The Best Makeup for Hiking, Backpacking & Camping

There is no shame in wanting to look good. Just as with wearing nice clothes, wearing makeup can make you feel confident, and it can be a very positive, rewarding experience.

I enjoy looking my best, even when I’m backpacking, and I know there are others who feel the same way. Not all makeup will hold up in the conditions that hikers are exposed to though, so I’ve put together a list of my favorite items to take with me when I hike to help you avoid makeup mishaps.


Begin with a skin care routine. If it’s only a day hike, you can perform your usual skin care steps, but if it’s a longer trip, it’s best to use a skin care routine created specifically for hiking. One that is simple, contains little to no actives, focuses on protecting your skin from the elements, and can be performed without running water.

After your skin is prepped, that’s when the fun begins.

I used to wear a full face all the time, even when hiking, but as I’ve gained experience, I’ve also gained a preference for a more simple backpacking makeup routine. A routine that focuses less on masking imperfections, and more on enhancing features and providing a glow. Think the coveted “natural” makeup look. (although, let’s be honest, there’s nothing natural about it)

I use eight items in my hiking makeup look, and they are as follows.

1. Sunscreen

While sunscreen isn’t really a makeup product, I included it because of its importance.

In my eyes sunscreen is a necessity in every single person’s skin care routine. It should be worn every day, but it’s especially important to wear when exposed to large amounts of sun – like during a hike. Sun exposure is the number one cause of both skin aging and skin cancer, so stay healthy and apply your sunblock.

And on a sustainable note, ditch your chemical sunscreens. They’re terrible for the environment and are contributing to the death of our coral reefs. Instead, choose mineral based sunscreens that contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

My all-time favorite sunscreen, that I use every day, is MyChelle’s Replenishing Solar Defense. I have sensitive, acne prone skin, and it’s never broken me out or caused irritation once. It’s got a killer formula, with ingredients such as red algae extract, barley extract, and honeysuckle extract that help prevent free radical damage, and nourishing oils such as kukui and macadamia nut oils, which restore moisture balance and reduce visible lines.

I’ve also found that it works as a decent makeshift primer, and my makeup lasts longer when I wear it on top of this rather than nothing at all. 10/10 would recommend.

2. BB & CC Cream

I used to wear heavy duty, full coverage foundation while backpacking, but now prefer BB and CC creams. They even out the skin tone without looking too noticeable and are light enough to give your skin some room to breathe.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with BB and CC creams, here’s the difference between the two, and how they differ from traditional foundation.

BB creams are like a heavier version of a tinted moisturizer. They have a better formulation than most foundations, with ingredients like antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, emollients, and humectants. They provide coverage and blur pores while being lighter on the skin.

CC creams are similar to BB creams, with a few key differences. CC actually stands for color correcting, which might allude to how they’re different. They’re used to address issues like redness and discoloration, and provide more coverage and disguise imperfections better than BB creams. They are thicker and heavier, while still being lighter than traditional foundation.

My favorite BB cream, by far, is Marcelle BB Cream Beauty Balm. It comes in three different shades, is cosmetically elegant, feels like velvet on the skin, and stays fresh longer than any other BB cream I’ve ever used.

It’s also one of the few BB creams that’s light enough to match my pale complexion, and is formulated with skin soothing ingredients like chamomile, aloe, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and green tea extract, so it receives an A++ from me.

For CC cream, I never fail to reach for IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better. It wears better than any other CC cream I’ve used, provides tons of coverage, and its ingredient list is incredible. It has SPF 50, courtesy of both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, and contains ingredients like niacinamide, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, grapeseed oil, hyaluronic acid, and snail secretion filtrate.

There are three different versions – normal, oil-free/matte, and illumination – and six different shades, which is an incredible range for a BB or CC cream.

3. Blush

A tasteful blush can make your face come alive, and give your skin a healthy, youthful appearance. I wear it pretty much every time I wear makeup, and that includes when I’m hiking.

I like all kinds of blush – powder, cream, jelly, and tint – but prefer to use powder when I’m backpacking. This is because powder blush is generally longer-lasting than liquid-based blush, and it won’t migrate like cream blushes when exposed to humidity and sweat.

One of my favorite blushes of all time is Milani’s Baked Blush. I reach for it instead of others because it’s super affordable, long lasting, and it emulates my natural blush almost perfectly. In particular, I like the shades Petal Primavera and Luminoso.

4. Lip Balm or Color With Sunscreen

Your lips are just as prone to skin cancer as any other part of your body and are one of the easiest and most painful places to get a sunburn, so protecting them with SPF is important.

My favorite non-tinted lip sunscreen is Vanicream’s Mineral Lip Ointment. It’s broad spectrum SPF 30, water resistant for up to 80 minutes, and fragrance-free. It also does a great job at preventing moisture loss, contains no chemical sunscreen ingredients, and doesn’t leave a white cast on my lips.

My favorite tinted lip sunscreen is Brush On Block’s Protective Lip Oil. It contains nourishing ingredients such as Vitamin E, argan oil, castor oil and sunflower seed oils, and is a mineral only sunscreen that adds a nice pop of color, that is surprisingly long lasting.

5. Clear Mascara

I always wear mascara – the only time I don’t is when I’m not wearing any makeup at all. It takes only a few seconds to apply, doesn’t need to be extremely precise, and is such an easy way to make the eyes pop.

When hiking (or planning to do anything outdoorsy of strenious) I opt for eyelash curling and clear mascara, to avoid the dreaded raccoon eyes. Clear mascara doesn’t do as good a job at adding length and volume as pigmented mascara, but it helps add some definition and maintain the curl that an eyelash curler gives you. This way I can have more intense eyes without having to worry about fallout, smudging, and running.

My favorite is Maybelline Great Lash Washable Mascara. It’s cheap and works as well as any other clear mascara.

6. Waterproof Eyeshadow

I don’t wear eyeshadow on every hiking trip, but if I’m planning to take a lot of photos or want to look extra nice, I do. And if I’m going to wear it, I use a waterproof, crease-resistant, and fade-resistant eyeshadow, like Maybelline Color Tattoo Cream Eyeshadow.

It comes in 10 different shades, is affordable, easy to apply, doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin or eyes, and stays on all day with next to no fading or creasing – even when I’m sweating like crazy.

7. Brow Definition

If I were to apply one thing other than BB/CC cream, it would be an eyebrow pencil.

Defined brows make a bigger difference than almost any facial feature. They frame the face, draw attention to your eyes, nose, lips, chin and forehead, and they dramatically alter the way your entire face looks.

I like Maybelline Total Temptation Eyebrow Definer Pencil because it’s much easier to apply than eyebrow gel or powder, and it gives me soft, natural-looking brows.

8. Setting Spray

We all know why I’ve included this – I’m not about to watch my freshly applied face melt in a few hours. I want it to last as long as it possibly can, and setting spray is an easy way to help with this.

The only setting spray I use is Milani Make It Last, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the only one I use for the rest of my life. It’s amazing – it keeps shine away, holds my makeup in place all day, and doesn’t irritate my skin at all.

I spray it before and after I apply makeup, and have found that it works better than applying only after.

That’s it!

Those are all the makeup products I take with me on hiking trips. If there’s one that you love that I haven’t mentioned, feel free to let me know in the comments below.

Also, just a reminder, remember to remove your makeup and cleanse your face every night. This is even more important when you’re backpacking because you’ll be sweating and producing oil all day long. If you don’t clean your face properly, there’s a high chance you’ll end up with clogged pores, and no one wants that.

Please note that this article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of them, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I 100% stand behind.

Hi, I’m Ash!

I’m a laid back traveler who loves experiencing new things and spontaneity. My favorite hobbies are hiking, gardening, skincare, and all things tea.

My biggest goal is to spread the word about sustainable travel and show everyone how easy it is to partake in. If you wanna learn more about that or get to know me better, feel free to click here.


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