My Favourite Travel Sized Companions

We take a lot of weekend trips, so over the last few years I’ve tried to get a good selection of travel sized beauty products.  If we’re not going on a super long trip, I only carry hand luggage, which means I have to comply with airline regulations that I have all of my liquids in a clear quart sized bag and none of the items can be over 100ml.  This is pretty annoying and restrictive, but I’ve found some really great multi-purpose products that fit into the small size requirements perfectly.  Sometimes, I even have room left over in my quart sized bag.

Some of my favourite travel companions
Some of my favourite travel companions

1. DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, 70ml – I’ve written about this before because it is my daily facial cleanser of choice.  It’s an ideal travel companion though because it does the work of two products but isn’t a space hog.  It removes makeup and leaves your skin looking and feeling super clean but since it doesn’t strip it of its natural oils your skin still feels soft and not at all tight.    I always use it to remove my makeup because it works so well on even really stubborn mascara.  Plus, the oil texture means that you don’t have to worry about scrubbing at the delicate skin around your eye area to get your eye makeup off.  You can only find this at the DHC website, but you can get it in two travel sizes now: 70ml for £11.00 or the really tiny 30ml version for £4.50.

2. La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intense Light, 50ml – This is another great multi-purpose item.  Depending on how heavy you put this on it is equally good as a day or night cream.  It doesn’t have an SPF in it, but I’ve got another product for that, so it can be used to keep you skin hydrated and lovely all day and night.  It has a nice light texture that works well under foundation because it isn’t too heavy feeling, and really, the lack of SPF means that you won’t get any of that shine in your holiday snaps either.  At night I put this on a bit heavier and it works to keep my skin hydrated.  You can get La Roche-Posay products at a number of chemists, but I get mine from FeelUnique for £16.50.  They also have a formula that is thicker called Hydraphase Intense Rich for people with really dry skin, they sell a version of that with SPF too, both for £16.50 as well.

3. Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet, 30ml – I am loving this foundation.  I haven’t had a chance to write my full review of this yet, but the condensed version is that I am a huge fan.  This gives your skin a beautiful smooth, matt finish with an incredibly light texture even with its SPF15.  It goes on as a liquid but dries to a powdery type finish, and that’s how it makes your skin look so great.  It is light enough that you can use it under your eye area too without it settling into all of the fine lines and looking like a hot mess.  This is great for travel because of the packaging, but also because you’ll look gorgeous on holiday.  The packaging is very slim, flat, and compact so it fits in your little bag of liquids really well.  This is the best liquid foundation packaging I think I’ve come across for traveling.  Also, you don’t need to use a lot of it so this little bottle has good longevity.   You can get this at Boots or Harrods for £33.00.

4. Lancôme Définicils High Definition Mascara, 6.5g –  I’ve used this mascara for years and love it.  It will always have a place in my mascara collection because of how you can use it to either get a very light coating or layer it up for a more dramatic look.  The small brush is the key I think because it is can easily coat all of your lashes, upper and lower, without clumping.  It’s nice for travel because of the slim packaging, which I’m sure they can achieve because of the small brush.  Also, I never have a problem with this flaking after a long day, which is great since I wear contact lenses.  Lately I’ve been getting my Définicils Mascara from FeelUnique for £22.50.  You can use this without an eyelash curler because it will actually give your lashes a bit of curl it seems, or you can pack the very compact Muji Portable Eyelash Curler (£3.95) which takes up way less space in your travel bag than your traditional eyelash curler.

5. Aveda brilliant Retexturing Gel, 25ml – Dave and I have both been using this for years in our travel kit.  It works really well to give your hair body and control without making it look dry or dull.  I like it because I can use it to bring out my curl or to keep my hair sleek and smooth when I blow it out straight.  This has all kinds of reasons for being in my travel bag really, not the least of which is that both Dave and I can use it and it works for curly or straight hair.  It’s quite good for hold too, so sometimes I don’t even need to bother with hairspray, which means I can save that much more room.  I’ve only had luck finding the travel sized version of the brilliant Gel from Aveda for £5.50.

6. L’Oreal Elnett Flexible Extra Hairspray, 75ml – Even though I just got through saying that I don’t always need hairspray with the Aveda gel, sometimes I do, it just depends on where we are traveling too.  I like the L’Oreal Elnett Flexible Extra because it keeps my hair soft to the touch, and to the eye, but still manages to have great holding powers.  I find this to be really useful when it is humid too because it doesn’t ever seem to get sticky like a lot of hairsprays.  I normally get mine when I order from my groceries from Ocado for £2.50 because it seems to be less expensive than other places I’ve found it. It is kind of expensive for this little can, but I haven’t found a good replacement that is less expensive for a travel size.

7. bareMinerals Natural Sunscreen SPF 30, 4g – Okay, this doesn’t need to go into your clear baggie of liquids, but is something you should always take when you’re traveling.  I’ve only been using this for about a month now, but I love it.  The powder sunscreen works so well to protect my skin, but doesn’t feel heavy or make my face feel greasy or sweaty.  I like that this does double duty as a way to protect my skin from the sun, but also as a light finishing powder to set my makeup.  The packaging is nice because it comes with its own retractable brush so you don’t have to worry about bringing one along with you but is still really compact.  This can easily tuck away in your carry on luggage or even your handbag.  I got mine from FeelUnique for  £21.95.

So, that’s not an exhaustive list of what’s in my travel bag, but these are the things that are always going to be in there.  If you are looking for some other travel sized suggestions, Vogue recently had a great article with 20 petite products that they think are tops for travel.

Trip to Helsinki: What to Wear?

Helsinki is gorgeous on a sunny day!   Too bad we'll only have rain.
Helsinki is gorgeous on a sunny day! Too bad we’ll only have rain.

Dave and I both really like Helsinki, so we decided to have a nice little four day city break there this weekend.  Yes, we did stay home for the three day bank holiday weekend, which seems to make no sense, but Dave couldn’t get away from work until late this week.  In any case, it is a shame we weren’t there for the bank holiday because they were having gorgeous clear, sunny skies with weirdly (for them) high temperatures in the 25 C /77 F range.  But sadly, our travel luck just isn’t that good, so it will probably be raining for much of the weekend that we will be there and the temperatures look to not even be out of the teens – 13 – 18 C /55 – 65 F – for highs and more like 8 C/46 F for lows.  So, now I’m stuck with the dilemma of what to wear for the soggy, cold weekend.  Though of course, I am always hopeful that the weather forecast will change by then.

I am a big, huge fan of packing light and with items that can be worn in different ways so that I don’t end up dragging a bunch of luggage with me, this is especially true for a short trip.  Luckily, we travel enough that I have this down at this point.  And, I’ve got a great carry on sized suitcase that allows me to pack a lot of stuff in not too much space.  But for a short trip like this, we might only take one bag and split the space (I know, shocking).  I must admit, I am much better about having outfits all ready to go for winter trips, somehow summer trips are always more difficult for me to style.  With the temperatures being so completely not warm this weekend in Helsinki, I will most definitely go with the casual jeans look and my Converse All Stars since sandals are definitely out.  For short trips like this I also pick a colour scheme to work around to make sure that all of my items are interchangeable for the best set of options: red, white, blue/denim, and black for this trip, I think.

Lyssé Knitted Ankle Leggings in Denim
Lyssé Knitted Ankle Leggings in Denim

On the plane, I always try to wear something comfortable like leggings or a knit dress.  It might not be super fashionable, but it is comfortable when I’m going to be sitting around for a few hours; 3 hours of flight time from London to Helsinki.  I haven’t found a great summer type knit dress for flying but I do have a pair of denim-look leggings, or jeggings, that I like for summer trips, plus they work well with my chosen colour scheme this time.  And let’s face it, skinny jeans aren’t super comfortable on a flight, so this is a good comfortable compromise.  I have a number of white shirts that I like to pair with my leggings, but my favourite is probably a very lightweight cotton tunic with buttons down the front and a bit of detail around the neckline, under which I wear a tank (necessary since you can totally see through the tunic).  I am always getting cold on flights, so I have some waterfall cardigans that I like to wear with my leggings to keep me comfortable and warm.  The two that I have, one in red and one in purple, are made from a t-shirt type material which makes them great for travel because they don’t get really wrinkled looking and are easy to pack or carry around if I get warm.  I’ve also found that if I want a slightly different look from them, I can wear them with a belt and they look more like a blouse with a drape neckline.  On the way back, I will switch out the white tunic with a casual white silk shirt that I have that works perfectly with the rest of the pieces.  So that takes care of the two days when I’ll be actually flying.

Pepperberry: The Classic Shirt, perfect for travel
Pepperberry: The Classic Shirt, perfect for travel

On the other days I will probably wear jeans, either bootcut or skinnies depending on my mood when packing or maybe both if I have room.  I might take the slim leg jeans because I’ve been wearing them a lot lately and they are actually pretty comfortable and look cute with with All Stars or my ballet flats.  I will definitely be taking my Pepperberry Classic Shirt in white because it always looks so tailored, yet is really comfortable.  Plus, it goes well with or without the waterfall cardigan, as dictated by the weather.  Also, a plain white shirt can so easily be jazzed up with good accessories, like a fun scarf, a big necklace, or even a really cool belt.  I will probably also take a black cashmere v-neck sweater that I almost always take along with me when we travel.  It goes with everything and cashmere packs well and can be very warm too; it’s the perfect travel companion.  For my other daytime look I think I’ll take a heather grey top that I have that is great for transitional weather.  It is long, hitting me around the mid- to top of my thighs depending on how I play with the ruching, plus it has a draped neckline that is both comfortable and flattering.  I like it because it is made of a soft, cotton that is like a sort of thick t-shirt material, so it is super easy to pack, but has some style about it while still being very comfortable.

Red trench or black jacket with hood?
Red trench or black jacket with hood?

We haven’t decided if we’ll be doing anything special for dinner any of the nights we are gone, so I’m kind of skipping that part of my packing.  However, if we make that decision to have a nice dinner out or something, I’ve got a wrap-style dress from Pepperberry (like that link, except with longer sleeves so it is less daytime) that I would probably take because I know it packs quite well and looks very flattering.  Of course, if we do that then I have to bring other shoes and Dave will have to pack more stuff too and that wasn’t really the type of trip we were planning.  So, we will probably just stick with the very casual style trip.  Dave is definitely in need of a trip where he can just totally take some time off and relax, so for us that means easy packing and no pressure to find someplace spectacular to have dinner.  Those types of things are for other trips, not a quick and fun city break like this one.

Obviously, I’m going to need a coat or jacket that can take the rain for this trip as well.  I’m trying to decide between taking my red trench coat or my black lightweight rain jacket.  I love my red one because it is good in cold, rainy weather, however, it doesn’t have a hood if you’re caught without an umbrella.  The black one is cute and has a bit of a trench coat style but only comes to my hips and it is rather thin making it less great when it is cold, but it does have the helpful hood.  The other good thing about the black jacket is that it can pack up to almost nothing, which is probably why I will take it.  Since it is black, which can be very bland and boring, I often pick a fun scarf to wear with it to give it a bit of colour, I have a paisley black, white, and red silk scarf that I will probably take since I know it will go with everything else that I am bringing.

Phew, so now I’m all done figuring out what to wear and am ready to go on my trip and relax.  Well, except for the actual packing.

Finding the Perfect Makeup Bag for Travel

For a couple of years now, I have been looking for a makeup bag that would be just perfect for me, but so far I haven’t found my dream bag.  It’s actually kind of hard to find something that has the right amount of space – neither too much or too little – and can keep everything tidy and protected.  I don’t like the bags that are just a big open space because it leads to everything getting jumbled up and the tips of your brushes aren’t very protected either.  So, I want a space where I can easily organize compacts, palettes, and that type of thing and it needs a separate space where I can keep my brushes tidied away with their delicate tips protected. I also don’t want to have to pay a fortune for a travel makeup bag, even though I’ll probably use it a lot, I’m just not sure it is worth a big spend.  Currently, I use the travel bag that came with my Sonicare toothbrushes a long time ago.  It has been a pretty good repurposing of a bag that I never used for its intended purpose, but it has some weak spots that I think can be improved on.  It is not bad overall but the little pocket where I put my brushes and things lets them slide all over the place and they tend to fall out when you open and close it.  Plus, the other side has these elasticated bands that are to hold the toothbrush in place really, but just get in the way and don’t really fit for my new purpose.  I have a hard time fitting everything into it too because it is just ever so slightly too small.

So, where do you find your dream bag?  I’ve looked at various luggage stores and places that sell that kind of thing, but haven’t found anything that really matches what I want.  Then the other day I read a review of the Hold Me bags and they are pretty close to what I want, but not quite there, and they were like $75.00 so that is way, way more than I want to pay.  Luckily for me, my mom who is very crafty and a good seamstress (though she never gives herself enough credit), has just retired and has some time for projects like this.  And even better, she has actually agreed to try to create the perfect bag for me.  Of course, that means I have to put a lot of thought into what I want and sizes and everything, but in the end I should end up with a bag that is really going to work for me.

The first step in the process of figuring out what my dream makeup bag should be like, is determining what all needs to go in the bag.  With airline regulations requiring your liquids all be carried in a clear bag, that means that I don’t really have to include those types of items.  However, I have decided that I would include everything except my skincare items in my makeup bag, that means things like my foundation, concealer, lipgloss, and mascara (which I’m never sure if it should go in my clear bag of liquids or not).  I took pictures of all of the items that I usually take with me in my makeup bag when we travel.  I have a picture that includes all of the brushes and tools, one that is the actual makeup that I use, and then two other pictures that show additional eyeshadow products I might bring along depending on the type of trip.  I’m sure some of you will be shocked by the sparseness of the contents, but I do usually go for the less is more look when we travel.  It is easy to include a second lipgloss or lipstick to get a different look going.  The quicker I can get ready in the morning on holiday the more time I have to actually see and do holiday stuff, not to mention it keeps my husband happy too.

After looking at the stuff that I take and maybe a few other items that should possibly go in the bag, like a toothbrush and my contact lens case, I’m starting to develop some ideas.  I like the idea of having an area with little individual pockets for brushes, liner pencils, lip products; keeps them organized and easy to find.  I think the other area should have a bit of depth to it, but not too much to contain compacts, my little containers of powder and foundation.  It would be great if this section could have velcro dividers like my camera bag so that you can put them in or out to personalize the organization of the space, plus they add a bit of protection to everything.  I’d also like it if there was a separate slim space that would be big enough for my eye shadow palette and/or a packet of makeup wipes.  And of course, the whole thing should be made out of some fabric that will easily wipe clean with a cloth and should fasten with velcro strips so that you always have a little bit of extra leeway in packing it, not like the rigid constraints of a zipper.

So, I’m hopeful between my mom’s cleverness and my love of organization and precision, we can come up with something that is an improvement over the cheap clear zippered bags or the Sonicare toothbrush bag that I use now.  Granted, that bar is pretty low, but I think we can come up with something better.

Great Product Suggestions from FeelUnique and PopSugar

It’s getting to be that time of year when you might be looking to try some new products, or you’ve got to get into the Spring and Summer swing of things with different needs for your skin and look.  Or, maybe you’re going on a trip for Easter, Spring Break, or just your yearly Summer holiday.  Well, I’ve got a couple of good articles for you to check out today for advice on what travel sized items to take on your next trip, as well as some recommendations from the FeelUnique staff on self tanner, mascara, and face peels.

FeelUnique’s Beauty All Access “We’ve Been Testing” Feature

I buy quite a bit of my makeup, hair and skin care products from FeelUnique.  I like how quickly they deliver – for free – and what a wide selection they have on their site.  And they are always adding new brands to choose from too, just recently they added Urban Decay and coming soon is Aveda.  The other thing I like about them is that they have a lot of resources for tips on how to do makeup and hair, or what products to buy for what need, they also host a lot of Facebook question and answer chats with top stylists, designers, doctors, and the names behind a lot of excellent brands. Recently, they’ve started to include a section in their Beauty All Access area about products they have been trying out, which I find super helpful.  First off though, I have to say that the Beauty All Access ezine (or whatever you want to call it), is full of great tips and has all of the latest seasonal style updates to keep you up to date and looking great in all areas, from makeup and hair, to fitness and nutrition.  It’s one of my top beauty reads each month.  They have a feature called “This Works for Me” that is nice because they interview celebs and stylists about their beauty product essentials and tips, as well as fashion looks.  I always find them interesting and it’s a good place to get suggestions for new products too.

The section I really wanted to point out though, was the “This Month We’ve Been Testing…” feature.  They have three different product types that they are testing this month: self tanner, lengthening mascara, and facial peels.  Self tanner and facial peels are a the perfect way to get a head start on your Spring and Summer skin.  Definitely after winter, we could all use a bit of a boost for our skin, so these might work for you.  They have a little bit of reasoning behind each product on the list, as well as a tip for each of the three product types.  I also like that everything they test isn’t crazy expensive, they have stuff that should be good for just about any budget. Also, each category they have broken down the products into things that are best for a particular situation or desired result as well as the best overall, for instance they self tan is broken down into best for light skin, best for deep skin, and best all around.  It’s nice that they don’t just act like one product will be great for everyone in every situation.  But definitely give it a quick look.  It’s very short and sweet with just like a bullet point for the nine products that they suggest and the three tips.

PopSugar’s “10 Travel-Sized Essentials Under $10” Article

Obviously, this one is geared toward US readers because all of the product prices are listed in dollars, but even if you’re not in the US, the suggestions are great for getting the most out of your travel beauty kit.  There is nothing worse than going on holiday and having your skin and hair suffer because you don’t want/can’t bring your full-sized products with you and don’t really have great substitutes.  Or, worse yet, you just totally let your standards slip and end up with horrible hair and skin as a result.  I will also point out that there are great travel sized containers for just about every type of product now too that you can get at places like Boots or Walgreen’s.  I even use these little miniature zip top bags that you can find in craft stores for a lot of my travel things now because they are flat and resalable, but do work pretty well for semi-liquid things moisturizer or hair conditioner.  Also, you can sometimes get sample sizes of your favourite brands and products from department stores, but this is definitely hit or miss.  I really wish that everyone would let you buy small sizes of their products so you’d know that you can have the same great products on holiday that you do every other day.  I’m sure everyone’s hair and skin would be very happy with that.

The PopSugar article covers ten travel sized necessities for the important travel issues of keeping your hair and skin happy, from dry shampoo to a body exfoliator.  And the best part is that they are all things that you can easily fit in your allowed Ziploc of liquids and they won’t break the bank because they are all under $10.00 too.  It’s nice that so many good things can be found, for reasonable prices, that fit the requirement of being less than 100 ml/3 oz for all of us that like to have decent products when we travel. They even have a travel sized hairbrush that it wouldn’t be too much of a space hog in comparison to your regular, full-sized one.  The Klorane Oat Milk Dry Shampoo ($9.00 for 50 ml can) is on their list and I think I’m going to have to try this, even if not on a trip, because it gets mentioned all over the place and people just rave about it.  Much like the FeelUnique article, this one is short and sweet with just a brief description of the product, as well as pricing information, so there’s no excuse to not at least give it is quick perusal.