Janetta Mackay: Beauty baggage

By Janetta Mackay

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Travel gives rise to carry-on conundrums and self-analysis for Viva's Beauty Editor.

A hanging travel bag like this Caddy design will help stow your essential toiletries. Photo / supplied.
A hanging travel bag like this Caddy design will help stow your essential toiletries. Photo / supplied.

I once knew a woman who went to Paris for a fortnight with hand luggage. She looked good too - in that rock chick Patti Smith kind of way.

This feat of economical packing has always stuck with me, given I struggle to curb my enthusiasm for taking two too many pairs of shoes on every trip, however short the duration.

Jeans, a tailored white shirt and T-shirts were her trick, but as none of these particularly suits me, I've never managed to keep to carry-on for more than a night or two away.

Over the years my clothes packing has, thankfully, much improved and by shelving heels for travelling I can keep the shoes to a minimum, but I'm quite useless with toiletries.

Whether this is a shocking or utterly unsurprising confession from a beauty editor I'm not sure, but it has ever been thus. These days I'm spoiled for choice, but I've always been a contingency cosmetics packer. You just never know when you might have time to pluck, file or exfoliate, apply fake tan, or try a new fragrance or lip colour.

Then there's the stuff stowed away in the zipped-up back of the toilet bag: tablets for headaches and hangovers, a hotel sewing kit, a shower cap or two. The list goes on, and on.

Last week I was in Fiji, so add in several styles of sunscreen, an after-sun gel and mosquito spray. My toilet bag and the separate bulging makeup bag is still sitting largely unpacked on the bathroom bench which rather underlines how little of it I need for everyday use - or needed when I was out of town.

With a bit more discipline I reckon I could shed a few kilograms of unwanted holiday fat, just by slimming down on beauty supplies.

Much as I like to think that my packing is about being practical and prepared, this is a fantasy. The same fantasy that has us buying all that stuff in the first place, lugging it about, and then adding to the load with those little hotel samples we take on our next trip to another hotel with the identical line-up of "amenities."

It is easy to leave behind the usually awful supplied shampoos, but you never know when you might lose a button or need a cotton bud.

The real problem is the full-sized stuff we bring from home. Even when I replace bottles of cleanser and toner with wipes and remember to pack those carefully set aside sample-sized eye-creams, somehow at the last minute I can't help throwing in a weighty extra bottle of something I won't use and an experimental eye palette or three.

As well as being a lamentable sign of lack of planning and self-discipline (next time I'm making a list) it is also a symptom of why we want to holiday in the first place. To create a better us.

If the price of well-intentioned dreaming and weighty self-delusion adds up to a bit of extra baggage, then it looks like I'll have to grin and lug it.

For Noelle McCarthy's musings on travel attire, click here.


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