Southeast Asia Travel Makeup Bag | Things I’m Glad I Brought and Wished I Packed.

Being a beauty and travel blogger, you’d think I’d nail the whole travel makeup bag thing. And I usually do – I’ve explored the deserts of the Middle East, gallivanted through Africa, and glammed my way through Europe but never Asia.

And strangely enough, despite my extensive work and personal-related travels, my travel makeup bag has never made it all the way to Southeast Asia. And what a lesson it was. So I’m hoping to share my travel makeup bag must-haves and share a few lessons along the way: skincare and makeup I wished I packed, and those that I should have left behind!


When it comes to makeup, nothing I brought was able to withstand the intense heat and humidity that Southeast Asia throws at you. Plus, it’s just so impractical when my itinerary takes me surfing, diving, wandering around temples, and walking a lot… you get the gist of it. I stopped wearing makeup pretty much the day after I landed. It’s time to let the skin breathe and naturally shine!

If you do still want to wear a wee-bit of makeup, here are a few of my suggestions.

1. Tinted Sunscreen (For the Face): Wearing sunscreen is an absolute must and I prefer the tinted ones like the Elizabeth ArdenPREVAGE® City Smart Sunscreen ($85, available here) that not only protects the skin from the sun but also pollution and aggressors. This is the only tinted sunscreen I own and I like it for those no-makeup days as it doesn’t leave a white cast and nor does it feel too greasy on the skin.

This sunscreen is way overpriced for what it is and I’m certain you can find a drugstore dupe quite easily. I love the tube format with the pump as it means it can be easily thrown into my purse and I don’t have to worry about leakage.

2. BB Cream or Tinted Moisturizer (Optional): I’m a bit on the fence recommending wearing something like a tinted moisturizer as I went days without it and was fine thanks to the tinted sunscreen.

My biggest concern (and perhaps it was the nature of the products I brought) is that they are very, very dewy, to the point of looking greasy and the last thing I want is my base to be transferring all over my clothes. I brought along my Burberry Fresh Glow BB Cream for the occasion as the package is very practical and easy to pack and repack.

As an aside, you don’t need to bring along something so expensive – I just never wear this when I’m home and was hoping to use it up on my trip.

Exploring the temples in Angkor Wat and the reason why my travel makeup bag sat unused for days – those makeup bits weren’t necessary!

Powder Foundation: On the days where I want just a bit of coverage (for a nice dinner) or to set my tinted moisturizer, I’ve been wearing my powder foundation, albeit very lightly as the humidity will ensure that you reapply your powder every few hours or so. I prefer to wear this in the evening (see the note on dinner) as opposed to the day as I find it impractical to keep reapplying on the face.

The foundation I brought with me was the MACSelect Sheer Pressed Powder ($38, available here) which works really well in providing some coverage while feeling lightweight enough that I don’t have to worry about the foundation caking up or melting during the day.

Brows: As much as I hate it, I can go without the eyeliner or mascara, but the brows absolutely need to be put together. It can be just brushing it into place and sealing the brows with a clear wax, or bringing along a brow gel. I like the brow gel option as it tints, combs and seals the eyebrows all at once and no extra tools are needed. The Urban Decay Brow Tamer Tinted Brow Gel ($24, available here) was exactly what I needed for the occasion

Eau Mineral / Mineral Water Spray: This may sound excessive but remember those mineral water that’s sold by famous French skincare brands? This is the time to pack it in your suitcase! The spray feels so relaxing and refreshing if you don’t want to constantly be washing your face (and you will want to). It sits well over or under makeup, so if you need to refresh your skin, give a quick spray over your face. I brought my MACFix+ mini ($30, available here) for this occasion but I do wish I brought along the La Roche Posay or Avene ones.

Skincare & Body Care

Sunscreen: Aside from the face sunscreen, I brought along 3 body sunscreen – spray, stick and liquid formats. The reason I brought three? I needed to finish them before they expire. I didn’t realize how frequently I had to reapply so be sure to bring more than you think you need. But honestly though, I do prefer the spray sunscreen format as it’s easy and quick to apply as you go. I always pack one sunscreen in my day bag so I can re-apply wherever I am. In popular resort destinations like Phuket, Mexico and Punta Cana, the cost of sunscreen can be astronomical compared to buying them at home.

Hair Ties: Bring lots and lots and lots of it. You’ll lose a bunch but these are so necessary to keep your neck cool and hair from getting all sweaty.

Hand Cream: Between the frequent handwashing, and using hand sanitizer, my skin started getting dry and rough. Having a hand cream is handy to prevent the skin from getting cracked or too sensitive.

Polysporin: This is another one of my travel staple – you never know what kind of burns, scratches and cuts you might get. These injuries take longer to heal in a tropical climate so best to pack these with you just in case!

Lightweight Moisturizer: As you’ll be adding a lot of sunscreen on your face, I prefer to wear lightweight moisturizer so my skin doesn’t get clogged or feel too heavy.

Things I Wished I Packed

Since I spent so much time at the pool, the rest of my makeup didn’t get worn as much. Those skincare bits though? Necessary!

Thank goodness that my sister thought of all the worst-case scenarios and was kind enough to share these summer and beach-side essentials with me. Otherwise, I would have spent too much money at the resort gift shop buying a no-name product at 10x the price it would cost to buy at home.

After Sun/Aloe Vera: Admittedly I am beyond embarrassed to admit for thinking that I could skip bringing this. I got a bad sunburn on my second day and my sister generously gave me her bottle of ClarinsAfter Sun Moisturizer ($44, available here) Whether you prefer the after-sun or aloe vera, be sure to bring one along, especially if you plan to spend a lot of time at the beach or pool doing all sorts of water-related / resort activities.

Baby Powder: I can’t believe I forgot to pack this – this is one of my favourite products that you can’t forget about because it is a staple as deodorant, dry shampoo and to prevent rashes between the thighs.

A535: Given the amount of walking, hiking that I did, I was relieved to have some A535 handy to relieve and relax those sore and tense muscles/joints so I can tackle my next activity without worrying about recovery!

Things I didn’t Need to Bring

Dry Shampoo: I love my Batiste Dry Shampoo, but who knew I could hate it so much when you introduce humidity? My hair was all tangled and felt 5x the size which made me feel so self-conscious throughout.

Blush/Bronzer/Mascara/Eyeliner: Basically the rest of my makeup bag except for the foundation and sunscreen were essentially untouched during my 2 week holiday.

What are your travel makeup bag staples?

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