Pack what? part 2 : cosmetics!

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So ! You have decided to travel light. You have managed to reduce the number of outfits in your backpack and now comes the real challenge: cosmetics! Let’s see how you can reduce weight when it comes to toiletries, body and face care products.

Yes we know you have been working hard on your beauty routine lately and yes it will be heartbreaking to do without some of your all-time favourite products. Clearly you will not be able to fit all your bathroom items in your bag so you have to make wise choices here. Let’s see which are the essentials products and accessories that will help you stay glamourous while backpacking.

Take only what you really really REALLY NEED ! Carry only the “must have” and leave the “nice to have” items at home. Avoid products that can leak or melt in hot weather. One way of motivating you can be to carry less now so that you have some space to buy and try a couple of local products which can be fun !


First, let’s start with toiletries:

  • Q-tips put together with a rubber band so they you won’t find them everywhere in your vanity case.
  • Reusable make up remover pads. I selected pink ones (#nevertoopink), they are two-sided: the pink side to remove coloured make(up (eyes, lips) and the white side to clean your face. They cost around 1€ each. They say you can wash them in the washing machine but I found that the best way to have them really clean is to use soap and boiling water.
  • a small nailclipper and a paper nail file (the backpacker found one with a small mirror at the back, very useful), tweezers and a couple of safety pins.
  • an exfoliating konjac sponge so you can use it regularly and you don’t need to buy a scrub [fine I admit it ! I ended up buying an amazing almond face scrub at Khadi in Delhi 🙂 true I didn’t NEED it but it smelled SO good (and the backpacker liked it too!)].
  • a deodorant: try to find an aluminum-free formula as it might be a cause of breast cancer (long story short) and a light plastic packaging. In some shops you can find a travel-size deodorant which will last you long enough and will take less space than mine.
  • Obviously don’t forget your toothbrush and toothpaste.

Now let’s look at body care:

  • the smallest soap you can find and a feminine wash gel if you want, better avoid discomfort in this area when you are traveling. No need to carry many soaps, it is a basic item that you will easily find in other countries.
  • a solid shampoo, it lasts longer and takes less space. Also there is no risk it will leak in your bag. Mine is Godiva from Lush, I like the jasmine fragrance but also that it is a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner. Many brands offer this type of products. Leave us a comment and tell us which is your favourite. I am sorry to tell you that when it comes to hair care, this is the only product you are allowed to take! Forget your hair mist, oil, serum, mask… Ohw and obviously you won’t carry a hair dryer or straightener. You are finally going to discover how you hair looks naturally ! What an experience! And you might actually like it!
  • Those 2 creams have been in my family for at least three generations! I always carry a cream to prevent any skin infection (Cetavlon) and calm down any burn or severe dryness (Homeoplasmine). It is the best lip night balm! I also took a small spot treatment pen – Cleanance by Avène – but it melted and I didn’t use it that much.
  • First thing I did whenI reached India was to buy some natural coconut oil. You can find really small plastic bottles in the Parachute brand that are easy to carry. Coconut oil is the magic product for backpacking beauties. It can serve as make-up remover (yes panda style), skin moisturiser, massage oil. Check my article on everything you can do with coconut oil.

Eventually, let’s pay attention to the most sensitive category : face care !
please be compassionate and understand I come from a very complex and pleasant beauty routine !

  • Cleanse in the morning with a toner. I use tea tree water from Lush, I choose it for its antibacterial and matifying properties. At night I use micellar water that will remove dust and make up. As we traveled, it was really hard to find micellar water and I finished my toner as well, I replaced both of them with rose water and coconut oil to remove make up. Be creative but keep it natural when it comes to your skin.
  • Moisturise your face with a face cream: this is an important choice ! I chose Jaipure by Taaj because it is very light, easily absorbed by the skin has a matifying effect and has a pretty natural formula. This is the perfect “moonsoon cream”. Choose your face cream notv only depending on your skin type but also on the weather in your destination country.
  • I thought eye cream was important. Traveling in the sun can damange your very thin and sensitive under eye skin. I took a small stick by Embryolisse but to be honest it melted within less than 2 weeks in India 😦
  • Sun cream is a must. I like Anthelios by La Roche Posay because of the small plastic bottle and because it is a non-sticky formula. SPF30 is enough for my skin but SPF50 can be a better option if your skin is really sensitive to sunlight.
  • This is optional but I recommend taking a BB cream if you are used to wearing make up in your “normal” life. Let’s be honest, you want to look good on your travel pictures and in my case, make up helps me look less tired and it has a positive effect on my mood in the morning. I chose a cream I usually don’t use and it is the Big Easy by Benefit, it is moisturising, quite covering, the color pigments adapt a bit to your skin which is great when you travel as you might tan a bit and it has a spf 35 which is great for daily sun protection. Another article will soon be dedicated to make up.
  • Just like for hair care, forget all your serums, oils and masks. You can do without them. Yes you can!

Trust me, all these products were super useful after the Holi Festival in India. Imagine how creative I had to be to remove all these colours!

Holi The Festival of Colours in India

Voilà! You’re all set. I know it sounds superficial but the cosmetics part was the hardest for me to pack, it took a whole evening. So many things to think about and I don’t like to take too many risks by trying unknown brands and products.

Last thing, remember you cannot take those items with you on the plane. Just keep the moisturizing cream, deodorant and a face cleanser with you. Travel light and have fun !


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