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

(Click here to read part one of Yi-Hwa's Travel Beauty Tips!)

6.     Don’t compromise on your priorities

Yi-Hwa's favourite hair tools, a Straightening Iron and Blowdryer

No matter how savvy I try to be when it comes to packing travel-size beauty goods, one thing I never seem to be able to compromise on is my hair. I feel ugly when my hair is gross, and I’ve tried countless travel hairdryers, travel straighteners, and so on, but since I use a salon hairdryer at home nothing ever seems to live up to it. Travel hairdryers just never seem to be powerful, fast or hot enough, and I get grumpy when my hair feels like a royal mess. And don’t even get me started on those hotel hairdryers that require you to leave your finger on a button to make them work – they’re so weak by the time your hair is dry, you’ve got “the claw” and your hair still doesn’t look right! Still, at least my hairdryer is quite compact and light for a salon dryer (and it’s eco-friendly too, partially  made with recycled materials!) – it’s a Parlux 3800 Ceramic & Ionic Hair-Dryer and I love it. I also usually pack my trusty GHD straighteners, which I use for curling too (much prefer it to a curling iron), wrapped in a matching heat-resistant carry case. My case came with my GHDs, but if you don’t have one buy one – you’ll never have to wait around for your straighteners to cool down before packing them again, just pop them in the bag and go!

7.     But have a Plan B...

If you're going to wear your hair up, make sure you use these pretty Spin Pins and Bobby Pins.

Sometimes, though, no matter how great your hair is as the day starts out, some climates just destroy it. When I went to Singapore and Borneo back in March, and again to Puerto Rico this summer. I gave up on trying to leave my locks flowing and open, since the silky mass soon turned into a frizzy mess thanks to the humidity. So it’s always good to have a Plan B. In frizzy-hair destinations, braids and buns are my best friend. I always carry some bobby pins with me so I can braid my fringe back and get it out of my face when need be (a bit prettier than just scraping it back), as well as some Goody Spin Pins (a genius product – you can get them on Amazon) so I can do an easy top-knot when nothing else is working. Cute hairbands are another way to jazz up a boring ‘get my hair off my face and neck in this heat’ look.

8.     Pack multi-purpose products

Make sure you pack multi-taskers like Cleansing Water, BB Cream and Bronzer.
It only makes sense: If you have a product that can do two things instead of one, you’re going to have to take less stuff and will therefore save space. Some of my favourites include Benefit’s Benetint to give you a pretty, cherry-red stained pout and flushed cheeks (there’s also a ‘PocketPal’ version including a clear gloss on one end of the stick), Smith’s Rosebud Salve (to be used on chapped lips, dry cuticles, split ends and even rough heels), BB cream during the day to moisturize, fight wrinkles, and deliver a serious dose of SPF (I like Korean Brand Missha’s Perfect Cover BB cream – I’ve been using it for years, before BB creams became a big trend in the Western world and it has really improved my skin), and Bioderma’s Sensibio H20 as both a makeup remover and toner (and the mini travel size is fab!). If you’ve run out of body moisturizer and are in a pinch, slick some conditioner over your skin and rinse it off at the end of your shower – it’ll soften and moisturize your skin, too. Run out of dry shampoo? I dust a little bronzer or eyeshadow powder on instead – as it’s brownish, it blends in with my dark hair better than my face powder would, and it works when you’re in a pinch. I also like using bronzer as a daytime eyeshadow, as strange as that sounds – my sister taught me this little trick and it adds a gorgeous, warm and natural-looking glow to your lids that looks gorgeous with just a slick of jet-black mascara during the day. Even better if it’s a bronzer with a little shimmer in it (I’m loyal to NARS Bronzing Powder in Laguna).
9.     Consider some longer-term beauty treatments

A Gelish manicure will keep your nails looking pretty for your whole trip.

Back in the day, I had my eyelashes permed and absolutely hated the result – they were so short you could actually see them less than my stick-straight natural ones, and the tops were frizzy. But not anymore! Now, there’s an amazing new treatment for lashes called LVL and while it’s essentially the same formula, they only perm the very bottom of the lash to Lift, Volumize and Lengthen – and you’re left with gorgeous, natural-looking, pretty, curly lashes. It lasts about 6-8 weeks, and it’s ideal before you go on a long holiday – especially if you’re going to be in humid weather where even the effects of my beloved Shu Uemura eyelash curler don’t last all day – so your beautiful lashes will make you look awake and semi ‘done’ from the moment you wake up. I had it done at Salon Ink in Dubai (for Dhs300) and I’m in love. You can have them tinted at the same time but since I have dark hair I didn’t bother. Of course, gorgeous lashes just aren’t as good without the frame of good eyebrows, but I’m thrilled to have recently discovered that eyebrow tinting is no longer like the horrible “I’ve got grey rectangles on my face” tinting of old (tried it years ago, hated it) – now there are new ways of doing it where only the eyebrow hairs are dyed rather than the skin underneath, and with a range of colours it looks super natural. And unlike the old methods, which lasted about 4 days for me, this one lasts for about 2 weeks. Get your lashes and brows done before going on a beach vacation and you’ll be able to just roll out of bed with much less effort in your morning routine – and it won’t melt off easily either! It’s worth every penny. Gelish nails are a good option if you’re going on a 5-10 day break, but any longer than that and I prefer to stick with a normal mani/pedi and take disposable polish-remover towelettes and some quick-dry polish with me instead, since by that time my nails will have grown so much I’d be clawing my eyes out when I remove my contacts and finding a salon to remove the Gelish at while on holiday is just a pain. As for hair – while I’ve considered getting some kind of Keratin blowout done before a long trip to a humid destination (hello Caribbean), I’ve heard too many horror stories from my friends about grow-out, damage and other generally bad after-effects from these treatments to want to ever try it. I’d rather just make sure my lashes, brows and nails are sorted so I can spend that morning dolling-up time on my hair instead. 

10.  Don’t forget a souvenir!

Make sure you stock up on beauty souvenirs like Lip Balm, Eye Liner and Brow Pencil.

Foreign beauty buys are tons of fun – you never know what you could discover, and while I may be biased because I’m half Taiwanese and therefore have more East Asian skin tendencies, Asian beauty products are generally awesome. Some of my favourite-ever products have been picked up while I was travelling, such as the SANA liquid eyeliner inspired by (and rumoured to be used by) geishas when I was in Kyoto in Japan, the Za Cosmetics mascaras and eyeliners when I was in Taipei (Watsons Pharmacy, found in most East Asian countries, is a haven of affordable, amazing beauty products), and the K-Palette Lasting 2-Way Eyebrow stick I picked up in Singapore. Even my beloved Missha BB cream is from Korea. When I visit the USA, the UK or France, even though we have Sephora in Dubai I still rush there since they have different products that aren’t sold here (like the Fresh Sugar Rose Tinted Lip Treatment – amazing – or my beloved NARS Bronzer-Blusher Duo in Laguna/Orgasm), while CVS and Duane Reade in America now carry Frederic Fekkai products so I stocked up on mini travel-size glossing creams there since I’ve only ever seen the large version in Dubai. Whether it’s because you did some research on things you want to try before your trip, or you just stumbled across something fantastic, I always find it exciting. The only problem? If you fall in love with them, it can be hard getting replacements when you get back home, though fortunately after looking hard enough I’ve always been able to find them available somewhere online!

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