Guest Post - Packing Pretty: My Top 10 Travel Beauty Essentials (Part One)

Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope you have all had (or are having) a very wonderful Christmas!

New Year's Eve is coming up and, while I haven't been able to stick to my tradition of spending it outside the UAE, I know a lot of you will be packing up and heading off. So, I enlisted the help of the gorgeous Yi-Hwa, who not only is deputy editor of Good Housekeeping, but also manages to find time to write her own blog Footloose and Famished. Yi-Hwa's blog chronicles her travels and the yummy treats she finds along the way, so I figured there was no one better to ask for tips on looking your best when you're jetting across the globe. Take it away, Yi-Hwa!

Just a few of the beautiful places that Yi-Hwa has been to.

Packing Pretty: My Top 10 Travel Beauty Essentials

As someone who travels a lot, my list of travel beauty essentials is almost as important as my daily one. The tiniest things can make a difference, and a little planning can go a long way whether that’s through saving money, giving you more room (and baggage weight allowance!) to pack more goodies (or bring souvenirs and shopping home!), or just for the sake of convenience, leaving you with more time to explore a foreign land. There’s no right and wrong here – it’s just a question of trying and testing until you find what works for you – but here are my top 10 tips!

1.     Don’t forget your in-flight essentials
Some of Yi-Hwa's in-flight essentials: Moisturizer, Face Wipes and Hand Cream

Always carry on a mini hand cream to stop your hands and feet feeling like paper (especially after those harsh bathroom soaps), a really good moisturizer to stop your face from looking sallow and worn out when you arrive (even if you don’t feel dry, always remember to moisturize your face mid-flight – trust me, you’ll be glad for it later!), lip balm so you don’t end up with chapped lips, disposable eyedrops (so your eyes aren’t too red and bloodshot when you arrive), and an eye mask and pashmina to snuggle up in – these seriously make a big difference to your comfort levels even if you’re stuck in Economy, and getting some sleep on the plane really makes a big difference to how you’ll look (and feel) for the next few days. I love eye masks so much I actually use them when I’m having trouble sleeping at home too. A disposable nail file, extra hair ties and non-greasy makeup remover wipes (surprisingly, Victoria’s Secret makes amazing ones) also always come in handy.

2.     Become a hoarder

Stock up on great hotel toiletries.

Every time I go to a big makeup store like Sephora or Paris Gallery, I always ask them for samples. Whether that’s samples of new products, the stuff I’m buying or things I already have and love at home, the worst they can say is no and it never hurts to ask. It’s the same concept with hotel toiletries – typically, we tend not to get through an entire bottle of hotel shampoo/conditioner/body wash in a day no matter how small they are, but when I am staying in a really nice hotel with great toiletries, I’ll sometimes call and ask for an extra set even if I know the supplies already in there on my first day will be enough to last me the duration of my stay. Often, nicer hotels will stock products from brands like Molton Brown (The Peninsula Hotels), L’Occitane (Four Seasons Hotels), Elemis (Hatta Fort Hotel), Aigner (The Chedi), Bliss (The W Hotels), Kiehl’s (60 Thompson)... you get the idea. This way, the next time I travel knowing I’ll be staying in a place that might only have the budget for bad shampoos that strip your hair into feeling like straw, conditioners that do absolutely nothing, and body wash that makes your skin feel like paper, I can just take along my own minis that I’ve hoarded from the nice hotels to use instead. Taking all of the cotton buds/q-tips and cotton pads provided (whenever available) is also a good idea since they usually come in nifty protective wrappers too. Don’t feel bad about taking these, since it’s all included in the price of your hotel room anyway! 

I keep all of my samples and hotel minis in a pretty shoebox (there are tons of great ideas for redecorating storage like this on Pinterest) in a cupboard in my bathroom, so it stays nice and neat until I’m about to go on holiday and am ready to ‘shop’ from the box. Trying and testing new samples works especially when I’m only going on a 2 or 3-day trip – for instance, I went to Kenya for a 4-day safari this Eid and took along some samples of a Sephora face cream I was given this summer – this way, if I don’t actually like the product very much, it’s not the kind of trip I’ll be getting dolled up on and it’s only for a few days. Whereas if I’m going on a two-week holiday to New York, I’m going to care more about only taking things I know I like since I’m going to want to look good with products I can rely on, and I’m going to have to live with them for a fair amount of time. 

When it comes to your favourite products, though, there’s really no substitute and sometimes you just don’t want to compromise – so for these, I just re-use cleaned, old containers of previous makeup – yes, I also hoard those and keep them in a separate ‘empty containers’ shoebox! For instance, my empty Clarins eye gel pot makes the perfect container to pour some of my favourite BB cream into since that amount will last me two weeks, I won’t have to lug my entire big tube of BB cream there and back with me, and I can throw away the empty Clarins pot at the end of my holiday, giving me one less thing to carry on my way home. Reduce, reuse, and recycle baby. 

3.     Stay fresh

Stay Fresh with Anti-bacterial Hand Cream, Smint and PocketBac Hand Sanitizer
No matter how pretty you may look, you’re not going to feel very attractive if you’ve got dragon-breath and grimy hands after an 8-hour flight. I always carry a hand sanitiser with me everywhere I go, and my favourites are the PocketBac gels from Bath & Body Works – not only are they cute and small enough to fit into any bag, they also come in a wide array of scents so you can smell like anything from clean fresh linen to creamy pumpkin. I also find these to be more hydrating than many other sanitiser brands thanks to the conditioning moisture beads, but if you still find the gels a little too drying, they also have fantastic sanitizing hand creams. As for keeping your smiles minty-fresh, nothing beats the chance to brush your teeth. While I haven’t yet found the perfect re-usable travel toothbrush, I do use the toothbrushes found in the pouches on big airlines like Emirates or Virgin (or bring my own when travelling on a low-cost airline since they don’t provide these), and I bring a mini toothpaste with me since the ones provided inflight are usually awful. You can find these in big supermarkets, but if not then ask your dentist next time you go in for a cleaning since they usually have some to hand (mine always does!). If all else fails, original flavour Smint is the ultimate breath-freshening mint in my opinion, but if you don’t have any of those either, try drinking or rinsing your mouth out with some green tea.

4.     Slap on a scent

Sephora has a whole range of fragrance atomizers to choose from.

So you’re all moisturized, fresh and clean – but you still feel like a mucky pup. While spraying too much will probably make the person sitting next to you hate you (too much perfume floating around the airplane cabin is really unpleasant) sometimes there’s nothing quite like a spritz of scent to make you feel uplifted and pretty again. Rather than lugging around a full bottle of perfume, I suggest buying a nifty little fragrance atomizer. I’ve tried perfume balms and while convenient, they’re just not the same as spritzing! You can get one at Sephora, and while in the old days these would involve you spraying your perfume into a glass vial and causing a whole lot of mess, the new ones come with a genius funnel that allows you to just pop it on top of the spray nib and pump down so it’s super easily refilled. Which brings me on to my next point...

 5.     Invest in travel beauty goodies
Make sure you pack these mini-beauty goodies: Makeup Bags, Oil Blotting Papers and Glossing Cream

Even if you don’t travel that often, there are some truly worthy investments. For instance, the fragrance atomizer and mini sanitisers are also ideal for popping into your handbag for daily life, while a mini travel-size version of your favourite makeup brush is also a good idea. Sephora’s own brand makes a brilliant Mini Deodorant Spray for just Dhs10, while Merle Norman’s Oil Blotters are lightweight and amazing for on-the-go touch-ups. I also buy travel size versions of some of my favourite products (like my beloved Frederic Fekkai glossing cream) – and I make sure I ONLY use these when I travel. When I get home from my trip, these go straight back in the cupboard and I switch back to my regular-size one so I don’t ‘waste’ the travel size by using it at home. An empty carry-on bottle set (available at Sephora or most drugstores) is also a worthy investment, so when you don’t have any travel-size products, samples or empty old containers to hand, you can just fill these with your favourites instead.

Investing in a good travel makeup bag is essential, so you can keep things organised and not waste time on holiday rooting around for stuff. I usually take a trio of different sizes: A small one for my carry-on luggage, and a medium and large one for my check-in luggage, where I put liquids that are too big for carry-on luggage or stuff that isn’t essential on-board. If I’m just taking a carry-on for a short trip, I just take the medium pouch in my carry-on and make sure the products are within the allowed liquids limit. While many brands make cute makeup bags, be creative about what you can use: some of my favourite makeup bags are the freebies that came with seasonal holiday offers at Paris Gallery or Areej, and a pocket-filled pouch I suspect might be a large pencil-case that I found in the stationery section of Kinokuniya Bookstore in Dubai Mall! 

Stay tuned for part two of Yi-Hwa's Travel Beauty Tips!

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