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A woman’s guide to cosmetics while traveling

by Larissa

I had one concern about what to pack for a trip that would be a year long, (no, not getting along with Michael), I was worried about having enough stuff.  I wasn’t too concerned about clothing—that could be washed and used again.  But what about make-up?  And hair goop?  I couldn’t pack a year’s worth of moisturizer and mascara, etc.  All those little bottles add up.  And what was I going to do somewhere in the middle of nowhere when I needed more deodorant?

During our trip planning I read lots of information about restricting what toiletries you take along.  Most of them were tips any traveler has already figured out, like pack little bottles of shampoo. Or better yet, pack none and count on the hotel to provide them.  This is fine for a week or two, but what about a year?

The rest of the tips I found focused on travel that involved mostly camping, trekking, and general wilderness-type experiences.  This didn’t really apply to our journey, which meant the book I read that stated “you won’t need makeup” definitely did not apply.  (This tip was written by a guy, by the way—no doubt one who does not wear makeup.)

It turns out I needn’t have worried.  I’ve managed quite well, and even picked up a few tips along the way. . .

1. You can buy almost anything, anywhere.  It’s a global world we live in, folks.  I’ve found consumer goods I’m familiar with everywhere.  Companies like Johnson & Johnson and Procter and Gamble sell their products worldwide.  I even found Secret Solid Antiperspirant (Powder Fresh fragrance, my favorite) in a little street kiosk in a tiny village in rural Vietnam.  Dental floss?  No problem at a Cambodian supermarket.   From time to time I’ve made small compromises on brands or varieties, but it’s been pretty easy to get what I need.

2. Airport Duty Free shops are a great source.  Virtually every major world airport provides plenty of opportunities to spend a little more money before leaving their country.  In addition to the usual vices—liquor, cigarettes and chocolate—duty-free shops boast cosmetics counters that rival most department stores.  The prices are reasonable and all the major brands are available.  Particularly fun, and practical, are the “travel kit” versions of many well-known products that can only be found at these airport locations.

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3. Buy local.  Some countries, such as Australia, have heavy import taxes on offshore products.  The Earth Therapeutics moisturizer I use at home cost three times as much there.  Scanning the shelves I found products by Sukin, an Aussie company that had a similar philosophy of using organic, plant-based ingredients.  Their prices were more in line with what I expected to pay, and I found that I was very happy with their moisturizer.  In Israel, where Ahava is based,  a much more complete array of their products is available than anywhere else.  Their creams that feature Dead Sea mud are really kind to your skin.  (As a corollary to this I have discovered that largely Muslim countries do not have a large choice of hair care products, since most women wear veils.  They do, however, have a great makeup selection.)

4. Find products that multi-task.   I’ll admit it:  I’m of a certain age and I like my variety of moisturizers: daytime, nighttime, eye cream, body lotion for the shower.  It turns out they are mostly the same, and vary only in concentration.  Now I only have one that I use for everything and dilute or apply more as necessary.  It makes packing much easier.  The trick is to find something you like for your face (no mineral oil or paraffin products), and you can use it everywhere else.

5. Sometimes less really IS more.  I discovered in the heat and humidity of Southeast Asia that makeup just melts off your face.  (And that is not attractive at all.)  I found a good light moisturizer with sunscreen and wore a little waterproof mascara and dusting of face powder.  I still felt human, but after a day traipsing around temples I didn’t look like a day-old ice cream sundae.  In the desert in the Middle East, the dry climate had my skin clamoring for moisture.  Beef up the face cream, forget the powder and drink lots of water.

What other tips have you discovered in your travels?

Click the link on tips for what to pack for a trip

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