Holiday travel is in the bag

Special to the Los Angeles Times

Holiday travel is right around the corner, and you probably already dread some of the beauty pitfalls.

Try to breeze through airport security with regular-size beauty products and you may find yourself pulled to the side of the line, in your stocking feet, subjected to a close, personal relationship with the TSA worker giving you a full-body scan with a security wand. Travel by ship, train or car, and loose makeup in your purse can cause a gooey, gunky mess. A lipstick top falls off, an eye shadow shatters and you are left not only with a soiled handbag but often with ruined cosmetics too.

But organization can turn holiday travel from frenzied to fabulous. A good makeup bag can help, and for everyday use, buy one that's easy to clean. During the holidays, many cosmetic companies include a makeup bag as a seasonal beauty promotion bonus, so whether you go with one of our selections below or receive one with a purchase, this is the time to find a better way to stow your toiletries.

Carry on

If you're traveling by air, the first question is whether to carry on or check your cosmetics. First, get acquainted with the Transportation Security Administration's 3-1-1 guideline: liquids, aerosols and gels must be in containers no bigger than 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) enclosed in a 1-quart clear plastic zip-top bag, with one bag allowed per person. (It's OK — and a good idea — to carry extra 1-quart plastic bags in your purse for emergencies).

There are many 3-1-1 carry-on kits, but make sure yours comes with bottles that close properly and are made so that the product can be squeezed out readily. The Container Store sells a 3-1-1 Travel Pack ($7.99) that includes a clear 1-quart bag; three wide-mouth, BPA-free 3-ounce bottles, a pump, a mister, one 2-ounce jar, a pill case and labels. They also sell tiny Nalgene leak-proof jars and bottles at about $1.50 each. Bring a sleep/eye mask for beauty sleep.

Check in

If you decide to check your beauty bounty in your luggage, make sure the tops on all liquid products close tightly to avoid shampoo or foundation spills all over your clothes. Squeeze out any excess air in plastic bottles. And double wrap your toiletry-makeup bag in something waterproof for extra protection. Tiny hotel toiletry amenities, perfume samples and store-bought beauty minis are terrific for short-trip travel.

Packable options include the Household Essentials Nylon Hanging Cosmetics-Bag, which folds to fit in a suitcase and is made of easy-clean PVC microfiber with a waterproof vinyl lining ($22.99, Baggallini, founded in 1995 by two veteran flight attendants, makes a water-resistant Ripstop Nylon Cosmetic Bag with a detachable bottom pocket for everyday use ($29, The hang-able Emilie Sloan Paige Glam Roll ($35, is a pretty choice made of waterproof fabric in a variety of patterns. It's also a good choice for home use if you're short on space.

On the case

Good train case options include Sephora Midnight or Metro Train Cases ($92,, Makeup Creation Pro Series Makeup Case ($99.95, and Bobbie Brown's über-chic Limited Edition Deluxe Travel Kit with a detachable makeup bag ($115, has travel-friendly makeup bags and sells the StowSafe Toiletry Bag, which has a secret pocket, tamper-proof zippers and what it says is a TSA-certified padlock to secure expensive face creams and perfume ($39.99).

The bright side

A colorful makeup bag is easier to spot in the deep dark well otherwise known as the interior of your handbag, especially with today's extra-large purses. Sportsac and Stephanie Johnson bags allow you to mix and match designs and makeup bag sizes. Examples include the Stephanie Johnson Bollywood Pink Medium Flat Pouch ($26, and SJ Creations Sparkling Snakeskin Orange Pencil Case Cosmetic Bag ($11.99 Marc Jacobs and Rebecca Minkoff have a few nice, bright cosmetic bags as well.


Whether your predilections lean toward watercolors, folk art or works by John Singer Sargent or Modigliani, some cosmetic cases prime the painterly mood. A few choices: Toss Designs Medallion Set of 3 Cosmetic Bags ($30,; ProjectArt Peacocks Rounded Cosmetic Case — it comes with a matching mini-mirror ($48,; and Painterly Clutch — Blue Motif by Stephanie Johnson ($32,


The tried and true — not trendy — seduces you. You might go for the Haymarket Check Cosmetic Case in chocolate ($198,; Lantern Red Cole Haan Cosmetic Case ($68,; or Kate Spade Foiled Again Large Black Pouch ($75, MAC's signature Medium Softsac makeup bag is also a terrific, basic everyday option and is fully washable ($28,


When it comes to cleaning, these may not be the most practical makeup bags, but they add holiday sparkle or can double as a festive evening clutch. Try the Tory Burch Mirrored Crinkle Small Cosmetic Case with metallic foil finish ($95,, or Madrid Greta Medium Cosmetic Bag ($38, Bottega Veneta offers the stylish but pricey leather Nero Intrecciato Nappa Cosmetic Case/Clutch ($900, Less expensive metallic options include Sephora Havana and Silver makeup bags ($7 and $18, and's Relaxed Glamour Signature Cosmetic Bags starting at $5 with a $10 purchase.

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