I'VE FILLED two passports with stamps over the last two years (My TV is from 1994, so, no, not rich. Just different priorities). That's a lot of travel. At first, I was shamelessly carting around bags of beauty crap. Multiple items of the same product, things I never even opened, full bottles of cheap shampoo I could just as easily pick up wherever I landed. What a waste! And so onerous. I was forced to be static by my heavy luggage, was constantly worried and a huge target (girl struggling up stairs of a station with two huge bags? Like a sitting duck). So, I've learned and honed and now have a makeup bag that's no bigger than a pencil case when I travel. I pick up cheap, bulky items (like shampoo/conditioner) when I arrive since I like raiding the local chemists anyway. And what's the point of carrying something that takes up 30% of your luggage real estate but costs so little? Doesn't add up. While this isn't my definitive list, it's one that I highly suggest for anyone who cares about what they like and feel like on the road.
SwissDent Pure Mouth Spray (£9.50)-- It's anti-bacterial so won't just cover bad travel breath (no, yours doesn't smell good after sleeping -- mouth dangled open -- in economy class for six hours either) but help prevent the reason for it. The tiny bottle is no bigger than a tube of lip balm but all you need is one spray for minty (tho not unnecessarily sweet), bacteria-free breath. Essential when on-the-go and meeting with people, drinking multiple coffees, all day long.
Deborah Lippman The Stripper To Go ($10 for a box of 6 mitts) -- Soon to be available at the new House of Fraser Apothecary concept boutique. Deborah Lippman has created a genius little finger mitt that fits over the tip of one of your fingers with enough non-drying remover to take off even dark varnish on all ten nails, without leaving stains. Plus the lavender scent is nicer than the usual Acetone odor. One or two of these tiny mitts take up no space in your luggage, weigh nothing and there's no chance of remover opening and spilling all over the contents of your case.
Too Faced Flat Kabuki Brush ($12.50) and Japonesque Go Curl Travel Curler -- Your eyebrow brush will be on the end of your I-conic Brow Pencil and Edward Bess's eyeshadow compact comes with a double-ended brush (angled and regular wand) so you can do shadow, eyeliner and brow fill-in with that. What you don't have is an all-around face brush and lash curler (which will make a huge difference with tired travel eyes). The flat kabuki can be used to contour, apply blush, bronzer and even buff out makeup. It's tiny, well-constructed and blends products seamlessly with very soft bristles. I've had mine for years. Same with the Japonesque Go Curl Travel Curler. It's smaller than a square of chocolate, folds down so it's nearly flat, gives great curl, is incredibly easy to clean and seems almost indestructible.
Eyeshadow-liner-brow cake-highlighter-spot disguiser-in-one -- Edward Bess Eyeshadow Trio in Island Escape is amazing for this. The mid-shade is the perfect makeshift eyebrow cake for almost all eyebrow colors, the three shades combined create an amazing smokey eye that's great for day and night. Mix a bit of water with the dark brown for a great, long-stay eyeliner (on the water line, upper lashline or both) and the lightest shade is great to use as a highlighter down the bridge of the nose, cupid's bow, cheekbones...
And, no one will tell you this, but it (the white, highlighting shade) works wonders when applied directly on top of spots (after you've applied the rest of your makeup). Because it reflects light, it complete disguises the spot (the same trick can be used with any of the highlighting pens. We love the Givenchy Mr. Bright Touch and YSL Touch Eclat for the same thing). This is my secret weapon for looking like I have flawless skin even when airplane travel has triggered a horrible case of my rosacea.
Jemma Kidd I-conic Eye Brow Pencil comes with tweezers, a brow brush and color that stays put pretty well. It's a 3-in-1 that could also be used as an eyeliner if you use the darker version.
Andrea Fulerton Mirror Shine Glosser and Trio Nail Polish -- The Glosser is as slim as a credit card but it's the best nail buffer I have ever used. And I'm obsessed with shiny nails. I even have an antique tortoise-shell buffer I use with a chamois and buffing cream at home. But the Mirror Shine Glosser works best and it's so tiny you could even carry it in your wallet. Plus, it's less than 3 quid. If you prefer a bit of color (or need it for an event) then the trio polish is hard to beat. The design means you get three colors of nail polish in a tube that can be squirreled away almost anywhere. By far the best nail launch of 2010.
The All Nighter Dry Shampoo -- Get it in your color or translucent. It's great to give wan hair or root growth a pop of color (and cover). Dry shampoo also builds texture for instant volume even if cabin air has left it flat. It's a great way to keep your coiff looking good, too, if you're un-able to wash and style it as usual (with your regular tools and products) for a pro-longed period of time. We love it and have never travelled without dry shampoo. Plus, this version is non-aerosol so you won't have an issue going through airport security. Plus, it's the first all-natural, color-matched dry shampoo.
Something for both cheeks and lips, like L'Occitane Lip and Cheek Water or a Beaute Liqui-Gel Stain. L'Occitane's product brightens and adds just enough color to look super natural and beautiful. It's a gentle pink and you can build the color a bit but it's best for every day use and comes in a very thin, small wand that is perfectly compact for travel use. Plus, it's universally flattering. If you want a multi-tasking lip and cheek product with more of a punch, bring Beaute's Liqui-Gel Stain with you. Also compact (no bigger than a tube of lip balm again), you can get anything from a natural flush to intensely red, berry, coral or pink lips and deeply flushed cheeks with this stain. Perfect for going from day to night with just a single beauty product while on the go. Plus, you don't need to re-apply since it's a stain and, believe me, it stays put.
Cleanser-Makeup Remover-Mask-in-one -- Don't fuss with all three. I know you're no-nonsense about your skincare but you're only going to be on the road for a matter of days, right? Why not make sure you have your treatment products (if you use a Retinol or the like) but use a moisturising 3-in-1 product to do all of the above? Opt for something in a small, flat (if possible) package that doesn't have any access plastic or packaging on it (which will just add bulk, taking up precious inches in your suitcase). We love the evolve beauty gentle cleansing melt to do all of the above without drying our skin. Skyn Iceland Pure Cloud Cleanser is a new product that we now love and use. It came with us on recent travels and is made specifically to deal with urban skin that's dry, delicate, irritated and destroyed by constant fluctuations in temperature, pollution, stress level, etc. It comes in a slim tube, so it's easier to maneuver into place in your bag. It's easy on sensitive skin, calming, a great way to remove makeup and you can leave it on while you unpack your bags after checking in for an instant moisture boost, which you'll need after a long flight. Made with meadowfoam, aloe, angelica, jojoba, shea, coconut oil, vitamin E and Iceland glacial water.
Tinted moisturiser -- Get good, foundation-like coverage, UVA/UVB blocking power and a moisturiser all in one product so you can leave the bulky bottles (which are no-doubt bigger than the prescribed 100mls) of foundation, SPF and skin cream at home. We like Josie Maran's because of its lovely Aragan oil, but Topshop does an amazingly effective one (the Skin Tint) as does Laura Mercier.
Perfume samples -- Why bring a whole bottle? Waste of space, risking breakage. Go to the beauty counter where you usually buy your scent (if you wear one) and ask for a couple of samples. Alternatively, quirky scent stores like Lucky Scent and L'Artisan Parfumeur sell sample vials and you can order them online.
A small bar of soap -- You know you have at least a half dozen of these floating around the house. Bring one. They weigh nothing, get you just as clean as a huge bottle of shower gel and, man, if you're ever climbing up, say, a mountain without a shower for 7 days (or simply want to freshen up after travelling for 13 hours), you'll thank the gods you have this little slice of hygienic heaven in your bag. It's a great way to wash delicates, keep mirrors from steaming (rub it on and wipe off with towel/tissue before showering for steam-free mirrors), un-stick zippers, clean cuts and scrapes, remove makeup (in a pinch) and a whole host of other things.
If you're interested in full-on brand concepts, are design obsessed or a consummate aesthete and on the look out for new makeup, I recommend buying the Ellis Faas makeup holder and filling it with the only makeup you'll need on the road to do everything from no-makeup makeup to a full glamorous face for a night out. There's enough space for foundation, concealer, blush, eyeshadow, powder, mascara and liner.
At the end of the day, even if you par down your makeup bag to the bare necessities, you'll find you still don't use everything. There's no sense in carting your whole bathroom cabinet with you on the road, especially with cheeky airlines trying to charge for checked bags. Thumb your nose at them and pack clever with just a carry-on filled with multi-tasking essentials. Plus, how much more fun is travelling light. You can't lug around giant bags all day if you're between hotels but you can certainly roll around a nifty little carry-on. As the Spanish saying goes on a long journey, even a straw weighs heavy. Just imagine the burden of all the superfluous beauty aids then.
Do you know of any must-have travel beauty products or tips? Share them if you do!