This time next month I’ll be crossing off a trip that’s been on my bucket list for a long time.
It’s going to be amazing and exciting. It’s also going to test my shopping ban. You see, some people take endless photos and selfies when they travel. Some collect shot glasses and write postcards. Some people party and eat everything that locale has to offer.
I buy beauty products and test out rituals.
I’ve bought something at every international travel trip I’ve ever gone on. My first trip was in New York and I went to Sephora. This was before the VIB days, before it went international and back when Sephora gave you three samples for every purchase, no matter how small. Even without knowing all that Sephora could be, I knew I wanted to shop there. It was the best!
Fast forward to trips to Europe (perfume in Italy, argan oil and perfume in France) to Asia (all the sunscreens) to closer to home (cacao and shea butter) in North America.
Even the places where I wouldn’t really expect to buy stuff due to time and opportunity.
It’s going to test my resolve so much. I love travelling and trying things from different cultures. Language, food and–most especially–beauty and fashion are my gateways to diving into a different lifestyle. I love seeing what another culture deems beautiful and what they do and use to feel that way. Often it’s not anything flashy.
Every time I travel my concept of beauty is turned on its head. The more I immerse myself with the world, see the diversity of what it means to be beautiful and what that entails, the constraints that I put on beauty break away.
For that reason I wish for all (young) women–and anyone who has issues about conforming to standards–to have the opportunity and privilege to travel. Often.
Sometimes it’s revolutionary. When I found argan oil five years ago, it introduced me to things that I love so much and use to this day: facial oils, body oils and argan.
Expat life made me become a fan of public baths, snails, sheet masks, fermented skin care and light, yet effective sunscreen. All that stuff? I still use, despite the crazy markup from online and local retailers.
Most of the time it’s inspirational. People-watching as an adult is not as difficult as you’d think. Most people are so in their own heads, they don’t notice other people observing them. Taking note of the way they do their hair/skin/makeup or what kind of things they’re using and how. I don’t know how many times I’ve tried a new thing or a new look because I saw how awesome someone else wore it.
For this particular trip, I’m going to be spending a lot of time away from shops. It’s going to be an outdoorsy trip and any locals that I’ll see are probably going to be natural. I’m doing a homestay and I hope that they’ll be a lot of women in the home I am invited to stay. I’m hoping to get a chance to observe beauty rituals as part of daily life. While I might not be able to bring back anything tangible this trip, I hope to bring back a beauty idea.
Probably the first test on a beauty trip comes right after immigration: duty free. Airports are really hit and miss. To my surprise and disappointment, heavily discounted SK-II FTE isn’t always a given.
But maybe that’s a good thing.
There are real gems to discover, if you look. Or if you’re lucky enough to visit a nice airport.
Pro tip: Sheet mask fans will be surprised at the Innisfree shop at Jeju Airport. My aunt bought a massive packet of sheet masks for ~$30USD (the regular ones, no 3D or hydrogel). She got an insane deal; it was even more than she’d receive if she bought them at a store during a generous promotion (half-off retail price and 1+1).
I don’t often buy from duty free. It’ll be hard to resist shopping during this trip. I’ve got a lot of transfers and a lot of time to kill while I wait for connections. While I don’t expect to do anything more than aspirational window shop, I’m still updating my stash and my spreadsheet to check what I’m running low on.
An update on my stash
I had two or three toners at the start of summer. At the start of fall, I can confidently and proudly tell you I have absolutely nothing but samples of the stuff.
I’ve been able to cull most of my moisturizers, which is a good thing and a bad thing given the turn in weather. I’ve got no more creams, but I’m starting to make a dent on my facial oils.
The only area where I’m actually buying is sunscreen. In preparation of my trip I’m bulking up on sunscreen. I currently have one unopened tube (body) and a barely used tube (face). Since I anticipate sunny and hot temperatures I’m stocking up a lot. I’m planning to use all of it, so I’m not really concerned that it’ll add to the bulk.
I’m three months away from the end of my experiment and I don’t really want to stop. I sort of feel like I failed. I’ve only bought what I needed to, but I also envisioned not having a lot of stuff. I still have boxes and bags of stuff. What I’d like to have is just one corner for toiletries. Something that looks really cool and effortlessly chic and minimalistic like in décor magazines. Or vanity features from Into The Gloss.
To that end, I think I’ll continue #shopthestash until I get to that point.