One of the most precious gifts holidays give us is time — to spend with loved ones, catch up on sleep, and indulge in the hair masks, body oils and foot scrubs we never use at home.
To find out which beauty products should make the cut, CLAIRE COLEMAN quizzed the women who literally write the book — well, the magazines.
They’re the beauty directors of the UK’s top glossy magazines and try more products in a year than most of us will in a lifetime.
Their choices aren’t just an expert travel edit, they are a window into what’s worth buying all year round…
Katy Young, Global Group Beauty Director, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle, pictured, uses SPF on her face all year round and is renowned for having the smallest bag on work trips
GO BIG ON PRODUCTS FOR YOUR BODY
Katy Young, Global Group Beauty Director, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle
I’m renowned for having the smallest bag on work trips: anything less than three days and I don’t check in a bag. I decant everything into Muji’s stacking pots (from £2.95 for five, muji.co.uk) and hoard minis swiped from good hotels.
My make-up kit is mini, too: Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencils (£22, narscosmetics.co.uk) — I take one in Dolce Vita, a suits-everyone nude, and another in a clean fresh red. I also love their 2-in-1 bronzer and blusher, and take Chanel’s diddy sample mascaras, along with a Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer (£38, lookfantastic.com) concealer that doesn’t need a powder.
If I’m away for a week or more, I’ll try to have a bit of fun. It gives me the chance to stop seeing beauty as a job and enjoy it as a consumer, so I’ll always pack my make-up and beauty products first and see how much room I have left for my clothes rather than the other way round.
I’ve just been to Normandy for a week with my family and my bag weighed 20kg, with at least half the space taken up by three massive wash bags. I hardly wore most of the clothes but I used every single beauty product.
I often take new things I’ve been meaning to try. Most recently I tested the cult US-Korean Venn range (from £55, netaporter.com). I’ll always skip ingredients that might cause a reaction, such as enzymes, acids and retinoids, but I’ll load up on products that are based on hyaluronic acid, vitamins or minerals.
I’ll never compromise on fragrance, hand cream and suncare. I like a fragrance that can create a cool, grounding space around you when everything is hot and muggy. Acqua di Parma Oud (£119.95, allbeauty.com) is a musky leather scent with citrus notes. Everyone who smells it thinks it’s lovely.
Chanel’s Hand Cream (£45, johnlewis.com) in its clever egg-shaped dispenser is always with me as it’s non-sticky, and for suncare I’m obsessed with the Vichy Solar Protective Waters (£19, vichy.co.uk), they go on much more lightly than an oil.
I use SPF on my face all year round but up the ante when I’m in the sun. This year I’ve enjoyed using the Revive SPF50 (£90, spacenk.com), which is really light as well as a nice primer.
I read that Brazilian women think about the skin on their feet as much as their face. I think we Brits generally don’t consider anything from the neck down.
Holidays are a really good time to make a bit more effort. That extra ten minutes spent applying after-sun when you’ve showered off the sand is the perfect opportunity to get into a new routine. After-sun is so important from an anti-inflammatory point of view, but I also think it’s a nice ritual, that transition from day at the beach to night out that makes you feel like you’re on holiday. It doesn’t have to be a dedicated after-sun: I find the Botanico Vida Omega Oil (£18.50, botanicovida.com) really soothing.
Newby Hands, Global Beauty Director for Net-a-Porter, suggested trying out the Institut Esthederm After Sun Repair
DON’T FUSS ABOUT INFLIGHT BEAUTY
Newby Hands, Global Beauty Director, Net-a-Porter
I’m definitely maximal, not minimal. You need more stuff on holiday to combat sun, chlorine and salt water — but there’s also the pleasure factor to think of.
One of my favourite times is what I call the beauty cocktail hour. When you come back from the beach, wash off the sand and the SPF, cool down and have some time to relax, have a drink and just sit and — hopefully — watch the sun setting over the ocean. It’s also a great time to use a (chilled) face mask, put on a hair mask and just do nothing but enjoy the moment.
I take a sheet mask for every night I’m away. On my last trip it was the Joanna Vargas ones (£60 for five, netaporter.com) and Erno Laszlo (from £55 for four, netaporter.com).
I keep them in a fridge or mini bar. I recall being told it’s not just UV that causes damage but heat, so you want to take the heat out of your skin.
I’ve heard so many dermatologists say they notice people’s skin is more clogged after summer because they use so much SPF, so I don’t think you should skimp on cleanser — I use the Omorovicza Cashmere Cleanser (£49, omorovicza.com).
I’m a fan of Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair and so always take that in some form — ampoules (£89, esteelauder.co.uk) are great, as you can take as many as you need. And I’m addicted to the Costa Brazil Kaya Face Oil (£115, netaporter.com), which sinks in and isn’t greasy.
When it comes to suncare, I use Sisley, never anything less than SPF30, and I always apply it in the room before I put my bikini on. It was something dermatologist Nick Lowe told me to do because by the time you’ve got to the beach, laid out a towel, ordered a drink and sat down, you’ve already been in the sun 30 minutes.
I use Institut Esthederm After Sun Repair (£36.50, spacenk.com) — after-sun is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant so a really good anti-ageing product that I continue to use at home. As a result, my skin is often better at the end of the summer than at the beginning. Oh, and I always take away a good self tan — I love the Tan Luxe (tan-luxe.com) range.
In-flight beauty has become a competitive sport: people take LED masks on flights for goodness sake. It’s great for Instagram but I’d rather watch a film, have a glass of wine and sleep.
I also think sheet masks and hyaluronic acid on flights can actually cause moisture to be sucked out of your skin and into the air. Instead I use an oil, which acts as a barrier, and drink a lot of water. The De Mamiel Altitude Oil (£30, demamiel.com) is an energising blend of essential oils which I swear helps protect against airborne bugs, so I put some under my nose.
Eve Cameron said she always runs out of time to decant her products into smaller bottles
ALWAYS PACK TWO CLEANSERS
Eve Cameron, Group Beauty Director, Good Housekeeping, Red and Prima
I never travel ‘hand luggage only’. I like the idea of decanting things but I’m always so busy before I go away that I just run out of time. I also worry I’ll get my labels muddled up and end up with body lotion on my hair!
Plus some products, such as vitamin C serums, are in airtight packaging to stop the active ingredients degrading, so if you decant them you could be ruining them. I’d rather pack full size in my case than try to shove everything into those ridiculous plastic bags.
The only things in my hand luggage are lip balm — I have dozens, but always Nuxe Reve de Miel (£6, uk.nuxe.com); concealer — the Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Hydrating Foundation Stick (£29, bareminerals.co.uk) doubles as a concealer and foundation; blotting papers — I like Erborian’s Black Paper (£8, uk.erborian.com), which remove shine without messing up your make-up; and tinted SPF — Lancaster Sun Perfect SPF 50 (£30, debenhams.com) is lightweight and matte and evens out skin tone — just in case my luggage doesn’t appear the other end.
And finally, I panic if I don’t have a magnifying mirror on me. I’d have to buy one if I forgot as without my glasses I can’t see much up close.
I prepare for every eventuality — everything from Anthisan anti-histamine cream, as I always get bitten, to sun protection. Clarins and Lancaster are my favourite and I always take Lancaster’s Tan Maximiser (£22, debenhams.com) as it extends your colour.
I might also take a fake tan. I think Garnier Summer Body (£9.99, superdrug.com) is great.
My skincare routine is the same all year round — I always fall back on the products that work for me.I’m obsessed with cleansers, especially when I’ve been using sunscreen as I do become congested if I don’t remove it properly, so I’ll usually have Liz Earle’s Cleanse & Polish (£14.45, uk.lizearle.com) that I’ve used for about 25 years, and I might follow that with a wash-off gel, like the new Caudalie Vinopure Gel Cleanser (£16, uk.caudalie.com, from September).
Then it’s all about moisturising and hydrating — I’m onto my eighth bottle of the Caudalie Premier Cru Serum (£90, uk.caudalie.com), an all-round anti-ager; and a hyaluronic acid, such as the Kate Somerville Wrinkle Warrior (£80, cultbeauty.com).
My usual haircare — Living Proof Colour Care (from £10, livingproof.co.uk) — comes with me, with a big tub of Restore Mask Treatment (£37, livingproof.co.uk) which I apply after a day on the beach, sitting on the balcony, with a nice cold glass of wine.
And I never bother to blow dry — I’m happy to be lazy when it comes to holiday hair. I’d rather have another 20 minutes on the balcony. I take Redken’s No Blow Dry Cream (£13.88, lookfantastic.com) which I just scrunch through my wet hair and it gives a bit of definition to my natural wave.
Ingeborg Van Lotringen, Beauty Director at Cosmopolitan said she chooses her essentials ‘carefully’
WEAR SPF ON THE PLANE
Ingeborg Van Lotringen, Beauty Director, Cosmopolitan
I am obsessed with packing light because I hate checking in luggage on short trips as I’m afraid it will get lost. Even on a longer holiday, pretty much everything I take is in tiny mini tubes or decanted into small 10ml or 20ml bottles.
It means I choose my essentials very carefully. For the past eight years I’ve used a transparent two-compartment Anya Hindmarch washbag. It looks bigger than those annoying plastic bags they give you at security but the volume is the same.
On all but three occasions, I’ve managed to get it through. If I’ve been forced to cram everything into the plastic bag, it takes ten (angry) minutes and it will just fit, practically to bursting.
I know everyone says that on a long-haul flight you should take off make-up and layer up moisturiser, but I actually rarely do it — it’s boring. Instead, I pre-load.
I’ll put on two serums — I like Medik8 R-Retinoate (£135, medik8.com), a retinoid you can use in the day, and Alumier MD EverActive C&E (£149, alumiermd.co.uk) which is an antioxidant that you make up fresh every few weeks — and a rich moisturiser before I fly. Then I’ll put SPF — Zelens Daily Defence SPF30 (£55, cultbeauty.co.uk) over the top because I like a window seat and UVA, which does penetrate glass, is more intense at altitude.
Instead of applying moisturiser, I rely on a hydrating mist which I decant into a spray bottle. I think hyaluronic acid and water can actually suck moisture from the skin when you’re in a dry plane cabin, but I don’t find the same with glycerine. The Gallinee Face Vinegar (£23, gallinee.com) is based on glycerine and is hydrating and pH balancing.
Lip balm is a must and I find the Skinceuticals Antioxidant Lip Repair (£38, skinceuticals.com) really good, and I always have Garden Of Wisdom Salicylic Acid (£9, victoriahealth.com) with me so I can nuke a spot the minute I see it. I find my eyes go quite wrinkly on the plane so I use Clinique’s Moisture Surge Eye Hydro-Filler Concentrate (£27.50, clinique.co.uk) which goes over concealer without messing it up.
Although I sit in the shade pretty much all day, I apply a lot of suncream. I don’t trust sprays as I don’t think people put enough on, so I use the Ultrasun Family SPF 30 lotion (£36, lookfantastic.com). It’s unscented, which is important to me, as I think UV can be irritating enough.
I’m obsessed with the Dr Dennis Gross LED face mask, so when I travel I often take the eye mask version (Spectralite, £172, spacenk.com) as I think the red LED light is soothing and calming. It weighs next to nothing and is so easy to use. It’s an odd-looking thing but the luggage police have so far never pulled it out.
I wear it for three minutes — it turns itself off so you get the right dose — before drifting off to sleep at night. My husband can’t stand it, but needs must.
Jessica Diner recommended keeping hoards of minis of your favourite skincare products
SAVE UP SKINCARE MINIS
Jessica Diner, Beauty & Lifestyle Director, Vogue
If I’m travelling for work, I only ever travel with hand luggage, because I like the idea of being nimble, and because when I travel on a family holiday with my son, I have to pack everything and the kitchen sink.
I take my usual skincare as my skin doesn’t like it when I change things, so I hoard minis of my favourites — Sarah Chapman’s Ultimate Cleanse (£48, spacenk.com), Bioderma’s Sensibio Micelle Solution (£7.20, feelunique.com) and Clinique Moisture Surge (from £12, clinique.co.uk).
My in-flight routine is pretty low maintenance. I apply the De Mamiel Altitude Oil (£30, demamiel.com) every half an hour as I’m paranoid about germs on planes. I’ll also take a hand sanitiser, a moisturising facial spritz, such as the Caudalie Beauty Elixir (£12, uk.caudalie.com) and a lip balm — the Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm (£15, cultbeauty.co.uk) is my current favourite.
On holiday I love to experiment with make up — I’m all about the glow, and I like solid highlighters that don’t cut into your liquids allowance such as Glossier’s Haloscope (£18, glossier.com). I’m obsessed with Bobbi Brown’s Highlighting Powder in Pink Glow (£36, bobbibrown.co.uk).
Palettes are great for holidays as you can take everything in a single compact. Charlotte Tilbury’s Instant Look in a Palette (£49, charlottetilbury.com) is great and Nars have done some good ones this summer such as Summer Lights (£56, nars cosmetics.co.uk).
I’m quite partial to a hotel amenity and because my hair generally behaves itself, I’m really lax about haircare when I travel. I use whatever shampoo is in the hotel bathroom, but I will bring a mini hair oil such as L’Oreal Professional Mythic Oil (£13.65, lookfantastic.com) to compensate for an average hotel conditioner.
For a family holiday I take an abundance of suncare — Clarins is the only one that has never given me a heat rash, and their new gel to oil formulas (from £20, clarins.co.uk) are lightweight and non-sticky. I use Factor 50 on my face and 30 on my body, and always use La Roche Posay Anthelios Dermo-Kids (from £13.99, superdrug.com) for my son.
I’ll also take a giant-sized water mist — Avene Thermal Spring Water Mist (£12.99, superdrug.com) which is amazing for cooling everyone down on the beach.
I don’t wear perfume on holiday as I think it attracts mosquitoes and I get eaten alive, so I rely on Lancaster Tan Maximiser (£22, debenhams.com) which has a light scent I associate with holidays. That or Nuxe Huile Prodigeuse (£29.50, uk.nuxe.com).
My other travel must-have is Lanolips 101 Ointment (£10.99, cultbeauty.co.uk). It’s an amazing all-round treatment for scrapes, grazes and mosquito bites, and I also use it as a lip balm before bed.
Our pick of the products to pack
Clarins Sun Care Body Gel-in-Oil SPF 30 £22 Shop