Travel SOS: Taking a 10 Step Skincare Routine on the Road with Poor Planning

While having a Multi-Step Korean Skincare Routine is awesome for customization whether it's the Winter or Summer, it also means that travelling is a bit of a nightmare.  Last week I was out of state, and since we would be gone a full week, I mistakenly assumed that we would be checking a bag and thus figured I could pack the full-size bottles that make up my current routine.

The night before we flew out, I got ready to pack and was was advised by my bewildered spouse that we would not be checking a bag.  Cue panic!  How was I going to fit my routine in a carry-on?!

The dreaded 3-1-1 TSA guideline.  Image from here
If you aren't familiar with the American TSA rules for carry-ons, anything liquid has specific rules, namely:
3-1-1 for carry-ons. Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container; must be in 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. The bag limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring.
A quart-sized ziploc bag is not a lot of space when even your "pared-down" Summer routine looks like this:

Image from my Updated Multi-Step Korean Skincare Routine Summer 2015: Sheet Masks Galore post
If I had planned ahead, I could have purchased all the airless pump bottles I would need to decant everything I wanted, and played tetris until I had the perfect combination.  Sadly, I had time for neither.

In this post:
  • The 411 on my 3-1-1
  • My 'dry goods' and makeup
  • What I took with me and why
  • What I regretted not bringing

So with no time to order bottles, what did I do?

The 411 on my 3-1-1

So, I managed to bring almost everything I really needed with me, with the exception of one thing that I just didn't have a container for, but I'll get into that later.  Here's my 3-1-1 bag;

Straining at the seams, but this is after it made the round trip; I replenished the masks for the photo.
Spoilers: I managed to bring a 10 step routine with me, and all the liquids are contained in this single bag.  Not only that, but you can see there are also random things in there like lip tints, lipstick, liquid eyeliner, and contacts, which take up extra space.

This bag contains no less than 3 cleansers, 3 actives, 10 sheet masks, 1 serum (2 in 1), 2 occlusives including a sleeping pack, sunscreen, and makeup.

My 'dry goods' and makeup

I did also bring a makeup kit with me, and a 'dry goods' bag, which contained things like my hairbrush (not pictured), my toothbrush, bobby pins, solid stick deodorant, makeup brushes, and both my cleansers.

BB cushions are liquid suspended in a sponge, so no longer liquid form, so I stuck that in my makeup bag.
We're going to break down the contents of the 3-1-1 later, but here's the breakdown of what's in the 'dry' bag on the left:
  • Toothbrush (hairbrush not pictured)
  • Bobby pins and hair elastics
  • Skinfood Peach Sake powder
  • Su:m37 White Award Enzyme Powder Wash (2nd cleanser, reviewed)
  • Makeup Brushes
  • Deodorant (solid)
  • 3M Nexcare Acne stickers (NECESSITY!  Reviewed)
  • Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick (2nd cleanser, reviewed)
Makeup bag:
  • Holika Holika shadows
  • Etude House lip tint (should have put this in liquids, oops!)
  • Etude House face corset contour powder (this is a terrible colour on me)
  • Lioele Auto Eyebrow pencil
  • Sulwhasoo cushion (is a mix of case + insert, which I will review another day)
I also had makeup in my 3-1-1 liquids bag, so let's break down what's in that tetris-ified beast up there.

What I took with me and why

As you know if you follow my blog, my routine approach follows the same pattern no matter the season or occasion, and my travel routine was the same:
  • Cleansers
  • Actives 
  • Hydrators
  • Occlusives
  • Sunscreen/Makeup

Since we were going to be out every day, I had to wear sunscreen every day, and that means double cleansing every day.

Powder cleanser packets, and decant of LJH Dr's Care oil cleanser.
Not pictured: Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick (reviewed)

It helps with packing when both your foaming cleansers are 'dry' and don't fall under liquids restrictions; the Su:m37 White Award Enzyme Powder Wash packets are amazing for travel, because they don't leak (unless you open one), they come in small portions, and they're flat and take up little space.  Score!

I brought both the powder wash and the MRCS because I was not sure how my skin was going to take being double cleansed every day, and I wanted to have options.

I had a decant of the LJH Dr's Care Cleansing Oil (care of fanserviced-b) but it was almost empty, and my full-size purchase had yet to arrive.  I was not sure if there was enough left, but I threw it in, and prayed hard.


When you have dehydrated, congested, troubled skin like mine, actives are a necessity if I want to keep The Shell at bay.

L-R: Mizon toner, Cosrx A-Sol, Azelaic acid cream
If you aren't familiar with The Shell and why you need to get rid of it, you can read more about it in the Beginner's Korean Skincare Routine for a Dehydrated Combination-Oily skin type post.

From left to right:
  • Mizon AHA/BHA Daily Clean Toner: Korean, pH-adjusting toner (also cleansing) (reviewed)
  • Cosrx Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol: Korean, propolis spot treatment
  • Uniapharm Acne-Derm: Polish, azelaic acid cream chemical exfoliant
I had purchased the 2 mini mist bottles to decant my products into in general, which is a tip from my post on Making the Most out of K-Beauty: 5 Simple Hacks, but I could have decanted these products into anything suited to liquids; dropper bottles, airless pump bottles, anything that would handle a liquid and seal tightly enough.

I only had 2 mist bottles, and no airless pump bottles for my serums, essences, etc.   I did have mini-jars, but those aren't great for anything thinner than creams  What to do?!


Luckily, as I mentioned in my Updated Multi-Step Korean Skincare Routine Summer 2015: Sheet Masks Galore post, I'm all about the sheet masks, baby:

DIY LJH mix, LJH mask, Lovemore masks, Evercos masks.
I actually took 10 masks (enough for an AM and PM mask during the week) with me, but these were the types I took.  All 3 are in my top mask picks in my Summer routine linked above.

It was a squeeze to get all the masks in that bag, but I did it, and that solved my problem of having no bottles available for decants!  There is also a chance that sheet masks are not considered 'liquids' because they are suspended in the cotton, like wet wipes, and don't even need to be in your liquids bag. :D

I also made a DIY serum blend: I took my current bottle of LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule and decanted it into some of the travel jars I had, leaving behind a small amount of residue in the otherwise empty dropper bottle, and then filled it with the LJH Tea Tree 90 Essence.  Since I normally add a drop or two of the Propolis into my dropperful of Tea Tree 90, it worked out nicely, and the bottle was tiny enough to fit.

The masks are, from left to right: LJH Tea Tree Facial Mask Sheet, Lovemore Pearl Barley & Milk Smoothing Mask Sheet and Lovemore Rosa Hybrida Whitening Mask Sheet, Evercos Ginseng and Prunus armeniaca sheet masks.


Finally, something I can actually decant into a travel jar!  I have lots of those, ironically.

Left, Beauty of Joseon Dynasy cream, right is Mizon Snail Gel.
The snail gel is fairly small and is half empty and thus quite flat, and the Joseon cream was of course perfect for travel jar decanting.
  • Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream: Korean, cream (reviewed)
  • Mizon Multi Function Formula Snail Recovery Gel Cream: Korean, gel moisturizer (reviewed)
Unsurprisingly, I did not have to use much of either, but both work fine as a day or night cream, and the snail gel can be used as a sleeping pack.


I never thought I'd be happy over how ridiculously tiny Japanese sunscreens are, but it certainly helped when trying to shove everything into that tiny bag.

L-R: Sunscreen, Clio lipstick, Tonymoly tint, Clio liner, Sulwhasoo cushion.
The Sulwhasoo cushion was not in the liquids bag, as I mentioned above, but this picture was a snap of the daily makeup products I'd wear on the trip. Note: I would wear either the tint or the lipstick, not both.

Left to right:
  • Shigaisen Yohou UV Cream SPF50+/PA++++: Japanese, sunscreen
  • Clio Virgin Kiss Tinted Lip #14 Red Jyuk: Korean, lipstick
  • Tonymoly Catchu Wink Tony Tint in Cherry Pink: Korean, lip stain/tint (reviewed)
  • Clio Kill Black Brush Liner: Korean, liquid eyeliner
  • Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion, Limited Edition Peony case, with Sulwhasoo Perfecting Brightening Cushion insert in #17: Korean, cushion foundation
I also had all the items that were in my makeup case and 'dry' bag pictured above, but I could do a polished look with just these and often just wore the cushion with a subtle lip tint.

What I regretted not bringing

So predictably, whether it was from the airplane or just the climate change, my skin immediately flipped out upon arrival.

At the time of packing, I debated whether to use my 2nd mist bottle to hold the Cosrx A-Sol or the Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid, and I figured since I was taking the Azelaic acid cream with me, I should skip the BHA and go with the A-Sol.

Regret.  So much regret.

I really needed to clear my pores daily, especially with the extra load of the sunscreen clogging things up, and the Azelaic acid cream is really only useable 2-3x a week because it's so damn harsh.

Two empty, two full.
With the more humid climate, my dehydrated skin was confused and waffling between ultra dry and super oily, and I should have brought the BHA to keep my pores clear.

Ah well, at least I know for next time!

I also totally spaced on bringing a concealer, which was a bad combination with the climate-change breakouts.  I use Mac Studio Fix concealer in NC15, which is a bit dark on me but great for hiding blemishes.  I used the Sulwhasoo cushion dabbed on with a clean pinky fingertip, but the concealer would have been better.

Ever been caught scrambling to pack a multi-step routine without the right tool and little time?  Leave me a comment below, or shoot me a message on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

All the best,


**Disclaimer: All products mentioned in this post have been 100% purchased with my own money and my opinions are entirely my own, with the exception of he decant of the LJH Dr's Care which was provided by a friend, and I have now received my own full size purchase.  This blog contains  both affiliate and non-affiliate links, and clicking the former before you shop means that this blog may receive a small commission to assist in this blog supporting itself.  Please see my Contact Info & Disclaimer policy for more information.


  1. <333 Btw, I haven't had an issue travelling with even 20 sheet masks outside of ye old bag-o-liquids. I believe they're treated like makeup remover wipes or baby wipes and don't need to be treated like liquid :)

    1. <333 I did research this and could not find anything either way, and while I was tempted to give it a try, I did not want to risk my precious, precious favourite masks so I erred on the side of caution. I updated the post with the new info though, thank yoooou! <3

  2. Contacts don't count it in the 311 rules. I always keep that and contact solution in a separate baggy. Ever cm of space helps =)

  3. Hello, I am a huge fan of your blog. After reading this post, I had to purchase Mizon snail recovery gel cream immediately. I bought the Mizon all in one snail repair cream last month but haven't use it yet. I read some blogs stating that Mizon stopped putting the holographic sticker on their products. Do you know this to be true? I was worry because my cream box did not have the authenticity sticker. Thanks.

    1. Yes, from my understanding Mizon stopped putting the stickers on the boxes some time ago. :)

  4. This is sooo familiar! A few years back I moved to Egypt for a year and knowing that where I was going had few (if any) shops and being extremely paranoid of checked in bags going astray (from bitter experience) I tried to fit as much as I damn could in my little baggie (UK rules are the same). Not needing much makeup whilst there helped, contacts weren't included and sunscreen was one thing that was abundant unsurprisingly so I mainly packed a LOT of masks and lipbalms (my two favourite things).

    I think I was definitely the most moisturised and glowy expat in the desert!! I did have to lose my best pair of jeans at the airport though - overpacking again :(

    Charlotte's Web

    1. Oh my, a year, and not being able to trust checked baggage? What a nightmare. And RIP your favourite pair of jeans!

  5. Hi Cat! How do you like the Shigaisen Yohou UV Cream? I read your recent review on Goodal's physical sunscreen but wondering how this one compares. Thanks!

    1. To be honest, I'm not a fan of it- it's ok compared to other sunscreens, but I prefer the Goodal. It's heavier, leaves more of a whitecast, and doesn't function under makeup as well as the Goodal. It's not *bad*, but it's hard to get a hold of, expensive, and I don't like it as much as the Goodal one. That's just my personal preference though!

  6. I've been to 20+ airports in the last 6 months in the US and internationally. Really, a lot of it comes down to which TSA agent you get on a particular day but I have been made to move solid stick deodorant, a roll-up solid lotion tube (similar to MRCS), hair pomade and an eyeliner pencil into my liquids bag because they were "very thick, but creams regardless". I've also gotten called out on supposedly suspended liquids like a liquid eyeliner pen and wet wipes. So as hard as it can be, I always try to leave some room in the bag so you won't end up having to leave it at security. This is true for contacts too, because even if you know the rules, that TSA agent might not, and you aren't going to make your flight if they don't let you through.

    The powder washes are brilliant! Lush makes some nice solid shampoo bars and conditioners, just cut off a small chunk to take. If possible, leave the deodorant at home, its an easy thing to find at your destination and your preferred brand is probably sold internationally. Toothpaste is one to purchase on the road too. All frees up more space for precious face potions!

  7. Unlike the person above, I've never had TSA gripe at me about any liquids.... including multiple sheet masks tucked into suitcase pockets! So it's worth a try, IMHO!

  8. Wait, so you can take any amount of contains as long as they're under 3.4 ounces/100ml?

    1. It also has to fit in a zip-top bag too, and it's a ... quart? size? Not the huge gallon ones, rip. It would be amazing if it did!