#MakeupMonday: Travel Tactics

Welcome to Makeup Monday, my weekly series on makeup; academic and postacademic job market and productivity posts will continue on Tuesday and Friday as usual.

Here is my weekly reminder:  I will not engage with makeup-shaming here or on any Facebook or Twitter comment threads. I support your right to not wear makeup, and anyone who dislikes makeup, disapproves of makeup, or wants to argue that no academic woman should be judged on the basis of makeup (which nobody is claiming anyway), I suggest you come back for my other posts on other topics.

For previous posts, see the following:

As soon as I hammered out all of the makeup solutions I’ve described in previous weeks, I quickly realized that I was going to have to next figure out how to take them on the road. Because I travel–a lot.  At least one trip a month and usually more.  I’m either traveling nationally or internationally to give talks and workshops on the academic career, or I’m visiting my kids away at school, or other family and friends.  And of course travel is a core part of your academic lifestyle, as well, what with conferences, and research, and living (usually) far from family and friends…  so, today I talk about how I manage taking my makeup on the road!

The two things I have found I cannot live without are a good, segmented makeup bag, and a lighted travel mirror.  I’ve tried to do without both of these things, and I’m never happy.  The fact is, I wear a lot of different products, and I don’t want to do without them while in transit. So I need a bag big enough to both store and organize them.  And because my 50+ year old eyes are just terrible, I cannot even begin to imagine applying makeup without a serious 10x magnifying (and lighted) mirror.

Both of these items took a lot of trial and error to get right, but here’s what i use.  This bag pictured below (versions of which you can easily find basically anywhere), and this mirror, which I found on the AS SEEN ON TV SHELF AT RITEAID for $18!!! ——->>>

I tried the little 10x magnified suction mirrors that you can find at the drugstore, but the problem is that the suction cups never work, eventually fall out and get lost, and you’re stuck holding the mirror with one hand while trying to put on your makeup with the other, which does not work!  Or even if you CAN use the suction cup to get it to stick to the mirror, so many hotels have the mirror like 3 feet back from where you are standing that it helps Not At All.  So in the end, I knew I needed a lightweight standing mirror, with high magnification, and reliable light for dark hotel rooms, and this one fits the bill and even has some little holders built in to keep your sponges and things in the event you’re staying put for a few days. I admit, I was skeptical. But — so far, it really works!

Now in terms of the bag, I keep it half-prepacked with items that I always need: an extra makeup remover stick, tweezers, primer, concealer, silicone and regular makeup sponges, some face/eye masks and teeth whitening strips, good longwear lipstick (I pack my leftover lipsense samples) and above all: foundation.  The reason foundation is so important in this plan is:  my beloved Becca foundation is liquid, and if I’m to travel with it, I have to put it in my TSA bag!  But I don’t want to do that because it takes too much of that precious space! And also, even when I made a tiny travel-sized Becca jar to carry with me, it just didn’t work with my sponges: the makeup would end up everywhere except the sponge.  It was frustrating!

Eventually, as with so many things makeup, my daughter came through with the solution:  stick foundation.  And that, friends, is now what I rely on for travel.

I experimented with all that I could find, and came up with two that stand out:  Tarte Clay Stick, and Clinique Chubby In the Nude.  The Tarte is a slightly heavier coverage although not as heavy as many stick foundations, and has that characteristic Tarte clay-ey, matte texture.

But the Clinique is light as a feather.  And the Clinique in Normous Neutral is one of the most exceptional color-matches for my skin I’ve ever achieved with a foundation of any kind, so that’s the one I now rely on.  It’s so great that actually bit by bit it’s starting to edge out Becca even at home….  you can’t beat a stick for ease of application! No Muss No Fuss! It’s SO EASY!  At Miyako’s urging, I’m actually about to give in and try Clinique Chubby Stick Cheek Colour Balm, just to keep going with the ease of this whole stick thing….

So my bag is pre-packed with my foundation, and then before the trip I just throw in my eye makeup, brushes, highlighter and blush.  The only reason that the bag is not TOTALLY pre-packed with eye makeup, brushes, highlighter and blush is just the expense of keeping duplicates of all of it.  But someday that may indeed be the case.

I am actually currently exploring some travel sized eyeshadow and brush options to replace my Tartelette, and my huge brush collection, which are both really kind of overkill for travel.  Here’s what I’m looking at: Viseart Theory Palette in Chroma (left), and Smashbox Photo Matte Eyes Travel Palette (right) – as you can see I am into the taupe/stone shades!

For brushes I just ordered EcoTools Eye Enhancing Duo Set because you get four different brushes in a compact travel-sized set, all for $6.99! I’ll let you know how they work out.

The other travel shortcut I keep around is actually a second entirely pre-packed bag for truly unplanned, super-short, last minute trips, when I don’t want to have to fuss around with digging out all my “real” makeup and carefully organizing and packing it. I just keep bits and pieces of my old makeup in there–the good stuff that I don’t use anymore but can’t quite bring myself to throw out (the Tarte Clay Stick is in there!) – and when Kellee and I decide to make an impromptu overnight trip to Portland, or when I went on a fun yoga retreat with friends, or when my son had an unexpected medical situation away at school that I had to rush to at the last minute, I can just grab it and throw it in the bag and be off in minutes.  I use an old Glossier bag for this purpose!

Because I am OBSESSED with my multi-step skin care (mostly from Sabbatical Beauty!), I of course also keep an entirely pre-packed toiletries bag filled with my face wash, serums, moisturizers, and hair products ready to go at all times!

That will be the subject for another post!

But before I go I will say that for both makeup and toiletries, excellent high-quality travel containers are absolutely essential.  And these are very, very hard to find.  In the US, it’s easy to find shitty ones. It’s incredibly difficult to find good ones.  Lucky for me, I’m a Japan specialist, and therefore I have a lifetime collection of the unparalleled travel containers that are made only in that country. Lucky for YOU, those items can now be found in the U.S. in Muji Stores and available online as well!  They come in every size and shape, and you will never, I repeat NEVER, find travel containers equal to these, for any price.

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About Karen Kelsky

I am a former tenured professor at two institutions--University of Oregon and University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. I have trained numerous Ph.D. students, now gainfully employed in academia, and handled a number of successful tenure cases as Department Head. I've created this business, The Professor Is In, to guide graduate students and junior faculty through grad school, the job search, and tenure. I am the advisor they should already have, but probably don't.


#MakeupMonday: Travel Tactics — 3 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for this post! So you have flown with the tarte stick foundation not in the clear liquids bag and not had any trouble? I am having a hard time finding out if the clay like texture counts as a liquid or not. I wish they made a mini version for travel!

    • If a person wanted to, you could do stick primer, foundation, blush, contour. Eyeshadow, mascara and eyeliner and eyebrow pencil are already non-liquid, and you could use a powder finisher instead of finishing spray, and your whole makeup regime would be released from the strictures of the clear liquids bag!

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