Apr 082011


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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  26 Responses to “Paris Makeup: A Traveler’s Thoughts”

  1. Hello Amy,

    I have bought my Clarisonic MIA from the States but I can use it without any problem with 220-240V at all. I think it is designed to be used dual voltage.

    Btw, if you’d like a straightener/curler that would work everywhere, maybe I would recommend GHD? It’s dual voltage too 🙂

    • Lee, thanks for the pointer on the Clarisonic Mia–I didn’t realize it was 220/240v compatible. That’s a huge help. Hopefully I’ll grab one soon. Also, be a little careful with your GHD. Some of my blogging friends have warned me that some of the straighteners rated for 220/240 still shut down. The GHD might be the exception (I didn’t bring mine, so I can’t say), because of the high quality and price. I’m just adding this as an excess of caution, for other readers because of all the buzz I’ve heard about the issue.

      • I live in Germany and have been using my US bought mia with a converter plug for 18 months and no problems so far.x x

  2. I would give it another shot with the european straightener (maybe try a different brand). I have one I bought under duress in Portugal nearly ten years ago when my US straightener + adapter didn’t work out. The brand I have is ghd–I have taken it all over the world and it still works great. At the time I bought it I was a little miffed at having to spend the money, but it’s been worth the price many times over for all the global use I’ve gotten out of it.

  3. Hi Amy,

    I too have acne prone skin (I’m 34) and recently started using Kate Somerville’s SPF 55 Serum Sunscreen and found it to work well. Loved all your posts from Paris and enjoy reading the blog. Keep up the great work!

  4. Once again, Amy, thank you for sharing your travel adventures with us. My mother told me long ago that she thought of Paris as a wonderful gift waiting to be opened and enjoyed. I’ve always felt that way, too, whenever I’ve gone there. There are so many delights, sights, and adventures just waiting to be discovered in this extraordinary city.

  5. What a fabulous post! Thank you so much!!

  6. Your reflections on what worked/didn’t work are so very helpful! Most trips I pack too many clothes and beauty products and don’t end up wearing half of them – all this justified because “a girl needs options” LOL! I am thinking we can learn something from the French about less eye color and great skincare. I found it interesting that you were able to use the Edward Bess trio so often – is it too cool toned for pale, warm skin? I’d enjoy such a trio but have a hard time finding the right gray so I don’e end up with tired looking eyes in my fifties. Did you say that most French women wear bright lips with the neutral eye? I’d also love to hear more about how the middle aged women dress in Europe for everyday when you have a chance! What basic items of clothing did see worn most often? Pumps, flats, sandals, black, colored tops and skirts, etc.?

    • Hi Lucy, Edward Bess’ trio works wonderful with my NC15 warm skin. It does not turn silver or blue on me. Most women in Paris seemed to be into one of two looks: Skinny pants/tights with great books and a great coat (everywhere, even in the 30-40 age range (many of these women are in lovely physical shape); or layers—either great dress pants or dress, usually with a wonderful long blazer. And of course, scarves everywhere. So many, many many gorgeous scarves–on both men and women.

      So for this time of year, a lot of boots (or short boots). Other than boots–ballet flats (Repetto, Tory Burch, or other) or gorgeous pumps.

  7. Love this post. I always pack too much makeup for my trips.

  8. I find it’s useful to bring the little sample packets moisturizers, not so much the one use ones but the tiny tubes given. I always make sure to have some (particularly Dior Hydraction line) because not only is it great for moisturizing your face if you get stopped over, it functions as a make-up remover/mistake correcter in a pinch! I’m also fond of DuWop’s Flight Stick, especially after eight hour flights of recycled air. Spritzing your hair lightly with a water and condition mix plus a drop of hair serum to rub in will keep your hair nicer after flights that, especially braided or a loose bun. (You can tell I’m meeting my boyfriend right after my flight; I was mortified the first time I came back looking poofed out) ^^

    You made a good call with the neutrals. Really between that and and an eyeliner you’re good to go. If I do bring a pop of colour, it would already have to be in the one palette I bring. Otherwise, there’s really no point. You’re too busy outside or moving to play around.

  9. Thank you for the wonderful post, I truly enjoyed it. I travelled to New York few weeks back from Europe and I definetley know how it feels to have limited supply of stuff. But like you, I was fine. I dont think I really missed anything else than my moisturizers, clensers and my sink 😀 (I stayed in hotels that had shared baths..)

  10. Thanks for posting the Chanel video! It was really helpful. I’ve been using samples of the VA foundation and wonder if the real thing is better, because you can actually shake it in the container.

  11. I really miss all my make up if I don’t have loads! I’m staying for three weeks in my parents’ house while studying for exams and I brought more make up than you despite the fact that I haven’t worn any of it! I am going to get some edward bess for my birthday – maybe soft smoke!

  12. Yet another timely post as I’m right in the process of packing for our Paris vacation. We leave on Tuesday, so it was if you read my mind!

    And glad to know about bringing my boots. I’ve been on the fence about whether or not to bring them. 😉

  13. Great post Amy! I’ve gone through several bottles of EltaMD UV Clear and I love it! I have sensitive and breakout-prone skin and this thing is super nice to it – plus no shine and no awful white cast!

  14. Thankyou for this !
    From my own experience: It is easy to forget about brows and then realize how important a brow definer is. I am 44 now and feel lately it is becoming more essential. What are the advantages of the new Chanel pencil in comparison with other brow pencils?

    • Michaela, It’s a little more creamy than the current version and seems to cling to the hair very well. Certainly much softer than Shu’s Hard Formula. I don’t know if it’s “better,” really, than Shu’s, because the Shu is excellent of course. I do think the new Chanel lasts longer than the former Chanel version because of the creamy formula.

      • Thanks. I’ll wait for it to arrive. I also find Shu’s too hard! I have discovered recently the Clarins brow pencil. I imagine they are sold in the US. If they are I highly recommend, they also come with a brush.

  15. Amy – EXCELLENT!!! I think you did a wonderful job packing. I am amazed that you were able to narrow down your picks. I know I would have taken just as much, if not more. I don’t know that we can ever really pack the perfect amount no matter how we plan. I think our beauty routine is subject to moods, outfits, weather and occasion it’s difficult to know what we will end up using in advance.

    I loved the feedback on your trip. As for mine, well I always end up thinking I brought way too much makeup. I tend to forget tools at home like my eyelash curler, shiseido cotton or a few brushes. Makeup remover is also another thing I tend to forget.

    So glad you had a safe trip back home. Thank you for such wonderful coverage of Paris 🙂

  16. that is why I think palettes like Urban Decay naked is good for trips like this because then the in between stuff is added. I also over pack my makeup for trips.

    I usually bring about 4 or more bottles of polish with me. Even at a 2day trip to orlando, I somehow always over pack. how did you store your makeup? was it in a train case or pouch?

  17. I really enjoyed reading this article! Whenever I go on vacation I make a pic of all the stuff I bring, make up and skincare and then when Im back home I make a list of the things I really used or could have lived without. I keep that list in my suitcase for the next vacation.

    And thank you SO much for posting the Lisa YT about the Vitalumiere. Ive picked up a sample 2 but it just didnt melt into my skin and I remember the MU didnt shake the bottle at all, guess thats why it looked so bleh on me? Gonne give it another change 🙂

    Next time you come to Europe, you can use my straightener 🙂

  18. Loved this post, I really enjoy reading about travelling and what makeup they pack. I go really minimalistic in travel and don’t bring along anything that isn’t tried and tested. So happens that the Parisian aesthetic is pretty much my usual look – clear, fresh and natural looking skin, a natural pop of pink blush, thin line of liner and mascara and I’m pretty much good to go! For lips I usually bring a raspberry lipstick and balm, the lipstick can be worn as a stain alone or with balm and can be applied more heavily for night.

  19. I think you did a fabulous job editing your original choices down but the feedback was great! I always overpack makeup, especially if I am travelling with a girlfriend and not my husband (the makeup I took on my girls-only trip was obscene but then again, I did makeup for all for entire trip)

    I’m familiar with the Edward Bess line but you are really starting to convince me to go grab that palette for my gym/travel case. Now that summer is arriving, my look definitely leans more Parisian as I start to play with the lighter textures available for a bolder lip.

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