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Hand Luggage Hacks: My Travel Beauty Secrets

Living in London I have to protect my skin from all the pollution, tube dirt (it’s a thing!) and sweat that come with city living. When travelling I don’t want that work to be undone!
We often picture travel as all exotic, pristine beaches yet the reality is also smog filled cities teeming with irritants and pollutants. I’m vigilant about anti-oxidant skincare and keeping the beauty products I use to carry-on sizes, which is where a whole new set of expertise comes into play! I believe in simple and natural products being best for me so avoid anything with long ingredient lists, plastics or unnecessary packaging.

There are a few key products and beauty secrets that I use on every trip, as well as at home, and the good news is that the majority of them are budget-tastic! I’ve offered alternatives for the pricier items so hopefully you can check anything out that might suit your needs too.

Here are my 2018 travel beauty secrets!

Apple Cider Vinegar Toner

This secret was passed onto me by a model with the most flawless skin and I’ve been a fan ever since I tried it too. Mix 1 part water to 1 part apple cider vinegar (50/50). Please don’t be tempted to use more vinegar than water or use it undiluted as it will upset the PH balance of your skin and not work. Apply on a cotton pad after cleansing to get pores squeaky clean without any drying effects. If you find you break out regularly when travelling, this will really help! I use a 30ml bottle for travel and that lasts me for a few weeks.

apple cider vinegar beauty

Zelens Intense Defence Antioxidant Serum

If you live in a big city or are travelling to one, it’s worth looking into this for the lightweight, anti-pollution and anti-oxidant qualities it has. It’s good for all skin types, contains only natural ingredients and you can actually feel the block it creates despite its sheerness (is sheerness a word?). This is the best first defence I’ve found for anti-ageing and I use it religiously when at home and squeeze it into a travel tub wherever I go.

Zelens intense defence

Alternatively, look at the affordable Elizabeth Arden First Defence lotion, if you can find it. It’s similar in colour and texture to Intense Defence but not always easy to track down!

elizabeth arden first defence

With all anti-oxidant products be sure to cleanse thoroughly at night and you’ll feel the difference once they’re gone. It feels like taking off a grubby mask and revealing pristine skin underneath. Love it!

Hado Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid

I’m a big fan of Korean and Japanese skincare and since my skin is yellow toned, many of the BB/CC products work well in place of foundation, which I find too clogging. I’m always annoyed when I see  hyaluronic acid products priced extravagantly when it’s not an expensive product to create at all – it’s basically thick water that’s applied to skin then locked in with a thicker cream.

Hado Labo is a Japanese brand offering low priced hyaluronic acids at a high quality. Because it’s so cheap you can use it liberally all over your neck and décolletage too and it’s great for sunburn. Again, lock it in with a cream and you’re good to go. One bottle has lasted me a year and I use it very liberally! I take up to 30ml when travelling and usually have some left when I get back.

hado labo super hyaluronic acid

I’m also into The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 at the moment, which feels thicker but provides a plumping effect that lasts throughout the day. I’m only a week into using this so can’t comment on the long-term results yet.

the ordinary hyaluronic acid 2% + B5

Baking Powder

Another great secret for travel breakouts! Mix with a little water and apply to spots after cleansing or all over as a treatment mask. It drys within a minute when you can wash it off (scrub off to get exfoliating benefits too). This is a really effective way to calm skin and dry out any spots which have formed due to heat and humidity on the road. Applying to problem areas and leaving overnight will also work wonders. You can pop a 1/2 teaspoon in a screw top sample pot and it will last you a month!

baking powder beauty

Coconut Oil

Classic for a reason! I buy 100ml or 50ml pots so I can take them in my hand luggage but you can also scrape or pour it from a large pot into smaller ones to tailor make however much you need. It’s a multi-purpose magic balm and I use it for:

– Body moisturising
– Calming sunburn
– Eyelash conditioning treatment at night and protection during day
– Emergency sunscreen for body and hair (SPF is very low, I do not recommend this except in emergencies)
– Split end treatment
– Overnight hair conditioning treatment
– Face moisturiser (don’t use an oil on top of a serum though, negates the effect)
– Cleanser
– Hand & nail cream
– Oil pulling (I don’t believe it whitens but oil pulling is still wonderful as a mouth and teeth cleaner)
– Body fragrance
– Cooking

Coconut oil is safe for sensitive skin and can be used on babies and children, making it the perfect family holiday all-rounder!

coconut oil

Sisley All Day All Year

A luxury product, I used to apply this religiously at Duty-Free before flying since it protects against the effects of aircon like nothing else and I was always surprised when I left the plane with better skin than when I got on! It’s one of those products that continue to make a difference the more I use it. I’ve tried many supposedly legendary serums over the years but none have given me the results I get with Sisley’s All Day All Year so I invested in my own bottle and apply it with a light touch!

sisley all day all year

For an affordable option check out The Ordinary Buffet serum with The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA layered on top. Total cost: a pocket-friendly £17.60! Travel note: Buffet comes in a 30ml glass bottle so I use a 5ml sample pipette bottle from Cellex-C when I travel with it. The natural moisturiser comes in a 30ml plastic squeezy tube.

the ordinary buffet the ordinary natural moisturing factors + HA

Dry Face Sheet Masks

You can get 100 of these on Amazon for approx. £5. Fold a few into your toiletry bag and if your skin gets dry, sunburned or irritated while away, soak one in aloe vera or the Hado Labo hyaluronic acid (see above) for a few minutes then apply to a clean face while it’s dripping wet (smooth any excess onto your neck and décolletage). Have a little rest as it dries then remove and either rinse the serum off or leave on overnight.

My tip: If your sheet masks have eye flaps, fold them back over your eyelids once you’ve applied it as they benefit from hyaluronic acid too and don’t get greasy.

dry face sheet masks


French skincare products are amazing and Homeoplasmine is my favourite. It’s a herbal infused petroleum jelly that effectively sticks skin back together if you have a scrape and helps your body to start the knitting itself back together. It won’t disinfect the wound so always use an antiseptic before applying it. It has repaired a lot of my wounds without the need for plasters and without any scarring afterwards, thanks to the blended natural products included. It works on cuts, scrapes, bites, sores and irritated skin and it’s scentless.

My tip: I try to convince everyone not to use petroleum jelly on their lips as it creates a seal that prevents your lips from adjusting their own moisture levels and eventually leads to them getting drier and drier. Instead, I use it to tame unruly brows and baby hairs around my hairline when I’m in humid countries. It lasts and lasts and can be squeezed into little tubs that last forever.


Perfume Atomiser

If I’m headed away for a while I take a scent that brings me home instantly, for those moments on the road when I’m dirty, tired and need to feel a little brighter without any creature comforts to hand! I use a small plastic atomiser and decant my favourite scent into it for every trip.

My tip: To make the fragrance last longer I spritz perfume across my collarbone after moisturising as I find this helps it linger and stops the alcohol drying my skin. If I don’t have room for an atomiser, I spray perfume onto a scarf (and I always have a scarf!) then there’s something that smells good whenever I want to mentally escape the smell of a place!

perfume atomiser travel

Konjac Sponge

Truly a holy grail product for me. Wearing so much sunscreen, even natural ones, necessitates thorough cleansing each night to prevent build-up and breakouts. My basic routine is: Soap & Glory’s The Ultimelt hot cloth cleanser (konjac sponges work with any cleanser, use your favourite), which I squeeze into a stackable pot for travel and apply all over my face and neck in the evening. I soften the konjac sponge in warm water and gently scrub in circular motions before rinsing my face with warm water.

soap and glory the ultimelt

Works like a charm and the Ultimelt cleanser leaves skin moisturised too. Konjac sponges are super cheap and lightweight and dry overnight. You don’t need branded sponges, they’re all pretty much the same and can be found for less than £1. Replace when they start hardening completely.

Konjac Sponge

Pocket Tissues

Basic, I know! But travel tissue packs (the ones your mum used to give you when you had a cold) have rescued me from many a dark place – specifically ‘toilets’ in India giving Trainspotting a run for its money. I don’t need to list how many uses tissues have here but having little waterproof packets that can fit into any bag or pocket means that they’re always there when you need one and, just as importantly, when someone else needs one. I keep the empty packets to recycle when I get home if I’m travelling where there isn’t recycling.

kleenex pocket tissues

What are your travel beauty secrets? I’m always excited to learn everyone’s must-have items, especially how you all deal with pollution and sun exposure abroad since these are my biggest concerns in long-term skincare. Hopefully, you’ve found my travel beauty secrets useful, and I’ll be sure to update the new ones I discover. Let’s keep having happy, nourishing travels!

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