Let me take you on a journey of vacations past: it’s summer 2017, early May, and I am traveling to southern Italy via London’s small Gatwick airport. The Mediterranean promises temperate conditions, kisses of seabreeze and full sun...but all of my personal belongings are currently being jostled, strewn about, and metal-detected by a gruff British security worker in a cold and sterile terminal. My bag has been flagged.

“Why me?” I ponder the void, expecting no real answer – but this unfriendly employee answers: “Ye’ve got too many loose liquids, ma’am.”

My makeup bag is like an episode of Hoarders. For some reason, I’ve held on to every single makeup sample that has ever crossed my path. I have small bottles and packets of creams, exfoliants, oils, and balms from companies of every price point. I could have stayed miffed with this man for pulling my bag and unraveling my carefully stuffed suitcase, but instead, this experience was a wakeup call.

So I decided to eliminate the mess and seek out products that really deliver for me, in a few ways: versatility, effectiveness, eco-friendliness, and the ability to withstand summer’s face-melting heat.

I’m back in Italy now to close out the summer with some “cultural immersion” (pizza and pasta, let’s be real), and this year, I avoided falling prey to the airport security line. So if you’re like me in any way (travelling, tired of being sweaty, and looking to reduce the amount of waste you produce), look no further than these products I tested, loved, and brought along with me.

If you’ve ever even loosely skimmed a beauty blog post, you’re familiar with Mario Badescu’s Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater. Why do I love it? Let me count the ways. It’s the perfect shade of pink, it smells like fresh rain on a lush rose garden, and it’s like a portable shower. This product is the essential pick-me-up. I use it constantly during plane travel to provide some kind of moisture to combat the next-level-dryness of that pressurized air. No matter how long you’ve been travelling or how swampy the summer heat has made you, this spray provides a clean slate.

Something that recently entered my periphery, which really makes me mourn all the years I lived in the dark without it, is shampoo bars. They’re kind of the ultimate product for me, especially in the summer. They clean your hair without stripping those gorgeous natural oils that we all know are essential, and they’re uber practical. The best shampoo bars I’ve come across yet are from a Portland, OR based brand called Seagrape. It really irks me when beauty bloggers are “OBSESSED” with every product they talk about, but I’ll put my pride away and tell you that I’m kinda obsessed with this product. Why should you also be OBSESSED? Beyond the benefits I was able to immediately see in my hair (mad volume, body, and uninhibited natural waves that smell like The Barefoot Contessa’s herb garden!), the packaging is genius. It’s made from compostable paper, no plastic in sight, and the bar itself is vegan, handcrafted, and 100% natural. The portability of a shampoo bar versus its outdated, bulky plastic predecessor also makes it perfect for travel, and it’s not liquid, meaning, no more awkward security encounters!

Since I’m already on my eco-friendly evangelizing kick, I must ask, have you considered how harmful to the environment disposable makeup removing wipes are? Think about it: at least one wipe a day, coated with chemicals and perfumes, into the trash and eventually the ocean? That’s absurd. Enter the mother/daughter team “From, Mila”. They create gorgeous, one-of-a-kind block printed textiles, with a line of cosmetic-geared face cloths that make a wonderful, reusable alternative to disposable makeup removing wipes. To be frank, washing my face outside of the shower has always struck me as a waste of time, but to be frank again, my adorable From, Mila face cloth gets me excited to. The way that the fabric is woven creates a gently exfoliating effect, which cuts down on time and products used. So I’m making a small dent in saving the planet, and my face is clean and happy? Love that. Oh, and it’s super-portable? Unbeatable.

So we all know by now how truly deplorable those plastic micro-beads are for the environment, right? But they made your skin so smooth, nothing really sloughs off dirt and makeup the same way – but the fish...I get it! I was a micro-bead using, smooth-skinned goddess once, too. And a lot of “naturally exfoliating” products broke me out or simply failed to deliver. Then I found Nash + Jones and their Dead Sea Salt Scrub. Okay, first, the product is gorgeously packaged, which I am the biggest sucker for. A frosted glass jar, sleek black lid, and (this really got me) a small bamboo spoon to scoop the scrub into my hands. It’s like they considered my every need, validated my feelings, and turned around and created my dream product. The scent is spearmint-meets-frankincense. It’s the perfect balance of earthy and fresh, where feminine meets masculine. Speaking of which, I have had to pry this product away from my boyfriend. He’s just as into it as I am. This product checks all of my boxes, and since it’s made from sea salt, essential oils, and love, it’s 100% all good for the earth.

Nothing feels better than coming home from a full day of walking and peerless sweating than getting to recharge and refresh with really rewarding products. By focusing on a few products that have more than earned their keep in my bag, this year was an absolute breeze through security. And honestly, what’s more beautiful than that?

Written By:
Abby
Chestnut