As much as I love to travel, it can be tricky to feel “pretty” (or even presentable!) after a long-haul flight across the planet. Between jet lag and the difficulty of finding my fave products abroad, it’s not easy to keep a standard beauty routine going.

Fortunately, I’ve found a few tricks that help me look Instagram-ready from Mexico to Morocco and everywhere in between. With minimal makeup and tips that work for any budget, you can look flawless on the fly.

Here are my travel-friendly beauty routines for every budget!

blonde tea time south africa

Having sparkling, pearly whites is one of the easiest ways to feel great (no matter what the rest of you looks like). I always try to keep my smile nice and bright so that I feel fresh even when I’m stumbling off a red-eye flight.

  • Budget-Friendly

  • Crest Whitestrips ($2/treatment): Surprise! I’ve never had my teeth professionally whitened. I have found that Crest Whitestrips offer incredible results without having to drop major $$$. They’re super travel-friendly and are easy to use for maintenance after getting professionally whitened as well. This set can give you up to six months of whiter teeth!

  • Investment

  • Professional Whitening: If you want to level up, professional whitening gives pro-quality results. As I mentioned, I’ve never gone the professional route, but it’s the quickest way to whiter teeth!

    Again, for lashes, it totally depends on what you’re working with. One of the easiest ways to limit your travel makeup regime is to kick the mascara!

  • Budget-Friendly

  • Get a Tint at Benefit Browbar ($20-23): If you have lush lashes, an eyelash tint from the cult favorite, Benefit Browbar, might be all you need to keep your lashes looking beautiful.

  • Investment

  • Eyelash Extensions: I’ve had eyelash extensions for close to 2 years now. Being blonde, my natural lashes literally do not exist without mascara. For those looking for more volume and length, eyelash extensions are an amazing option. And forget about old school falsies! Modern faux lashes can be completely natural looking! You’ll have to get strategic about maintaining extensions on the road because you need them filled every 2-3 weeks. However, I’ve found that many destinations around the world have caught onto the “amazingness” of eyelash extensions so I’ve been able to get mine filled everywhere from Bali to South Africa.

    I tend to have permanent, puffy eyes from constant air travel and dehydration. An under-eye beauty routine is absolutely essential for me!

  • Budget-Friendly

  • Freeze Spoons or Apply a Compress (Free!): This is your quickest and easiest option to get rid of puffy under eyes, but it is a short term solution. The nice thing is that it’s free and you can freeze spoons just about everywhere in the world!

    Organys Eye Cream ($16): This eye cream depuffs, nourishes and softens the skin under your eyes to make them healthy & radiant.

  • Investment

  • Patchology FlashPatch Eye Gels ($50): I personally use Patchology FlashPatch Eye Gels because they’re packed with caffeine and hydrolyzed collagen, and are unbeatable for reducing puffiness and brightening my eyes. I love that they come in a jar of 30 so I don’t waste plastic on individually wrapped sets. They’re super travel-friendly and there are enough to use every day if needed!

    Yellow Bikini in Malta

    Ask any gorgeous older woman and she’ll tell you the number one beauty care secret: daily SPF! It makes such a profound difference in how your skin looks both in the long and short term. Let’s not forget about the health aspect either. We often talk about sun protection like it’s just for the beach but SPF is a real lifesaver — and, even when I’m not in the sun, I use it on my face and hands every day!

  • Budget-Friendly

  • Cotz Face SPF 40 ($18): This affordable face cream helps to prevent age-marks, wrinkles, spots, and inelasticity.

  • Investment

  • COOLA Mineral Face SPF ($26): Made in sunny San Diego (just like me!), this is really good stuff at a great price for organic suncare! COOLA has lots of different products — from BB creams, to SPF lip protection and sport sunscreens. I love their mineral 30 SPF in matte tint! I use it as a primer under my makeup on hot days to keep my skin protected and from feeling greasy.

    Shiseido Sports BB SPF 50+ ($35): Honestly, this product is absolutely amazing. It applies heavier than your typical BB cream so I use it as an all-in-one sunscreen and makeup. It’s SPF 50 and is super waterproof (I’ll swim in it all day and it stays on perfectly)!

    With so much time spent on airplanes, my biggest issue is dry skin. Anytime you are flying, it’s important to drink at least ½ liter of water for every hour that you’re in the air. I also apply a nice serum before using moisturizer every morning, and before and during flights.

  • Budget-Friendly

  • Face Cream Moisturizer ($18): This organic, anti-aging facial moisturizer hydrates and softens your face. It’s great for day or night!

    TruSkin Serum ($20): This affordable serum is proven to reduce appearance of wrinkles, boosts collagen, and improves skin elasticity.

    Mario Badescu Moisturizer ($24): If you’re on a long haul flight, apply moisturizer at least once before, and then halfway through. It’s worth spending a few extra dollars on a good moisturizer, and I adore this moisturizer because they’ve got something for every skin type AND sell travel-sized bottles.

  • Investment

  • PCA Skin ($71): Invest in a high-quality serum to lock in moisture before applying your moisturizer.

    Fresh Rose Hydrating Cream ($55): This gel cream contains rosewater, rose flower oil and jojoba oil for soothing and nourishing benefits.

    Get Regular Facials: Investing in regular moisturizing facials has changed my life! Whether you’re flying a lot, living in a dry climate, or just naturally have dry skin, I’d highly recommend a routine of daily skin serum and moisturizer plus regular facials.

    Blonde wearing flower crown in Hawaii

    For beautiful brows, there are a couple of solid options, and the best route for you totally depends on your eyebrows. I have found that by investing in my eyelashes and brows, I’ve cut my beauty routine in half.

  • Budget-Friendly

  • Get Tint at Benefit Browbar ($20-23): Before getting microblading, I would get my eyebrows tinted ever 2-3 weeks. With blonde hair, my eyebrows are basically non-existent without a little love. I love Benefit’s Browbar for a classic wax and eyebrow tint. It makes a huge difference!

  • Investment

  • Microblading: I have found that light-haired ladies (including yours truly) benefit in a big way from microblading. Ultimately, I love both options because they’ll let you wake with flawless brows. However, for the investment, I think you actually save money by microblading. I had my brows done by my friend Caitlin from Freshly Browed and would only recommend using someone qualified for the procedure. The process involves two appointments with a little down time in between, but it’s totally worth it. Nearly a year later and my brows are still full and beautiful!

    I’ve had acne my whole life. I went on Accutane as a teen and still get adult breakouts. It’s such a frustrating problem but the right treatments can make a world of difference.

  • Budget-Friendly

  • Eradikate by Kate Sommorville: As far as over-the-counter picks, there’s nothing like Eradikate by Kate Sommorville. I also love their ultra strong spot treatment for an overnight fix.

  • Investment

  • Dermatologist Consultation + Tretinoin and Mental Health + Diet:  For me, the biggest change came when I went to dermatologist and got a tretinoin prescription (also sold as Retin-A). You can buy tretinoin in stores or a get a stronger option from a dermatologist. The other game changer for me was realizing what foods and stressors caused my flare ups. I recently eliminated dairy from my diet after realizing it seriously triggered breakouts (still too soon to talk about how much I miss cheese though!), and tried to reduce stress as much as possible in my life!


    Kiersten Rich

    Kiersten Rich is the bikini-obsessed author of award-winning solo female travel and lifestyle blog, The Blonde Abroad, featuring travel tips, fashion, food, festivals and photography from around the world.

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