Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Gold Ultra Restorative Capsules $136.
Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Gold Ultra Restorative Capsules $136. Contributed

Travelling beauty: Easy does it

I'VE just spent a few meltingly hot days in Taiwan - no complaints about that, but like all short-stay, long-haul trips it was a packing challenge.

Those little plastic bags have sorted out my carry-on and saved a few kilograms, but the toilet bag stowed in my suitcase and separate makeup kit is always full to bursting.

It seems no matter how often I try to downsize my beauty selections, a stack of what I take never gets used. The salts for the bath I thought I might soak in, the nail polish for touch-ups, the rainbow of lipsticks and shadows, who was I kidding?

Which probably makes me a lousy person to offer advice (in which case check out our frequent flyer's tips opposite), or perhaps I should just remember to follow my own guidelines. Carefully pre-assemble a kit, then don't blow it by throwing in a stack of superfluous extras at the last minute. Here's my tips on what you'll actually use.

* If you're not into hair DIY, get a decent blow-dry the day before or the morning of your flight. It will see you off the plane in style and should last several days. Keep hair simple when travelling, a ponytail or relaxed bun is perfect, so don't forget a few ties, clips and a headband if you like them. Product-wise consider taking some dry shampoo to revive your style, a smoothing serum to keep it in place (try one with a UV filter) and possibly a texturising cream, salt spray or mousse to turn mess into a more controlled, casual do.

* For longer flights carry wipes and an all-purpose balm on board, the latter is good for lips and hands and once you're at your destination it will come in handy for soothing sore feet, heels and even bites. (Antipodes makes a good natural balm and Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream is justifiably renowned). In economy you'll need to remember your toothbrush. I'm taken with Colgate's compact disposable ones that can be used anywhere without water. Business class passengers get the benefit of complimentary sample size products, but I usually prefer my own small selection. (Air New Zealand's La Prairie moisturiser and eye cream is a nice touch, but sadly there's often no room to spread toiletries out, with the bathroom on some planes as small as down the back.)

* Pre-trip maintenance with fake tan and eyelash tint beats bothering with daily applications abroad. A good pedicure and polish will last for weeks. Either leave fingernails natural or consider paying extra for the staying power of a gel polish such as O.P.I Axxium or Shellac.

* Holidays are not the time to experiment with new products - your skin may react, it already has to cope with temperature fluctuations and dry air in the cabin, so stick to old faithfuls. Have a kit of trial size products ready to go, decanted from your at-home products or garnered from gift-with-purchase offers so you can cut down on carrying bigger bottles and jars.

* Use an easily absorbed creamy mask instead of a moisturiser for a long-haul flight as an extra hydration booster. You can apply it under your makeup before you board or after cleansing when you bed down for the night. (If you take a refreshing face mist, check it sprays, not douses.)

* Once at your destination, make the most of hotel bath gels and lotions, but for best results stick with your own shampoo and skincare.

* Leave behind the rich creams and serums if you are heading to the tropics, heavier textures work better in colder climates. Look to natural skincare or products made for sensitive skins to provide a gentle day-time moisturiser and a creamy non-exfoliating cleanser as it is important not to irritate stressed skin. (Remember, you've got the mask to lie back with if your skin feels parched come evening.)

* Multi-tasking products are ideal for trips, but don't rely on SPFs in moisturiser alone if you're going to be outdoors often. Take a good sunscreen you know your skin won't react to. Check the expiry date before you leave home, if it's been sitting around for months it may be past its use-by date (Neutrogena and Nivea make particularly good sunblocks with light textures.)

* A fragranced body oil or lotion is a nice way to keep scented and silky smooth, plus you won't need to worry about pigmentation patches developing in the sun as can occur with alcohol-heavy perfume.

* Makeup-wise, a waterproof gel eyeliner, mascara and a gloss or a tinted lip balm that can also be worn on cheeks should see you through the day. Add a choice of a neutral and a bright lipstick for night. Eye shadows are hardly worth the bother but if you do bring them try a long-wear cream formula in a neutral colour or a light sweep of pale gold to add polish without fuss. (I like to use liquid eye makeup remover rather than rely on wipes and cleansers for mascara removal.)

* Many women switch to a tinted moisturiser for holidays, but stick with a medium coverage, light-reflecting foundation if you prefer it. Go easy on powder - oil blotters may be more use in high humidity (Estee Lauder and Za sell these). Turn shine into sheen with a sweep of the likes of M.A.C's Mineralize Skin Finish or another good bronzer/highlighter combination.

* For a casual holiday, use reliable cheaper brands, that way if you leave something behind it's no big loss.

* As a take-home treat consider shopping duty-free for a scent, or an all-in-one makeup palette for your next trip, especially something that's not available in New Zealand.

1. Fudge Dry Shampoo $7.99

Hair products often come in unwieldy sizes, but at 54ml this new Fudge mini easily slips into hand luggage or a desk drawer, allowing dry shampoo fans to easily give limp locks a lift. There's also a mini Membrane Gas for style texture and finish from selected shampoo shops and salons. (Ph 0800 456 426 for stockists.)

* Look out also for other good mini dry shampoos from Kevin Murphy in salons, TreSemme in supermarkets and Batiste in selected pharmacies. Specialist shampoo shops also stock a good selection of travel-sized shampoo and conditioners.

2. QVS Soothing Mini Eye Treatment Gels $9.99

Put in the freezer briefly or leave in the fridge so these little eye gels are ready when you want to lie back and relax. There's also an eye mask ($12.99) with an adjustable Velcro strap that stays put to help relieve tension headaches, tired eyes and sore sinuses. (Ph 0800 787 456 for stockists.)

3. Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Booster $136

This little dispenser of fluid containing hyaluronic acid helps restore moisture balance. A few drops go a long way, making it a great travel companion. Wear it under or mix with moisturiser.

4. Nivea Visage Anti-Wrinkle Q10 Plus Refreshing Eye Roll-On$19.99

Since their introduction a couple of years ago, rollers have had a unisex appeal for imparting a cooling feel and soothing under-eye puffiness. Nivea has added to the appeal with this nickel-free metal roller ball, which contains the wrinkle-fighting enzyme Q10, already in use in the company's anti-ageing skincare products.

5. M.A.C Lipgelee in Budding Beauty $38 and M.A.C Beauty Powder in Alpha Girl $60

This Lipgelee is just the thing for a tropical holiday or to bring some colour into frosty lips back home. Team it for a fresh flush with M.A.C's limited edition Beauty Powder from the Fashion Flower makeup collection in which pretty powders and shadows are imprinted with a daisy design.

6. Trilogy Age Proof CoQ10 Eye Recovery Concentrate $39.90

When two quite different companies use a similar ingredient, it's either flavour of the month or maybe they're onto something. Interest in variations of Q10 has been sustained enough to make the latter theory explain why Trilogy has also chosen to include it in this botanically rich serum to massage the under-eye area. Throw in caffeine to firm, jojoba esters to reduce fine lines and horse chestnut extract to reduce the look of dark circles, all applied with a small roller ball.

7. Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Gold Ultra Restorative Capsules$136

There's 60 capsules of concentrated serum in each jar, but the best news is these little gold globules are tough enough to be counted out individually so you can take away as many as you need, unlike many serums which come in weighty bottles.

8. Shiseido White Lucent Intensive Brightening Mask $115 for pack of six

The Japanese lead the way in infusing skincare into masks, to the extent that Lancome makes its indulgent Genifique cloth masks there. Shiseido is the Japanese market leader and it has masks to revitalise, firm or brighten. In boxes of six or four, each is individually wrapped so they travel well.

9. Johnson's Daily Essentials Facial Cleansing Wipes $9.99

Now available fragrance- free for sensitive skins, Johnson's wipes are some of the most economical around and do a good job. Find them, and a host of similar competing products in supermarkets and pharmacies.

10. Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock Lotion SPF 60+ $22.49

This waterproof mineral sunscreen is free of fragrance, oils and dyes so it will suit those who find chemical sunscreens irritating. I especially like the lightweight feel on the face and the absence of the whiteish build-up some mineral products leave.

* Another lightweight sunscreen in a not too bulky 125ml bottle is Nivea Sun Light Feel Every Day Sun Lotion SPF30+ $16.29

11. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Targeted Sun defence Stick SPF50 $37

Small stick makes sunscreen touch-ups easy, ideal for ensuring nose, ears and cheeks are coated.

12. Chanel Sublimage Masque $325

The jar weighs more than you might like to carry, but this velvety cream mask takes a load off sorry-looking skin, absorbing to leave you feeling ready to face the world.