Tuesday, October 21, 2014

RTW Backpacking Beauty Secrets

Fran (left) and Gemma ring in the New Year in Thailand.
I met Fran and her girlfriend Gemma in Ecuador this May. Their 10-day tour of the Galapagos was a much-needed splurge at the tail end of a year-long round-the-world trip that had taken them from their home in the UK, to Asia, and throughout South America. 

Fran is perhaps most notably one of the co-founders (along with myself, Gemma and Katherine) of the Commonwealth Candy Club (because clearly that is what grown adults do while on vacation; form international candy clubs). However, she also holds one other claim to fameshe may be the only self-described "beauty product-obsessed backpacker" that I've ever met in my travels.

I mean, it seems almost oxymoronic. How can you backpack and be obsessed with beauty products?

The question has been plaguing me, so as I prepare for my very first long-distance cycling trip (!), in which I want to a) pack the bare minimum and b) look like less of a "mess" and more like a "hot mess," I decided that it was time to ask Fran for her best beauty backpacking tips. 

1. Before you left, what did you envision your daily routine on the road would look like?

"In my head, it was going to be all sun-kissed freckles and natural sea spray curls. The reality was far from thatthink sticky with slicked back hair!

Some people can travel and always look effortlessly "travelled." Being ginger and pale I am not one of them!"

2. How did you pack your cosmetics bag for your round-the-world trip?

"I love my beauty products. But I knew that would be unsustainable on the road long-term. So I did the only thing a beauty-product-obsessive could do before going away; I started to research and test (mainly because it gave me the perfect excuse to fill my bathroom cupboards with even more lotions and potions). I tested everything from foundations to shampoos, with the aim of paring back my routines to a few good products that were going to do the job."

3. What were your favourite beauty products while you were backpacking? 

Best sunscreen for backpacking: "Sunscreen is super important, especially for your face, which bears the brunt of the sun. I’m an every day SPF wearer even in sunny England, so this was a must for me. I finally settled on the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Broad Spectrum SPF. (They don’t sell it in the UK so I had to get some shipped over from the US. It turns out almost every country that we went to stocks it, so I needn’t have bought so much!) It’s one of the best SPFs I’ve tried; it's non-greasy, it doesn’t make me break out and can be worn under makeup. Ticks all my boxes; this is going to be a suitcase staple for a long time."

Best mascara for backpacking: "Another product I used every day was L'Oreal's False Lash Telescopic waterproof mascara. It’s a great all-rounder: lengthening, volumizing and doesn’t clump. It is well and truly waterproof too; this stuff is not going to budge no matter how much you surf, snorkel, swim or sweat."

Best hair products for backpacking: "Your hair really gets a battering whilst you’re away. Extreme temperatures and being washed almost every day means that you need something to get it silky-soft again. I used Argan Oil for the best results. Plus, it doubles up as a moisturiser to retain that tan.

You won't necessarily use a shampoo bar every day (it's not that easy to get a good lather, plus I just like using normal shampoo) but if you’re going off the beaten track for a few days and just want the essentials, this and a toothbrush is basically all you need. I opted for the TIGI Rockaholic All Access Shampoo Bar. After testing a number of brands, this one was hands-down the best. It serves as a shampoo, shower gel, soap (yes, that is different to shower gel) and it washes your clothes up a treat, too (emergency situations only). What more do you want?"

Best bonus product for backpacking: "I hate to break it to you but sometimes the hostels you stay in aren’t "all that." Often they are nothing better than grim. This is where pillow spray this comes in. Spray it in your dorm or on your pillow before going to sleep, suddenly the filth that surrounds you and the cockroaches scuttling at your feet are all forgotten. The This Works deep sleep pillow spray is a favourite of mine."

4. Was there anything that you packed for your trip that you didn’t use? 

"Before I went away I was in a three-times-repurchase love affair with the Emma Hardie Amazing Face Cleansing Balm. It’s thick, luxurious, smells unbelievable and leaves your skin fresh and hydrated. However, cleansing balms have a tendency when warm to turn into an oil. And oils, let me tell you, do NOT travel well.

Once I had finished that balm (read: once it had leaked over almost everything in my backpack) I switched to a much more travel-friendly cream cleanser in the form of the Liz Earle hot cloth cleanser and I didn’t look back."

 5. After completing a RTW trip, how would you define your backpacking beauty philosophy? 

"Cleansing is everythingas long as your skin feels clean and nourished nothing else matters."

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