At the beginning of the year I was presented with the daunting task to make arrangements for our move from Germany to Shanghai. Moving is always a frightening experience, but moving with your makeup stash to another continent? I was terrified. And here’s what I learned in the process, to help out you all who might someday have to ship their makeup stash halfway around the world, too.

Every move is different, every stash is different. So what I’m going to do is raise some questions that you’ve to answer for yourself, though. I can give you a few pointers what I decided to do, but there’re so many variables in every move that it’s very hard to generalize what I did and decided.

Moving to shanghai
Moving from here…


Moving with your makeup stash

Let me tell you first how our move went. We had a moving company that packed and shipped our belongings. There were three different parts of the move – the container that held most of our stuff went on a container ship. Then there was a small air fright part, and finally, all our stuff that went into bags and that we took with us on the flight to Shanghai. For each part of the move I had to decide what should go into the boxes or bags, and as with all things I packed, I started with the question what was most important and least important. The check-in luggage that contained things that we had to use every day were most important.

moving with makeup
… to there. Shanghai in all its hazy and crowded glory.


This is what you have decide for yourself, and here’s what I asked myself when packing: What do I need every day? What are the key pieces of my collection that I’d be heartbroken when I’d loose them? What pieces will probably suffer the most in the unstable conditions of the actual move? THESE are the products you’ll take with you in your luggage.


Check-in Luggage – on the plane

On my list for the check-in luggage went the most important things from my stash – holy grails, LE items that are impossible to replace, items that are prone to melting or breaking. Powder products went into my cabin luggage; all my lipsticks went into my checked luggage. Yes, really. Because, you see, the ship carrying the container with our things was supposed to go through the Suez Canal. That means, the African coast. Quite hot even in spring. So I was really careful with things that could possibly melt. Otherwise my advice would be to pack like your would for an extended vacation (See our packing guide here). Pack mainly staples with a few colourful variants so that it won’t get boring.

Moving to china
This is what eight bags and one (quite lost) beauty blogger look like, a few hours before departure.


What went wrong

I packed just a few nail polishes. Given that I’m a huuuuuuge mani geek who changes her manis at least bi-weekly, that was an extremely stupid move. After a while, I couldn’t think about more variants and colour combos, and things became very boring. Add insult to injury, nail polish isn’t hugely popular in China, so it’s not really a possibility to just drop into the nearest drugstore or Sephora and just buy a few colours that might strike your fancy. As an aside, have a really close look at the local drugstore and perfumery offerings – will it be possible to buy staples? Imagine my surprise when I found it surprisingly difficult to find nail polish remover at the supermarket or drugstore.

Second annoyance – while I didn’t mind wearing quite boring day-to-day makeup for three months, I did actually regret the little choices I had for blushes and highlighters. Apart from two or three go-to shades and some limited edition collector’s pieces and hadn’t brought many, and I got bored of them pretty quickly.



Air-fright containers are used for things that you might need soon-ish, but not immediately after you arrive. I didn’t put any cosmetics in there because of the strict regulations (no liquids). Instead I used it mainly for clothes and household items. I didn’t see the need to put cosmetics in there, because actually, the air-fright boxes take about four weeks to arrive, and also I didn’t see the need to split up my stash in three parts.


Container – sea-freight

In that went everything else. Like I said, those containers are shipped on huge container ships. Beware the heat in those containers and beware the rough sea – pack everything with lots of bubble wrap. The moving company packed my Alex drawer system whole with its contents, which went very well. They stuffed the single drawers with bubble wrap so nothing could move around in there, and everything arrived completely intact.

tips and tricks for moving with makeup
Moving the whole household to another continent

So while the questions you had to ask yourself in the beginning are about your most important beauty items, here you’re asking yourself what you don’t reach for often, what you can survive without for a while. (Additional tip: if you’ve the time, these questions are also great for a quick de-stash before the move!)

What went wrong

Nothing, really – apart from the arrival date of the container that got moved back again and again for various reasons. That can happen – keep that in mind. I’d planned for about six weeks until two months of waiting time, but in the end, it was three months.


A note on back-ups

When you’re moving large distances, chances are high that you’re moving to another country. Do your research on what you’ll be able to buy there. Nothing worse than recognising that an absolute staple won’t be available in your new country. With drugstore staples like hand cream, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and everything else I threw all caution in the wind and bought various back-ups and had them shipped inside the container. You won’t find many guidelines to what you’re allowed to put into said containers, though. While I received cautious guidelines from the moving company not to pack too much liquids and stuff that could misconstrued as goods for sale, in the end, I decided not to heed them. (In the case of my beauty stash that went quite well. Our bottles of alcohol, though, were taken and destroyed. So inquire in advance and know what you’re doing.)

The guys from the moving company were quite nice, though, and declared my extensive makeup, perfume and cosmetics stash as ‘mixed household goods’. 😉

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Beauty junkie with about 20 years of beauty experience under her belt. Editor, writer and twindly's PR heroine. Has an unbelievably large nail polish stash and a passion for skincare. Gets a kick out of pretty powders.

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