There's a faint dream that perhaps I'll be able to go on holiday abroad in September after my second vaccine dose, but for now it's been little staycations around the UK here and there. I actually think this will be the first year since I was in the single digits I'll have not gone abroad if things don't pick up! We did get a brief spell of sunny weather here in the UK, but it's not been one of our best summers by any stretch, so I'm definitely craving a holiday. However, whether it's a weekend away in the UK or you're going on an all-out sun-soaked holiday abroad the second you're able to: today we're talking how to pack your skincare routine when you're away from home (which I've been a bit out-of-practice with over the past 12 months!)
Of course minis are super handy if you're travelling, particularly if you're flying with hand luggage only and you have those pesky liquid limitations, but they come with a word of caution. I really wouldn't recommend taking a product you've never used before away with you. Whether it's a gift with purchase, free samples or a gift set I got at Christmas, minis fall into two categories for me: there are products that are new to me and I use those to test out and see if I want to invest in the full size, then there are duplicates of products I already have or have used in the past, which I tend to keep unopened until I go away. I also just have a few products that I use that come in smaller packaging, like my Deviant Cleansing Concentrate | £31 for 50ml | full review | then also my beloved the Ordinary Squalane Cleanser* | £5.50 for 50ml | full review | and also the Monday Muse the Nectar Oil* | £28 for 15ml | full review coming soon | (I wouldn't necessarily take this on a summer holiday, but if I was away over the winter, the extra nourishment would still be welcome) are all suitable for weeklong holidays where maybe a true mini doesn't quite cut it.
When it comes to the 'active' elements of your skincare routine (i.e. the treatment step in your AM and PM routine), you really are going to want to stay as consistent as possible, you don't want to start doing an entirely new skincare routine on holiday, particularly not if you're going abroad and your skin might get sensitised in the heat. If you can cut out a hydrating serum or combine your AM and PM moisturiser then I definitely recommend doing that, but you should stick with your retinol, acid or Vitamin C, or you're not really going to get the benefits of either routine.
Don't pack the kitchen sink
Honestly, I used to pack for every beauty eventuality: 'what if I want an extra lip colour choice?' 'what if I get a breakout?' and so on. I would never use a good 40% of what I packed! Realistically if you're going away for 2-7 nights, you probably need to make a judgement call. Never on holiday have I been like: 'I wish I'd packed that face mask', because most of the time I'm having fun, going for dinner, heading to the beach, wandering around a new city and I just don't have the time or inclination to do an excessive number of skincare steps or really any of the 'added extras'. I've never regretted not taking an extra serum I won't use.
It sounds really obvious but the contents of your suitcase will be squished, squashed and thrown about and the last thing you want is to waste the products you've spent your money on by having them applied to the inside of a wash bag! I personally don't go for fancy, heavy bottles or jars, because they're bulky and heavy, I don't pack delicate items or even twist-top pumps in case they accidentally open.
This is what I'd pack if I was going away on a weeklong holiday tomorrow (I'd probably drop the exfoliator and calming serum if I was doing a weekend only). First up, I would alway pack a balm cleanser, which is often the Ordinary one I've already mentioned, but at the moment I'm actually using and loving the Paula's Choice Omega+ Complex Cleansing Balm | £25. This is a light, creamy oil-based balm cleanser that can be used as a nourishing morning cleanse but also works really well at removing makeup and sunscreen in the evening. It's not on the skin for very long but those fatty acids can't hurt either. I would then pack a mini of a water-based cleanser and really, in a week using this as my evening cleanse, I could probably expect to use up this mini I got in a set. I've gone with the Youth to the People Superfood Cleanser | £12 for 59ml (larger than my mini) | full review | but for previous trips the Fresh Soy Cleanser* | £12.50 for 50ml | full review | has been a go-to.
You can take a hydrating toner if you want, but if I was short on space or flying with hand luggage only, I'd probably skip it. I find mists quick and easy when I'm travelling and want to just get my routine done pretty quickly and my favourite is the Zelens Provitamin D3 Fortifying Face Mist | £48 | full review. This is an amazing hydrating, barrier-boosting cocktail of humectants, vitamins and amino acids.
As I've mentioned, I stick to whatever treatments I'm using at the time and for me right now, these are the Youth to the People 15% Vitamin C + Clean Caffeine Energy Serum* | £59 | full review | in the morning as my antioxidant and to keep my skin tone looking even, and then the Allies of Skin 1A Retinal & Peptides Overnight Mask | £105 | full review. This is pretty expensive, and you really don't need to spend this much on a retinoid, because even when it comes to retinal there are cheaper products on the market. However, this is really nice and I have it open, so I'm using it up. Retinoids are the gold standard in anti-ageing and can also be beneficial for smoother, more even skin, and this has the added booster of peptides to enhance those results.
A potential add-on if I'm away for a week and we're taking the car or we have checked-in luggage is a more hydrating and replenishing serum like my Monday Muse the Juice Daily Serum* | £40 | full review coming soon. This can be particularly beneficial if you're somewhere hot and sunny, because for me at least, that can sometimes mess with my skin barrier and my face can get a bit flushed and irritated. This serum is formulated with prebiotics, panthenol, niacinamide and centella asiatica, which are all amazing for skin health and for providing a calming effect. I personally don't tend to prioritise exfoliation when I'm travelling; if I'm doing a long weekend then I'll exfoliate before I go, if I'm away for a week then I'll pack a couple of the Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel* | £19 for 5 | full review. They're pre-soaked in exfoliating acids like lactic, glycolic and salicylic to exfoliate the skin on every level so it's smooth, even and glowing. Alternatively I do have a mini of the Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant* | £14 for 13g | full review | which is a gentle enzyme and rice powder you mix in with water, so handy if you're struggling with liquid restrictions and it can double as a second cleanse.
My top recommendation, if you can, is to pack a moisturiser you enjoy for the day and the night. For me, that's the I'm From Rice Cream | £31 (15% off with code JASMINETALKSBEAUTY (affiliate)) | full review. This is a buttery, smooth, ceramide-rich cream that really restores my skin. However, I do get that if you're going somewhere hot, you might not want a full-on cream during the day so I recommend relying on a nice, moisturising sunscreen. Personally, I like the Garnier Ambre Solaire Anti-Dryness Protection Cream SPF 50+ | £6 | full review | because you're getting that high, broad-spectrum protection and it's water-resistant so it's not going to slide off your face in the heat. It's also cosmetically elegant and works beautifully under makeup. Plus, it comes in a small, travel-friendly tube that you could use up on a weeklong holiday.
For me, an eye cream isn't a must if I'm struggling for space, but if I'm packing one then it's going to be the Youth to the People Dream Eye Cream* | £42 | full review | because it's moisturising but also works really nicely both in the day and in the evening because it's not too thick or greasy. The Biossance Squalane + Marine Algae Eye Cream* | £46 | full review | is also great as an all-in-one, but if you're short on space just use your face cream around the eyes (so long as it doesn't have retinol, acids or Vitamin C in it at a high concentration).
As a side-note: my gorgeous makeup bag is from Elizabeth Scarlett in Tiger Azure* | £24 | and the wash bag was from Not on the High Street but I don't see it available any more!
How do you pack skincare for time away from home?