Last summer, my man and I went on a cross-country camping road trip. I am not a camper. And, up until last summer, the only tent I had ever set foot in was a dress. Don’t get me wrong, I love the more romantic aspects of camping: bonfires, s’mores, sleeping under the stars… but peeing in the woods? No thanks. 

In addition to awkwardly copping a squat, roll of toilet paper in hand, a cross-country camping trip also means some serious relationship beauty challenges. The reality is that, after an eight-hour car drive: No. One. Cares. Which is actually pretty freeing. You start to think, “Maybe I could be that girl who doesn’t wear any makeup and doesn’t care and still looks amazing.” 

But I’m a creature of habit and I like feeling (and attempting to look) attractive. I tried to maintain. But, after a three bear sighting, finding a snake in our car, an “ohmygodisthatatickonmyseatbeltholycrapyesitisnowihavelymesdisease” moment, and a flat tire/roadside meltdown (me and the car), I pretty much gave up (on everything—including the idea of “beauty”). 

The trick to surviving a road trip is this: Let go. You’re going to have to pare your beauty routine down to miracle all-in-one products. Here are some things that I imagine would have worked for me, had I had the foresight, as well as some no-brainer takeaways:


Some people have that crazy wild curly frizzy humidity problem with their hair. Not me. In the heat and the humidity my hair gets as deflated as my fiancé does when I put on that shapeless tent dress I’ve already mentioned. My solve for this was to just ignore the fact that my hair looked terrible, which is pretty easy when you’re sleep deprived and distracted by the possibility of getting mauled by a bear. 

The thing about camping is that showering just doesn’t really happen. I will admit that we did cheat once or twice and stay at a hotel (Marriot Courtyard, you are my oasis in a desert of campgrounds) and on that rare occasion I was able to, miracle of miracles, shower and also have enough energy to give a rat’s ass I whipped out my Oribe Surcomber Mousse. Yes. MOUSSE. Maybe the last time you used it you were wearing stirrup leggings? Don’t be scared. This is way more flattering than those things. It does in one shot what usually takes me three products: perfectly full, textured, tousled beach hair. 

Otherwise a topknot, a headband, and a hat (outta sight, outta mind) will be your best friends. And I don’t have to tell you that a wide-brimmed woven straw hat is Instagram gold. So there’s that. 

If you think you’re wearing anything other than Keds, you’re a fool. Don’t be that girl who tries to wear clogs while she’s camping (I’ve tried. It doesn’t work. And you look like an idiot). The only thing worse? Stilettos.

Two words for you: no plumbing. No running water. No bathroom for all your products. No hope of anything that even closely resembles good skin. No mirror except for the rearview or that one in the sun visor of your car that perfectly highlights all your skins imperfections. In the mornings I’d fill up a bowl with this fine, grade-A water and use it to wash my face. If I had to do it again I’d go the micellar water route—I’m obsessed and I haven’t even tried it yet. It’s a water-like (to state the obvious) solution that wipes away makeup and impurities without me ever having to get near a sink (or a bowl of questionable water). No plumbing required.

Turns out this stuff has been around—it first gained popularity in France (the birthplace of effortless beauty) where it was designed to help Parisians deal with their harsh hard water supply. The formula is made of tiny oil molecules (micelles to you) suspended in soft water. 

And then there’s the potential problem of bites and sunburn and poison ivy. Good old-fashioned calamine lotion, aloe gel, and cortisone cream will do the trick. In the terrible case that you wander into a patch of poison ivy/oak/sumac there’s this stuff called Tecnu that treats that too. 

On the road trip, my four food groups were Chex Mix, french fries, chicken fingers, and Starbucks granola parfait. Because, when you stop to use the bathroom at McDonald’s, it’s just plain rude not to order something. I honestly tried. I tried to buy fruit when I could (once) and got the egg white breakfast wrap at Starbucks (twice) but eating healthy on the road is not easy. You’re sitting in a car for eight hours at a time. The most cardio I did was change the radio station. I also probably burned a calorie or two complaining. 
Unfortunately there is no real, solid solve to this. 

A road trip is sedentary by nature. I say find a Whole Foods when you can and, once you’re out of the car, walk it off. Run in place. Do some jumping jacks. Or just accept it. You’re gonna get a road trip bod. And that’s okay because all your photos are going to make everyone soooo jealous. 
How do you all cope with road trip/summer vacation/camping beauty? Any tips or tricks I can take with me on my next one? (Joshua Tree this summer!)

Hat, Sensi Studio; Sunglasses, Westward Leaning; Keychain, Anya Hindmarch; Wallet, Valextra; Compact, Shisedo; Lip, Carmex; SPF, Clinique