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What’s in My Makeup Bag: My Minimalist Beauty Essentials

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I’ve shared how to create a capsule wardrobe for all seasons and how I pack in a carry-on, but I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about how to lighten up on beauty products, especially for travel. It’s taken me years of trial and error to pare down my products and simplify my routine, so I’m sharing my favorites below to spare you the research. The best part is that all of my essentials come in sizes that are 3.4 oz or smaller so I can just toss them in a clear pouch for travel and call it a day. Easy peasy.

minimalist makeup bagI will admit that while I do try to invest in clean (non-toxic) and plastic-free products, I give myself a hall pass for items like my favorite mascara that has many ingredients I have never heard of. My other disclaimer is that some of these products are on the pricier side, but I’ve found that I actually save money because I only buy a new product or two every season or so when I need a replacement instead of constantly buying lower-priced products. Fewer, better for the win!

Flawless Finish Powder Foundation

I love a dual purpose product and this silky formula functions as both a light foundation and a silky powder for a natural, but polished face. All lila b products are cruelty free and formulated without Parabens, Phthalates, or synthetic fragrance. I got this retractable foundation brush which is perfect for daily use or travel.

$48 Linked Here – lila b

Tinted Lip and Cheek Balm

Oh, how I live for a multitasking product and this one is my current favorite for that flushed, healthy, “no makeup look.” Made from plant-based ingredients, this creamy formula is easy to apply, buildable, and blend-able.

$34 Linked Here – ILIA

The Best Tinted SPF 50

The best sunscreen I have ever used hands down. I am a big whiner when it comes to greasy, sticky sunscreen, and it took me a lifetime to stumble upon this lightweight, fast absorbing version. I love that is is paraben-free, oil-free, and dermatologist tested, and I slather it on every morning for skin protection and a healthy (not shiny) glow.

$35 Linked Here – La Roche Posey

Eyebrow Grooming Gel

This brow tamer is a bit of a splurge but does double duty keeping brows in place and also stimulating growth. It comes in a tube made from recycled glass and is free of micro-plastics.

$45 Linked Here– La Bouche Rouge

High Volume Mascara

I’ve been a fan of tubular mascara for years and this one is hands down my favorite. No more smudgey raccoon eyes for this lady. Also, this formulation is vegan and free of Phthalates and Sulfates.

$33 Linked Here – Trish McEvoy

My morning routine is super simple. I apply a few pats of face oil followed by SPF and the powder foundation and then use a cheek lip tint and finish with a swipe of brow gel and mascara. Five minutes top. And especially when I travel I don’t really do my hair aside from a messy bun and this raw coconut cream to tame the frizz (also great for dry skin).

All-In-One Multi-Purpose Dry Oil

I used to be skeptical about face oil (I hate oily things on my skin!) but as I get older and my skin feels a bit more parched, I’ve discovered the joy of a good moisturizing face oil and become a convert. I love to smooth a few drops of this luxurious, botanical oil on every morning before my tinted SPF, and each night after washing my face. It makes me feel like a real fancy lady and bonus – you can use it on your hair, nails, or entire body.

$42 – Linked Here – Nuxe Paris

Full disclosure: In addition to the six products listed, I own only a handful more including this cruelty-free tinted lip and cheek balm. My rule is that if I want to try a new product I have to completely run out of a similar product, which keeps my limited drawer space clutter-free.

If you’re looking to switch up your beauty routine Credo Beauty is my number one source for discovering clean products and Axiology is one of the only brands I know of that offers 100% zero-waste packaging. My friend Cassie also just told me about the Jones Road Miracle Balm – a single product which she says has replaced her face oil, cream blush, eye shadow, and lip balm.

Have you discovered any multi-use or clean products you swear by? Please share in the comments below!

Photography Credit: Vivian Johnson Photography

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21 comments on “What’s in My Makeup Bag: My Minimalist Beauty Essentials

  1. My favorite clean products are Ursa Major- Mountain Glow Golden Serum, Forest Alchemy Eye Cream and GOOPGLOW Cloudberry Exfoliating Jelly Cleanser.

  2. Hey Shira, these reccs are terrific! Do you prefer the Goop Botanical oil to the Nuxe you told us about? I really like the Nuxe and have given it as gifts. Will def try some of these!

    1. I love both – just mix it up from time to time. The Goop oil is more of an investment and amazing for the face, the Nuxe oil is great for hair, skin, nails, etc.

  3. Thanks for the recommendations; love your posts and always love to discover new natural/zero waste brands. Another fantastic US based brand with zero waste packaging is Seed Phytonutrients. Their superseeds face serum and facial cream are my daily go-tos.

  4. Love all of your recommendations. Been wanting to try the ILIA products and now I know where to start. Also love your clear make up zippered pouches. Do you have a favorite you can recommend?

  5. Thanks for sharing, Shira! I stumbled upon your work (and then bought your book!) a few months ago and have been loving your approach.

    My must haves are Living Libations Best Skin Ever face wash and Saie Sun Melt bronzer.

  6. FWIW, I used to swear by Chanel and Dior for mascara, and my absolute favorite is the mascara from Merit! Wish it smelled like roses like the Saie mascara, but it instantly makes my eyes pop.

  7. Love the post! Thank you

    Westman Atelier also has great multi products that also come travel size-came in handy for my recent Italy trip
    Vintners Daughter is an investment but amazing essential oil- I actually first bought it on Goop, I’m obsessed.
    Do you have any products you add for an evening look?

    1. Thanks for the recs. Hear great things about that oil. I keep it basic for evening – just add heels! Xx

  8. I just purchased ur book and beginning to “study” it! Also love the info here as well. I am 67 married and 3 grandchildren. Fortunately I already am in part a minimalist….but have a lot to learn! My question to is about ur makeup bag. Can u recommend products specifically for the more mature woman…. Or are u finding that the products u suggest are sooted for all ages? Thank you!

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