Sunday, June 23, 2013

¡Buen Viaje! - Travel Essentials Part 1 - Skincare

I love love love to travel, and of all of the things that I have experienced in my life, my travels are ones that I consider to be of utmost value and importance.  I have had the privilege to travel to Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and in Central and South America.  In my early 30s my wanderlust was so bad that I decided I didn't want to be a tourist anymore, and I packed up my bags and moved to beautiful Quito, Ecuador to live and work for 5 years:

El Batan, my former neighborhood in Quito

Beautiful Quito

The hillsides always remind me of patchwork quilts of green
This last (school) year has been my first full year back in the U.S., and I am taking advantage of my summer vacation to spend 3 weeks visiting my beloved Andean country.  In the words of Swiss explorer and writer Isabelle Eberhardt, “Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere.”

Travel in Latin America can be exciting, challenging, breathtaking, a little bit "sketchy" sometimes.  However, no matter what adventure I may encounter, I am not a happy tourist if I can't keep up my beauty routines to some degree.  Can I take my entire arsenal of products?  No.  But after 5 years of traveling by both bus and plane and to places modern and primitive, I have gotten my travel beauty essentials down pat.  Let's start with skincare, both face and body:

For a morning routine, here are my must-haves:

  - Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 55.  I have test-driven this a couple of times lately, and it is an excellent daytime moisturizer that absorbs quickly and makes a nice "primer" for makeup.
  - Johnson & Johnson Head-To-Toe Baby Wash - Holy Grail Alert!  Super-cheap and gentle and has been my in-the-shower face wash for years.
  - My good 'ol standby - Clinique Clarifying Lotion #3 (It really is number 3...I just use a sample-size bottle from an old gift for travel)
  - Jergens Natural Glow Facial Self-Tanner - Because of the sun's intensity in Ecuador ("ecuador" = equator!), I slather myself in sunscreen every day.  Any tan that I have there will also be "falso." :)

For cleansing, I can get by with a good cleansing wipe plus something to remove stubborn eye makeup:

 - I bought these Equate Refreshing Cleansing Towelettes because they have a convenient lid that "snaps" and keeps the wipes from drying out (versus the packaging of other facial wipes that simply has the sticker-like seal).
 - What's the mystery substance in that jar?  Coconut oil!  I have been using this as an eye makeup remover (and for skin, nails, smoothies, etc.) just this week for the first time, and I am already SO in love with it that I don't think I can travel without it.

Sun protection, convenience, and necessity also rule for skincare for the body:

 - Vaseline Spray 'n Go Moisturizer in Aloe Fresh - I will spend a lot of my time on the coast in Ecuador, and it is just too dang hot there to mess with heavy body lotions.  This spray lotion is light, refreshing, and absorbs quickly. 
 - OFF! Familycare Smooth & Dry Insect Repellant - In some regions (especially the coast), you can find our lovely fever friends malaria and dengue.  No. Thank. You.  Plus, I have spent many a night in air condition-less hotels with just mosquito nets (trust me...those are only romantic-looking in the movies)and maybe a squeaky fan if I'm lucky, only to wake up with mosquito-bitten feet, arms, and even my entire face on one occasion.  This repellant has 15% DEET, and in travel situations such as this, I go for the strong stuff. 
 - Banana Boat Protect & Hydrate Suncreen SPF 50 - This is a new one for me, but it promises to be an effective sunscreen with the feel of a body moisturizer.
 - The best deodorant/anti-perspirant EVER - Donna Karan Cashmere Mist.  I don't care if it weighs 5 lbs...I'm not leaving home without it.

Lastly, a few other shower essentials:

- Soap (duh).  I will say, though, that I rarely mess with body wash when I travel.  A good 'ol bar of soap won't leak and it's cheap enough just to toss at the end of my trip.
- Salux Nylon Japanese Beauty Cloth - (folded under soap) - Listen up, mamitas - YOU NEED THIS!  I discovered this years ago, and it is a fabulous exfoliating washcloth (long enough to use on your back, too!) that is perfect for scrubbing off a day's worth of sweat, sunscreen, and South-American-traveling-grime.  All you need is a little bit of body wash (or just run your bar soap over it) and it lathers wonderfully.  You will never need to buy another body scrub after having one of these, either.  It can be hung from any hook or towel rod, and it will dry in about an hour.
- Mr. Pumic Ultimate Two-Sided Pumice Bar - I don't care if you are traveling in a third world country...there is no excuse for dirty, calloused feet.  Period.  At least not for me there isn't. 
- Olay 4-in-1 Daily Facial Cloths - Of all of my Ecuadorian travel must-haves (apart from motion-sickness medicine and Pepto-Bismol, lol), this was one of the biggest lifesavers for me.  Hotels in Latin America rarely, if ever, have washcloths.  (WHY?  Who doesn't use a washcloth?  How do you get clean without one?  Never not answer that question...)  Each dry cloth will suds up when dampened, and then after giving your face a good scrubbing, it can hold up for the rest of your shower to use with your soap or shower gel as a good substitute for a washcloth.  Then, simply toss it when you are done.

Later this week I'll share my haircare and makeup travel essentials, too.  But for now, what are your travel essentials for skincare?  Any good packing tips for us?

p.s. - For the background of some of my photos in this post, I used a couple of pieces of traditional Ecuadorian artwork called Tigua.  These colorful paintings originate in the indigenous cultures of the Sierra (mountainous) region of Ecuador.  Hope that you enjoyed this glimpse of my beautiful "other" home!


  1. What is the brand of the coconut oil you use to remove makeup? Where did you get it? Where do you get the deodorant you mentioned? (the one you love)

    1. I bought the Donna Karan deodorant at Nordstrom, but I imagine it would be sold anywhere the Cashmere Mist perfume is sold. As for the coconut oil, I had read somewhere that extra virgin is best for makeup removal (versus just virgin coconut oil), so I bought a jar of Garden of Life e.v. coconut oil at Whole Foods for around $14. However, I am using it up pretty quickly, so I'll probably purchase it from next time. p.s. - it is SO good spread on toast and waffles!