Your Vacation Skin Care Guide

Your Vacation Skin Care Guide

Taking a vacation is amazing, but the skin you take on your vacation is the same skin you’ll bring back. Even though you might be spending less time on your skin and makeup while you’re away, completely ignoring your skincare routine can contribute to breakouts and flare-ups while you’re enjoying your getaway.

“While vacation is a great time to let your skin breathe, it’s also important to use targeted skincare products to keep your skin glowing”

  • Shani Darden, esthetician

I’ve learned to streamline my skincare routine when I’m traveling so that it doesn’t take time away from my family, friends, and activities. I’ll share my secrets with you and tell you how to maintain radiant skin, even if it’s the last thing on your mind.

How Can Vacations Affect Your Skin?

Just like your stress levels rise when your flight is delayed or when there are kids screaming in the backseat of a car, your skin gets stressed, too. The body’s stress response triggers certain immune cells in the skin, which can lead to breakouts. 

In addition, air travel or exposure to recycled air can cause the skin to become dry and dehydrated. Depending on your destination, your skin might be exposed to higher levels of pollution or more UV light, which can trigger free radical damage. 

Combine this with new foods, sleeping patterns, and weather patterns, and you can create a perfect storm scenario that results in skin dryness, dullness, and breakouts. Don’t worry, though — it’s completely possible to avoid these pitfalls as long as you practice a few skin-smart travel techniques. 

How Can You Take Care of Your Skin on Vacation?

First things first, pack only what you need. Vacation probably isn’t the time to dedicate time to an at-home peel or an intense mask treatment. Keep it light, easy, and manageable (and airport security-safe if you’re traveling on a plane). 

What To Bring

I like to dial back my skincare routine when I’m traveling. I still use the essentials and my favorite treatments, but I also leave some items at home. I like to consider vacation as an opportunity to give my skin a break and let it breathe. 

Make sure your travel bag includes the following:

  • A cleanser. My Cleansing Serum is gentle and great for a glowing complexion. I also love these Cleansing Coins for traveling. They’re small and take up hardly any space but expand when mixed with water to provide a full-sized, biodegradable washcloth that gently exfoliates the skin and removes makeup, dirt, and oil. 
  • A toner. Vacation travel and being in different climates can leave your skin feeling uncomfortable, especially if you have oily skin. Toner can help brighten your skin, mattify areas that might be overproducing oil, and refresh and rejuvenate skin when it’s tired. 
  • An oil-free moisturizer. Unless you’re traveling to an extremely cold destination, I recommend my Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer for normal to oily skin types when traveling. This formula absorbs quickly to help get you out the door fast and won’t cause congestion. You can also use the Hydration Peptide Cream for normal to dry skin types.

These are the basics you’ll use daily while you’re on your trip. Make sure you have appropriate travel sizes and enough of each product to last, as well as a few extra portions in case you experience travel delays.

Prepare for Your Destination 

Going somewhere sunny or snowy? Protecting your skin from UV rays is essential in maintaining good skin care and preventing sunburns. 

If you’re headed to a destination with added pollutants (like a major city), you’ll also want to account for oxidative stress. Free radicals are produced in the skin when it is exposed to pollution and UV rays, and that can lead to oxidative stress, a major factor in premature aging. 

This is why I love my Treat & Protect Travel Set. It includes everything you need to battle the sun and external aggressors while you’re traveling. These products also help you keep a radiant glow so you can look your best no matter what activities you have planned.

This set includes:

  • Supergoop! Play Everyday Lotion SPF 50. This is a lightweight, rapidly absorbing sunscreen that protects your skin and is perfect for everyday use. 
  • Retinol Reform®. My proprietary retinol product is loaded with antioxidants to protect against free radicals and retinol to help fight the signs of aging while you’re getting some much-needed rest and relaxation. 
  • Lactic Acid Serum. Lactic acid serum helps you maintain your skin’s radiance while simultaneously targeting uneven skin texture and tone. 

These three simple, travel-sized tools can ensure you take great care of your skin while you’re away. The products do the work for you, so all you have to do is sit back and relax.

Stay Hydrated

It’s hard enough to remember to stay hydrated when you’re at home, but when you’re distracted by fun activities, it can be even harder. There are many ways to up your hydration while you’re on the go, including adding hydration packs to your diet, increasing your fruit intake, and making sure you account for added alcohol or caffeine. 

Make sure you are drinking your normal amount of water and drinking an extra six to eight ounces of water per alcoholic beverage or caffeinated drink you consume. Staying hydrated does not directly contribute to skin hydration, but it does contribute to overall health. If you’re dehydrated, it will eventually show up on your skin.

Stay on Top of Your Sunscreen

If you already wear sunscreen daily, that’s a great start. When you’re on vacation, you might need to increase your sunscreen usage, especially if you’re spending a lot of time outdoors. It’s a common misconception that the SPF of your sunscreen determines how long you can stay in the sun without burning.

However, sun exposure is relative to time and location. You’ll naturally burn faster if you’re in the sun between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. than if you were in the sun in the early evening hours. 

Instead, look at the label of your sunscreen to determine when you need to reapply. Most sunscreens will give you a specific time frame. For instance, a good waterproof sunscreen may be effective for 80 minutes in the sun before you need to reapply. If you’re sweating or swimming, that time can change. It’s a good idea to set a timer on your phone to make sure you remember to reapply as necessary. 

Vacation Spa Treatments

There’s nothing quite like getting a little pampering while you’re on vacation, but if you have sensitive skin, it’s important to reach out to the spa before you arrive to make sure that the treatments you sign up for will be safe for your skin type. 

Most spas will offer treatments for different skin types, but there are a few treatments you’ll probably want to avoid while you’re on vacation:

  • Peels and microdermabrasion. These treatments require recovery time and also leave your skin extra sensitive to sunlight. Instead of a peel or microdermabrasion, consider having a mask application or a basic facial instead. 
  • A deep cleansing mask. Search for soothing masks that help brighten and tighten pores, not deep cleaning treatments that are meant to bring impurities to the surface. If you choose one of those treatments, you could end up with bumps and blemishes for the remainder of your vacation. 
  • Microneedling. Microneedling is a great way to support your skin’s firmness and fullness, but like peels and microdermabrasion, it requires recovery time. Microneedling causes tiny injuries to the skin, which will take time to heal, and you’ll also need to avoid the sun. 

There are still plenty of facial treatment options available to you — just make sure you check with your esthetician so that you understand the aftercare expectations. If there’s a chance you won’t be able to maintain proper aftercare, you should try a different treatment. 

Opt for Minimal Makeup

If you’re going on a beach vacation or anywhere you can give your skin a break from makeup, I encourage you to wear less. I love a good CC cream — they’re great for hydrating the skin and giving you just the right amount of coverage while you’re on vacation. 

Don’t Forget Your Eyes

Your eyes may not acclimate to new climates as well as the rest of your body. Eyes can become itchy, watery, and distressed if there are pollutants in the air or water. Pack a soothing eye mask, your best pair of sunglasses, and an all-in-one eye cream that targets puffiness, dark circles, and wrinkles in one fell swoop. 

For this, I love my Intensive Eye Renewal Cream. This cream contains plant-based extracts to help battle eye fatigue and ceramides to keep the delicate skin around the eyes hydrated, preventing a tired appearance.

At the same time, niacinamide and pea peptides can help rejuvenate the eyes and blur the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

Final Touches

Depending on your packing situation, you can add a few extras to your skincare routine. 

Some extras I love to pack wherever I go include:

  • My Facial Sculpting Wand™. This wand delivers acoustic sound waves that target wrinkles and fine lines deep in the layers of skin and muscles. This is a must-have for that stubborn travel puffiness we’ve all experienced.
  • Sheet masks. These masks are available in hydrating formulas that can help give your skin a quick boost of moisture and radiance after a long day of travel or a long day outdoors. They’re easy to apply and remove and can help restore dry, tired skin. 

Don’t be upset if you can’t pack everything you normally use. Remember: this is a time to take it easy. The investment you make in your skin during non-vacation times can help support it during your vacation, and you can always return to your regular routine when you get home. 

Plan To Play

You’re on vacation, and you should have fun! But remember, taking care of your skin matters too. Don’t stress — it’ll just give you a breakout. Instead, pack the essentials that make it easy for you to take care of your skin on the go. 

My skincare line is designed to streamline your skincare routine and help you target numerous skin issues with products that can address multiple different skin concerns. Whether you’re looking for an effective travel skincare routine or you just want to switch things up in your daily routine, you can trust my tried-and-true formulas.


Brain-Skin Connection: Stress, Inflammation and Skin Aging | PMC

Oxidative stress, aging, and diseases | PMC

How much water should I drink a day? | Harvard Health

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) | FDA

Travel Checklist | Transportation Security Administration


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