When it comes to travel, we all know less is more.
We begin to pack with a voracious optimism that we too are the savvy gypsy-woman who can conquer the world with just one pair of the perfectly picked shoes and three articles of clothing that somehow give us 20 different outfits.
And we do fairly well, until we come to the toiletry bag.
Words like dry, oily, blotchy and clogged leap to mind. Our thoughts race desperately with the “what ifs.”
“What if I need that…?”
“What if I can’t find this…?”
Best to be prepared, right? And so all of a sudden, one third of our belongings are lumped and contorted into make-up bags within make-up bags.
Nearly six months ago I landed in Buenos Aires and started traveling around South America. My main concern for skin care was that I would not be able to find any natural products down here or that it would be exceedingly difficult and/or expensive. This turned out to be true.
Before I left the States, my mother took me to get a facial at a new salon in town that used all natural, organic products. My face was notoriously dry, often red, and break-outs happened like clockwork.
My esthetician asked what skincare products I was going to bring on my trip. With a pleading shrug I said I had no idea! My bag was small, just 40 liters. I didn’t want to fill it with a bunch of unnecessary toiletries, but I also didn’t want to end up using a lot of chemical-filled soaps and creams once I ran out of my favorite products. My face had a hard enough time as it was.
And then, like a child who learns that chicken isn’t made in the super market, my jaw dropped at the revelation of the obvious:
“Just put fruit on your face.”
“Just fruit?! But like, what kind?”
“Any kind. Just smear it on and leave it for ten minutes. If it ever burns at all, take it off. Fruit has all kinds of great vitamins that exfoliate, rejuvenate, heal, brighten and moisturize. Mango and papaya are especially great, but really any fruit. We use real fruit in all of our products here. A local woman mixes them for us weekly.”
“I don’t have to, like, use a recipe?” I asked hesitantly (I hate following recipes). “No way. It’s just fruit. Heck, you don’t even have to waste a tasty mango. Eat it and then smear the pulpy side of the peel on your face.”
Her professional confidence in my ability to have great skin while on the road was all I needed to discard my excess products.
I may not be able to find a Whole Foods Market for my Alba Botanica Sea Moss Moisturizer with SPF 15—but I can always find fresh fruit loaded with Vitamins A through E that fight free radicals, bolster UV resistance and even my skin tones while hydrating my face. It’s brilliant!
Fast forward through six months of Sunday morning banana smash facials and mango masks, and my skin looks honest-to-goodness better than it has in years. Sometimes I add honey, sometimes I use turmeric, yogurt is lovely, and avocados are awesome too. For extra scrub, I use sugar or baking soda, and every now and then some dabs of almond or sesame oil to really nourish and moisturize.
It just depends on where I am and what I can find. My bag is light and my face is bright.
Without all the bottles, my backpack can be a carry-on which makes airports so much more pleasant. I don’t worry about the “what ifs” anymore.
With a little creativity and an open mind, I found that my best health really could be provided for naturally.
Long-term travel was the perfect opportunity to go all in on a new beauty regime and give up my make-ups and creams. I was ready to say “yes” to living more simply and naturally.
But even if this lifestyle choice isn’t for you, the next time you whip up a yummy yogurt-banana-mango smoothie, don’t worry if you miss your mouth and some of it winds up on your face.
Your skin will thank you with a lustrous glow.
Author: Whitney “Aša” Ricciardi
Apprentice Editor: Bere Blissenbach; Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Photo: Tanay Mondal/ Flickr