them. It was like an episode of Hoarders where I had to physically touch everything before making a decision, it wasn’t fun at all and only increased my stress levels. How I’m not fully gray at this point is still beyond me. If I knew that I had not used this lotion or that creme in over a year, much to my heart’s dismay I did eventually toss it. This counted for every item I went through including makeup – although makeup products if still within expiration date were donated to my little niece or sister-in-law. Then came the next step, I do have an array of travel-size products, so I cross referenced which full-size I owned in travel-size and then decided from there on if I could do almost two weeks without that full-size and if the petite version would suffice until then. When I decided on which travel sizes I was taking in favor of full sizes, I packed the full sizes into a storage basket all neat and tight together so nothing had room to shake or move into a moving box. Done. Everything arrived in mint condition, except for the box itself.

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Onto the checked beauty items. Years and years ago I received this toiletry bag from a purchase of a Venus razor, since I have a slight makeup/toiletry bag fetish I did keep it all these years just in case. And whaddaya know? It came in super handy during both my flights. The bag comes with two sides that zip close and then zips up the middle like a little handbag. In this bag I tried to pack most of the full sizes I knew were prone to exploding, leaking, and whatnot, and whichever ones that fit were suffocated by travel sizes with my excellent Tetris packing skills. Oh yeah, I made sure nothing moved even under luggage handler conditions. Once this bag was packed to the brim and borderline ready to burst at the seams, I went on to the full sizes still left over, which among them did include those that could potentially be splattered all over my nice black clothes. This is where I went MacGyver and utilized plastic shopping bags and Ziplocs. Those products that could explode I first wrapped tightly into a plastic shopping bag, then I stood them upright into a Ziploc together with its friends until the bag was full – to secure its position in my suitcase I wrapped the Ziploc into either a towel or a piece of clothing and then nested it in the center of my luggage where it did not touch any sides. I had about 3 Ziploc bags full of full sizes.

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Extra tip – Products that come with nozzle dispensers can usually be locked back into place so check the nozzle to see if you can lock it by turning the nozzle either left or right. I found a few that luckily did this.


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Fortunately I did not own many glass case products, of my perfumes that I own I literally only took two with me and the rest was packed into a box. I feared the shattering of my bottle of Donna Karan Cashmere Mist, so I did what every other sane woman with a signature scent would do – packed it like there was no tomorrow. I threw out all of my bubble wrap so for the picture I didn’t have anything to show for it, but before I packed the perfumes into a Ziploc I used leftover bubble wrap from packing my goods to blanket the bottles before rolling them into a wash cloth, and then they went into the Ziploc which then was wrapped in either a towel or piece of clothing. It sounds like a lot, but nothing broke, shattered, leaked, or whatnot once I opened my suitcase holding my breath and heart at the same time.

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My makeup bag on the other hand was stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey, I mean, stuffed. For the trip I purchased a new, slightly condensed makeup bag because it would force me to do with less and pack what I could not take as checked items into the moving boxes. Unfortunately that didn’t work out because apparently my packing skills are so out of this world advanced that I was able to fit my entire makeup collection in said bag. Stuffed and pretty shitty, but it all fit and it all survived. After tossing products that were either expired, never used or I knew I was never going to use again, I started by taking the bulk items first like 4 eyeshadow palettes and neatly put those in first sitting them upright so there was room left over to nestle products next and in front of the palettes. Which then came the bulk items smaller in size like the Chanel bronzer and Bobbi Brown Shimmer Bricks, then I went down the scale from big to small compacts. I wanted to utilize every little inch of space within that bag so I played around with the proportions until I found a happy medium where I had all products covered even if that meant sliding a compact in between where I saw an open space, all products were sitting tight together, but the zipper could still close. Also, I took advantage of the side pockets it came with and neatly lined all the pencil-like, tube products and brushes in those pockets.

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Basically, I kept packing and unpacking the makeup bag (try 7 times) until I found what worked the best with the most important element being that the zipper was still able to close. It barely did, fyi. As far as potential mishaps taking place with my foundation bottles, I did the exact same here as I did with my perfume bottles and wrapped them into bubble wrap + a wash cloth before entering them into the stuffed abyss of the makeup bag.

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When I encountered brushes, I would slide the small/medium-sized ones into the side pockets together with my tube/pencil products. The larger brushes I would layer in intervals on top of the blush compacts. So every bristle head would face the handle, using this interval layering technique allowed me to save some space while fitting them all in there.


What I wanted to accomplish was work my way from the beginning to the end as you would during the everyday application of your makeup. Starting with tools and foundation, then working your way down to eyeshadow and blush. And since I did shove a lot of little things in between cracks here and there, my main objective was to protect my palettes, straight up. A new blush I can buy, my palettes are an investment. Especially the $85 MAC one.

Despite that I knew it was going to be a free-for-all of where items would fit where there was room, I still kind of wanted organization so the unpacking would be easier. Don’t know why I’m so fucking high-strung on organization.

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Once I had all beauty supplies stuffed away into something, whether that was a plastic bag or a toiletry bag, the use of my clothes acting like a cushion and/or barrier became pivotal before I draped a one-person fleece blanket over the top of the suitcase contents and closed her up before she went on her trip. 

In the end, my suitcase did not look like a seasoned traveler had packed it – in fact it looked quite disturbing but it worked because everything survived without any spills, period. None of my expensive potions or makeup children had been sacrificed and I could not have been happier.

How do you pack fragile beauty products into your luggage?

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