A month ago, I offered this look inside my suitcase to show you what I brought to Paris.  Now that I’m returning, I wanted to do a quick sketch of what worked, what didn’t and what I missed most from my permanent stash.

First:  What worked? As some of you probably guessed, I brought way too much.  Like Rachel Zoe packing shoes for Fashion Week, I could have easily left one-third of these items at home.  On the road, I almost never had time to play with new looks.  Also, the culture of makeup in Paris emphasizes great skin and minimal eye color.  When I saw so many women like myself wearing understated color (except for lips, of course!), I didn’t think about deeply pigmented teal shadow.  If you’ve read Café Makeup, you already know my aesthetic.  Multiply that times 1,000, omit bronzer in favor of a nude blush and you’ll get my perfect Parisian face.

My standard everyday face included:

  • Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua in B10 Great coverage, no breakouts.  By the way, if you haven’t seen this video by Lisa Eldridge on Chanel Confidential about the use of Vitalumiere Aqua, you should. I highly recommend watching this, even if you already own and love the product.

  • Nars Maui multiple. This added just the right touch of nude glow, contour and highlight.  Liz picked it up for me before I left, and I’m glad that she did. I loved it, wore it nearly every day.
  • By Terry Eye Primer. Adds a touch of moisture.  I followed up by adding a touch of concealer on top (usually the Cle de Peau).

  • Sublime de Chanel Mascara. Reviewed here. I’ve falled in love.  According to Chanel, it’s coming to the U.S. in August.
  • Edward Bess Soft Smoke Eyeshadow trio. Hello, I’m in Paris–a nice neutral deep eye is perfect here.  Edward Bess’ Soft Smoke has a subtle highlight, the perfect mid-tone grey and a nice black liner color (reviewed here). I wore this almost every single day.  These colors look simple, but really they look extremely good when applied on the eye.  I’ll never take that for granted–it’s much harder to find an excellent near-matte neutral that makes you look luminous and alive than you would ever think.  It’s an investment palette–but well worth it in the long run.

  • Le Metier de Beaute Precision Eyeliner.  No extra brush required.  It can go subtle or heavy, depending on the application.  I used this almost every day.  Plus, it’s tiny and so easy to pack.

  • Lip Product de Jour. I liked the options that I brought, plus I added some Chanel Rouge Coco Shine on arrival.  Overall, I had a nice variety to add color to an otherwise neutral face.

Second:  Let’s talk skincare!

  • Suncare:  Even in the cloudy, grey days of March, I didn’t go anywhere without sun protection.  When I travel, I’m outside for hours at a time, and sometimes all day.   Sometimes the weather was gloriously sunny, but even cloudy days let some UV light do their damage.  Every day, I applied EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46, which is absolutely awesome for my acne prone skin.  It includes physical sun protection and seems to disappear into my skin without leaving a tint or white cast.  Because I wasn’t bothered by the paparazzi (note to self: work on that!) I can’t comment on how this looks in flash photographs.  In daylight, the texture was very workable.  Most importantly, it didn’t break me out.  I bought mine at my dermatologist’s office, but it’s also available online from the Dermstore and elsewhere.  Worth every penny.

  • Cleansers/toners: Good skin must be cleansed.  This time around, I threw in a travel-sized Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Buffing Beads from this Sephora Fabulous Four set, a decant of my Shu Uemura Cleansing oil, and a decant of my DDF 10% Glycolic toner.  Perfect combination.  It’s really important to bring an oil cleanser to get any sunscreen off.

Third:  What could I have left behind? My biggest packing error was too many duplicate products.  Here’s what I would have pared down:

  • Too many eyeliners.  I had three–Bobbi Brown’s Chocolate Shimmer and Black Ink, plus Le Metier de Beaute’s liquid eyeliner pen.  I should have picked one black liner.
  • Too many concealers. I have three in the picture above, then I added another in my carry-on bag.  Really, one is enough.
  • Duplicate bronzers.  NARS Maui multiple and Chanel’s powder bronzer was one too many.
  • Sephora straightener for Europe.  A few years ago, a blogger recommended buying a European-specific hair straightener because her U.S. version had blown up even when using a converter.  So I got a Sephora straightener (which is made by Corioliss) made for 220 volt systems.  This year, it stopped working the first week–what a waste of suitcase space and money.  Next time, I’ll look at a battery-powered option.

Fourth:  What did I miss?

  • Brow pencil. I had nothing for brows–no pencil, and no good powder substitute.  I bought Chanel’s new Crayon Sourcils Sculptant almost immediately when I arrived and used it every day.  I like that it includes an eyebrow brush on one end, because I hadn’t packed one of those either.  I loved the texture.  I bought it in the lightest shade, Blond Clair 10, which is a touch too yellow for me.  I’ll be excited to see the other shades when they arrive in the U.S. in August.

  • Clarisonic Skin Cleanser. I made the right call to leave this at home.  It’s really bulky (although the new, smaller Mia might be better).  Unlike my computer and camera equipment, it’s not compatible with Europe’s 220 electric system.  There is no comparable product sold in Europe.  So, even though I was correct to leave this out of my already-overflowing suitcase, I really missed it.

  • I missed my nail polish range. Again, I made the right call not bringing more than two bottles–a clear Sally Hansen and Chanel Strong. My nails get completely trashed when traveling, there’s no avoiding it.  Still, I missed not having any nude or taupe options, or a nice clear red.  I don’t think there’s a good answer for this.  You just have to give up some things when you’re on the road.

Well, my dearest readers, how did I do?  Do you have any travel tips you’d like to share?


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