Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Study Abroad in a Carry-On: Toiletries & Makeup (4/7)

Ah, yes. Toiletries. The items that are most often liquid. Toiletries can make or break your goal to go carry-on only, so you must be wise.


Airport security restricts carry-on liquids to be less than 3.4 oz (100 mL), and they MUST fit in one, clear, quart-size, zip-top bag.

Have I confused you yet?

Hopefully not. This rule, although it seems restrictive, is actually nice, because it allows you to take only what you need. With the right quart-sized bag and the right container sizes, you can fit quite a bit of items in your liquids bag.


Most travelers opt for a quart-sized Ziploc bag to meet this requirement. During this series, I am refraining from recommending any certain item for everyone. Some things that I deem essential, like a flat water bottle, are completely useless and unnecessary to others. However, I do highly recommend that you consider purchasing a reusable liquids bag. It makes travels so much easier.

The Ziploc is fine, but I have begun many trips with the most pristine sandwich bag, only to find it falling apart by the end of a one-week trip! The lack of durability prompts me to bring extra bags, which is completely wasteful. Additionally, it’s extremely difficult to fit more than a few items due to its shape. I have decided to leave the Ziploc bag for its intended use:


I use the Clear Quart Bag from Flight 001, and I’ve never looked back. I’ve used it multiple times, and it still looks new. It’s approved by TSA (even the colorful ones!), so you don’t need to have any anxiety about it being confiscated. The box shape allows you to fit many things of many shapes and many sizes in it. It’s great for side trips, because I know that it will be in great condition when it comes time to fly home.

toiletries bag


Here’s where things get tricky. I would recommend that you bring enough liquids to last you a few days, and then buy the rest at your destination. However, I also understand that some of you might have products that you totally love that could be difficult to locate abroad.

First, you need to determine what you can and can’t live without. For instance, although I’m particular about using sulfate-free shampoo and have a favored brand that I use, I’m not really that picky. Many mainstream brands have their own sulfate-free shampoo, so I’m not too worried.

Skin care is a different story. I can use most products, but if I change too many things at once, I will break out until my skin adjusts. So instead of bringing a ton of hair products, I’m saving space for my favorite skin products.

When determining how much to bring, please remember that you don’t use as much product as you think you do. For instance, I apply sunscreen to my face, neck, and hands every day, often with multiple applications throughout the day. Even though I use it regularly, a three ounce bottle will last me at least six months.

Now, before you tell me that you will never survive without your BRANDS while abroad, let me persuade you otherwise.

People have been surviving at your location for hundreds and thousands of years. The world has been mostly modernized for many years now, but humanity has survived for SUCH A LONG TIME. While you might not be able to find your exact product abroad, I can almost guarantee that you will live without it.

If you still need more convincing, let me offer more words of hope. If you are going to Europe or Asia, rejoice! Places like France and Japan are renowned for their fantastic array of beauty products. I encourage you to find equivalents of your products abroad. If you are headed to South America, more specifically Peru, you can rejoice, too. The vast majority of drugstore (and high-end) brands can be located anywhere in Peru (except maybe the Amazon, in which case, it’s so humid that you won’t need skin care).

Seriously. This was perhaps the most surprising thing about traveling to Peru. Neutrogena, L’Oreal, Maybelline, Clinique, and Estée Lauder can all be located easily. Don’t believe me? Poke around on these websites (two of the main carriers of beauty products in Peru):

There are also traditional drugstores like Inka Farma that carry these brands as well. Honestly, unless you use an indie brand, you can find it in Peru. Pack accordingly.


Solid toiletries are a lot easier to pack, for obvious reasons. They have a longer shelf life, are less messy, and don’t need to be housed in your quart-sized bag. Solid toiletries are more helpful for shorter trips, where buying toiletries at your location would be wasteful. However, if you plan to take several side-trips, solids can be helpful.

In the coming months I will have a more in-depth look at solid toiletries on my main blog, In the meantime, if you are interested in solid toiletries, here are some ideas for you to research:

  • shampoo bars
  • tooth powder
  • clay face masks
  • soap bars for face and body
  • exfoliating powders
  • makeup removing wipes
  • coconut oil
  • sunscreen sticks
  • hair pomade



Makeup, on the other hand, is not as important. If you don’t wear it on a regular basis, don’t bother bringing it. I only wear makeup a couple times per week, and even then I barely do a full face. However, I do like to play around with it, especially when I go out, so I’m bringing a few items.


Now, when you look at my picture of the items I’m bringing, you might think that I’m packing a TON of makeup. Although I could definitely  downsize it in a few areas, my makeup bag is quite modest compared to most “travel makeup kits” floating around on the Internet.  My products will allow me to change up my look without taking up half of my suitcase.

There are a couple of approaches to take when picking out your makeup kit. The first is by choosing your favorite items that you know work for you. The second is to take products that you don’t use as often, so that you can use them up while you’re traveling. I decided to go with a mixture of both approaches. I chose to bring eyeshadow that I don’t always use, as well some mascara samples that I’m excited to try. Other items, like my highlighter and setting powder, I use all the time.

Just like clothes, it’s a good idea to research what kind of makeup women in your host country like to wear. Products such as red lipstick can be seen as fun and exciting in South America yet vulgar in Europe. Neutral eyeshadow like the Naked palettes are all the rage in North America but viewed as boring and useless by women in more vibrant cultures. Do some research!

For instance, Peruvian women LOVE makeup. Not only do they enjoy wearing it, they go for bold looks such as colorful eyeshadow and orange lips. Don’t believe me? Check out this video by Peru’s tourist website. Skip to 3:50-4:00, and you will see what I’m talking about. [INSERT LINK]

Ultimately, you can bring whatever you want, but it’s fun to experiment with another culture’s ideas of beauty. Makeup is supposed to be fun!

Remember to pack your makeup in a reasonably-sized cosmetics bag. Mine is from Orla Kiely for Target, and I like it a lot! It has two compartments and several inner pockets, so organization is easy. The outer fabric is coated in a waterproof material, and the entire outside is padded to protect items in transit. The zippers are very easy to use, and it holds all of my items without taking up half of my suitcase.

makeup bag


Now that you have selected which items to bring, it’s a good idea to clean your items. That way, when you arrive, you can enjoy your time in a new country rather than worrying about sticky label residue or dirty makeup brushes. Also, don’t forget personal care items like combs and nail clippers.

In the next few days I will post the next part in this series, how to pack medicines and health items. And as always, thank you for joining me on my journey to Peru!


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