When you’re traveling with makeup, whether it’s for your personal use or you’re a professional, it can make the whole trip more stressful that it has to be. You’ve got to figure out what you might need on your trip, dismantle your current organization, and hope nothing spills in transit because trying to get liquid eyeliner out of your clothes is a lousy way to start your trip.
Finding the best travel makeup bag for you is a lot more than just picking up any bag in a color you like. You want to make sure you have the right size and the organization structure that matches your preferences, which could be anywhere from lots of compartments for separating colors or types of makeup to large spaces because, to be honest, all your tools live in a jumble.
If you’re a makeup professional or traveling with more than just the bare minimum to get by, a train case for makeup is your best best. They have lots of compartments which has the benefit of not only being organized, but it’s also safer for your makeup because everything isn’t banging around into everything else. This has the added benefit that if you were to have a spill, you’re limiting how much of your tools it would affect. Train cases are generally hard cases which mean they aren’t as at risk of being squashed and can protect your makeup from the crush of airport crowds as you travel.
Train cases unfold to form different levels so you can see all your makeup at once. No more digging or forgetting what you have because you can visualize it all with a glance. I grew up in musical theatre, so I was often traveling to performances and trying to put my makeup together fast in crowded, unfamiliar dressing rooms. Being able to open your case and see all of your tools where you expect them to be can save you a load of stress and time when you’re on a schedule and don’t have a huge surface to spread all your tools out on to find what you need. This also makes train cases great for permanent storage at home when you don’t have a vanity space.
Plus train cases are professional looking. These aren’t the chunky, rounded makeup kit containers we played with as kids. Train cases are well-suited for professional makeup artists, nail technicians, performers, or any other adult who wants to get from point A to point B with their makeup intact.
If you have a hard time carrying heavy cases or know your makeup collection won’t fit into these train case, check out my guide to the best rolling makeup cases. If these train cases seem like overkill for you and all you really need is an adorable bag to stash your personal tools in, check out my guide to the best cute makeup bags of 2017.
Tips for traveling with makeup.
If it’s for your own personal use, before you pick your favorite makeup on autopilot, check what colors you’ll need for the clothes you’re packing and take into account the kind of events you’ll be at.
If you can skip your powder compacts, do it. Opt for liquid foundation and cream blush and eyeshadow if you can manage. Pressed powders are fragile and may crack and break apart during rough travel. When you need to have your powders with you, and most of us will, pack your compacts gently with cotton rounds to give your powders some cushion and keep them from bouncing around in their containers.
However, when you’re traveling by plane, make sure you know what you can and can’t bring with you in your carry on. Solids like chapstick and lipstick are fine but liquids and gels like mascara, lotion, lip gloss, liquid foundation, and nail polish are all subject to TSA’s 3-1-1 rule. They will all need to fit into a single one quart plastic bag and each item cannot be more than 3.4 ounces. If that’s going to be too limiting for your length of trip or professional kit, you can check your makeup either in your suitcase or in its own solid train case.
If you are checking your full makeup kit and you’re worried about your tools being stolen, you might want to take some before photos of your full case or make an inventory list (signed and dated) and leave a copy in your makeup case so no one is too tempted. If you are checking your case, bubble wrap is your best friend and carry your powders on with you if possible. Airlines aren’t always the gentlest when it comes to luggage.
Protect your brushes. Invest in a hard-shell case or specific protection for your brushes or else you could arrive at your destination with a bag full of bent bristles.
However you travel, you want to feel confident, whatever that means for you. For a lot of us, that means a fresh manicure and our makeup done. Check out the best train cases for makeup around today and find the best way to get your makeup there in once piece, wherever you go.
1. Best Fabric Train Case for Makeup: Seya Pro Makeup Organizer Train Case With Removable Dividers
This Seya train case is very customizable. The two fold out shelves come with containers perfect for holding 48 nail polish bottles, but if that doesn’t fit with your needs, those dividers pop out and you’ve got two shelves to do with what you please. It also includes a brush holder that attaches to the lid of the case which I love because you have nothing possibly sitting on top of your brushes. The holder has 13 compartments for brushes and is separated from the rest of the case with a clear plastic cover to keep your brushes safe and keep whatever might be left on your brushes from getting all over the inside of your case. This is removable too if you don’t need it.
The cover has optional straps that keep it from flopping over completely so you always have access to your brushes or whatever you store in those compartments. The outside measurements of the case are 15 inches by 12 inches, and the case is just under 10 inches tall so there’s plenty of room. It’s a soft-shell case so it’s not made of metal, but it has a sturdy nylon exterior. That said, if you’re going to be checking your case while on a flight, you may want to opt for a hard-shell case. It’s secured by double clasps and has both a handle on the top of the case and a removable shoulder strap with a wide cushion.
- Customizable organizer options
- Lots of room
- Choice of color
- Not a hard case
- Only two shelves
Find more Seya Pro Makeup Organizer Train Case With Removable Dividers information and reviews here.
2. Best Train Case for Makeup for Small Items: Glenor Beauty Makeup Train Case
This hard-shell train case is a good size for home and travel. It’s 14 inches long by 8.5 inches wide and 11 inches tall. When you open the case it unfolds to show four accordion-style trays and a deep storage space beneath. The bottom of the box is weighted so that it won’t topple over when the trays are moved, but that does add some weight to the empty box overall. It has lots of dividers and every single one is removable and adjustable. It might take a little tugging, but you won’t hurt it.
I like that I can adjust the dividers to fit my items exactly and securely so fragile pieces aren’t bouncing around. Because of all the shelves, there really isn’t any room for taller products you’d like to store upright. It has lockable latches on top and comes with a set of two keys. The keys look like the type I had when I was little to lock my kid’s safe, so I’m not sure if these are secure enough for professional artists, but it is nice to have, especially if you have kids in the house. It has a thick handle on top and a removable shoulder strap for carrying. This cosmetics train case comes in black, grey, and pink.
Price: $49.95 (36 percent MSRP)
- Rated 4.6 out of five stars by users on Amazon
- Four accordion shelves
- All dividers adjustable
- Sturdy hard case
- Not a lot of room for large items
- Lining feels a little cheap
3. Best Easy Carry Train Case for Makeup: Travel Mall 3 Layer Train Case With Mirror
This train case is shaped more like a laptop bag than a typical makeup bag design. It opens like a briefcase and has optional straps to keep the top lid from falling too far back. This is great because the first layer on the lid is a mirror making this a great choice for going on vacation or a place where you are literally going to need to do your makeup straight out of your bag. The flap that holds the mirror can be lifted and placed over the back of the lid revealing a brush organizer with six roomy brush compartments. That organizer detaches with a zipper revealing larger pouches for items like curling irons and straighteners. This is all just the top lid.
The bottom of the case has foam padded dividers that are all adjustable. You can even get additional dividers so you can organize to your heart’s content. It’s smaller than the others at 9.6 inches long by 8.9 inches wide and 3.9 inches tall, though that does make it great for personal use on the go. The Travel Mall train case is extremely travel friendly in that there are so many ways to carry it. It has a standard briefcase handle, a removable shoulder strap, a large strap on the back meant attached to the handle of your rolling suitcase, and even a configuration where you can wear it as a backpack.
- Four ways to carry it
- Includes mirror
- Adjustable dividers
- Not a hard case
- Less room than others
4. Best Train Case for Nail Polish Storage: SHANY Color Matters Makeup Train Case & Nail Accessories Organizer
You’ll always be able to tell which makeup case is yours with SHANY’s Color Matters Collection which includes choices like desert lime, bird of paradise, sugar gum, white lily, and black with pink interior. It’s organized a little differently with storage on top and a drawer on the front and this train case is smaller than the others at 9.25 inches by nine inches and 6.25 inches tall.
While not a good fit for a professional makeup artist, this would certainly be a great travel case or organizer for nail art tools. The top section fits 24 nail polishes and the divider lifts out so you can use that space for things other than lacquer. There’s a small mirror on the lid and six band holders for thinner tools like brushes or pencils. The bottom drawer pulls all the way out for easy access and cleaning and has a small pouch along one side and more elastic band type holders on another. The outside is covered in matte faux leather and both that and the lining inside are water and stain resistant. The drawer and lid latch closed, but the only handle is the one on the top so this one might not be best for long journeys. A nice thing to know is that all of SHANY’s products are cruelty-free so your money isn’t going to a company that uses animal testing or animal products.
Price: From $36.42
- Choice of flashy colors
- Removable dividers
- Good size for home organization
- Too small for professionals
- Only one option for carrying
- Just two compartments
Find more SHANY Color Matters Makeup Train Case & Nail Accessories Organizer information and reviews here.
5. Beat Train Case for Makeup for Young Adults: Ollieroo Professional Makeup Train Case
The Ollieroo train case has four fold out shelves and a spacious lower compartment. The dividers are adjustable and I like that they are a very cleanable hard plastic and that the grooved interior gives you a lot more options as to where you can place your dividers. It measures 14.4 inches by 8.7 inches and 9.8 inches tall. It’s a hard case with a textured metal exterior and a key lock on both of the latches. The metals sides are a little thin which makes it lightweight but if you’re thinking of checking your makeup bag when flying, you may want to find something heftier. The size and number of shelves on this one makes it a great choice for home use, for performers, and for traveling professionals. Along with the handle on the top, the Ollieroo also comes with a removable shoulder strap for easy travel. It comes in this fun purple color as well as a classy black.
- Easy clean, adjustable dividers
- Choice of colors
- Not as sturdy as others
6. Best Train Case for Makeup With Shelves: Sunrise 3-Tier Pro Makeup Train Case
This Sunrise brand case is on the smaller side for a train case, but is solidly built and has lots of compartments. It measures 12 inches long by eight inches wide and 9.5 inches tall and opens to unfold three levels of shelves for a total of six accordion-style trays. The shelves are very widespread giving you a good visual of all your makeup and plenty of room to work. The bottom of the case is heavy enough that the wide shelves don’t cause the case to topple over, but the downside is that the case has more weight to it when carrying. It comes with a removable shoulder strap to make the case more comfortable to transport.
There are two sturdy latches on the top to keep it closed and each has a lock with a key. The locks feel a little flimsy but would be more than sufficient to keep roommates, younger siblings, and children out of your things. Being a little on the small side, this is a good choice for either a home kit or a traveling case for when you don’t feel like paring down too much. It comes in grey, black, red, pink, and white.
- Sturdy hard case
- Six folding trays
- Choice of five colors
- Smaller than other cases
7. Best Wheeled Train Case for Makeup: Professional 16 Inch Wheeled Makeup Train Case
This is the largest train case on the list coming in at 16 inches by 9 inches and 14 inches high. It opens to eight accordion-style trays stacked in four levels and a hollow compartment in the base. Professional makeup artists may want to run the measurements to make sure it’s the size you’re looking for, but for most of us this will be plenty of space. It’s about the size of average carry-on luggage and has a sturdy metal exterior that is built to withstand heat and keep your makeup from getting too hot in the sun.
That does mean that along with the extra storage space, this case gets heavy. But that’s not a problem since it’s on wheels. There are two solid wheels on the bottom and a telescoping handle that collapses so you can easily stow your case when you’re not using it. It closes by two latches on the top of the case and each latch locks with a key. This makes more sense for make up lovers, professionals, performers on the go rather than as an organizing home makeup kit.
- Eight accordion-style trays and lots of space
- On wheels
- Professional looking
- Can get heavy
- Too bulky for home use
8. Best Colorful Train Case for Makeup: SHANY Premier Fantasy Collection Cosmetics Train Case
These brightly colored train cases come in divine blue, black diamond, leopard, NY taxi, rainforest, silver diamond, snow white, and zebra. SHANY is a cruelty-free company and this case measures 14 inches by eight inches and is 10 inches tall. The metal exterior is very sturdy and can hold up to a lot of pressure and dings in transit. It has an asymmetrical design in its shelving which has its pluses and minuses. The downside of that is that if you have heavy items in your trays, the box is more likely to become unbalanced and topple over when the accordion shelves are full extended. The plus is that it creates almost a portable vanity where you can sit at your case with all your makeup in front of you instead of having to look from side to side.
At the top of the tiered shelves is a hinged mirror so you can do your makeup right at your case. Having shelving only on one side also leaves room for the included brush holder that sits in the base compartment. These cases come with removable shoulder straps and keys for the built in locks on the two latches on the lid. It has a non-absorbent, easy to clean liner and the base is large enough to house hair styling tools like curling irons and straighteners.
Price: From $59.95
- Durable exterior
- Comes with mirror, brush holder, and locks
- Choice of eight fun colors
- No dividers in compartments
- Prone to tipping
9. Best Interchangeable Train Case for Makeup: Sunrise 3-in-1 Professional Makeup Artist Train Case
This unique train case design is part of Sunrise’s Interchangeable E Series . These cases are designed to fit together. With all these swap-able parts, you can build a makeup storage case exactly how you want it. When all closed up, the Pro 3-in-1 measures 14.5 inches by 9.5 inches and 13.25 inches tall. It’s made up of three trays that lock together as one piece or unlock to be used separately. What I love the most about this is that if you end up needing more storage space down the line, you won’t need to buy a second case or a whole new larger one while ditching your first case which is a huge waste of money–you can actually add onto this one with the 3 Series so you can always have the amount of space you need.
A removable mirror is included in the top lid and each hinge latches independently and locks shut with a key. It’s heavy duty and built to last with reinforced steel corners so it’s plenty sturdy enough for travel but also a bit heavier than some other models. It has a nice thick handle on top but no place to attached a shoulder strap which would be nice. I partly think this is due to the fact that these pieces slot together with other models which are on rollers, but it still would be convenient to have a strap. Each tray has adjustable dividers and the lining is easy to wipe clean when there are spills. True to Sunrise’s fully customizable spirit, this train case comes in 11 different colors and textures including black, white, leopard print, and pink alligator.
- Part of interchangeable system
- Choice of 11 styles
- Built to last
- Comes with mirror and locks
- Unique hinged design
- No shoulder strap
- No large compartment
10. Best Personal Use Train Case for Makeup: Seya 6-Tier Pro Makeup Train Case
This Seya train case, while probably too small for professional makeup artists, is a good size for home use or travel at 11 inches by 6.5 inches and 8.5 inches tall. With six accordion-style trays tucked inside, you have loads of space for organizing your small items. The hollow base is great for storing larger pieces, but since it’s one of the smaller cases, if you have, or plan to travel with, a lot of large eyeshadow palettes, this one might not be big enough to fit what you need. If you’re looking to store small palettes, this ought to suit you just fine. The hard case is plastic with steel corners. It’s sturdy enough but not as strong as the full metal cases. That does make it around half the weight as a lot of the other train cases on this list though so that’s something to keep in mind. The double latches come with built in locks and keys for extra security. The girly rose-pink color makes it easy to pick your case out of the crowd.
- Cute pink color
- Six fold out trays
- Good size for home use
- No shoulder strap
- Not as durable as others
- Not big enough for professionals
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