Bring-Less, Look-Better Travel Tips
When I’m traveling, I aim to carry my luggage on board the plane. I wasn't always like this (just ask my beauty editor friend Didi who, for years, counted on me to pack the entire contents of my bathroom vanity when we went on press trips, enabling her to bring like a toothbrush and then borrow the rest). But, after losing my luggage too many times, and nearly missing flights because I was waiting in miles-long lines to check my bag, I finally learned how to minimize my beauty gear. My secret? Primp in advance; here's my strategy:
Blow it out I splurge on a salon blow-dry within 24 hours of going on a trip—then stretch that ‘do with dry shampoo, hotel-dryer touchups, and ponytail elastics for as many days as I can (the elastics usually come in to play by days three or four). This allows me to leave my clunky Solano dryer at home, as well as shampoo, conditioner, and (aside from dry shampoo and a small hairspray) any styling products.
Get a gel mani and pedi For polished nails sans chipping, I spring for a salon-only gel polish (the kind that must be cured with UV lights) on my hands and feet before a trip. This keeps my tips pretty perfect for up to three weeks. And I choose neutral, classic lacquers that work with anything I’ve packed. For fingernails, my favorite is Essie Gel in Sugar Daddy, a pinky-nude that I prefer with just one sheer coat. For my toes, my go-to lacquer is either CND Shellac in Wildfire or OPI GelColor in Big Apple Red.
Self-tan ahead of time When I lived in NYC, I shoe-horned in a spray tan before most mid-winter, warm-weather vacations to ensure I had even, natural-looking color (and to feel more confident slipping on shorts or a swimsuit in the middle of, say, February). Since moving to Ann Arbor, I’ve yet to find a good place to get self-tanned, so I either do it myself with Vita Liberata Tinted Self-Tanning Lotion—or I throw two packets of Tan Towel self-tanning sheets in my luggage, swipe them on before bed the first night we arrive, and wake up good to, um, glow.
Simplify your skincare So you can't really prep your skin in advance. But you can leave behind face cleansers larger than 4 oz. (why are they all so large?), and instead just pack TSA-friendly Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes. They gently take off every stitch of makeup and, bonus, can tackle stains on clothes (helpful when your laundry room is hundreds of miles away). I also bring one mini, multi-purpose skin cream that can be used day and night, like It Cosmetics travel-sized Confidence in a Cream—plus a small, tinted face sunscreen like Shiseido Urban Environment Tinted UV Protector SPF 43 (which, thanks to sheer coverage, also checks my foundation box). Then I leave everything else at home; it's okay to take a vacation from your skincare regimen once in a while too.
Streamline your makeup regimen Similar to skin, you can't apply makeup beforehand and extend it for days. That would be, well, unhygienic. But you can prepare one simple day look that you then tweak with a dark eyeliner or bold lip for evening. It's also helpful to start a collection of minis—either samples you get as gifts with purchase, or that you buy on impulse in line (like I do) at Ulta or Sephora. Charlotte Tilbury's Quick N Easy Daytime Chic set (pictured at top), makes all of the above easy for you. This tightly-edited collection provides nearly everything you need for a natural day look: a wee mascara, mini highlighting cream and a full-sized, but still TSA-friendly, brown eyeliner and sunny blush/bronzing stick. I'd just add concealer and two lip colors: a neutral one for day and a deeper one for evening. Note: One more thing to love about this universally-flattering set is the accompanying video tutorial on charlottetilbury.com; it features a gorgeous, grownup (40+) woman. Well done. And bon voyage!