I’ve never subscribed to the ‘less is more’ maxim when packing. As a girl, I’d routinely bring 5 or more books on a week long beach holiday, reasoning that nothing could be worse than being without a page-turner when poolside (incidentally, this is still a view I hold, though I've graduated from Sweet Valley Highs to more grown-up tomes...).
In my teen years, my case would be filled with sunscreen. I’d read somewhere that the sun was awful news for the skin (incidentally part two: this is of course still true and the sun damages skin like nothing else, so an SPF is essential), and was also quite taken by the idea of having alabaster skin, so decided to block every single last ray out with an array of creams.
Not much has changed - I now over pack both books and beauty products, which both annoys and elates whoever I’m travelling with - annoys because I invariably end up having to pack a bunch of my products in their suitcase to distribute the weight evenly, and elates because they get to use said bounty once we arrive.
I have, however, imposed something of a ban on packing excess products of late, hoping that carrying less physical baggage will have a positive effect on my mental overload when I get on holiday, and that my back will get to have a break, too.
I’ve therefore made more considered choices on both fronts - my books are penned by a better caliber of writer so that I can’t tear through them too quickly, and my products - well, let’s just say that whittling them down has been more of a challenge, but I’ve now found some that work enormously hard and cover lots of bases. Here are five that served me very well on holiday in Portugal last week. Oh - and if you’re looking for a good read: A. A. Gill's Pour Me, A Life. Brilliant stuff.
1. Chanel Palette Essentielle Conceal-Highlight-Colour, £52. As a rule, I’m not a fan of mixed-genre palettes. Give me a bundle of bronzy eyeshadows in one pan by all means, or a huge palette of various cheek colours, but those mixed palettes promising a whole face in one? No. There’s usually a dodgy colour in there, or a section my brush just can’t reach without picking up a smoky black on its way towards my cheeks, and, besides, I’ve always felt that half the fun of make-up is in the choice. That said, on holiday, I want to streamline. This palette is perfect for the job. The concealer can be used to cover larger areas of the face, or just little spots, while the highlighter is creamy and juicy and the lip/cheek/eyelid stain non-greasy and highly-pigmented.
2. Sisley Milky Body Mist Sun Care SPF 30, £87. Alright, £87 is a whole lot to spend on a suncream, but having travelled with this, I can attest to its enormous ability to moisturise and protect in one whammy, effectively making skin smoother and softer while sunbathing, and doing away with that annoying feeling of tightness after leaving the beach. While justifying the spend, I can also tell you that a little goes an awfully long way, with one can of this lasting a week, despite me and my friends misting regularly.
3. Shiseido Paperlight Cream Eye Colour in Yamabuki Yellow, £22. No, I’ve not lost the plot - yellow is a surprising make-up win if you’ve got brown eyes and a warm skin tone. After a few days in the sun when my skin took on a slightly more golden hue, I applied this wash of yellow coupled with lashings of mascara to make my eyes pop. If you’re not sure, try holding something yellow up near your eyes and see if it makes their colour look more pronounced. If so, either tap some of this onto lids, draw it as a line across your upper lashes, or - if you want the muted version - sweep it across your lids, then define your eyes with a bronze eyeshadow.
4. Dr Levy 3Deep Cell Renewal Micro-Resurfacing Cleanser, £39. Exfoliating with a granular scrub between sun exposure is a terrible idea - it’ll weaken skin and allow for deeper sun damage. But get a great exfoliating formula that’s packed with AHAs to keep skin clear and free of spots after applying suncream, and you’ll end up with glowing, smooth skin come the end of your holiday. This one’s a winner of our Best Beauty Buys award, and cleverly can be used as a mask, too, if your skin is congested or if you want an extra whammy of exfoliation.
5. Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Shimmering Oil Hair & Body Spray, £36. The cult Bronze Goddess scent is about as synonymous with summer as that heady combination of suncream and sea breeze. Buy it in the shimmering oil form, and you’ll get both the scent AND a moisturising, shimmering veil on your skin. I applied this to my skin after showering and went out looking bronzed of limb and wafting the moreish scent wherever I went.