It’s hard to find a hairstylist who understands your unique hair type, and now you’re planning to leave town for a long time. Your lipstick collection has just reached a respectable size and now you won’t have space to carry it all. You may not have the perfect wardrobe, but you’ve finally amassed enough pieces to put together a Pinterest-worthy outfit, and now you have only one backpack to fill.
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We’ve all filled cases and drawers with all sorts of shades and brands of cosmetics. I even had a brilliant collection of Halloween make-up, complete with fake blood capsules and all! But when you travel, you’ll need to pare it down. It’s simply not possible to maintain your usual grooming routines when you travel – you won’t have the space and time to do all your usual beauty rituals, and often you won’t have the privacy either.
But you want to look good for the road, for the possibility of handsome strangers on hikes, and for the photographs you’ll be taking. So what’s a girl to do?
Pack the Necessities
Tweezers, nail clippers, a tiny pair of scissors, deodorant – these are essentials. If you use a hair removal device regularly, take that along, but carry a pack of disposable razors too, for days when you can’t find an electric outlet or need to slip into a bikini in five minutes.
Choose between a hair dryer and a flatiron. I usually let my hair air-dry, but I like to have the iron for special occasions or when my hair refuses to cooperate, so the choice was easy.
Choose Make-up Wisely
Be practical about carrying ‘just in case’ items. Stick to the basics plus one or two items that are important to your personal style.
Your skin tone will change when you tan, so the only skin make-up I took was a BB cream, rosy blush and concealer/highlighter. I use eye pencils even on days when I’m staying home, so I took about three of my favorite pencils and waterproof mascara.
Stick to Classics
When it comes to choosing colors, think pretty, fresh and neutral. Shades of lipstick or nail color that are fashionable back home might look weird in another country, so the classics are always a good bet.
Multitasking make-up is great, and there are so many good options available. Switch lipsticks for tinted balms and pencils for anytime, anywhere touch-ups that won’t look out of place on a beach or in a city.
Travel Size Isn’t Always Best
Travel sized toiletries are great for short trips, but if you’ll be away from home for more than a week, stick with the regular sized bottles. If not, you’ll be running around looking for replacements every few days.
If you’ve found multi-purpose shampoos, body washes or moisturizers that work for you, then you’re even luckier than I’ve been.
Choose Brands Wisely
This one was a bit of a debate for me: expensive brand that is effective or drugstore brand that may not be as awesome? Imagine your Chanel eye-shadow cracked and damaged by Customs at a strange airport, or your Dior mascara disappearing after one night in a hostel or campsite, and the debate is resolved. Find the drugstore versions of what you need, and stick to those.
Choose Routines Wisely
You shouldn’t go to sleep with the day’s make-up and sunscreen still on, no matter how tired. A pack of cleansing wipes will go very, very far when you travel. And if you can only manage a quick swipe over your face, it’s better than nothing.
There are some routines you shouldn’t give up, and some, like bi-weekly nail color changes, that can be sacrificed.
If you’re lucky to be going to a country like Thailand, where spa and beauty treatments are affordable, make the most of them. I’d recommend sticking to hair masks, massages and pedicures, unless you’re sure your skin won’t react to a stranger giving you a facial with unknown brands of creams and cleansers.
You might have left your cooling eye mask back at home, but holding a cold can of Coke to your eyes can de-puff them just as well.
I missed my face masks and body scrubs when I was travelling, but I’d grab a couple of sachets of sugar and honey from a coffee shop or a tub of yogurt from the breakfast buffet and DIY it back in the hotel room.
Looking and feeling pretty is important when you travel — it gives you a shot of confidence and makes you feel ready to take on anything — but it’s not the most important thing.
You’re seeing places you may not return to, experiencing a world that is completely new, and using precious time and money to get around. Don’t let your worries about looking perfectly groomed get in the way of seeing the world.
Besides, I think travelers look amazing with haphazard tans, hair knotted in careless buns and their eyes sparkling with excitement.