How To Pack Light (While Still Taking Along Every Product You Own)

published Nov 10, 2016
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(Image credit: Honestly WTF)

We all have that friend who knows how to pack light—the one who loves showing off her modest weekender bag next to your overstuffed full-size suitcase. The same one who then asks to borrow your toothpaste, and who you suspect swiped some of the shampoo you left in the shower. So, is there really a way to do it? Can you actually pack light and still bring all the essentials? Yes, and these mini cosmetics, tools and toiletries may be the secret solution. Here’s how to pack light (without having to be low-maintenance) this holiday travel season.

(Image credit: Stowaway)

Mini Cosmetics

Try this: Stowaway, $75 for 6-piece basics kit or $15 for creme lipstick

A complete makeup kit that fits in the palm of your hand, you can stash this basics set anywhere, allowing you to look like a light packer without leaving your beauty routine at home. If your standard process is as simple as Erica from Honestly WTF (pictured in the first image), Stowaway’s products may even be able to replace your usual cosmetics. The tiny products are also a smart way to sample new lipstick colors without committing to a full-sized tube.

Teeth Wipes

Try these: Jean Pierre Refreshing Teeth Wipes, $7 for 10 wipes

Cookie decorating, gift exchanges, and company holiday parties all call for lots and lots of red wine, but with it comes that embarrassing red-tinted teeth look. To avoid it and freshen up your breath at the same time, slip one of these wipes over your finger and rub the surface of your teeth. Each one comes individually sealed so you can quickly throw a couple in your makeup bag.

(Image credit: Ulta)

Nail Polish Remover Pads

Try these: ULTA Nail Polish Remover Pads, $1.49 for 3 pads

If you’re only going away for a few days, you probably think you can make it without nail polish remover, but the second you chip a nail while crafting a DIY Christmas ornament, you’re going to be glad you brought along these nail polish remover pads.

(Image credit: Sephora / Drybar)

Dry Shampoo

Try this: Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo, $13 for 1.4 oz.

If you’re heading to your parents’ house for the holidays, where you’re destined to share a single bathroom with eight of your closest relatives, you can’t be sure how long it will be before you get to wash your hair. Extend the time between lathers with a dry shampoo in a mini 1.4-oz container.

(Image credit: Milk Makeup)

Travel-Size Natural Deodorant

Milk Makeup has an adorable line of totable cosmetics, but the standout is their roll-on deodorant that lets us continue our all-natural deodorant kick while on vacation.

(Image credit: Catbird NYC)

Solid Perfume

You never have to worry about your perfume leaking all over your carry-on or getting confiscated by security if you bring along a solid fragrance, like Catbird’s musky, smokey Tarot Card scent. Can’t possibly part with your signature scent? Many popular perfumes also come in mini roller-ball form—check Sephora or the company’s website.

(Image credit: Tarte)

Oil-Blotting Papers

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you won’t need oil-absorbing sheets; if the heat’s blasting and you’re stressed about meeting your S.O.’s extended family for the first time, you’re going to be glad you brought these.

(Image credit: MAC)

Makeup-Removing Wipes

Try these: MAC Demi Wipes Cleansing Towelettes, $12 for 30 sheets

I can’t stress enough the convenience of buying as many beauty products as possible in “wipe” form when traveling. They won’t leak all over your bag, are already portioned out into single-use sheets, and can be tucked into any pocket. There are plenty of facial cleansing wipes available at the drugstore, but MAC’s stands out for being incredibly gentle on sensitive skin.

(Image credit: Wazor)

Mini Hair Straightener

Try this: Wazor Mini 1/2 Ceramic Flat Iron, $15, available on Amazon Prime

When we call this straightener “mini,” we mean it. Just 1/2-inch wide and 4-inches long, this flat iron is smaller than an iPhone 7. Slip it in between folded clothes in your suitcase.

(Image credit: Conair)

Travel-Size Hair Dryer

Try this: Conair 1600 Watt Folding Handle Hair Dryer, $10, available on Amazon Prime

The collapsible handle on this budget travel dryer lets it fold up small enough to hide in even the tiniest of carry-on bags. Reviewers report that it worked without issue on international trips, too.

(Image credit: Muji)

Travel Containers

Try these: Muji Travel Bottles, starting at $1.25

For all the products you can’t find in solid, sheet or miniature form, decant your full-size products into TSA-approved travel bottles. Muji has an excellent selection of containers with interchangeable pump, spray and snap-cap tops.

Once you arm yourself with travel-sized goodies, make the most of your suitcase space by following this video’s smart tips: