Let’s Talk Girl Stuff! Beauty, Hair and Health Advice for Backpackers

Sometimes I refer to myself as a ‘hopeless girl’ as I STILL haven’t mastered the art of nail varnish OR walking in heels and my hair is pretty much always just straight or in a pony tail (I’ve now added curly to my repertoire!) That said, I still often get described as girly. I love make-up and wearing pretty clothes and I have way more shoes than anyone needs – albeit nothing with more than a 2.5 inch heel! I’ve made the mistake of backpacking before with ONLY practical clothes and spent the whole time wishing I’d packed some mascara and a pair of nice sandals. Seriously NO ONE can rock the trekker sandals and whilst they certainly have a place in your backpack, I don’t recommend wearing them every day or suffer the tan marks! I swear I still had a faint brown square on my feet the following summer! (It seems the only part of me ever to tan is my feet!) So with that in mind, I am certainly no beauty expert but I have picked up some tips along the way which I’d love to share with you!


 

Let’s talk Make-up! 

I’m certainly not one of those girls who can’t nip to the corner shop without a full face of make-up but I don’t think I could go a few months without any at all so I compromise and take the essentials when I travel. I would recommend taking neutral colours that go with all your outfits and also avoid anything in powder form – it probably won’t last past the first flight and you will regret it when your backpack is covered in bronzer! Always look for make-up with SPF in it – 2 birds 1 stone! But most importantly you want make-up that stays put even in the most humid of conditions! I have spent the last 15 years or so searching for make-up with staying power and I’m happy to say I’ve had some break throughs recently and so I’ll let you in on these secrets now!

  • Foundation – AT LAST I’ve found a foundation which actually lasts all day. I’ve even fallen asleep in it before (beauty sin 101) and woke up looking like I’d just done my make-up! Thanks to my lovely friend Lisa who gave me my first Estee Lauder Double wear foundation for my birthday!  It’s not cheap at £32 but it’s worth every penny and though it’s a small bottle, I was impressed it lasted almost 4 months! It’s also probably the best colour match I’ve ever had which is no mean feat given how pasty I am! I really cannot rave about this enough! The only downside that I can see is that it’s only SPF 10. Check it out here!
  • Mascara – I absolutely LOVE Clinique’s High impact curling mascara. It does exactly what it says on the tin but also for travelling, you will need a reliably waterproof mascara. This isn’t branded as waterproof but trust me itdefinately is! I was lucky to inherit long eyelashes but this is both a blessing and a curse. In the past I always found that pretty much any mascara left me with panda eyes at the end of the day but not this one! Get yours here!
  • Eyebrow pencil – Being a blonde, I’ve got fair eyebrows that you can barely see and so I’ve always been on the search for a solution which looks natural and not drawn on. My solution is Benefit’s ‘Gimme Brow.” It tames your existing eyebrow hairs whilst adding subtle microfibres giving you a fuller more defined look – I’m a massive fan! See it out here…
  • Lippy – There has been a huge improvement in the staying power of lippies and lip glosses recently but I’m a big fan of bargain buy Rimmel’s Provocalips which is marketed as lasting 16 hours. I actually think it’s longer and sometimes I actually struggle to get it off without an oil based make-up remover! My best travel shade is ‘make your move‘ as it’s  a good every-day shade.  Get yours here…

 


 

Let’s Talk Beauty 

  • SPF. I’ve made the mistake of using normal sun cream on my face and the result was so many spots – I looked like I had chicken pox! So now I always use an oil free SPF for face only. I personally like No7 Protect & perfect intense advanced facial suncream with SPF 30. It’s also a bargain! Available from Boots only.
  • Perfume – no one likes a smelly backpacker! But you don’t want to be weighed down with a heavy perfume bottle! I nipped into Boots and asked for some samples. They are free and the perfect size to fit in your bag without weighing you down! You might have to be less fussy about which type you take but on the plus side you may discover a new perfume to love!
  • Realistically you’re not going to be able to stick to your full beauty regime so you will probably have to leave your toner’s, exfoliaters and face masks at home! I used to ditch most of this stuff when I travelled but your 30’s are not as kind to your skin as your 20’s so now I travel with a good moisturiser. I’ve just invested in the Number 7 protect and perfect travel kit which has moisturiser and serum in the perfect sized travel bottles which I will be taking to South America.
  • Face wipes will be your best friend especially if you are camping or taking long dusty journeys. Maybe get exfoliating face wipes – another 2 birds with 1 stone!

 

Let’s Talk Hair 

Argh the bane of my life! I definitely have a love-hate relationship with my hair! I’ve got long fine hair but lots of it and so me and scarves/hats do NOT get on! I tend to end up with a big matt at the back of my neck! Sexy! Not helped by years of bleaching my hair blonde and my hairdresser despairs every time I tell her how often I go swimming in chlorine! I lust after the sort of hair which dries smooth and without frizz falling into silky waves. I have the waves but I also have frizz and LOTS of it! But I can’t be carrying around my hairdryer or straighteners in my backpack so I’m always looking for a better travel hair solution! In the past I’ve embraced the curl, cut my hair short with lots of layers and just used a bit of frizz ease. It wasn’t great but better than the Hermione-look (otherwise known as the lampshade) when my hair is longer! This time around, determined to keep my long hair,  I’m trying something different and I’ll let you know how I get on! I’m giving the Brazilian blow dry a go (not what it sounds!!) It was on offer on Groupon and I’m a sucker for a bargain! Usually about £200 it’s well out of my price range! But on groupon I found a deal for £50 which is less than I pay for a cut and colour so I figured why not?! They infuse keratin into your hair (keratin is what makes straight hair straight) which has the effect of de-frizzing and taming your curls. It’s actually designed to improve the condition of your hair unlike chemical straightening which damages it and whilst it won’t promise you poker straight hair, it is supposed to make hair much more manageable and lasts up to about 3 months. Sounds great to me! Watch this space, I will report back soon!


 

Let’s Talk Clothes

I always try to take a combination of uber practical but not-so-sexy ‘travel clothes’ and a few nicer outfits. But most importantly you need to keep the amount you take to a miminum. Trust me, you don’t want to have to carry that kitchen sink with you every day! So here you need to master the ‘capsule wardrobe.‘ Basically everything you take should match with everything else. I love patterns and colours so I stick to neutral plain shorts/skirts/trousers/cardi’s and then add a few pretty tops and dresses to jazz things up a bit. Make sure your shoes are incredibly comfy. Wear them in a LOT before you travel with them. Also don’t forget to think about things like the grip on the soles! Have you ever been wearing a pair of lovely flip-flops when suddenly the weather turns and you are slipping and sliding everywhere trying to get to the nearest shelter! Rubber soles or ones with grips are best! I have just bought a pair of UGG sandals. They are incredibly soft and cushioned but have great grip. They did cost a fortune compared to most sandals (£70 gulp) but they are an investment and I’m sure after hours walking around cities in all weathers, I will be super glad I made the splurge! For more advice about what clothes to take, see my packing list for all weathers


 

Let’s Talk the ‘P’ word 

Periods. The bane of our lives – seriously men have it so much easier don’t they?!! As a doctor, I get several consultations a day from women worrying about getting their periods when they are travelling! Especially if they are camping, swimming lots or staying somewhere remote or hiking! So I thought I’d draw upon my experience as a GP and share a few ideas with you. I suggest discussing these options with your own GP if you think your ‘lady time’ might come at a BAD time!

  • Progestogen only pill ‘The POP.’ This contraceptive pill MIGHT just stop your period altogether! This is not an absolute given so I suggest trying it out for a few months before you go away! I would say about 70-80% of women find their periods disappear altogether though a small minority will find they get erratic periods instead. The downside to this pill when travelling, is you have to take it the same time every day (tricky when you’re crossing time zones) You have a 12 hour window with the newer versions (like Cerelle) and 3 hours with the older generation POPs. Go beyond this window and you’ll be at risk of ‘spotting’ and pregnancy if you are using it as contraception.
  • The Combined contraceptive pill ‘The COCP.’ This contraceptive pill is a great option. You still have a period albeit usually shorter, lighter and less painful but you will know when it’s going to be as it occurs a few days after you start your 7 day pill-break. You can choose to skip your period altogether by back-to-backing your pill packets (i.e missing your 7 day break.) This makes it a great option for shorter trips of a couple of months or less. The down sides are that it can’t be taken by any one who suffers migraines with aura (sensory disturbance) as it increases the risk of strokes. It also slightly increases your risk of DVT’s so make sure to walk about lots on flights! On the plus side, this pill has a 48 hour window so if you miss one pill but remember at the right time the next day, you will still be covered for contraception. Go beyond 48 hours and you will need extra precautions for a week!
  • Norethisterone – a form of POP however this is NOT contraception! Taken 3 days before your period is due then 3 times a day until you’re happy for your lady time to arrive! Great for short holidays but not really a good option for longer trips abroad!
  • The Progestogen only injection ‘The depot.’ Reliable contraception, you don’t need to remember to take a tablet so great for the forgetful! However occasionally women have irregular bleeding on this so try it several months before you travel just in case! Not a good option if you have risk factors for osteoporosis or if you are planning to start a family soon – this can take several months before your fertility bounces back!

Remember none of these options are completely foolproof so make sure you have some feminine hygiene products with you just in case! You don’t want to get caught out somewhere remote!!


I hope this has been helpful and given you some ideas for how to looks good, smell good and avoid having ‘lady dramas’ whilst away! Do you have any tips you can share with us ladies? Do you have any questions about the pill options I’ve discussed above? I will do my best to be able to answer them!

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6 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Girl Stuff! Beauty, Hair and Health Advice for Backpackers

  1. I love Clinique high impact mascara. I have yet to try the curling formula. Gimme brow is a big favorite of mine as well. Great selections and a helpful read.

  2. Great article but I have one comment to add The depot injection causes large amounts of weight gain which takes years to come off. My friends who have been on it hated it.

    1. Hi Hailey, it’s true there is a slight association but this only affects the minority. I’ve only had a few patients complain of weight gain. But most are happy with it. As with all medications there are side effects but they don’t affect everyone. Finding the right contraception is like finding the right pair of shoes – you have to try a few pairs on to get the right fit! Hope that helps 😊

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