Beauty on the Trail

While I don’t think anyone who knows me well who would consider me “high maintenance”, I do put forth an effort to look decent enough to prevent scaring small children. When we are on multi-day camping trips, this is easier said than done, however I have learned a few tricks along the way that help keep me looking presentable.

Tip #1: Plan ahead

Make a list of all the things you need for both hygiene and beauty, such as deodorant, toothpaste, lip balm, makeup, moisturizer, etc. If you don’t have the basic hygiene stuff in travel size, get to the nearest Target and stock up. The size and weight DOES make a huge difference and you will be carrying all this stuff. Make sure you need it and that you get the version that weighs the least. Leave anything at home that you aren’t sure about bringing. Also make sure to bring extras of hair elastics (it’s NO fun when the only one you brought breaks on the first day, trust me) and lip balm. I can survive without makeup but no one wants to camp with me if I have to spend 2 days without my beloved EOS or Burt’s Bees lip balm.

Camping Make Up Kit
My hygiene/makeup kit

Tip #2: Keep your skin happy

The biggest challenge I face when camping is usually skin related. On sunny days or at high altitude there are more worries about sunburn, and in general skin tends to get dry and feel the effects of constant exposure to wind and sun. So if I were limited to only bringing ONE beauty related item with me, it would be a good moisturizer that contains SPF.  Keeping your skin calm and moisturized does wonders for your looks in general, so that is always where I start. Also any products that can pull double duty are great because they save space and weight.

Tip #3: Samples, samples, samples

As a Sephora lover and a former subscriber to Birchbox and Ipsy, I have a TON of samples of products that are good for 1-2 uses. I am also a Kiehl’s fanatic, and any time I shop there I ask about samples and they usually hook me up with a bunch. Usually the samples are skin related (moisturizers, BB creams, serums, etc), so they really help combat the dry skin mentioned above. Most of them usually contain SPF as well so I tend to bring those camping and use the other ones at home when I don’t need to be as cautious about sunscreen. This might not work great for you if you have sensitive skin that reacts badly to new products, but in that case, find a brand you love and seek out samples of that brand to use. If that is not an option, use a small contact lens container and put a little of your own products in each side to use.

Tip #3: Pre-planning

I try to start out a trip on a good foot. If my hair is done, face is moisturized, nails trimmed, legs shaved, etc., it makes day 2, 3, and beyond much easier. Or at least I get one day of looking decent out of it and then proceed with a hat and a veil for the rest of the trip. Just kidding about the veil. Sort of. But seriously, start out looking good and it does seem to help carry over, especially as far as hair is concerned. You probably won’t be washing it while you are camping, so start with it super clean, don’t use a lot of product, and it will take longer to look oily and gross than if you start out with day old hair covered sticky products that attract dirt.  If you absolutely cannot go 2 days without washing your hair, bring a trial sized dry shampoo to use.  A small sprinkle of baby powder along the roots works well too, and you may be bringing that for other uses anyway. Neither are a must-have though, I usually just plan on wearing my hair pulled up on day 2 and under a hat on day 3 and beyond.

Tip #4: Simplify your look

If you are the type who typically wears a full face of makeup on the daily, you are going to want to get more comfortable with a much more minimalist look. I usually bring only a cheek stain, and I love Trish McEvoy’s liquid face color– it’s in a tube about the size and shape of a pen, is flattering and easy to use. I don’t have to worry about it breaking like powder blushes. I also bring mascara, waterproof mascara is recommended, as it is less likely to flake on your face at the first sign of breaking a sweat. If you are a lipstick person, some of the cheek stains or creme blushes can be used as a lip stain & Burt’s Bees makes some cool tinted lip balms. If you can’t imagine going without foundation, try tinted moisturizer instead. It will even out your skin tone without taking up a ton of room or time and will still be minimal and let your natural beauty shine through.

Cloud's Rest Sunrise
Who needs makeup when this is your view?

Tip #5: Keep it clean

When you are outdoors, getting fresh air and exercise, make sure that healthy glow can show!  I do my best to make sure I go to bed with a clean face and then give it a cleaning again in the morning before I moisturize. I am a big fan of the Burt’s Bees facial cleansing towelettes. They come in a travel size and they don’t leave a sticky residue on my skin like other wet wipes tend to do. I’ve also heard good things about the Neutrogena Makeup Remover Towelettes. By making sure to keep my face relatively clean, I deal with less breakouts and issues after I get home than I would if I let the grime build up on my face for days.

Tip #6: Stay organized

I have a small dry bag that I use solely for beauty/hygiene products. In that bag I keep my travel toothbrush, trial size toothpaste, tiny hairbrush with extra hair elastics, disposable razor, travel deodorant, a few sample packs of moisturizer, my facial wipes, mascara, blush, and a spare lip balm. The whole bag ends up being small enough to stuff in any little space in my pack and weighs next to nothing. I can always find what I am looking for easily, and after I get ready to hit the trail in the morning, it gets stuffed in the pack near my sleep stuff so it’s easy to find the next time I need it. I always keep a lip balm at hand though, whether in one of my hip belt pockets or a jacket pocket, since it’s something I reapply throughout the day.

Really, the key to looking beautiful on the trail is to have fun. If you are smiling and enjoying yourself, no one is ever going to notice that you didn’t fill in your eyebrows or that your skin tone is a bit uneven. A happy woman is a beautiful woman, so take the bare minimum you need to feel presentable and spend the rest of your time and energy on enjoying nature. Because we already think you are beautiful no matter what!


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