17 January 2012

Random endorsement

A week and three days after getting home from our long trip, I finally finished clearing out our suitcases and putting everything away. The last step of the process was to buy some plastic bins for bathroom storage and divide up the travel-sized or rarely-used items from the jumble of toiletries and makeup, and stash them along with the travel cases and extras.

This activity got me thinking about makeup, and travel, and my top product recommendation, for what it's worth coming from me. Because I'm not much of a makeup person, in that I don't wear a whole lot--usually just a sweep of blush, maybe some lip gloss or lipstick, and if I have an extra few seconds, some mascara. But I love makeup anyway, which I think has mostly to do with the petite size of the products: the cunning round pots or square palettes or oblong tubes, the tiny brushes, the glossy glints of metal, the hint of bright colors inside. Oh, and the satisfying snap of a compact, the sound a lipstick cap makes when you put it back on, the click of a shadow box, the way they lie smooth and weighty in the palm of your hand.

For this reason I love makeup samples, because they are even tinier, cuter versions of themselves, and also, since I don't wear much makeup, I can actually use them up (or not feel bad when they expire and I need to throw them away). I never buy full-sized mascara, for example, because I never can finish a tube before it's time to toss. Plus! Since I travel so much, they are the perfect size for taking up less of my precious carryon space.

Which brings me to my recommendation. It's not for makeup, but for a face cleanser, one that travels really well. I have always had rather dry, sensitive skin, prone to random pimples, although the latter has--thankfully!--all but disappeared since I had Gabriel. I try to wash my face consistently, but I hate putting harsh products on it, and although I need something scrubby, most exfoliating washes hurt too much.

Enter Lush's Angels on Bare Skin. I've been using this face cleanser for probably eight or nine years now, and if a day goes by that I don't use it, my skin feels simultaneously dryer and less clean. It's a bit hard to get used to: a clay-based paste, it has actual lavender buds in it and ground-up almonds for the scrubby bits. You break off a small piece of the paste, mix it with a little water in the palm of your hand, then use as a cleanser. The clay cleans and moisturizes, the almonds scrub all the dirt away, and the lavender freshens and restores. I'm a huge fan of Lush for its eco packaging, great scents, all natural ingredients, and sparing use of preservatives, but this is my favorite item ever (second and third favorites: Honey I Washed the Kids soap, and Each Peach massage bar). It's not very expensive either, as the small container lasts me for months.

The other great thing about this stuff is how well it travels. I take a knob of it and smoosh as much as I can fit into one of those clear little plastic pots, the kind that come in those travel container sets (mine is very small, not much bigger around than a dollar coin, and quite flat, no thicker than a chapstick). The beauty of it is that because you need so little for each wash, that tiny pot lasts for about three weeks of daily use. I brought two for my five-week trip this holiday (the second pot was even smaller and I didn't pack it quite full) and I ran out the day before we flew home. Plus, it's not a liquid, so you don't have to put it in the carryon plastic bag, but I just stick it in there anyway since it takes up so little room. There's no worry about leakage, either.

There, that's my big beauty recommendation, one product I really would endorse. Of course there are a number of more boring items I'm also loyal to, like Cetaphil face lotion, Dove deodorant, Body Shop body butter, and Clinique lipstick, but people probably already know about those. I'm very fickle when it comes to things like body wash and shampoos and makeup because I like trying different brands and colors and scents, but I can't wear drugstore lipstick (they have some ingredient I'm allergic to).

Writing this, I had a funny memory from a few years back of my little nephew, 3 or 4 years old at the time, dashing into the guest room where I was staying at my sister's house. He was carrying my little pot of cleanser and had opened it, and he said, breathlessly, "Robin, look what I found! It smells SO GOOD!" So I guess I'm not the only one who endorses it.

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