When you’re traveling, the last thing you want is to spend too much time in the morning getting ready for your day’s adventures. And if you stay in hostels as I frequently do, you may not even have much space for applying makeup. Many hostels have shared bathrooms with just a mirror and sink in the room — sometimes not even that! I still recall standing by the open window of my Amman, Jordan hostel room holding up a mirror with one hand and using the natural light to apply my makeup, hoping no one could see me. Sometimes, you have to get a little crafty.
And if you’re packing light as I recommend — with a carry-on bag instead of checked luggage (see “How to Pack a TSA-Approved Liquids Bag for a Long Trip” and “How to Pack for a Two-Week Trip in a Carry-On“), you certainly don’t want extra products in your luggage (literally) weighing you down anyway. The circumstances of travel call for a different, minimalist approach to your morning beauty routine — with products that do double-duty and give you a fresh-faced, natural look.
Over my years of traveling, I’ve tried a variety of makeup and beauty products, and I’ve also polled my well-traveled female friends for their favorites. Here’s our best travel-savvy beauty advice, along with tried-and-true products that help you look amazing with the least amount of effort and space in your luggage.
1. Kill two birds with one stone with a tinted SPF.
You need sunscreen, period — at least an SPF of 30 on your face. At home, maybe you’d apply this first, then foundation. I’ll admit, I often bring my mineral powder foundation on the road with me because it’s not liquid (and therefore doesn’t take up room in a TSA-approved liquids bag). But easier than that is to have one product that does all those things. A friend received a sample of Coola Matte Tint Mineral Sunscreen in her monthly Birchbox subscription and says it blew her mind. She described it as “super smooth and creamy, non-greasy and light,” said it evens out her skin tone and declared it is great as a light foundation. It was great as a sunscreen, too, preventing her face from burning on a recent trip to Cabo. She says, “I am 100% buying when my samples run out.”
You can also bring pressed powder foundation, which will give you a bit more coverage than a tinted sunscreen but won’t take up too much room in your bag (it is called a compact, after all). One friend swears by Jane Iredale pressed mineral foundation.
2. Take care of your lips before you worry about color.
If your lips are dry and chapped, no lipstick’s going to look good on them. Traveling often means moving through multiple climates and the dry, recycled air of long flights, so keeping your lips soft and moisturized is priority No. 1. I typically used a Blistex stick but found that the ingredients in typical lip balms can dry your lips out even more, causing you to have to reapply constantly. A friend turned me on to Dr. Hauschka Lip Care Stick, and I’m not looking back.
Burt’s Bees also makes a variety of tinted lip balms that give you a natural infusion of color with moisture.
3. Choose cream-based, ambidextrous blush and eyeshadow.
“Convertible” color products do double-duty, saving space in your luggage: from blush that can also act as a lip color (Stila Convertible Color is one option) to cream eyeshadows that, in neutral tones, can work as a quick bronzer or highlighter. Revlon Illuminance eyeshadow pallets are an inexpensive drugstore option.
4. Skip the blow-dryer.
You’re on vacation to either relax or go on a great adventure. Who has time for the blow-dryer? If you weren’t blessed with naturally amazing, healthy hair, find a product you like that will tame or give texture to your hair as it air dries — so you can simply wash and go. I like Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Renewal Beach Spray; it adds texture and body to my fine, wavy hair and has soothing argan oil. Or, if you have a crazy amount of frizz, maybe you simply need a smoothing cream. A friend recommends packing a small tin of coconut oil, which travels as a solid but can work as a liquid when you need it. It’s great for taming frizz and is a natural skin moisturizer.
Finally, remember that being genuinely relaxed, happy and confident is the best beauty trick of all. If you’re anything like me, you’re concerned about looking your best in all the photos you’ll snap during your trip. Photos from travel and vacations usually don’t get buried or ignored; they find their way onto Facebook profiles and fireplace mantles. But honestly, from my experience, when you’re at home and looking back at your photos, the last thing you’ll think to yourself is, “Wow, really wish I’d spent more time putting on makeup that day.” Instead, you’ll see your radiant, fresh-faced glow and big smile, and you’ll instantly be reminded of what an amazing time you had.
Photo credit: Megan Van Groll