It’s important to me to look good while traveling. We take a lot of photos and I don’t want to be unhappy about how I look in these lifelong memories at places we may never go back to. It’s also important to me to maximize all of my time at a destination and not waste a ton of time getting ready and I’m not the best at getting up early or moving quickly in the morning. Finally, I’ll admit. Traveling or not, I can be really lazy. While all that seems contradictory to looking good, I have figured out some effortless ways to look good while traveling. On our most recent trip to France, I got so many questions from people asking “how do you look so polished all the time” which was hilarious to me since I was sporting 13 day old hair. That’s when I realized these beauty hacks or lazy girl secrets might not be as obvious as I thought. So here’s my guide to EFFORTLESSLY looking good while traveling. I hope it helps you on your next trip or even just streamlining your daily routine.
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1. Do your prep work before you leave!
This part is really important. I know, I know, no lazy girl wants to hear about doing extra work, but putting in this little bit of effort will streamline your beauty routine and make things so much easier. Identify what your biggest beauty time suck is and try to do something that will streamline that. Here are my biggest beauty time suckers and what I do to save myself time:
I have super thick and curly hair. It can take me about 2 hours to blow dry and straighten my hair which is just a nightmare! I started doing a treatment called Brazilian Blowout. It takes the frizz out of your hair and relaxes the curls a bit. It doesn’t get rid of the curls entirely which I like so that I have the option to go curly. I rarely ever do, but JUST IN CASE I’m extra lazy and don’t even want to blow dry, I can let it air dry. With the Brazilian Blowout, it takes me about an hour or less to straighten my hair. The treatment is activated when heat is applied so it helps your hair straighten really easily. It’s also great for humid locations as it helps eliminate frizz. The treatment takes about 3 hours and is around $250. If you don’t want to invest in it, you can still use the shampoo and conditioner. It won’t get you the same results, but it will help a bit!
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My nails tend to chip really easily and I HATE painting my nails even at home, so I definitely don’t want to waste time doing it while traveling. When we traveled to Lebanon I would get my nails done every 3 days (what a luxury!) because it was so cheap and it was more of a relaxed trip. If you have the opportunity to get your nails done, that’s probably the best option, but I know I usually don’t have the time. Here are the best options I’ve figured out in order of their lasting power:
1. Dip nails:
I tried this on our latest trip as I heard it will keep nails lasting for about a month. A powder is added to your nails in between layers of polish and sealant which creates a thicker coating on your nails. While I’ve heard rave reviews from many people I know, I did get chips on my thumbs after about 2.5 weeks. Keep in mind, my nails chip really easily and so it might last a lot longer for you. Based on the research I did, the jury is out on whether or not dip nails are bad for you. I probably won’t do it again since it didn’t really last longer for me than gel nails and I’m not sure if it’s really that great for your nails. I would recommend trying it yourself though since it does work so well for a lot of people.
2. Gel nails:
Gel nails are typically what I do and they last pretty well for about 2-3 weeks. If we are going on a tropical vacation, I’ll even get my toes done in gel just in case. If you’re traveling for longer than 3 weeks I wouldn’t recommend gel as you’ll most likely need to get it removed by that time and I haven’t found any salons when traveling internationally that do gel. I feel like it might be hard to communicate to them how to take it off and taking it off yourself improperly can really damage your nails.
3. Long lasting gel polish
This is the healthiest option for your nails and probably the one I will most often be choosing. So many nail polish brands now have their own line of “gel polish”. It’s just regular polish with a special top coat that goes over it to mimic the effect of a gel nail treatment. While they don’t last as long as real gel, they do last surprisingly well. If you don’t mind doing touch ups or will be traveling for an extended period of time, I think this is your best option. My absolute favorite line of these faux gel polishes is the Essie Gel Couture collection.
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Okay not the most glamorous subject, but I’m Middle Eastern, I know a thing or two about body hair. No one wants to be battling with a razor while traveling or dealing with razor burn or ingrown hairs. My solution to this is laser hair removal. It’s seriously life changing. I did it before our wedding and my hairy body was suddenly super smooth and baby soft. I would need to shave maybe once a month and just barely. Keep in mind, this is a long and somewhat expensive process so it does involve some advance planning. You also need to finish all your treatments for it to really work. I got through about 5 of the 8 needed treatments and my results are not as amazing any more, so I need to finish it up. Another solution might be to get a professional wax before you leave on your trip. I do swear by laser though. The results are just magical. If you’re worried about the pain, find a location that uses a cooling blast. It cuts the pain level in half and I don’t think it’s much worse than waxing.
2. Keep up with a good skin care routine
This is so important! Here’s the thing. The better your skin looks, the more confident you’ll feel, and the less makeup you’ll need to wear. While good skin care routines can sometimes be a bit effortful and time consuming, I think I’ve finally figured out an easy and effective one:
1. Don’t wear make up on the flight
It’ll wreck havoc on your skin, not worth it. If you really don’t want to leave the plane bare faced, pack a sample size of tinted moisturizer to put on before landing. If you really want to go all out, try this leave in mask treatment on the flight and do this detoxing mask that night.
2. Drink lots of water and eat as much fresh produce as possible
We often don’t have the best diets when we travel since we want to try all the local foods and we often indulge in wine nightly. That tends to really mess with my skin, so I try my best to just incorporate as much water as possible and eat lots of fresh foods. I take a giant travel water bottle with me that I fill up multiple times throughout the day. It keeps the water the same temperature you put it in and has a built in straw which encourages me to drink more. It’s a little pricey but it lasts and I’ve been obsessed with it since I bought it. I also try to add fresh vegetables to every meal, including breakfast! I still eat whatever else I want but it helps to have a side of fresh greens along with it. I notice my skin doesn’t freak out as much when I do this.
3. Establish an easy and effective skin care routine
My new routine is sooooo simple, it barely takes any time at all, but it WORKS.
Takes barely any time at all and this new serum and sleeping oil I’ve been using has worked wonders on my skin. It’s not cheap but I find it 100% worth it as it has transformed my skin. I ALWAYS used to break out when traveling, but since I started using this stuff, I don’t break out anymore, even if I skip washing my face a night or two (shhhh don’t tell). Since the sleeping oil includes a gentle retinol, you can skip your scrub or cut down! I always buy the products in this convenient two pack because it’s more cost effective and the bottles are a good size for travel.
I find the sleeping oil to be moisturizing enough on its own, but if you are extremely dry or traveling to a cold weather location, you might want to add a light moisturizer on top of the sleeping oil.
4. Always wash your face before bed
I’m totally guilty of being too tired after a long day of traveling, but I always notice the effects on my skin when I don’t. What helps me is taking a shower before bed because it’s so much easier to wash my face in the shower. I use a cleanser that takes off all my makeup (even eye makeup!) so I can skip a step in my routine.
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3. Establish a 5 minute makeup routine with products that last
I’ve gotten my make up routine down to 5 minutes. If I really want to take my time with it, it’ll take me maybe ten minutes max, but that’s really pushing it. What’s really important to me is choosing products that are: 1) easy to apply, 2) made of good ingredients so that it’s okay if I’m sweating in it all day, and 3) long lasting. Because I do the same thing every single day, it has become second nature and takes me just a few minutes. My palettes have mirrors in them which is perfect because I can do my makeup anywhere. (Bassam can take a long time in the bathroom so I’m often stuck getting ready without a mirror). Here’s my typical routine.
- Step 1: Apply a base. This is important because it helps your makeup last. I really like the serum I mentioned up above. It dries really matte and I feel like it helps my makeup stay longer. If you’re really concerned, you can use a primer.
- Step 2: I use a good concealer under my eyes. I have really dark circles and this does wonders. It also lasts all day which other concealers I’ve used in the past didn’t.
- Step 3: I use this magical CC cream that is full coverage, includes anti aging properties, AND SPF 50. I’ve never found a CC cream like it. It streamlines my skin care routine and I don’t feel bad sweating in it all day since it’s not terrible for your skin. This product has been life changing for me.
- Step 4: I dust the CC cream with a light powder. You don’t have to do this, but I feel like it helps set it and keep it lasting through the day.
- Step 5: Next I do my quick version of contouring. I don’t really know what I’m doing, but it seems to work okay. Here’s what I do:
- Suck in my cheeks and dust bronzer in the hollow that appears from near by lip up the length of my face
- Then I dust bronzer in a sideways “w” on each side of my face and on my temples
- I also dust the bronzer down the middle and sides of my nose
- Next, I smile and dust blush (this one in doll face) on the apples of my cheeks
- Finally, I brush highligher on my cheekbones and down the middle of my nose
- It’s IDEAL to use a separate brush for each of these, but in a pinch or when traveling, you can easily get by with just this brush
Note: Yes, I do often use a separate product for each of these things. If you prefer to have one palette for everything, I love this one (more of a beachy bronzed goddess look) and this one (more of a natural look). Both palettes include a great bronzer, blush, and highlighter. Both are also limited edition, so jump on it while you can.
- Step 6: I have no patience for filling my eyebrows, but I do think my brows look best a bit filled out and darkened. I found this volumizing fiber gel a few years ago and now it’s all I use. It’s so easy and so fool proof, there’s no way I’ll use a pencil or a powder.
- Step 7: I brush a lighter eye shadow all over my lid and a darker one in the crease. If I’m short on time, I just use a medium one all over my lid. If I have more time, I’ll also add a lighter shadow on my brow bone. I love all of the Urban Decay Naked Palettes. They come with a handy brush and every color you could need for a neutral day or night look. My latest fave that’s been coming with me everywhere is the Naked Heat.
- Step 8: I draw a thin line of liquid liner on my top lash line with a slight flick at the ends. I can never get both sides to look quite the same and that’s just fine. This is the easiest to use liquid liner I’ve found. I love the look of a waterproof pencil eyeliner in my waterline, but it doesn’t last me the whole day as I have really watery eyes, so I don’t do it while I’m traveling.
- Step 9: Finally, a few coats of mascara on my eyelashes and I’m done! This is my absolute favorite mascara. It’s work better than any I’ve tried and doesn’t flake.
I know this seems like a lot, but it’s really super fast and easy. Since I travel with several palettes, I make sure to wrap each one in my clothes or just wrap my makeup bag in my clothes. This helps keep them protected so they don’t break. If you are super concerned about your makeup lasting, you can spray your face with a makeup setting spray.
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4. Make your hair last as long as possible
The most time consuming part of my beauty routine is doing my hair. From washing it, drying it, and styling it, the whole process takes so long and can feel tortuous. I know lots of girls feel this way, which is why dry shampoo has become such a popular thing. During our three week trip to France, I was able to get away with washing my hair only ONE TIME and still wear it down every day. I know that seems shocking, but I typically only wash my hair about once a week, so I’ve learned a lot of tips on getting hair to last. Here’s what works for me. Keep in mind I have really thick curly hair. What works for me may not work for everyone.
- If I know I need my hair to last a long time, I use just a regular conditioner. I usually use a deep conditioner every time I wash since I only wash once a week, but if I know it need it to look good all week without going up in a ponytail, then I’ll do the regular conditioner.
- I use a light-weight multi tasking product that works as a heat protectent, shine booster, frizz eliminator, and is nourishing. This is the ONLY product I’ll use until the next time I wash my hair. I don’t even use dry shampoo. I’ve noticed the more products I use, the gunkier my hair feels and the sooner I feel like I need to wash it.
- I make sure to do a really good blow dry and flat iron. The better I can get my hair looking the first time I style it, the better I notice it lasts for the week. This is the only time the whole week that I really put a lot of effort into my hair. This is the BEST flat iron I’ve found for my kinky stubborn hair.
- I’ve noticed the best system for my hair is to wear it straight for about 3-4 days and then wear it curly the rest of the time. I’ll go straight for as many days I can get. When I get to the point where it’s going to take way too long too touch it up to go straight, then I’ll go curly. I find that going curly works really well when my hair is a little dirtier because the style holds better and curly styles can hide a lot of flaws. You can also eke out a few more days by wearing it in a bun or ponytail, but I don’t like the way my hair looks up in photos so I don’t do this while traveling.
- Since my hair doesn’t last well over night (I think I sweat a lot in my sleep), I need to touch it up each morning. If I’m wearing it straight, I’ll go over it a bit with the blowdyer and then flatiron any especially unruly parts. If I’m wearing it curly, I either re curl my whole head or just curl parts – depends how messy it is looking.
- If I feel like my front layers are looking greasy or just getting hard to style, I’ll wash just the very front layers and blowdry them. My hair looks fresh all over again! This works really well, but I have to admit I’m usually too lazy to do even this, haha.
- I think the biggest reason I’m able to get so much mileage out of a single blowout is because I’ve trained my hair to last. Here’s how you can do it too. Start stretching out your hair style an extra day before each time you wash. Over time your hair will get used to not being washed for that length of time and start looking better for longer periods of time. I know this isn’t exactly scientific, but every time you wash your hair you are stripping it of its natural oils and your hair produces more oils to compensate. Basically, the more you wash it, the greasier your hair will learn to be. The less you wash it, the less your hair will need to produce its own oils to compensate. Keep in mind this does take several weeks until you start seeing results, so bear with it!
- If your hair is beyond saving, put on a cute hat! No one will ever know it was to save a bad hair day and it’ll add an extra element to your look for the day.
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5. Find cute clothes that are ALSO comfy!
I NEED to be comfortable while traveling. Who am I kidding, I favor comfortable clothes whether I’m traveling or not, but I find it especially important when traveling. I never know where the day will take us and so I want to be prepared for any type of activity. Here are some tips in terms of looking pulled together but secretly being super comfy:
- Find dresses in soft fabrics
- Flowy dresses are in style right now and majorly comfortable
- Pair dresses with leggings or soft knit tights to be extra comfortable
- Wear a cute bralette instead of an uncomfortable strapless bra. You’ll be comfier and it’ll look subtly sexy peeking out of your clothes
- Get a pair of faux leather leggings. You can dress them up or down and they help any basic outfit look more polished. This pair is SO comfy and looks really cute
- If you want to do jeans, get a stretchy pair with a softer waistband. You’ll be super comfy all day
- Shop shoes from comfort brands (check out my post on comfortable shoes for travel). They’ve really upped their style game in recent years
- If you have to do heels, wedges are usually more comfortable. The more the front and back are balanced in height, the more comfortable the shoe will be
- Cozy sweaters and cardigans always add a layer of comfort to a look and they can still make it look polished and put together. Go for a pop of color to add some fun!
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I hope this was helpful! Let me know if you have any other struggles with travel beauty that I can help with!