We Tested The Most Popular Pre-Travel Beauty Treatments And Found Out What Works

Gel manicures are everything

When I travel, I like to pack light. Mostly because I’m lazy and hate lugging around heavy bags, but also because minimalism makes travel less stressful. I’ll pride myself on leaving my 20-pound makeup bag and straightening iron at home, but then I’ll regret it when I get to where I’m going and feel underprepared and not like my finest self.

Most of the traveling I do is for work, meaning: I’m expected to show up looking somewhat polished and professional. But recently, rather than making room for style tools and cosmetics, I decided it was time to figure out some alternatives. I wanted to continue to pack light without having to skimp on my trusted beauty routine.

I did some research on long-lasting beauty services and decided to put them to the test on a super-active vacation on the humid, hot, and windy island of Maui that involved every possible element that might mess up my appearance. Some services held up better than others, but overall, I’ve definitely figured out a lasting pre-travel routine that will allow me to leave my usual products at home, and not only feel put together on the road but free up precious time that would have previously been spent on primping. Not having to worry about looking like a hot mess when I’m thousands of miles from my comfort zone and flat iron is a huge relief. Read on to find out all the things I tested out, and which services I know I'll be returning to over and over.

Eyelash Extension

EXPECTATIONS: I’ve seen eyelash extensions on other people and am always shocked by how natural they look. It’s your lashes, but way, way better. At the same time, they seem like they might be uncomfortable and a little bit unnecessary—like, mascara is not that hard to put on. Still, I’ve always wanted to try them out myself, but could never reconcile the price tag—basic lashes typically run $130 to $210—with my social calendar, which is certainly not packed enough to justify the glam indulgence. But while my trip to the island didn’t call for glam, I knew I’d be out and about all day in the heat, and in the end was so tempted by the idea of not having to wear makeup or do touch-ups, that I decided that it was worth it to try them out.

PROCESS: I went to Raon Zena in New York City. My friends go there and had recommended it to me; it’s important to go somewhere you’ve researched, so get recommendations and look for great reviews.You don’t want anyone who isn’t properly trained and using completely sterilized materials touching your eyes. A few weeks of Bambi lashes are not worth going blind! When I arrived for my appointment, I was surprised that there was a mandatory consultation. I didn't realize there were so many choices: different lengths of lashes, different curves in the lashes, and different materials. I opted for a short and natural length and a thin synthetic material because I’m not about that mink lash life. They brought me into a room with a massage bed where I lay for nearly two hours with my eyes closed while a very gentle woman glued over 100 lashes to my eyelids. The process is entirely painless, except for the fact that my back was pretty sore by the time I got up. You might want to request a half-time stretch. Lying that still for that long can really wear you out. When the service was done, my eyelashes looked incredible. Full, thick, curly—yet not fake. It mostly looked like I was wearing a ton of mascara, which is exactly what I wanted. I was so relieved I didn’t look like I was about to get on stage in Vegas. I felt like a low-key vixen as I left the building.

RESULTS: There were a lot more precautions than I expected. There are many things you can’t do if you want to keep the lashes on for the full two weeks. Washing your face and showering is difficult because every time you get your lashes wet, you lose a few. You can’t wear eye makeup because you're not allowed to rub your eyes to get it off, which was fine for me because I was having a bare-faced vacation anyway. That said, they looked amazing throughout the week. Even after snorkeling and spending a whole day underwater, there were still more than enough lashes intact to make me feel done up. However, going on a 14-hour flight where I couldn't wear an eye mask was difficult. And worrying about them while I was in the water was difficult, too. I wouldn’t get them again for a beach trip because it’s too much anxiety. Instead, I’d just get a lash tint, which has much fewer aftercare guidelines and is a fraction of the price. That said, I’m totally going back to get lashes for the holidays. I won’t be submerged in water, and they really did look natural yet glamorous.