“I’m tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep. That’s deep enough. What do you want – an adorable pancreas?”
~ Jean Kerr, The Snake Has All the Lines
We will talk about this next travel subject theoretically since it pains me a little and I’m trying awfully hard not to be bitter/depressed that J. is leaving in a month. Well, so am I, but I’m coming back a week after that which just isn’t the same thing.
So, theoretically, when moving or traveling abroad for an extended period of time, you will save yourself a lot of time and money if you take your own toiletries, makeup, odds, and ends. Depending on where you go the brands might change significantly and save you the headache of having to figure out (again) what products make you breakout, what acne medications you’re frightfully allergic to, or what not. Also some countries currency exchange rate makes shopping for “luxuries” (you’ll notice the sarcastic air quotes, yes? That’s because mascara is a necessity and not a luxury) prohibitively expensive.
Ladies: go through your makeup bag and get rid of anything past its expiration. Yes, makeup expires. And old blushes, shadows, mascara, and brushes can be a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause some truly nasty infections – which you simply don’t want to have to deal with abroad. Clean out or replace your brushes. Here are some good expiration guidelines. Do a little research into your skincare regimen: how much does is cost where you live, how much will it cost where you are going, how long does it last? Figure out if you should take a supply of your products with you. For example, most drugstore facial care brands make me breakout so I use Clinique’s Three Step System, which lasts me nearly six months.
Next, figure out what you need to buy, and for heaven’s sake, use your experts! As it turned out I needed to get rid of nearly all of my makeup (let’s not discuss how I found some eyeshadow that I bought back in high school…) and needed to replace it with a good brand that would last me a long time and not reduce my face to a bloated mess. Luckily a lovely sales associate saw me wandering through the makeup section of Nordstrom and became my trusty guide. I explained exactly what I needed and she produced a solution with the conjuring powers of a genie! She showed me how to create multiple looks for day, evening, work, and formal occasions using just four shades of eye shadow, made recommendations on some other products, and alerted me to a future sale (so that I could get what I needed at a slightly later time for a lower price). The ladies at Clinique did the same and let me tell you, ducklings, I left feeling empowered!
Gentlemen: same goes for your shaving kits. Get ride of old razors, facial cleansers, and other products past their prime. Replace them and, if prudent, stock up on spares and replacements for your time abroad. Are there particular brands that you prefer (shampoos, athlete’s foot powders, hair products), if so take a reasonable supply with you – it will keep you from having to buy an entire medicine cabinet abroad and will get you through until you can find local brands or products you like.
Both genders, if you have prescriptions of any kind, talk to your health care provider and get a supply to take with you, or have them recommend a generic brand that accomplishes the same purpose that you could find abroad. I have eczema on my scalp that requires a medicated shampoo for flare ups, J. uses a specific facial cleanser to prevent breakouts, so we’re making sure he (not I…hiss…) has a supply to take with him.
Consider this a slightly more frivolous yet equally important lecture on taking care of yourself abroad.