Hair & beauty on the road: what to pack

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Just because youʼre travelling doesnʼt mean you have to abandon all hope of looking presentable.

As Thorn Tree member beautydiva recently told the forum: 'I'm just about to pack my bags for an 18 month tour of S.E Asia and call me vain, but I have mental hair, in humidity I can look rather like a cross between Margaret Thatcher and a Mister Whippy icecream without the occasional cut by a talented hair expert that understands me when I say cow licks.'

Image by klyphord

Here, for beautydiva, and others unprepared to sacrifice their looks at the altar of travel are some on-the-move maintenance tips, from head to toe...

For your head

Chlorine and saltwater leave hair tatty. Pack a foldable straw hat: hides tangles and looks pretty (as well as preventing sun damage and wrinkles). An alice band will also tidy you up, and mask greasy hair.

A pre-emptive strategy is to mix a dollop of leave-in conditioner with a glass of water and spray this on hair before entering the pool – it will help prevent hair from soaking up too much chlorinated water.

Becci Coombes, founder of www.girlstravelclub.co.uk, has a bargain haircare tip: 'Whisk an egg, then stir in a teaspoon of oil and a little water. Massage into hair then wrap in a plastic bag; relax for 30 minutes before shampooing out.'

For girls who need gadgets, www.design-go.com offers travel-size hairdryers and straighteners. A microfibre hair turban will wrap up wet hair, but packs down small.

If blow-drying is a no-no (it increases frizz in humid conditions) try styling hair with a leave-in conditioner – it will give you the 'wet look' while moisturising your hair.

For your face

Everyoneʼs skin is different. Know which products work for you and pack the essentials, decanting small amounts into empty film cannisters to keep weight down.

The flight is your first challenge. Skin will dry out. Drink lots of water, donʼt wear make-up, and cleanse and moisturise before, during and after. Use a tinted moisturiser if you want a bit of concealing.

Donʼt scrimp on sunscreen, and buy a high SPF factor. Wear it all the time, even in the shade. Avoid sun damage altogether by combining a floppy hat with a product that gives a gentle tan without the need to sunbathe.

After a heavy night, a few drops of Kiehlʼs Midnight Recovery Oil will see you right. For extra colour, buy a blusher that can be used to tint both cheeks and lips – two products for the space of one.

For your eyes

Have your eyelashes tinted before leaving home – you wonʼt need to pack mascara, and wonʼt get 'panda eyes' after emerging from the pool.

Pack daily disposable contact lenses to avoid the need for bulky fluid bottles, which you canʼt take through airport security. On the plane, treat your eyes: the Aloe Vera Eye Mask helps keep them moist.

If you want a bit of glam, pack a dark kohl pencil – theyʼre small, help avoid the 'bald face' look, can tidy unruly eyebrows and double as an emergency writing implement.

For your skin

Multipurpose is key to travelling light. The GTC All-in-one Cleanser does everything: hand wash, bubble bath, shampoo, shower gel, even a laundry soap; it contains lavender oil, good for soothing the stresses of travel.

Raid your washbag for other double-ups. Conditioner makes a good shaving foam; toothpaste will dry out spots. Paul Mitchellʼs Tea Tree Hair & Body Moisturiser is a leave-in conditioner that also moisturises skin.

Perfume is not recommended – it attracts mosquitoes and is harsh on sunburned skin, though if you want to take a little, buy a Travalo, a lipstick-sized atomiser that holds 50 squirts. Mrs White’s Unstung Hero is a unisex eau de cologne with a natural mossie repellent.

For your feet

Keep toes trim with clippers from www.design-go.com – incorporating a nail file and cuticle probe, theyʼre hand-luggage approved so wonʼt get confiscated at security.

Wearing trekking sandals in heat can cause heels to crack. Pack a little bottle of foot balm – such as Aveda Foot Relief – to treat them. Or, says Becci, 'soak feet in a warm bath containing salt and lavender oil. Mix together coconut or olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a handful of sand, and massage all over to exfoliate. Then mix a tablespoon of the oil with some crushed strawberries, papaya or other fruit and moisturise in tropical style.'

Finally, to show off your fine feet, pack a pair of fancy flipflops – they take up little space and can add glam to an ordinary outfit.

All product recommendations are the author's independent views. For more tips on looking good on the road, read our guide to worldwide beauty treatments.