It’s very easy to get carried away with beauty products when packing for a holiday. “I’d better bring a few face masks, six shades of nail polish and a foot bath, just in case,” you think “and I can’t possibly go a week without my GHDs."
This summer, however, I’d like to invite you to approach your suitcase from a different angle. Think about it: half of your beauty products can be used for other things. So with a little forward planning, you could create more space for shoes (we ALL need more space for shoes, don’t we?). Here are my top five multi-purpose products.
1. Coconut conditioner
I’m a big fan of coconut conditioner over the summer months. It’s brilliant for dried-out, sun-damaged hair, it smells of holidays, but best of all, it’s just about the cheapest conditioner you can buy. You can pick it up when shopping for groceries (Tesco, 88p; Sainsbury's, £1.50) or at the more obvious outlets (Boots, £1.29). In addition to being great for your hair, I discovered a few years ago that you can use conditioner instead of gel or mousse when shaving your legs. And it works such a treat, I’ve stopped buying shaving gel altogether. You can use any kind of conditioner, of course, but that coconut smell is just so good.
2. Lip balm
Most of us don’t travel anywhere without lip balm, but have you considered what else it can do for you? Providing it’s nothing too strong or potentially stingy (for this purpose, I would avoid Carmex or any minty flavours), it can double as an eye cream, provide extra moisture for dry areas such as elbows and knees, act as a cuticle cream or even smooth down unruly wisps of hair. One of my favourites is The Body Shop’s lip butter in pink grapefruit, £4, and I also like Chapstick Original, £1.79 at Boots, which has the added bonus of having an SPF.
3. Aloe Vera gel
Ideally I would advise you to track down an actual aloe vera plant when you arrive at your destination. Nothing compares to a freshly cut, chilled slice of its leaves to soothe angry mosquito bites. But as it is unlikely that you will have a plant to hand, the next best thing is the highest concentration you can buy to deal with insect stings, sunburn and other scalds and burns. It’s also an effective spot treatment if you get a holiday break-out. Try Holland & Barrett’s 99.9% gel, £5.99 for 200ml. A tube lasts forever, so it’s a good investment.
4. Brown mascara
Black mascara is great for the city, but can look a little harsh on a Mediterranean beach or in a rural Tuscan town, so choose a softer brown. As well as applying it to your eyelashes try using it also as a subtle, smudgy eyeliner. It’s also a great way to achieve the heavier, dark eyebrows that are so sought-after right now, without the worry of a harsh pencilled solid line. You might want to glam up in the evening, so I’d recommend No7’s Exceptional Definition Mascara (£12.50 at Boots) or Benefit’s BADgal brown mascara (£16.50, benefitcosmetics.co.uk ) as both give really good definition without a fake lash effect.
5. Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap
This is a real feelgood product, and is particularly good for the campers and self-caterers among you. It’s a soap. It’s a shower gel. You can shampoo your hair with it. It’s also mild enough to wash clothes, dishes and floors. In fact, it boasts that you can use it for 18 different purposes, plus it’s totally ecologically sound (biodegradable, organic, fair trade and in recycled packaging). I use the zingy Peppermint Liquid Soap every day (£5.49 for 236ml, 0845 072 5825) but will be packing a smaller bottle of heady Lavender Liquid Soap (£1.99 for 59ml) to use on warm summer evenings.
And finally, to complete your low maintenance mantra, follow a tip a hairdresser gave me on a shoot in Barbados years ago: don’t wash your hair every day. In fact, leave it for days and run your fingers through it, rather than brushing. Chlorine, sun and salt water do wonderful things to texture, meaning waves, plaits and messy updos all look fabulous on your undone, tousled hair. Enjoy the chance to leave the styling products behind and embrace your inner beach bum.