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What to Pack: Essential Acne-Safe Beauty Products for 3 Wildly Different Destinations


(Flawless vacation complexion ahead)

Heading to the beach, the mountains, anywhere but here? Read this must-know list of tips and tricks to keep your skin acne free on vacation.

Whether you’re packing up the Airstream for a camping trip, heading beachside to bury your toes in the sand or jetting to a far-away European destination, these travel-friendly beauty products are everything you need to be totally vacation-ready.

We’ve got you covered, from stay-put sunscreens that won’t block your pores, easy makeup routines for when the temps are rising, and remedies from burned shoulders to pesky bugs.


Stay True to Your Skin Care

Now is not the time to experiment with new products. Skin can freak out (and flare up) any time you switch up your routine, so if you have room in your suitcase and don’t want a face full of zits by Day 3 of your vacation, bring your tried-and-true cleanser, moisturizer, and acne products with you.

Go Small or Stay Home

When it comes to product sizes, our motto is “go small or stay home.” Some of our picks are carry-on size and TSA-friendly, but your must-have products are best transferred into smaller containers and stored in a clear plastic zippered bag. Try our selection of foil packet samples for ready-to-pack acne-safe skin care on-the-go.

Prioritize and Streamline Your Stash

If you skin is temperamental and can go from “porcelain” to “pizza face” if you skip your actives (like AHA/BHA serum or benzoyl peroxide), you will want to prioritize the space in your suitcase for those items. Similarly, if there is only one moisturizer in existence that doesn’t break you out, pack that one, too. But, if in a pinch, you’ve been known to swap out your cleanser for cleansing wipes or substitute toner for witch hazel and didn’t see a noticeable difference, then leave those bulky items behind.

Instead of packing your entire makeup drawer, bring only the essentials. Still don’t know where to start? We recommend these three must-have makeup items: mascara to darken your lashes (and double as an eyeliner a.k.a. tightlining), pressed powder to even out your skin tone, and a tinted lip balm to give a just bitten look to the lips. Bring only those makeup staples you use often and can apply with a travel mirror.

Hydrate Lips and Hands

Nothing is worse than chapped lips and knuckles while traveling away from home (well, maybe losing your wallet). Aquaphor Healing Ointment is occlusive to prevent lips from getting dried out from recycled plane air and has no off-putting smell or taste. Additionally, Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream keeps your hands hydrated and is also acne-safe should you accidentally fall asleep on the plane using your hands as a pillow.



Double Duty

Portable wipes, such as the WaterWipes, are a godsend when you’re on the go. They pull double duty for both quick cleanups and bedtime cleansing. If you’re planning on spending a lot of time in the sun while you’re roughing it, do a quick-clean with a cleansing wipe before reapplying water-resistant sunscreen around mid-day. It’s a great way to keep your pores clean despite all the extra sweating you’re doing.

Dry Shampoo

Washing your hair on a camping trip can present another challenge if you don’t have access to running water. Instead of packing along bottles of shampoo that can break and ooze all over the contents of your pack, bring dry shampoo. This powder works by absorbing grease on your scalp and is then brushed away to leave your hair looking and feeling clean and fresh. A favorite is Cake Dry Shampoo, because it makes hair smell great even when everything else desperately needs a shower and comes in different versions for blonde, brown, and brunette hair.

Bug Off

Nearly all bug sprays are made with soybean oil, which is highly pore-clogging.  If you don’t like the smell or feel of insect repellant, Repel Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus DEET-Free Insect Repellent gives short-term protection. The only truly non-comedogenic bug spray we’ve been able to find for serious bugs is Repel Scented Family 15% DEET Insect Repellant.


Pale Face

If your complexion hasn’t seen the sun all winter long, a natural-looking self-tanner can fast track your beach bunny look. Fake Bake Flawless Darker Self-Tan Liquid is an excellent, acne-safe golden formula that will have you covered.

Seek Shade

Before hitting the sand, strategize your sun plan. Set up a tarp or canopy so you have a shady place to cool off and stay protected while you’re chilling on the beach. Also, wear a wide-brimmed hat or baseball cap to keep your face shaded. Most importantly, invest in a long-sleeved rash guard for a permanent upper body sunscreen that doesn’t wash away when you’re playing in the water (how brilliant is that?). For any skin that is left exposed (lower face, front and back of neck, back of hands, booty, legs and tops of feet, SPF is a must (and must be re-applied every hour or two). Look to Neutrogena Sensitive Skin, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch, Neutrogena Age Shield Face, or Neutrogena Clear Face for a budget- and acne-friendly water-resistant formula that won’t break you out or wash your money away.

The No-Makeup Look

Going makeup-free is an acceptable look when hanging out in the sun, sand, and seawater. But, if you’re hesitant to go completely barefaced, try a double-duty item like a tinted lip balm with sunscreen, which gives lips a tint of color without looking made up. Some to try: Babo Botanicals SPF 15 Lip Tint Conditioner, COOLA Mineral Liplux® with SPF 30, Kiehl’s Butterstick Lip Treatment SPF 25, FRESH®Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15, and Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm SPF 20.

Sunburn Surprise

Even the most diligent reapplications aren’t full proof; sometimes we miss a spot. If you find yourself with a (surprise!) sunburn at the end of a beach day, stay away from products like Vaseline and occlusive moisturizers, which trap heat in the skin (and feels awful on a sunburn). The best after-sun products to cool the skin are gel-based and have ingredients with aloe vera. Our Hydrating Gel does double duty, both as an after-sun calmer and as a skin prep to buffer acne-destroying benzoyl peroxide.

South of the Border

If your beach vacation is taking you south of the border (Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean), packing a toner is key to keeping your skin clear. Think about it: if you can’t drink the water because it’s dirty and contains bacteria, do you really want to leave that icky residue on your face? A swipe of toner after a (closed-mouth) shower and face cleansing will ensure that your skin is truly clean.


While it’s easy to purchase a needed sweater or pair of shorts when traveling oversees, skin care is different. International travel requires a “bring it all” mentality. The brands and ingredients your skin is used to aren’t available in the EU, and your skin may retaliate if you choose your vacation to try a fancy new French moisturizer because you ran out of your tried-and-true product. Your best bet is to pack your regular morning and evening routine, taping the tops so they stay tightly closed and don’t pop open under air pressure, then packed in a gallon Ziploc bag and checked in your luggage. Spend your money on a fabulous pair of sunglasses instead, and you’ll be able to go makeup-free with your gorgeous clear skin (just like the Europeans).

Take Home Messages

  • Bring only the “essentials” and buy samples when possible
  • Be prepared to transfer the “must-haves” into smaller TSA-friendly containers
  • Buy the “negotiables” (like cleansing wipes and witch hazel) at your destination

Stay clear!
Alissa Chasen
POREspective POREfessional

Depending on your budget and goals, there are a number of ways I can help you get the clear skin you want and deserve:
● Find your Acne Type
● Purchase a Kit-to-Clear
● Purchase the “Clear Your Acne!” E-book

Are your hair products breaking you out? Read this!
Is your makeup breaking you out? Read this!
Are your workouts breaking you out? Read this!




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