Before reading this blog post, please note that it was published summer 2018. Since then I have made big changes to my health and beauty routine and have massively reduced my single use and plastic usage. Please understand that I no long use travel minis or plastic toothbrushes. To learn more about responsible toiletries read, Sustainable swaps for travellers.
To be perfectly honest I didn’t pay much attention to packing a decent selection of beauty products during my early days of travel. I was all about saving as much room for shopping as possible so I would leave a lot of products at home, or I would get wrapped up in buying travel minis because let’s be real, they’re so cute, but I now know that in a lot of cases it’s better to go with the devil you know.
I’m absolutely certain there will be so much more to learn, but for now here are a few of the things I have learnt from my travels throughout the years. I’m making the mistakes so you don’t have to!
Don’t forfeit your normal skin routine to save space and definitely don’t try to save space by bringing different branded travel minis to your usual products just because they’re smaller. I have so many unfinished products at home that I end up giving away because I’ve bought travel minis that have irritated my skin. Your skin is precious so look after it and don’t settle for second best, either look for travel sized versions of your usual routine or decant them into travel bottles.
Keeping on the topic of bad travel minis, I have bought and disliked a vast variety of makeup removal products on the basis of trying to save space. My previous daily makeup removal product came in a large bottle and rather than pouring some of it into a smaller bottle, I opted for wipes because I knew as I used them that I would have less to bring home. My face and wipes don’t get on though and they cause so much irritation around my eyes.
Whilst in The States this summer I found the ultimate solution for makeup removal! Black Magic makeup remover cloths are the absolute best way to remove makeup, at least they are for me. Their special knitted structure and fabric means that they only require water to gently break down your makeup. No extra removal product is needed so you can move straight onto your cleansing routine. Not only this, they save the environment from daily wipes being thrown away, they are reusable – just thrown them in the washing machine – and they are so light!
Honestly I swear by them so much I bought a bunch home for family and friends! I bought mine from Sephora but I am aware of them being sold in most shops selling makeup.
Get a good facial suncream rather than using a general body one. The skin on our face is more sensitive than the rest of our bodies and it might clog your pores. Most suncream brands have a special facial cream and as a bonus they tend to be anti ageing, anti-blemish or suited for makeup application.
I am currently using Clinique’s SPF 30 Anti-wrinkle face cream.
I have sensitive skin that dries out easily if it’s not frequently moisturised. Travel minis and the ones you get in hotels just aren’t big enough to accommodate my multiple applications so I travel with a big bottle of body lotion.
PFH Top Tip: Don’t let the minis go to waste though, keep hold of the lotions if you have the room and use them as hand cream because they’re the perfect size to keep in your bag or car.
Eye gel patches
If you have an early start to your day, pop on a pair of eye gel patches for about half an hour before applying your makeup (or not if you don’t wear it) to give your eyes a chance to perk up should you be suffering from bags or puffy eyes.
Get a gel manicure over painting your nails, I started getting gel manicures in October last year and it was the best decision I’ve made for my nails in terms of travel. Gel manicures last at least two weeks without chipping (provided you aren’t rough with your hands) plus it makes your nails stronger. Painting them means you have to bring the nail varnish with you for touch ups because you know it will chip within days plus a base/top coat and nail varnish remover because you know it’s going to look a flakey mess within a few days. I make sure to remove the gel polish after each trip so that my nails get a break and see the sun.
My hands dry out easily with a change of climate, whether it’s hot or cold, so provided it fits in there, I now keep a little moisturiser in my bag at all times. For a very long time I paid little attention to my hands because I figured the possibility of my hands ageing was decades away but boy does it creep up on you!
My current favourite is Molton Brown’s Delicious Rhubarb and Rose tube, it’s very moisturising but the smell is so fresh and strong that you can dab some around the neck as a pitstop perfume should you need a quick scent lift.
I used to think a mini travel sized toothpaste would be enough because when do you ever really monitor your toothpaste consumption, right? It didn’t take me long to realise that it wasn’t enough and I would end up needing to buy more toothpaste. It’s easier to travel with a big toothpaste and take it on multiple trips than spend more money on lots of mini ones that run out all the time. Plus it means you can buy your usual toothpaste that suits your dental needs.
Keep a toothbrush and toothpaste with you when you’re on the go. If you are in a car, plane or train for a long time I strongly suggest brining these so you can freshen your mouth either before/after sleep or before you arrive at your destination (in this case, have an extra mini toothpaste that’s just for in transit brushing).
I get a dry scalp and use head and shoulders to keep it at bay, but up until a couple of year ago I would neglect my scalp when I went away because I didn’t want to carry an extra shampoo bottle, especially when most hotels have complimentary shampoo. I’ve learnt that it’s not worth having a sore or itchy head and now I travel with the 90ml bottle because I’d rather have flake free hair than an extra few inches in my case.
Travel can take its toll on your hair for many reasons: water quality, sun, styling with heat, chlorine etc. For a long time I only travelled with hair spray and curl gel because I was naive about protection. I have learnt that my hair requires even more attention when I’m away than it does at home because of all the extra styling and heat it encounters, so now I travel with:
L’Oréal Elvive Colour Protect Conditioner (whilst it’s blonde). I refill two mini bottles – that I bought from Primark – with my large bottle.
TRESemmé Heat Defence Spray 60ml, again I refill it when it needs it.
Protein spray which is for UV ray protection from Toni and Guy’s Label M. I can’t find a link to the 50ml travel size but it can be bought in store.
Ties and clips
I have found that for all the hairstyles I frequently do, these items are the only ones I need:
Four little claw grips for partitioning when styling or for holding back my hair when I’m washing my face.
Two bobby pins for holding back strays. If you do more extravagant hair styles then you’ll probably need more, but I have found after bringing heaps that I rarely use more than two.
Three hair ties, two packed and one always in my bag for emergency frizz scenarios.
Two fine elastics for tying the ends of plaits without a bulky finish.
Accessory-wise I usually brings lots of options but these are my basics every time.
Use razors which have replaceable heads because they create less waste than disposable razors and a couple of extra heads take up less space than a couple of razors. Take a new head per week away to prevent bacteria building up in them and razor burn.
Concealer and foundation
If you’re spending time out in the sun your skin is likely to get darker and you may go past your regular concealer and foundation shade. It’s not ideal to keep spending money on multiple foundations as you get darker, especially as no tan is the same and you’re likely to vary in shades across your time away or during the summer. My solution for this is to go to a makeup or department store and go to the counter of either your current foundation brand or one that you want to try and ask them for a sample of the shade that they match you to. Most brands that have someone working on their counter will send you home with a sample because they appreciate that you need to try it with your usual products and with natural lighting rather than the harsh lights in store. The sample should last you until your tan fades so you’ve saved money on a full product and you have the opportunity to try a new product.
Also ask for samples of makeup you are currently using so if you are going on a quick trip you can bring smaller versions to save space. Moisturiser samples are amazing for weekends away because you can get 2-3 uses out of the pouches.
PFH Top Tip: Try to sample a foundation that has SPF to give your skin a protective barrier.
Unless you’re going to an event where you’re likely to get a little teary-eyed, ditch the waterproof makeup. If it’s for vanity whilst you’re poolside or on the beach it’s not necessary, embrace your natural beauty. When I was in my late teens I took waterproof eyeliner and mascara on holiday with Michael because I was concerned about not having my daily cat-eye look whilst hanging out by the pool and snorkelling, I soon got over that when I got in the pool with my waterproof winged liner and felt my eyes burn like they’d been set on fire! The sting was so real I had to race to wash it off. Now I’ve learnt to embrace my face without makeup on many occasions and it has never felt better!
Don’t bother with mini travel brush sets, you might think they’re worth it for the space saving but they will give you so much hassle in return. It’s highly unlikely that they will be good quality and they will just make your application a painful experience. I am still learning to build a good brush collection (thanks to my girl Katie who is my makeup Guru – you might have seen her work on my face on my Instastories at the beginning of my trip to Canada) but I know for sure that it’s better to travel with your everyday brushes.
If you’re planning on travelling with the bare minimum brush selection or if you’re away for more than a week I strongly suggest packing a mini brush cleaner set to prevent colour transfer and bacteria swarming whilst you’re away.
As I mentioned before I know I will learn so much more about which products I should be taking or leaving at home, better alternatives and hacks to save money but for now I hope these tips will help you to take better care of your body whilst away.