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Hand luggage only? Here’s the best beauty and makeup products that don’t count as liquids

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You won’t need to squeeze these products into a clear bag at airport security.

For summer holidays, sometimes less is more — both for your wardrobe (depending on how warm it is) and your beauty bag. And with costs of check-in luggage soaring, many of us only take carry-on suitcases with us when we fly — limiting our skincare and makeup supply while away. Until now.

Aarti Pal is an award-winning makeup artist who sits on the British Beauty Council’s DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity) committee. Here, she recommends the best non-liquid beauty products to pack in your hand luggage to avoid having to squeeze them into a plastic bag at security, or worse — having to leave them behind.


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How to pack your beauty and makeup products

For no spillage, Aarti suggests opting for a structured makeup bag to ensure your products don’t move around too much inside, which might cause lids to pop off or break.

If you use makeup-removing cloths or other soft items in your beauty routine, using them as padding can help soften the blow if your makeup pouch does get bashed about. “Place cotton pads or tissues inside [powder] compacts to protect powders from breaking,” says Aarti.

Using travel- or sample-size products can be great if you really want to travel minimally, she continues. A great tip (if you’re feeling brave) is to ask for a sample of your favourite liquid foundation at your local makeup counter, as these can otherwise be packaged in bulky glass bottles.

Versatility in your beauty bag is a great way to pack light while ensuring you can still create beautiful beauty looks while on holiday. Aarti recommends prioritising multi-use products “like cream blush that doubles as a lip colour” as these can help reduce the number of items you need to take.

Read more: 11 affordable beauty products that editors actually buy
Woman opens a powder makeup product above toiletries bag
Solid makeup products don’t have to be powder

The best three-in-one brow tool

Speaking of multi-use products, Aarti recommends the Charlotte Tilbury Brow Lift. “It’s a three-in-one tool including a brow pencil for shaping, a spoolie brush for grooming and a highlighter for adding a subtle lift to the brow arch.” Not only is this a non-liquid product, but it also means you don’t need to carry multiple items that could get lost as you get ready in hotel rooms or on the aeroplane.

Our editor’s pick: Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow

A serum stick that doubles as a primer

Getting a dewy look with non-liquid products isn’t impossible, it just requires certain products. Aarti recommends just one: the Tatcha Serum Stick. This solid serum contains squalane and Japanese lemon balm and helps to create a smooth base for your foundation to go over the top of. “The stick format [makes] it ideal for targeting specific areas, such as around the eyes or dry patches,” says Aarti.

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Merit’s Perfecting Complexion Stick

A buildable foundation you can use as a concealer

Speaking of foundation, this is where things can get tricky. After putting on your sunscreen (SPF50, please) and primer, adding a powder foundation can create cakey patches on your skin. Instead, opt for a foundation stick and warm the product on your hand to create a smooth texture similar to a liquid foundation. Aarti says the Merit Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick can be used as a foundation and concealer — and is buildable according to your preferred coverage.

Our editor’s choice: Fenty Beauty Match Stix with the Eaze Drop Blur + Smooth Skin Tint 

The tiny matte bronzer that won’t take up space

For contour, the Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer is a small contour stick with a natural finish and is made with ingredients like mango butter and avocado oil which will melt into the skin (and your tan) beautifully. If you want to cheat slightly with your tan, Aarti says you can also use this stick on your body to warm-up your skin tone.

Close up of a black woman holding an open pot of Jones Road Miracle Balm in shade Magic Hour which is on her skin
Jones Road Miracle Balm in shade Magic Hour

To be a blushing beach beauty

The trick to finding non-liquid beauty products with liquid-like finishes is to look at the ingredients. Anything oil based will help create a hydrated, nourished look. Aarti recommends the Jones Road Miracle Balm, created by renowned makeup artist, Bobbi Brown. “It can be used on the face, lips and body to add a sheer wash of colour,” she says.

Our editor’s pick: Ilia Beauty Multi-Stick

A twist-up eyeliner

Eye products are the easiest of all. Opt for your favourite cream eyeshadow or eyeshadow stick to avoid a mess if your eyeshadow quad crumbles during transit. As for other products, Aarti says for practicality, the L’Oreal Infallible Grip 36h Gel Automatic Eyeliner is great as the twist pencil design “makes it easy to use without needing a sharpener”. The liner is also waterproof, making it perfect for a beach day or for long nights which might end up at the beach.

Get the lip-oil look, without the oil

The recent popularity of lip oils and lip gloss tubes (all the 90s kids will remember the OG Lancôme Juicy Tubes) means liquids can easy build up in your makeup bag. Instead, opt for hydrating lipsticks like Clinique’s Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, which gives the look of lip oil but comes in solid form.

Our editor’s pick: Hourglass Phantom Volumizing Glossy Balme

Written by Priya Raj

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