What are the best skin care products for travel? We’ve created an abbreviated routine for you.
Traveling with K-beauty products is a hassle, especially in the winter. This is because even if you succeed in cramming five sweaters into a carry-on, the problem of packing your full skin care routine, complete with SPF and exfoliators, remains. Yet experience has likely taught you that you still need to bring the products in your usual routine instead of relying on a flat cleansing foam sample and a face oil or—god forbid, the free hotel soap and body moisturizer.
Here are our best tips on how to pack for each category, so you can return from your trip refreshed and glowing, inside and out.
As we’ve shared in our previous article, the best oil cleanser to bring on a trip is a balm-type cleanser that you can easily scoop into a small Muji case. The Enature Moringa Cleansing Balm is a lightweight balm that smells heavenly and gently cleanses skin without stripping skin of moisture. Packing a balm type like this one will prevent your oil cleanser leaking everywhere, wasting product, and ruining your toiletry bag.
Hands down, the best water-based cleanser for travel is a stick cleanser like the Neogen Green Tea Cleansing Stick. This particular one is a low pH stick cleanser that dries really fast, so you’re not left with a soapy sludge around the rim of the cap. It’s an easy-to-use product that even your travel buddy who’s uninterested in skin care would be happy to use. For you, it’ll be the perfect second step of your double cleanse.
When you travel, opting for multi-tasking products is a smart choice. An essence or serum mist like the Missha First Treatment Essence Mist can be used in the treatment step of your routine or as a mist throughout the day, including on the flight. If you’d rather not buy a whole new product for travel, you can get the same effect by filling an empty mist bottle with your favorite hydrating toner or essence.
It’s easy to get lazy with your routine when you’re traveling, but the temperature and water changes can take a toll on your skin. In that case, slapping on your favorite sheet mask at least once during your trip can help revitalize your skin.
If you like to experiment with skin care, try packing the Etude House SoonJung Dry Capsule Sheet Mask instead. It’s a dry sheet mask rolled up inside a capsule, which expands when you pour in your toner or essence of choice.
Just make sure that product you pour in doesn’t have irritating ingredients like harsh alcohols, since you’ll be leaving it on your face for at least 10 minutes. If you want a sheet mask you can customize depending on your skin condition that’s also easy to pack, then this will be a fun addition to your travel skin care routine.
Alternatively, you can pack extra cotton pads and toner mask instead.
Bringing a full routine of hydrating products will prevent your skin from going rogue during your trip. But skipping brightening products and acids altogether may cause you the pain of dull, flaky skin. If you normally love to use vitamin C serums at home like the Cosrx Triple C Lightning Liquid, for travel, opt for a powder version instead. The Philosophy Turbo Booster C Powder is a hidden gem at Sephora that instantly smoothes skin. Make sure to use a tiny amount each time to avoid over-exfoliation and if you have to use it in the daytime, apply SPF on top. This powder is a versatile product that you can mix with any hydrating product of your choice, like your essence or moisturizer. It also leaves your skin practically glowing.
Even if you don’t normally use products with a lightweight gel consistency, you should still consider packing some. This is because your skin will be extra dry from flying and travelling on trains and buses pumped with heat. You also never know if you’re going to get a sunburn, which is a risk if you’re heading to a winter wonderland or a ski resort. Pump some of the Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence or the Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel into a small squeezable bottle and apply a thin layer as an emergency fix.
Moisturizer, eye cream, and SPF
Depending on where you’re going, you may decide to bring a heavier moisturizer. Whatever it is, scoop some into a Muji container or a contact lens case. Don’t forget your eye cream, too, since your eyes will be especially prone to puffiness and dark circles from jet lag.
For SPF, depending on where you’re going, you may decide to bring the whole bottle to cover your body or transfer some into a small container. Either way, make sure to pack an ample amount and account for reapplication throughout the day. If you decide to bring the whole bottle, choose a moisturizing formula that you can apply on your hands throughout the day as hand cream and SPF treatment.
Traveling can be tiring, so you’ll be thankful to have a sleeping mask to put on during the flight or before you go to bed. The Innisfree Green Tea Line is well-known in the K-beauty world, and a great choice is their Hydrating Sleeping Mask with Green Tea. You can also find a sample size that comes in a squeezable tube in-store, which is perfect for a few days to a weeklong trip.
If your skin is dry and you feel like layering products is never enough, make sure to pack a face oil to put on at the end of your routine. You can a get a Muji bottle and transfer over some of your go-to face oil, but as with any containers, you run the risk of having the cap accidentally slide off due to the oil. In that case, the safest option is the Elizabeth Arden Advanced Ceramide Capsules, which are individually packaged ceramide oils with just enough product to cover your face and neck.
If you’re gone for a short while, you may be able to get away with using vitamin C powder alone to keep your skin smooth. But if you’re someone who needs to exfoliate at least twice a week, consider packing one or two Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Lemon in a Ziploc bag. If you’re traveling without a body exfoliating glove, you can use the Bio Peel on your body as well to get rid of dry, flaky patches on your elbows and feet.
An eye mask is a must to get quality sleep while you travel, but a heated eye mask is a whole new world. The A’pieu Steam Eye Mask is a disposable eye mask that heats up to help relax your eyes and let you unwind. Using this makes your entire body feel like a noodle afterwards, and it’s the perfect mask to use that first night away when you hop into the hotel bed to catch some sleep.
So far, we’ve covered all the products you apply on your skin. But another important factor when it comes to healthy skin is digestion. If you’re traveling to a foreign country, trying different cuisines and beverages may have some unintended consequences. Taking probiotics once or twice a day is a great way to combat this and make sure your skin, body, and mood are all in good shape.
Since this is a full routine, you may be thinking—but how will I fit all this into my luggage? For reference, this is what the original routine looks like:
And this is what the final travel routine looks like:
Now you’re ready for your winter getaway!