Top 10 Health and Beauty Tips for Travelers

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Woman on Moped Fixing Make-up (Photo: ThinkStock/Maria Teijeiro)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on September 17, 2010. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, backpacking, baggage, health and safety, Jaclyn Liechti, packing, women's travel.

Oily skin, red eyes, and greasy hair: That paints a pretty accurate picture of what many of us travelers look like when we step off the plane for vacation. On the return trip, add sunburn, exhaustion, and blisters. Fortunately, you don't have to look like a hot mess when you arrive at your destination. Here a few tips and tricks for looking fresh and staying healthy whether traveling by car, plane, or boat.

Know your skin.

Before you even head out for vacation, stop to think for a few minutes about what beauty pitfalls may lie ahead for your specific trip. Will you face dry cabin air on a long overseas flight? Are you going to a sunny beach destination during long summer days? Will you be crossing multiple time zones?

Joanna Schlip, celebrity makeup artist for Physician Formula, says that the most important thing travelers need to know is their skin. "There is no one fix-it-all for everybody ... you have to know how you're going to react." And that means picking products you're used to using and that work with your body. Dr. Joseph Kvedar, director of Partners Center for Connected Health and associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School says, "What I tell my patients is, it's most important what feels good on your face and what you feel comfortable wearing, rather than a specific brand."

Stay hydrated.

Drinking water is an obvious health tip, and it's even more important when you take to the skies. Kvedar says that people don't think enough about the dehydration they will face on airplanes. It's a good idea to drink eight glasses of water the day before your trip, and avoid caffeine and alcohol.

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And while you're hydrating from the inside out, don't forget to keep your skin looking luminous by using moisturizer, which, according to Kvedar, is the most important item travelers can pack. "Your face is what everyone sees first," he says. "Even if you have oily skin or acne, moisturizers don't tend to aggravate that, and almost everyone can benefit from them." Schlip recommends misting your face with water if you tend to dry out when you travel.

Pack products that work harder.

Unless you're planning to rough it in nature, you might be loath to leave behind any of your beauty products. But with airlines now charging for checked bags (and in Spirit's case, carry-ons), space is even more at a premium. The trick to including everything you're used to using, according to Schlip, is to choose items that have multiple uses. For example, pick a lip tint that is also a blush or eye shadow, or a cleanser that also tones and moisturizes. "If you can find a bronzer that can go as an eye shadow and SPF, perfect, slam dunk," says Schlip. Brands like LUSH and Dr. Bronner's offer products that can be used in several different ways, from shampoo to shaving cream, making them favorites among travelers.

Go naked!

Let's face it: The chances that your makeup is going to look as fresh on your arrival as it did when you began your trip are slim. The dry air and close quarters are just waiting to wreak havoc on your skin, not to mention the mascara smudges that tend to happen if you nod off. Instead, wait until you reach your destination before applying makeup. At the very most, Irene Hatziantoniou and Mary Ditto, aestheticians and owners of North Coast Aesthetic Center, recommend wearing a tinted moisturizer instead of a heavy foundation, or a tinted lip balm instead of lipstick if you want a little color.

Powder your nose, literally.

If going au natural isn't your thing, try to pick powder products. Not only are they 3-1-1 compliant, so you can take as many as you like in your carry-on, but they're also practical in other ways. "Powder not only gives you coverage, it gives you SPF protection and it can absorb excess oil," Schlip says. Be sure to pick a product that is buildable, like a compact powder so that you can reapply. Before leaving the terminal, you can make a quick stop in the restroom to touch up powder foundation, bronzer, and blush.

Get your beauty sleep.

It's no secret that being rested reflects in the way you look. "Sleep is critical to your appearance," according to Kvedar, "and there's no better way to mess up your sleep than crossing time zones." When you're trying to adjust to a new locale, avoid drinking caffeine after 2:00 p.m. local time and forgo heavy alcohol use. Combined with good hydration, staying rested will also help you to prevent jetlag. Also, if you wear contacts, consider wearing your glasses while you travel so you can take a quick nap without irritating your eyes or risking an eye infection.

Don't let the TSA fool you.

If you're bringing a bag of toiletries on the airplane, make sure you know what's allowed—and what's not. Things you should pack in your checked bag include liquids in quantities of 3.4 ounces or more, such as gel deodorants, toothpaste, perfume, and liquid makeup. Saline solution, petroleum jelly, and eye drops are excluded from the rule, since they are used for medical conditions and can be packed in larger quantities in your carry-on. Although you don't need to include those items in your one-quart bag, you do need to declare them. You can also feel free to pack lipsticks, disposable razors, cuticle cutters, eyelash curlers, nail clippers, tweezers and small toiletry scissors (less than four inches) in your carry-on, since they're all permitted by the TSA.

Wash your hands.

Wash your hands with soap and water, especially before you apply makeup. Not only will this help you avoid getting sick on vacation, but it'll also keep your skin looking fresh and breakout-free. And while this tip may seem basic, it can often be a challenge to find a reasonably clean sink with soap in places like buses, subways, and germy tourist attractions. For those moments, make sure you have a small bottle of hand sanitizer readily available.

Wear sunscreen, even on the plane.

If you're going to a hot, tropical destination, chances are you're already packing the sunscreen, and with good reason. "The closer you get to the equator, the stronger the sun is and the shorter amount of time you can stay out [without getting] serious sun damage consequences," says Kvedar. But your UV exposure might be happening while you're still 30,000 feet above the ground. Kvedar notes that windows don't block all UV rays, so "if you're in a window seat on a long flight, and there's a lot of sunshine, you could get a lot of exposure to UVA. The higher you go the more intense that is."

In order to protect your skin from the damaging effects of the sun, Schlip recommends products with SPF already included. "Sunblock is hard to reapply, and most people, when they've done their makeup, they don't think to reapply in the middle of the day. You feel like it's going to take your makeup off." But new technologies have allowed for SPF in powder form, from mass market lines to department store products. "It's awesome because it's so easy to reapply a bronzer or powder," she says.

Pack a repair bag in your carry-on.

"Having a touch-up bag is key," says Schlip. By packing a small, 3-1-1 compliant bag that you can pull out as soon as you arrive at your destination, you can head out on the town without missing a beat. Hatziantoniou and Ditto recommend including eye drops for red eyes. Schlip recommends combating oily skin with blotting papers, and to apply powder when you reach your destination.

A little shimmer powder on your cheekbones can brighten up your complexion, and if your hair looks a little greasy, tap in some translucent powder or dry shampoo to absorb the oil. Other quick fixes to include are mini emery boards for broken nails, or moleskin for shoes that pinch and rub your feet to avoid blisters.

Your Turn

What are your foolproof ways of staying beautiful and healthy on vacation? Share your tips with other readers below!

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