Beauty Wonders of the World

Travelling with a backpack doesn't generally allow much room for luxuries per se, so my makeup bag is a treasured possession. Filled to the brim with my "can't-live-withouts", I've squeezed all remaining space with lipsticks to maximise versatility whilst I'm travelling. So, when faced with an even smaller 6kg weight limit for the Lares Trek in Peru, I had to be really selective with the beauty heroes that would accompany me. Nothing like a three day trek, 36,000+ (gruelling) steps, two nights of camping and up to 4,800m above sea level to really test your beauty companions. Add to the mix extreme temperatures (25-30 degrees by day and below zero by night) and varying altitudes, you soon know which of those have really got your back (or your face as the case may be!). 
With the finale of Day 4 being sunrise at Machu Picchu, there was ever the need to be photo-ready and I wasn't about to 'bare all'. So, here are my eight absolute beauty wonders (photographed at one of the Modern Wonders of the World, no less).

Sun Gate.
Whether you find yourself in the country or city, SPF (sun protection factor) for your skin is imperative. You need that barrier to shield your skin from UVA and UVB rays to prohibit sun damage and the dreaded premature ageing it causes. Plus, think of all the pollution and other environmental nasties our skin endures on a daily basis. We've all seen how much dirt our skin can accumulate with the miceller water + cotton wool test at night. Whilst exhaust fumes seem to be an issue in South America (catalytic converters guys, come on), that wasn't my primary concern whilst hiking over mountains (as it normally is at home in London). No, instead it was seeing the local children with sun (and wind) burnt cheeks as evidence that the sun is ferocious the higher you climb, despite the chill in the air. 

I've tried so many SPF layers over the years, some straight-up, some in moisturisers and others in foundations, but they've never given me the strength of protection that my pale English rose complexion needs. Hello SPF 50! Big in the beauty blogging world at the moment - and quite rightly so - The Body Shop's Skin Defence SPF 50 is a lightweight formula that doesn't leave your skin feeling overloaded, greasy or chalky white (like so many sun protectors do!). It's an invisible layer that works away to give me all the protection I need underneath my makeup (and proven in its effectiveness when I've had sunburn elsewhere on my body!). A total beauty staple for me now. Such a hard product to find even amongst the crowded beauty halls but rarely one to hit the nail on the head. The other benefit here is I'm not compromising the efficiency of my moisturiser or foundation either - I can get them focused on what they need to do! If there is only one product you try from this post, let this be it. Even my self-proclaimed non-burning and hairy-faced hubby has been reaching for it... which says a lot about how high it is regarded in our household! 

The Body Shop Skin Defence Multi-Protection Essence SPF 50, £18

Base Camp.
Recommended by a makeup artist I met on a shoot earlier this year is this South-Korean-technology-meets-French-luxury brand, Erborian. After an appointment at Space.NK, I was sold on the incredible CC Crème à la Centella Asiatica. As the name suggests it's not a foundation (which I tend to reserve for special occasions when I want higher coverage). For me, this is a perfect everyday product and is not as heavy. As a lightweight cream from the tube, I apply with a sponge applicator for even coverage but brush or finger-application would be just as efficient. Its texture is a cross between a primer and a moisturiser so leaves your skin feeling beautifully soft and matte to the touch. And for the really clever bit (making it super-duper perfect whilst I'm on my travels) is it's one-colour formula adaptable for all skin tones thanks to its "colour-correcting" properties. Fear no orange lines here, the beauty is in its blending capabilities picking up the pigment in your skin for a seamless finish.

The handiest of skincare bases to carry whilst travelling, from climate to climate and week to week, as your skin tone varies.

Erborian CC Creme High Definition Radiance Face Cream Skin Perfector, £38 from SpaceNK
I have just seen that Space.NK offer a handy 15ml travel size for £17 - even better for holidays! I have the 45ml which is lasting me SO LONG I may still have some on my return five months down the line!

Incan Mask of Disguise.
Concealer is a product that I'm particularly loyal to, so it was a big moment when I packed Bourjois' Radiance Reveal into my makeup bag instead of my trusty YSL Touché Eclat. I'd been hunting down my shade for weeks (that's dedication for you) and once I found it, I bought three! (Don't you just love Boots' 3 for 2 offers?). So what am I looking for in a concealer? Coverage. Staying power. An un-caked finish. With a tick in all those boxes also add to the equation the radiance factor which ensures light reflecting away the bags and blurring those blemishes. So when the 5am tent knock came and the carb-heavy diet decided to make a protest on my face, this became my new best friend and I think it will be a long-lasting relationship beyond my travels!

Bourjois Radiance Reveal Concealer 01 Ivory, £7.99 from Boots

Max-chu Pow-cchu.
I first tried this powder five minutes before entering my Grade 8 Ballet exam. I was 14 years old. I have been using this every day ever since (that's 13 years I've been a dedicated buyer of this product... Brand loyalty anyone?!). Having been awarded a distinction in that ballet exam, I give this powder a distinction too! Coming to the stage to collect its award: Maxfactor Facefinity Compact Powder.

Under no circumstances do I leave my house without it in my handbag, so I wasn't about to leave the country or hotel without it either. So, why have I loved this for so long? It is the perfect shade for my pale skin for one (there are a few to choose from so you can find the best one for you). And two, it is the perfect mattifying stage post-base coat (CC cream or foundation) and pre-bronzer/blusher. For weekends when I'm going 'au natural' with minimal makeup, this forms my only base with a light to medium coverage over moisturiser. It is my absolute fail-safe to cover all sins (late nights watching Netflix box sets, the Friday night takeaway and the commuter shine on my T-zone).

Maxfactor Facefinity Compact Foundation 01 Porcelain SPF 15, £10.99 from Boots

Sun God.
I have to confess that this Lancome Star Bronzer sat in my makeup cupboard for a while. I was stuck in a routine of buying a compact powder bronzer (usually Rimmel or sometimes Elizabeth Arden if the purse strings allowed), using it halfway through, it cracking, crumbling and exploding inside my makeup bag/handbag/suitcase. At which point, amid a cloud of orange dust, I would berate the 'poor ergonomics' as my Design Tech teacher would have put it! So, this lit up like a lightbulb when I was scouring my little beauty drawers for this trip and I have to say I'm super impressed. This is such a neat and compact way to apply bronzer - I think I'm converted! No more mucky makeup bag lining or overloading the brush, simply pump the end of the tube once and apply as desired. As per the aforementioned pale complexion, I can get the perfect colour with only pumping every 2-3 applications so it will last even longer! I still carry a large blending brush with me to follow up with (the Star Bronzer brush is smaller than I am used to) though this isn't essential. 

Lancome Star Bronzer Magic Bronzing Brush, $36 from Sephora

Bl-inca Trail.
Don't you just love the little gifts you get from brands when you buy a couple of your much-loved products from them? Much of my beauty trunk has accumulated in this way and I've been converted to so many fab products thanks to testing the unknown. Lancôme has always been on my radar for mascaras but between YSL False Lash Effect and Benefit's BADgal I hadn't devoted enough time to get to know their products. But hello Hypnose Star in a handy 2ml travel size! Whilst I'd love to try the new curved wand applicators from other Hypnose mascaras in the range, this is a perfectly easy brush wand that doesn't leave clumps and applies heavy enough for my liking. It's been a tough cookie despite the sweat (the tears of Rainbow Mountain conquered it slightly I have to say but it isn't waterproof so you know, roll with the punches). A light coating on my top lashes was just what I needed for a little framing of my eyes. Definitely going to check out others in the range when I can!

Lancome Hypnose Star Noir Midnight Mascara, £23.50 from Boots

Sacred Shadows.
Eye shadows tend to be a space-hog in my makeup bag, particularly when I want a natural look, a glitzy look and a smokey night-time look in my toolkit. Carrying three different duos or individual shades just isn't feasible when space is of the essence so, enter this fabulous Bobbi Brown Instant Pretty Eyes Palette. A going-away gift I received in the last few days before my departure and this is a brilliant wardrobe of shades. The base shade, Ivory, is one of my most used, along with the Grey shade that I use along my eye socket for a touch of shadowing and definition for a daytime look. The Espresso dark brown shade has been a great smoky eye creator balanced by the Grey. For a special sparkle there's the Ballet (a pale pink shimmer) and Opal (a silver glitter). Seriously good colours, packaging and space saving.

Bobbi Brown Instant Pretty Eyes Palette*
*Just discovered that this palette is now discontinued *gasps and sheds tear* but I have found one that could be even better (though requires a little more space in your makeup bag) here with Bobbi Brown's Cools Eye Shadow Palette, £52.

Peru-fect Pout.
A latecomer to the beauty bag party, I picked up this Marc Jacobs lipstick in Sephora whilst in California. Don't you just love it when they insist on giving you a belated birthday present? (Better four months late than never is my motto, theirs too it seems!). Amongst my makeup bag I have a coral, pink and red lipstick so for me this slotted in nicely as a new shade. Enhancing the pinky hues of my natural lip pigment, this lipstick is versatile depending on how many layers you apply. You can work a dark, deep pink with a heavy application but I chose a light coverage for a bit of a rosy pigment to bring some Kiss Kiss Bang Bang to my backpacking look! And as for resilience, it's really long lasting and even withstood a big drop mid-photo shoot (I made Mr A climb over an Inca wall to retrieve it!). 

Marc Jacobs Kiss Kiss Bang Bang 216 Lip Creme, $30 from Sephora

So, there you have it, my top makeup essentials. Tried and tested through my real-life experiences. They came, they saw, they conquered and my travel bag (and face) is all the happier for it!

What are the beauty bag essentials that you'd hike 36,000 steps with? How did they pass the test? And do you have any other recommendations?



  1. Well, mine would be SP15 moisturiser - although like the sound of yours .. eye liner, eye lash curler and mascara (waterproof) .. but then I don't look and never have looked like you! ha ha ... love reading it... xxx FGM of course!

    1. That's your Christmas present sorted then... ;-) Thanks for the comment and glad you enjoyed reading it, just as I did writing it!


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