Monday, September 20, 2010

Beauty Tips for Girls on the Road

Leaving one's favorite shoes, outfits and beauty products behind doesn't mean that one should give up  looking pretty. For starters, one might run into someone cute. And then feeling good about one's appearance shouldn't stay back at one's home along with the rest of one's crap. So let's see if there's anything one can do...

I have to admit -  I suck at downsizing toiletries.  I will pack only 2 pairs of underwear if absolutely necessary, but my face wash, tonic water, shampoo, conditioner, etc. are always coming with. Most of beauty tips on travel websites come down to 1) buy small airplane-friendly bottles and relocate your favorite products or 2) buy the same stuff in the travel size containers.  Unsurprisingly, both involve shopping.

Here's my problem with it: if I simply re-pack all my cuticle treatments, hair masks and body scrubs into plethora of little bottles, the said 2 pairs of underwear won't have a fighting chance. Something has to be sacrificed.

Trying to come up with candidates for kill off, I have searched homemade beauty products sites and travel blogs.  It appears body scrubs and hand lotions, facial masks and even shampoo can be easily created from the most basic ingredients. I have picked the recipes that seemed budget and backpack friendly and split them into categories: Face, Body, Hair, Hands & Nails.

Naturally, this list isn’t complete - it's just a tip of the iceberg of collective wisdom. If you have simpler, better, more affordable beauty tricks in your travel repertoire - please share them with fellow vagabonds.


  • you're at an airport and you want to remove the afternoon shine from your nose and forehead: a toilet seat cover works just as well as oil-blotting papers.
  • on a plane take couple extra packets of sugar and (if available) honey.  Later you can mix the two together, gently massage on face, rinse. Lemon or lime can also be added to the mix.
  • just honey: this is an easy, natural mask for people with dry or acne prone skin. After washing your face, gently apply honey to your face, lips, and eyelids. After 10 - 20 minutes, gently rinse it off.
  • take 4-8 aspirin (white, uncoated) in palm and add a little water to make paste.  Apply on clean face, leave for 10 min, massage gently, rinse off.
  • for oily skin, mash up a ripe tomato and leave it on for 15minutes. Rinse with warm (not hot) water.  (Ripe plum also works and makes my skin matt).
  • for dry skin, mash half a ripe banana or avocado and spread on face, let sit for 15 minutes, rinse well (works for the body as well).
  • take a green tea bag and steep in boiling water for a minute. Let it cool down and drab it on your puffy areas (eyes etc.) 
  • chilled green tea is a refreshing and cleansing toner - perfect for acne prone skin.
  • put slices of raw potato on your eyelids to reduce puffiness.
  • got a spot? Pop a dab of honey on it and put a band-aid over it. Leave over night. 
  • exfoliate your lips by using the corner of your bath towel dipped in lukewarm water.
  • and most important: don’t touch your face!  Easier said than done, but think about all the buses, street food and odd money bills your hands have handled today...  Nail biters, nose scratchers and chin rubbers - listen up: come up with a way to “distract” your fingers, e.g. buy rosary or baoding balls.  (And if you’re trying to nap on a bus/plane/train with your head resting against your palm - wear a clean sock as a glove, then press your cheek against it).


  • to save packing space, use you hair conditioner as a shaving creme, it is said to work just as well.
  • pinch a cupful of oats or muesli from the breakfast buffet if there is one, then tie it up in a sock. Float the sock in a bath full of hot water, then use as a moisturizing puff and massage all over your body. The sock will be a bugger to wash but your skin will feel wonderful. 
  • mix one sugar sachet with a squirt of shower gel for an invigorating body scrub. If you are swimming on a sandy beach, sit in the shallows and give yourself a scrub with a couple of palmfuls of sand. 
  • for mosquito bites pop a little bit of clear nail polish over them. The itch will stop as soon as the polish dries and the polish will just peal off in a day or two's time!
  • caffeine is the main ingredient in many cellulite creams. Try massaging warm coffee grounds into your skin while in the shower.
  • apply any oil (e.g. common in Asia coconut oil) on wet skin after shower and dab gently with a towel - works better than any lotion (Works great as an eye make up remover!)


  • according to Brandy from you don't really need shampoo: "Baking soda, my friends, baking soda. 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1 cup of water - now, shake shake shake, and pour it on your dome. Clean, shiny hair with no freaky chemicals seeping into your brain."
  • as i curl my hair with mossa waving system - which requires natural pH cleanser to maintain  shape - baking soda isn't an option for me, unfortunately.  I usually resort to Johnson's baby shampoo (hopefully less of freaky chemicals than in the adult stuff), and use it also as shower gel and laundry wash.
  • cut back on the amount of shampoo you use. Do the same with toothpaste. (Companies selling the stuff market overuse - a pea-sized drop of toothpaste is enough).
  • looking for that really sun kissed Aussie Surfer look? Add a little lemon juice to your shampoo and get out into the sun. The sun will naturally bring out your highlights. 
  • humectant, meaning it attracts and holds moisture in your hair.


  • wet your hands in warm water, then rub oil of any kind into them. Keep rubbing until most of it has been absorbed. Wipe off excess with a clean cloth.
  • for whiter nails, rub lemon onto them.

info from the following websites:


  1. Concentrated sunscreen and skincare in a 1 oz. jar!...helped me travel light!

    My friend lent me her Sun Putty and I'm not giving it back!
    This stuff is amazingly effective, natural, clear SPF 30 sunscreen
    that has great moisturizing effects on my skin...they are 100% vegan
    and cruelty-free...

    Find Sun Putty at