I don’t know about you, but I usually approach duty-free shopping in the manner of Supermarket Sweep. If they provided trolleys, mine would be full. As soon as I’ve emerged from security, I stampede to the nearest beauty outlet and am seized by the desire to purchase multipacks, teeny tiny travel palettes and anything over 100ml, just because I can.
It turns out that I’m not the only one - travel retailers report that duty-free shopping has seen a boom in the last ten years, thanks in most part to stricter security measures that impel passengers to arrive at the airport earlier, therefore freeing up more time for duty-free sprees. There’s also something irresistible about these bright, shiny shops offering tax and duty free steals that allow you to stock up on old favourites, purchase a last-minute gift or get something no one on the ground could get their hands on. They’re shopping Shangri-Las in departure lounge no-man’s land, your final destination for elusive, limited edition and region-specific beauty treasures. And don’t get me started on the on-board duty-free trolley. I feel struck by cosmetic FOMO every time it wheels past me down the aisle.
So what should you snap up en route to your summer getaway? Here are my picks of the best jetset makeup deals to make you look flawless before, during and many months after the flight. Price and availability varies depending on where you’re flying from - give World Duty Free a call for the most up to date info (+0044 01784 475509).
The fatigue fighter
Travel Exclusive Bobbi Brown Lilac Rose Shimmer Brick Set will give tired, pallid complexions a lift when harsh strip lighting and jetlag steal your mojo. Swirled onto the apples of the cheeks and swept towards the temples it will make you look youthful and alive (key but difficult to achieve after a 14 hour flight). Whether your journey is long haul, red eye or just a quick trip, this pearlescent blusher is likely to become your travel companion of choice. Don’t go nuts - think soft glow, not glitterball. The small Face Blender Brush enclosed should help on the restraint front - it’s dinky but high quality.
The eye brightener
A dry environment, disturbed sleep and scratchy eye masks can make eyes look more than a little newborn mole-y. Look alive and get busy with Clinique Eyes To Go eyeshadow palette to reverse the damage without having to get forensic with the eyeliner. There are no duds or garish shades here either - just suit-all greys, greens, browns and purples to bring out your natural eye colour. There’s also a white shade that works wonders when blended into the inner corner of the eye - you will look instantly fresher and no one will quite detect how. The dual ended applicator is impressively sturdy too. Full marks from the maniac.
The lip wardrobe
I’m a sucker for anything travel-sized, so Estée Lauder Pure Color High Gloss Minis appealed instantly to my inner Borrower. Buy this and never be short of a lipgloss again - each colour is universally flattering, whether you want to make a statement with a bright lip (handy for detracting attention away from tired eyes) or keep things low key with a smooth nude. Each will nourish plane-parched lips and owning five means that you’ve no excuse for chapped lips once you’re back on home turf. I had a lot of fun with Vixen Plum - it’s bold yet sheer and would offset a tan beautifully. If you’re lacking in the tan department, the next travel exclusive might help…
Smashbox Lighting Crew Set will whisk you from economy to first in the luminosity stakes in a simple sweep of a kabuki brush. Granted, you may want to bring along a larger brush if your luggage allowance permits, but this petite version will nevertheless get the job done. The glow-on-the-go set includes Photo Op Under Eye Brightener and Baked Fusion Soft Lights powder in Starburst, which I’d say would be a good fit for most skintones. A wheel of bronze and dusky pink tones, the powder will enhance a tan if you already have one, and create subtle golden warmth if you don’t. The Under Eye Brightener is also a magic wand of light - it illuminates the under eye area while masking shadows, although I’ve found Smashbox’s shades a little dark in the past. If you’re pale of skin like me, you might want to work on your tan first and wield this on your return journey.
The Classy Neutral
Whether you’re a star trying to keep a low profile in Arrivals or simply a fan of the natural look, Bobbi Brown’s Sandy Nudes Eye Palette is for passengers’ eyes only. A double layered palette of eight understated shadows, Bobbi has all of the bases covered as usual - from base colour to lids to liner in matte, shimmer, sparkly and metallic finishes. With names such as Rich Caviar, Champagne and Caramel, it’s the beauty equivalent of turning left on the plane.
The Power Palettes
A duty-free dash isn’t complete without the satisfying snap of a travel exclusive palette. In this arena Estée Lauder excel - both the Expert Colour Palette and Modern Chic Face Palette showcase classic shades and luxe formulations (bar bronzer, but Smashbox have that covered). Brushes, applicators, large mirrors and sleek packaging are all part and package. For something a little quirkier, Guerlain’s La Petite Robe Noire palette , £51, is one of the cutest I spied. It contains a shimmery pink gloss, rosy blush, three twinkly shadows and a face powder scented with Guerlain’s fruity floral fragrance of the same name.
If it sounds a little on the frilly side for your taste, invest instead in Lancome’s Absolu Nude palette, £34.95. It’s essentially your dressing table condensed into streamlined shiny black compartments, with an eye and eyebrow pencil, gloss, an Absolu Nu lipstick, concealer, pressed powder, a mini Virtuose mascara, a selection of concealers, a light pink blush and a selection of luminous eyeshadows that range from creamy ivory to intense black, plus all of the tools you could ever require. The only problem I can spot is that these palettes aren’t one size fits all - if you’re either very fair or dark of skintone, it would be best to opt for separate products.
The Expert’s Prize Products
If the above has whetted your appetite for trips to come, take on board some tips from celebrity and World Duty Free makeup artist Florrie White :
“My essential beauty products to carry onto the flight are: Sisley Eye Contour Mask , £71.10, Gazelli Ultra Nourishing Saviour Mask , £40, Chanel Hydra Beauty Essence Mis t, £44, By Terry Baume de Rose , £38, and Sarah Chapman Overnight Hand and Nail Treatment , £35, and I apply these before and during the flight. I also carry on a salad from EAT instead of eating the plane food and drink a lot of water.”
“On landing I apply Clinique CC Cream , £28, curl my lashes and distract from any tiredness by applying YSL Rouge Pur Couture Lipstick in no 13 , £25. I stock up on most of these in Duty Free along with some of their travel exclusives like the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair in 100ml , £91.50. I always pick up Helena Rubenstein’s Lip Zoom from European airports too - I have been using the product for years and it is no longer available in the UK.”
What are your duty-free essentials? Is there a product that you love from another country that you stock up on abroad? Comment below or tweet me @AnnaMaryHunter.