Vacation Beauty: Minimum Products, Maximum Results!


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Ever spent hours packing for a trip only to realize you left a critical part of your skincare routine at home? Or maybe your problem is that you tend to over pack and waste precious space by including way more beauty products than you actually need.

We surveyed our most frequent fliers at Paula’s Choice Skincare (including Paula herself) for the most helpful recommendations to fulfill your beauty needs while traveling light. Take off with this jet-setting guide for minimum products, maximum results.

Recommended Products

Use Travel Packets for Carry-On and Short Trips

Most Paula’s Choice Skincare products are offered in sample packets or trial sizes, perfect for traveling with your carry-on and getting through security. Paula personally uses these during her travels, including samples packets of the SKIN BALANCING cleanser/toner/moisturizer and RESIST Weightless Body Treatment with 2% BHA.

Even on longer trips, Paula follows this game plan so if her luggage gets delayed, she can still take care of her skin.

Streamline Your Skincare

Pare down your skincare routine to the basics. This varies from person to person, but generally a gentle cleanser, makeup remover, soothing toner, AHA or BHA exfoliant, daytime moisturizer with sunscreen, and nighttime hydrator will do the trick. Expand on this if needed, but those essentials should handle your skin beautifully for a week away from home. (Don’t forget to pack a small stash of essentials such as cotton swabs as the ones in the hotel can be woefully inadequate.)

Leave facial devices such as your heavy cleansing brush at home. We promise your skin will be OK. A gentle washcloth with your gentle water soluble cleanser will absolutely suffice.

Save space by transferring your larger sized gels, liquids and creams to refillable, travel-sized plastic bottles. If you plan to pack them in your carry-on bag, make sure the containers are 3.4 ounces or less per item, and they must all fit in one quart-sized resealable bag to meet TSA guidelines.

Smaller (3.4 ounces or less) products can fit right into your quart-sized bag. Paula’s favorites include the RESIST Anti-Aging Eye Cream, RESIST Super-Light Wrinkle Defense SPF 30, RESIST 10% Niacinamide Booster, and RESIST Ultra-light Antioxidant Serum.

Pro tip: Seal the caps of fluid products with tape and then place these items in a zippered plastic bag to prevent spillage. Stash the tape in your suitcase so you can reseal liquid products for the trip home (and you’d be surprised how often tape comes in handy for other uses on a trip).

Never Compromise on Sunscreen!

Sunscreen is the one product we don’t recommend downsizing, particularly if you’re going somewhere that you’ll be outdoors for the majority of the time. Pack your full-size sunscreen in your checked luggage or be prepared to buy one at your destination. No exceptions to this rule, it is the most important thing you can do for your skin.

Body Care Essentials

As an alternative to the highly fragrant body lotions provided at most hotels (really not good for skin), consider bringing our RESIST Weightless Body Treatment with 2% BHA. This works beautifully to hydrate and exfoliate skin, adding a softening radiance from the neck down.

Leave ancillary products like body scrubs and foot creams at home. Chances are your skin will be just fine without them while you’re away. Besides, that’s what the hotel spa is for, right?

Want to maintain a sunless glow on-the-go? Bring our SUN 365 Self-Tanning Concentrate

Keep a stash of Band-Aids and other emergency needs in your toiletry bag for any ailments and shoe-rubbing blisters you may encounter on your travel adventures.

Hair Care On-the-Go

When it comes to shampoo and conditioner, most hotels provide decent enough options to get you by so you can skip packing them. However, if your hair is temperamental, bring what you know works best for you.

Double-duty alert: Conditioner can also double as a shaving cream for your legs (one less thing to pack!).

If you haven’t tried dry shampoo, consider experimenting with one now. Dry shampoo is particularly handy for travel since it is able to cut down the amount of time you spend washing, drying and restyling your hair. Plus, you can degrease oily hair in a flash!

Hair products, such as gels and styling creams, are easy to transfer into small, travel-sized containers (or obtain trial sizes). It’s wise to buy a travel-sized hairspray, while pomades and waxes typically already come in small sizes, so downsizing them is a non-issue.

Don’t forget other handy hair essentials like bobby pins, ponytail holders, and a headband to keep hair back while you wash your face (or in a pinch you can rely on the shower cap that comes in most hotel rooms).

Lighten Your Makeup Bag

Think ahead about which makeup essentials you'll need for your trip. You’ll likely wear less makeup on a tropical vacation versus girl's weekend in say, Las Vegas. Packing every shade you own of lipstick, gloss, eyeshadow, and blush is overkill. Here are some double-duty and space-saving ideas.

Hitting the beach? Instead of primer, foundation, and concealer, opt for a tinted moisturizer with sunscreen for soft coverage, hydration, and a boost of sun protection, over your water-resistant SPF 30 or greater sunscreen.

Narrow your lipstick collection down to only bringing one or two that you like best. Lipstick can also double as a radiant pop of color on your cheeks.

Pack our RESIST Anti-Aging Lip Gloss SPF 40 for sun protection and a sheer hint of pink color all in one. (Also offered in clear.) Reducing the appearance of early signs of aging for your lips is something you don’t want to ignore!

Consider a small eyeshadow palette that can double as brow filler and eyeliner. We’re fans of eyeshadow quads from Physicians Formula and smaller palettes from Urban Decay and Bobbi Brown.

All set! You’re on your way to less stressful packing and a simpler routine that won’t weigh you down as you travel. Now go enjoy your destination and have a margarita for us!

The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here: The same type of in-depth research used to create this article is also used to formulate Paula’s Choice Skincare products. You’ll find products for all skin types and a range of concerns, from acne and sensitive skin to wrinkles, pores, and sun damage. With Paula’s Choice Skincare, you can get (and keep) the best skin of your life! Learn more at Shop Paula's Choice.

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and helping you solve your skincare frustrations with research-supported expert advice—so you'll have the facts you need to take the best possible care of your skin.

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