#shopthestash update | survival beauty

inca trail

I recently got back from a vacation trip of Bucket List proportions! It was out of my comfort zone (camping, no showers, lots of trekking) and it was mentally, physically and emotionally challenging. Beauty-wise, it was pretty challenging too.

All in all–so amazing!

At home, I’ve got my routine: cleanse, cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize, moisturize, moisturize and maybe moisturize one more time. A couple days a week, masking makes its way in there.

This setup is streamlined for travel but not by much. I generally pack light, but skin care and makeup still makes up a good portion of that weight. Mostly skincare.

Not this time, though! This trip was constantly on the move: hotel changes and a couple of overnight stays where some skincare “essentials” were tossed to make room for things that took more precedent like clean undies and hiking boots.

Cleanser, moisturizer, SPF and lipstick always made the cut; some things are sacred.

Towards the end, I hiked the Inca Trail. It is everything that people say it is. Amazing. Awe-inspiring. A kick to your ego and a somewhat challenging trip. While everyone gets a duffle for a porter to carry (some trails use mules; true story) you carry everything else that you think you might need. For me? It was 6 kg (13 lbs). There’s no weight limit to your personal luggage, that’s just based on your personal judgement. Normally not so bad, but at elevation it was like carrying a boulder on my back.

Some of that weight was unavoidable; cameras and peripherals (~2 kgs), snacks (~ 1kg) and toiletries (a whopping 3kgs).*

At the start all of it seemed necessary: the wet wipes (so necessary), the dry shampoo (not so necessary), the bottles of sunscreen (5 in total: necessary, but likely excessive), etc. Every morning, I seriously began to question what I thought was absolutely essential. It’s only when you have to carry it all around that you really think about what you really need.

Thankfully, the load did lighten. But the thought still persists with me even now.

What do I really need?

I’ve done Marie Kondo’s spark joy thing. Some of the stuff that I do need don’t necessarily spark joy. The baby sunscreen? That doesn’t initially spark joy, it’s only when I don’t have to deal with all of the stuff that comes from not using it.

I’m wrapping my head around the concept that maybe those things that spark joy are not what I need. And vice versa. Maybe they have to live in harmony.

It got me thinking: beauty is often written off as something that’s non-essential. Nice to have, but not a must. I know for the beauty community that’s blasphemy. Almost everything is a must have, which dilutes the significance of what is truly needed.

At the basic level everyone has the same needs: clean, moisturized, clear skin. However you go about getting that will really affect what you need.

And then we divert. For some of us, that’s it. For others, it’s a full face every day–even to the gym. For me, it used to mean a lot more. In the past I used to equate beauty as asserting my identity in a lot of ways–deriving a lot of self-worth on attractiveness, youth, status (because Nars is expensive and so is keeping up with beauty innovations) and being part of a tribe (follow all the trends!). On a surface level none of this registered until I grew up. I didn’t realize how deeply entrenched these concepts were with my idea of beauty until they really came to the fore with #shopthestash.

While I don’t ever think I’ll be rid of these feelings, I’m more aware of when I’m using beauty as a crutch, or anything really.

Now beauty means individuality, play, experimentation and–oddly enough–being grounded. I need to experience these in my beauty routine. Elements of my skin care routine have to be routine in order for me to achieve that state of feeling grounded. I have to have the tools available to me to create some of my standby.

*On the trail, it’s interesting to see how what other people deem as “essential”. One hiker brought mascara. One hiker I kept seeing also brought eyeliner, which was always on fleek (which was kind of ridiculous because some of those hikes started really early in the morning).



What does beauty mean to you? What do you absolutely need to get through a day?
Let me know through social media or via the comments below.

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