Where to begin….many of us, male or female, have strict skin and hair routines to treat our personal cosmetic “imperfections”. I personally struggle with face oiliness and acne along with unpredictable hair! Maintaining these self-care rituals at home requires extensive products and time as is. How do we keep it up while traveling? No one product will work the same for everyone, but I am here to share some habits and products I have personally had luck with in hopes that they may offer some benefit to you as well!
Long plane rides are bad enough. My normally oily face is usually shouting for moisture by the time we are ready to land. After these flights, I am the first to the airport bathroom to wash my face and put on moisturizer (no shame! I also brush my teeth in public too). And for this reason, I keep my bathroom kit near the top of my travel bag to have easy access. If I am on the way out of the airport to begin a long day of walking and sightseeing, I also put some sunscreen on my face. If you have fair skin like I do, or even if you don’t, NEVER skip the sunscreen! This is an application many usually ignore, but whether it’s to encourage long-term skin health or to prevent suffering from sunburn for the reminder of your trip, it’s usually a wise addition to add to your bag. I use CeraVe® PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion when traveling. While it is a night lotion, it’s not very thick, so it doesn’t make my face feel like an oil slick day or night. Also, when I am out all day long exploring, if I use a thick cream, I typically feel gross and am wishing for a shower by 3pm. For sunscreen, I recommend Neutrogena® Ultra Sheer® Dry-Touch as it doesn’t seem to make my face any oilier, and makeup builds up nicely on top.
Now, to control the acne. It sucks when you are on a once in a lifetime trip trying to take pictures to enjoy for years to come, and you get a massive zit. I have dealt with hormonal acne for many, many years, and my face still does not seem to want to clear up well into my mid twenties. Anyone else? Unfortunately, getting rid of acne isn’t always as easy as just washing your face. So, if I am traveling for a specific event such as a wedding where I would really feel my best with a clear face I will begin eating well (meaning less carbs and less dairy) a week before I leave to try and achieve that manageable skin I am hoping for.
The important thing is to be kind to your skin. While a clean face may not be an automatic cure for some types of acne, washing it is not going to hurt anything. I wash my face twice a day, but at minimum, I suggest washing at night after a long day out and about. It’s best not to aggressively scrub it, but rather, gently wash with a facial cleanser. I prefer to fill a travel bottle with Cetaphil® Daily Facial Cleanser as it helps to control the oil. Also, try your best not to touch your face! Because I have dealt with acne for so long, I have grown used to not touching my face, so continuing this into COVID times has been easy for me. But in general, travel can lead you into some dirty areas and I can almost guarantee that touching your face after touching the handrail in the subway will lead to the breakout you weren’t asking for.
As for makeup, I usually don’t like to pack much. First of all, it saves room in my bag, and second, I don’t like to subject my skin to the pore-blocking abuse it doesn’t need on trips. But in case I do have a blemish I want to mask, I will usually pack my Clinique Even BetterTM Broad Spectrum SPF 15 foundation, PÜR® 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup Broad Spectrum SPF 15 powder, and masquera. Always masquera! But these three items, along with maybe a small kit of eye shadow in case I have an event to attend or plan on going out in the evenings, are my staples on the go.
Some of you may also be wondering about anti-aging products. Personally, most of my trips are under four days in length, so I usually leave the less critical products at home to avoid the extra luggage. And yes, you may be thinking “these products are pretty small” or “they don’t take up much space”, but we all have to draw the line somewhere. And if we say yes to every product we use on a daily basis, this prevents your ability to pack light and efficiently. That said, one of my have-to-have products recommended to me by a friend is the Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair® Eye Cream. The tube is small and the product really helps to conceal those dark undereye circles after getting 2.5 hours of sleep on the plane before starting a brand new day of adventure once you land.
And for the antioxidant, moisture, AND anti-aging capabilities, insta natural® Vitamin C serum takes the gold! I personally have not started using this yet, but Melanie highly recommends it as an all around healthy skin treatment. Plus, it’s small and compact meaning it can fit into those small crevices in your bag.
Anyone else’s hair cooperate nicely in the salty ocean air? Too bad we can’t have that luscious beach hair everywhere we go! In any non-coastal destination, a French braid in my medium-length, curly hair is my best friend on trips. A braid secures everything, keeps it out of your face, and makes you look presentable…even if you’re a little greasy. For curly hair, I find myself using shampoo every other day to avoid stripping too much oil from my hair. However, during a trip, I revert to shampoo-ing every day to scrub out the plane, train, and city debris. This usually makes my hair dryer which I try to counteract with conditioner and product. I usually put my Cantu Hydrating Cream Conditioner into a squeezable travel bottle and pack a travel size Cantu Curl Activating Cream which I apply to slightly damp groupings of my hair. Another added battle is that water sources in different areas have varying amounts of minerals in them which can affect the way your hair responds. For instance, when I visit my parents, the water there leaves my hair stringy and flat, but at home, I can typically get some nice volume and clean curl in my hair without any product. So I bring the two items above to aid in my attempt to style my morning bedhead, but if I can’t get my hair to do what I want, that’s when I resort to the braid or a bun. And let’s be real, for any of you with long hair, is it worth fighting with it once the heat or humidity or rain or sweat or wind start to put a damper on your morning “do”?
Ultimately, the goal is to give your skin and hair what it needs on the road without the extreme dedication of your at-home routines. So pack light by taking mostly the essentials, be flexible if the condition of your skin or hair does not work out as you had hoped, and be kind to both in your new, temporary environment. You will regain control once you make it back home, so go enjoy your trip!
P.S. COVID lock-down has resulted in my boyfriend growing out his hair for the first time in his life. It’s fun getting to teach him things about hair care…and unclogging the drain!