I started to write this blog from the perspective of an industry-educated, experienced traveler and how I cope with my obsession for all things beauty while on the road. I relent, instead, to my instinct to keep it real.
My unique background, which includes half a decade in the beauty industry, consists of many hats; a Renaissance woman of sorts. Of the various stylish job descriptions and titles I’ve held, it’s the beauty industry that I remain the most passionate about. Many life experiences have transpired between then and now, but the relatable notion of this topic is hidden in the simplicity of the idea that when we look good, we feel good. Applying the education (shoutout to FIDM alumni) and experience (former for Sephora cast member) gained during that chapter of my journey to my present minimalistic lifestyle as a backpacker has helped me maintain appearances on more than one occasion. You can take a lady out of Sephora, but you can never take the Sephora out of the lady.Home Page – Sephora
As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer turned travel blogger, backpacking my way across the globe has humbled me with dozens of life-altering experiences. None so much, however, as the impact of human waste on the planet. It’s become a topic of advocacy in my world in recent years and spills into most everything I do, including travel. Jet setting as I do, sadly, but truthfully, increases my carbon footprint. As a result, I do my best to minimize my output of waste and harmful gases in various other ways such as not owning a vehicle or reducing my participation in single-use plastics.
I hear the melodramatic murmurs making their way to the front of your mouth as you read this and I get it; most humans can care less about their carbon footprint, but there are some of us humans that actually care enough to do what we can where we can. As one of those humans, catering to my worst habits (i.e. supporting an industry that clearly needs to hone in on supporting the production of eco-friendly packaging on a mass scale) while on a backpacker’s budget, I’m required to be more than a little resourceful when it comes to, what I paraphrase as, “traveling while fly”.
Here are a handful of practical backpacking beauty tips that won’t break the bank that you can find (and fit) right in your luggage.
Not just for brushing teeth! The ingredients in common (white) toothpaste actually reduce inflammation and discoloration on the surface of the skin. Let me emphasize that I do not recommend smearing toothpaste all over your face. Use it, rather, as a spot treatment. It’s aces when you’re in a pinch. Take care of ingredients that may irritate your skin, allergies have been known to happen with some tooth whitening agents.
Recently I found myself without my luggage (it was mistagged and sent to an entirely different country-IKR!) and while I was without my favorite charcoal mask, I used my (gifted) tube of toothpaste for more than just cleaning my teeth. I treated problem areas that would break out from the influx of sweat, dirt and oil on my skin as well as bug bites (mosquito) on my face and neck. A little goes a long way allowing you to stretch the use of even a travel size toothpaste bottle.
This little lava rock is great for scraping the dead skin from your feet, yes, but have you ever considered using one as a full body scrubber? Lather yourself in soap and then gently (at first) trace the outlines of your body with the pumice stone. Adjust your pressure accordingly making sure to focus on problem areas like the underarms, elbows, and knees.
Our bodies are constantly regenerating and shedding themselves, it’s natural. The exfoliation process sees to it that this dead skin is removed from the surface of your body and leaves skin smooth to the touch, not to mention the natural glow you’ll achieve in the process.
My pumice stone is a staple item and my go-to for full body exfoliation after a day in the sun, slathered in SPF protection in place of lugging around a huge jar (or bottle) of body scrub.
Another travel, beauty minimalists staple item with multiple purposes. A healthy beauty practice is to apply a lip balm before the application of any lip gloss, pencil or lipstick. This level of moisture not only acts as a base or primer for any lip product, but keeps the lips appearing plump. Although chapstick is used primarily to protect your lips from severe cold or hot temperatures, while on the road the consistent moisture locked inside the miracle salve has often doubled as a makeup remover (genius for removing mascara smears), a hair product (tame flyaways and/or baby hairs), or as an eye cream.
The area around the eye is sensitive and without pores, yet requires moisture to stave off crows feet aka laugh lines. Before bed, I smooth a bit of the stick under each eye and use my ring finger to smear it around my whole eye. Past training has taught me that the eyes (and decollate) can betray the appearance of youth as they are a few of the first visible areas to display signs of aging.
Living life seemingly as a permanent tourist has reshaped how I see the world of beauty. Realistically, there are dozens of pointers I can share all learned from my own trial and error. A few relevant tips are:
- If booking hostels, make fast friends with the other bedmates to help reduce the risk of treasured beauty items going missing in the shared bathroom.
- Do not, under any circumstance, use that community hand towel to dry your face! Use your robe or shirt, equally icky, but a more controlled dirty surface or simply opt to let your face drip dry (personal go-to).
- Take advantage of community space. That abandoned bottle of shampoo or toothpaste right when you were running out equals fair game.
If that’s enlightening, let me make it abundantly clear that you should always take all of your personal belongings out of a shared bathroom after each use: Life as a permanent tourist 101.
Admittedly, these hacks are essential when the going gets tough—so to speak. Realistically, these backpacker beauty hacks can be utilized by anyone, anytime. Slowly introducing the usage of these products into a daily routine can significantly reduce the amount of individual waste we put forth on the planet. Not packing your pack to the brim with unnecessary plastic beauty bottles leaves plenty of space for that new, enchanting shade of lipstick, exotic mud mask (it’s a gift for someone else, I promise) or that have-to-have-it head wrap. Eco-friendly tourism with a minimalist beauty angle makes it simple to backpack and look good.
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