Filled with family and friends, the holidays can be one of the best times of the year. But long plane rides, layovers, jam-packed schedules, and, uh, friends and family can leave little time for self-care.
However, you don’t have to forego looking great and feeling great. Simply narrow down your beauty essentials to these seven products. They’ll make your skin look healthy and glowing, without bogging down your suitcase.
1. Let’s start with the obvious: your favorite moisturizer.
Flaky foreheads, irritation around the mouth and nose, and dull skin can be challenges even under the best circumstances, and sitting for hours in the moisture-zapping, recirculated air of a plane cabin certainly doesn’t help.
“Be sure to pack a moisturizer that your skin loves,” says Kristen Arnett, makeup artist and founder of Green Beauty Team. However, try to avoid any moisturizers that include alcohol or parabens, which are sometimes used as preservatives in beauty products but can actually dehydrate skin.
2. Level up your hydration game with hydrosols.
Sometimes even the best moisturizers can’t stand up to air travel’s dehydrating effect. To boost hydration, Arnett recommends hydrosols—water-based distillations of plant extracts that also include hydrating essential oils. They’re super portable and usually come in small spray bottles, perfect for a purse or carry-on. “I’m a big fan,” Arnett says. “You can easily pack them and mist on the plane.”
3. Cleansing oils are ultra-hydrating (and save room in your bag).
It seems like the rules for bringing liquids on planes get stricter every year, so if you’re traveling light, a lot of your products might have to pull double duty. Packing a few ounces of cleansing oil is a one-stop solution for skin and hair care.
Oil cleansers are excellent at removing makeup without stripping your face of the protective layer of “good oil” that keeps skin from looking flaky, and they can also be used as makeshift travel shampoos. The same moisture-preserving properties that make oil cleansers great at scrubbing makeup make them equally effective at getting rid of dirt, oil, and hair product buildup on the scalp.
4. Solid cleansers are a good bet too.
Speaking of restrictions on liquids, if you’re looking to get through security without having to watch a Ziplock full of your toiletries go through the X-ray machine, consider packing a solid cleanser. These cleansers are sold in stick form, and much like oil cleansers, they’re meant to soothe and clean sensitive skin without harsh soaps and preservatives that strip moisture.
5. Balms can save more than your hands.
It’s not just our faces that get dried out by packed airplanes, cold air, and stifling heating systems. According to Arnett, lack of moisture is the culprit behind many of our winter sinus woes. To protect parched skin and sinuses, she recommends going a step beyond moisturizers and packing an organic, fragrance-free balm.
“Artificial heat in wintertime dries out important protective membranes in our sinuses,” Arnett says. “One of my favorite tricks to stay healthy on an airplane is to put a touch of balm just around the inside of my nostrils to keep them from getting dry.”
6. Keep your routine simple with an all-in-one solid foundation.
A bulky makeup bag takes up prime real estate. So instead of packing primer, concealer, foundation, and powder, try an all-in-one stick foundation. Solid foundation can double as concealer and goes on sheer when applied with fingertips. With a bit more product and a good blending sponge, it also makes a solid base to build glitzy looks. Plus, stick foundation doesn’t take up room in your plastic baggie full of liquids.
7. Cream or gel blush.
A great cream blush provides so much more than cheek color: Cream blush can come in stick, cake, or gel form, and is generally blended into the apples of cheeks with fingertips for a flushed, just-finished-a-snowball-fight glow. But a great cream blush in a versatile color, like wine or peach, also makes for a natural-looking lip stain that can stay put much longer than ordinary lipstick.
While it can be anxiety inducing to be parted from our favorite products while traveling, it can actually be beneficial, Arnett says. She says living without the entire contents of our bathroom cabinets could actually be a step toward a simpler routine in the new year.
“You can actually throw your skin off balance by using too many products,” Arnett says. “Let the minimal space show you how simple your beauty routine can be. Your skin could even get better!”