Beauty tips for frequent travellers, or, put this weird mud on your face its good

man wearing black eye mask
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

A while ago I wrote a post on staying healthy on the road. If, like me, your main food group is cheese, this can be challenging, though not impossible. One thing I have found more problematic when travelling around, however, is maintaining my beauty regime.

Frequent change in climate, time zones and regular subjection to the dodgy air con on the flying bean cans Ryanair has the audacity to call aeroplanes, can wreak havoc on your skin and hair. Add a limited budget to the list and you’re in trouble.

If, like me, you have sensitive skin and a hair type best described as ‘meh’, you’ll no doubt have experienced first hand the difficulties of beauty upkeep while travelling. My first month here in Spain, my face pretty much fell off. During a short trip around China, my hair took on a whole new personality and also briefly changed colour.Having dealt with mild acne since my early teens, I was DELIGHTED to find, on a brief trip back to the UK, that my skin had developed a new sensitivity which bought with it a really exciting new type of zits.

Arguably, we should all be working a lot more on our inner selves, but the fact of the matter is, if you look good, you feel good (and vice versa). Sorry everyone striving for a world where nobody ever talks or worries about their looks, as much as we’d all like it to happen, it’s not gonna.

So here, without further ado, are my personal, comically simple beauty tips for frequent travellers (plus a few recommendations of products I use – I am by no means a beauty expert so anyone who reads this and decides to remind me of the fact – I FUCKING KNOW).

Be mindful of the water
There’s always one super helpful relative screaming ‘DON’T DRINK THE WATER’ at you before you embark on a trip overseas. While I always ignore this, I have come to
realise that differing water pressures (and sometimes purity) can really affect your skin and hair. My hair is super fine and the harder the water, the flatter my hair tends to become after washing. It also effects my skin for the first couple of weeks,  causing breakouts.

Usually this is just a case of adjustment and after a couple of weeks, you’ll be fine. If you travel frequently and experience problems, however, it’s worth investing in bottled water, especially for places where the local tap vintage is a bit dodgy. Otherwise, up your water intake to help your skin and use additional products sparingly until you adjust.

If travelling long term, invest in the one product that makes you feel your best
My favourite thing in the world is Batiste Dry Shampoo – it’s cheap, smells good and does the job (not unlike myself, to be fair). The XXL Volume version has been my
hair saviour for about a decade and has never failed to rescue my hair. Unfortunately, while other variations are available throughout Europe, I’ve never been able to find this type anywhere except the UK . If you have one or two products which you know really work, it’s worth investing in them in bulk. Two cans of Batiste don’t add too much weight to my suitcase and can last me up to six months, by which point I’ll have messaged my friends at home begging for them to send me more.

Don’t skimp on skincare, whatever your routine is
Frequent travelling, inordinate amounts of gin, messed up sleeping schedules – it’s easy to forget a few steps in your skincare regime when you’re travelling. For me, skipping even one or two steps can spell disaster for my skin, something I’ve noticed more so as I get older. For frequent travellers, I recommend a simple routine which is quick but effective. I appreciate that this isn’t to everyone’s taste, so feel free to go nuts. In my opinion, however, you literally don’t need twenty five face products weighing down your backpack.

Use a gentle  cleanser to combat pollution and air/climate changes (I actually use Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Cleansing Water as both a cleanser and makeup remover at the moment, because it’s so gentle, plus it’s relatively inexpensive and you can buy it all over the place). Find a moisturiser that’s good for your skin type and stick to it – I’ve been using the Body Shop’s Vitamin E Moisture Cream because it’s oil free, vital for those with combination and sensitive skin. Now I’m old AF, I’ve introduced an eye cream as well, but other than that, I don’t use anything except SPF.

If you don’t know your skin type, find out before you travel. Skincare counters are invaluable sources of information if, like me, you’re too cheap to afford a dermatologist.

When it comes to makeup, less is often more
I’m from the UK, a land where even eight-year-olds can contour like Kardashians. We have shit weather, everyone eats baked beans and London is extremely polluted, so yes, we like to cover up with a bit of slap. When you’re bopping around the world, however, this can be a huge pain to apply on the regular and depending on the climate,
can mess with your skin’s equilibrium.

I find that a ‘less is more’ approach, in general, is better because it helps my skin to adjust to humidity or massive temperature changes. Waterproof mascara, tinted moisturiser and a decent highlighter are my lifesavers in pretty much all weathers. I use Nyx Dose of Dew Face Gloss, which makes me look like a glowing baby angel and is reasonably inexpensive. When I’m actually trying to look like a human, I also use an oil free foundation – Nyx Total Control Drop Foundation is amazing and for a small bottle, it lasts a surprisingly long time. For a full list of products I personally use, check the bottom of this post.

Be nice to your hair
Don’t wash it too often if you don’t need it – even if you’re in and out of planes and buses – and use gentle shampoo – sulphate free is much better for a lot of hair types in my understanding. Understand your hair type – yes, white people, even you – and invest in products which help it look its best. For me, Head and Shoulders is the best bet – when I switched from a more expensive fancy-pants shampoo, I noticed a huge reduction in skin breakouts, plus my hair actually felt a lot better.

Experiment with natural resources
My first month in Barcelona I met a Brazilian chick who introduced me to some amazing natural beauty methods. She preferred to use these because they were easy to source and more importantly, kind to the Earth. She was also gorgeous so they must have been working. Since hitting the road I’ve discovered the wonders of products like white clay and green clay, charcoal (ok, everybody’s on a charcoal hype these days but still), natural toothpaste and sulphate-free shampoo. It’s definitely worth looking into natural products if you can find them – while some are a little more expensive than your typical, more chemical-laden stuff, you can always make your own versions at home. Making your own face masks is actually pretty fun.

Wear. Sunscreen. All. The. Effing. Time. Please. There is a reason I look 22 but am actually 28. Ok, it’s because I still have zits. But also sunscreen.

Experiment with local brands
Check out local brands for versions of your favourite at-home products and you’ll probably find something new to love forever. When I couldn’t find my favourite
moisturiser in Spain (before I realised we had a Body Shop here in Salamanca) I found an amazing (and cheap) aloe vera cream by Barbaria, which is great for when I’m having
dry skin days and works on your whole body too.

My half-assed travel routine
My travel beauty regime is basically a shitload of trial and error (again, I AM NOT A BEAUTY EXPERT THIS IS MY PERSONAL OPINION GOODBYE).  But for anyone who’s interested-

HAIRCARE: I have fine hair, so I only wash about twice a week. I use gentle shampoo and follow up with a volumising mousse like this one from L’Oreal. Between washes I rely fairly heavily on Batiste XXL Volume, as mentioned. I do backcomb the living shite out of it as well, especially when I’m in hot climates. I know this is pretty bad for your hair, so I don’t recommend going nuts with this.

SKINCARE: I cleanse with plain water first (bottled water if my skin’s having a bad day) and then Simple Micellar Kind to Skin Cleansing Water (which I also use to remove makeup). I follow up with absolutely nothing, then Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Cream and Vitamin E Eye Cream. I also drink 2-3l water a day and wash my face with plain water immediately after workouts and sweaty wanderings, wherever I am.

MAKEUP-I mix it up a lot when it comes to eye products, lip colours, etc, but my base is as follows.  Nyx Total Control Drop Foundation has changed my life – it’s really lightweight and creates a natural appearance. I alternate between their HD Photogenic Concealer Wand and Benefit Boi-ing for bad skin days. I also use Nyx Green Primer to balance out redness. I usually use a highlighter for dull (aka hungover) days, waterproof mascara for sweaty days (and also because I cry a lot at things like puppies and cute adverts) and I go makeup free about two to three days a week to help my skin breathe.

OTHER TIPS-I literally use whatever reasonably priced body moisturiser I can find and for anyone who doesn’t have sensitive or super dry skin below the face, I recommend this approach. They literally all do the same thing anyway. I find my hands get super dry when I’m travelling around so I usually invest in a decent hand cream – my current favourite is Sanctuary Spa Correct and Protect.

OK that’s it. Now go off and be your beautiful fabulous selves! Or whatever.

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