Updated: Apr 9, 2019
It is no secret that when I travel I basically become the troll of whatever AirBnB I happen to be staying in. Troll or Post Malone. Take your preferred cultural reference point. I would love to say I am one of those chill, naturally lovely hippy girls whose skincare regimen consists of coconut oil and Dr. Bronners all purpose soap, but I am not. You know who I am talking about... Those girls who wax eternal about simplicity and how they "don't really care about make up". Which is easy enough for them to say with their perfect mermaid hair and sun-kissed cheeks. Believe me I have tried to be them. I really have. Believing whatever patronizing lie some person would say "You're already beautiful. You don't need makeup." False. I need the make up, the eyebrow dye, the wax, the chemical peels, the tweezers, the botox consultation, all of it. I own it. All this accepting of one's self is all well and good until the time comes to pack up all those lotions and potions in a tiny little cosmetic bag for TSA inspection. The jig will be up soon enough.
I vacillated between wanted to be those girls and wanting to slap them. There is an unspoken status our society holds for people like that. They are better than us. Pretty by default and economical by nature. These people are either lying or have impossibly good genes. My grandmother, in her valuable depression-era wisdom, was wrong about one thing... Suave is not the same as designer brand hair care. And, alas, she did not impart her good hair genes to me and so I need the fancy stuff. I have fully accepted my tubes of retinol and teeth bleaching. I can hide the evidence of my grumpy DNA in the bathroom drawer easily enough. It was when I left home and sacrificed such and such cream in favor of looking like I can travel light that I start looking like I'm about to offer a poison apple to any passerby.
You see for years the travel size section at Target was relegated to tiny pots of petroleum jelly and off brand hair gel and every time I packed up my suitcases my hair and skin would slowly descend into the Post Malone madness after a few days on the road. This is, of course, with no thanks to the chuckle-nuts who ruined flying with liquids for the rest of us. Three ounces or less, one carry on, and one personal item. It honestly just added insult to injury. Would my tweezers be confiscated by TSA? What about mascara? That is more of a paste than a liquid/gel... on and on it went. For a few years I accepted this as a normal part of travel. Hotel shampoo flat, frizzy hair and red irritated skin. I was not an easy, breezy, beautiful natural mermaid. Everyone knew it now.
A few years ago I decided that I had quite enough of looking gross when I traveled. Between showing up for family events (hello group photos) and fun destinations (hello cool landmark family photos) I realized that the floppy hair and travel zits were not going to cut it. This is the modern era. There had to be other options. So I set about a quest to find all the tiny refill-able bottles and jars I could to transport my usual skin and hair care regimen with me. There was a bit of a learning curve (several years and several hundred dollars) as I figured out what I needed and what was actually portable. While I didn't want to be a total high maintenance diva when I traveled, I certainly hoped that maybe I could at least try to look like one. With in reason. Of course.
The travel boom of the millennial generation has thankfully sparked manufacturers to start upping their game when it comes to travel size toiletries and those of us with faulty genes have since rejoiced.
Perhaps I am the only one here. Perhaps everyone else is Hipster Mermaid Girl and I'm an Airplane Troll... but perhaps not.
Here's what I have discovered. Travel beauty hacks that will keep the Post Malone Troll at bay without angering the TSA agents or weight limits on checked bags.
Lush shampoo, conditioner, and soap bars.
They take some getting used to in terms of application, but once you figure it out you'll never look back at those pesky 3oz bottles which may or may not last you the entire journey. PLUS they don't count towards any liquid allotment. Win. Win. The quality is excellent and your hair will be insanely happy. So go ahead and throw another Win there. Oh and they smell amazing. Another WIN.
Mini versions of my regular make-up.
Sephora and Ulta both have rather impressive travel size sections now. Thankfully with all of these products of "a little goes a long way" so I'm not even a tiny bit worried that I will run out within a week. *I don't bring both makeup palettes with me when I travel. I just wanted to showcase the variety that is now available in the tiny sizes. (If I am going on a long haul flight, this will be in my carry-on. I like to try and look as dignified as I can when approaching custom's officers.)
Inflight Freshen Up
I don't know what it is about an airplane that makes me a slimier version of my regular self, but I do know I need to manage it. Thankfully, there are now a wide variety of products available to suit a variety of passenger needs. Wipes are no longer for baby butts. These days there is a wipe for everything, from makeup removal to deodorant. I've been using the Pacifica coconut deodorant wipes for over a year now and they can handle some serious travel stress stank. I bring miniature versions of my at home skin care routine. My particular favorite is the One Love foaming cleanser WITH a washcloth. Thanks to Amazon, I can now have that. I do decant my regular lotion into small jars. Oddly enough the Dollar Store has been upping their game in that department. They were once incredibly hard to find. I also bring a real toothbrush because I think the tiny ones are just placebo.
The Portable Spa
Unless you are going to Hawaii, everyone needs the bi-weekly shake down of bodily gross that has accumulated after days of sightseeing and crashing exhausted in the bed. And if I have learned anything in my years of travel it is that the little dignities add up to big things. As a result of this idea, I have made way too many impulsive trips to the local drugstore (and spend way more money than I should have) on foot files and nail polish remover as I reach the limit of how much dead skin and chipped nail polish I can handle. As I said before I am a product of my depression era grandma, so naturally I hang on to every free sample that comes my way. This works out beautifully as I can just add them to my little port-a-spa. Now I have a great collection of fun little skin care products I can take for a test drive and hopefully feel less groady by the end of the trip.
There are plenty of other things I don't skimp on when it comes to hygiene/beauty when I pack up my bags. I think that is important to note. Razors are one for me. The giant 5 blade razor comes. I've tried the wimpy 2 blade nonsense because I felt like somehow those extra 3 blades made for "traveling heavy" and now I'm over it. Nope. Travel is uncomfortable enough, we don't need to add razor rash to the mix. No thanks. I do draw the line at hair dryers and just suck it up and deal with whatever the hotel/vacation rental has on hand.
Perhaps it is easy to read this and assume that I'm being high maintenance or that I am simply vain. That is probably a little bit true. But, my skin is incredibly sensitive and likes to break out either in zits, dry scaly flakes, or just angry red splotches at the slightest change in products. So it is a big deal to bring whatever I use at home with me. I can't just use the "facial soap" at the hotel... which is really the same thing as the "body soap" and we all know it sure as hell isn't "french milled" either.
But really, I think this does come down to my basic travel philosophy of trying to bring home with us when we are away. Why wouldn't that apply here, too?
Unless you're that mermaid.
Then just go away.