Camping. The mingled scents of earth and firewood. Wind whistling through the trees. Laughter, hidden trails, and waking up to the sun shining through tent windows. And … skin care?
I love camping. There’s nothing like a weekend spent out with a few friends, family, and a couple of tents to erase my urban weariness. And in these days of global pandemic, camping is one of the safer holiday options. It’s a great way to explore your own backyard, to discover the natural beauty that’s only a few hours away from home. Camping helps me appreciate my surroundings on a deeper level and grow more aware of the local flora and fauna that also call this place home. And camping is a great way to temporarily flee the noise of our urban, hyper-connected lives, to feel time lengthen around us as we abandon our screens for wide skies and cool forests.
But does bidding work and social responsibilities a brief goodbye mean we do the same for our skin care regimens? Does camping ultimately mean leaving your face to fate while you skip cleanser for a few days? I think the problem lies in people equating camping to total rusticity. Which is why “glamping” is even a thing: the luxury version of camping that shoehorns in spa treatments and fairy lights along with s’mores and forest trails.
Can I advocate a happy medium? While some of us may be happy to ditch the skin care regimen for a few days, there’s no gold standard of camping that requires us to leave our potions at home. Indeed, since your skin is going to be more exposed to the sun, waves, and surf (depending on whether you’re going beach camping), then a minimal skin care regimen is actually beneficial to minimizing damage.
As a camping amateur, I’ve arrived at a skin care regimen that allows me the freedom of doing all the outdoorsy things while protecting my skin. I’ve curated a few tips to help you care for your skin while camping, without having to fuss too much over it.
Sheet Mask Before & After Camping
The night before you’re due to leave, stick a sheet mask on. Sheet masks are great for giving an extra boost to your skin, and I usually wear them when I want my skin to have a glow that lasts for at least two days. This will help you cut down on serums and essences if these form part of your regular routine. I recommend sheet masking before camping to keep your skin plumped for a few days, and popping one on when you return to help repair sun damage.
If you forget to sheet mask, don’t worry, that’s what sleeping masks are for! You can always bring a sample size pot of a sleeping mask to wear to sleep in the tent. I’ve done that before for fuss-free skin the next morning.
Minimize Your Routine
While you’re camping, limit yourself to cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. These three products will not only cut your skin care regimen down but also provide the essential care your skin needs. I also recommend using cleansing pads rather than hefting your bottle of cleanser, because these eliminate the need to suds up with water. Some campsites have minimal bathroom facilities, and you may need to save water for cooking and drinking rather than for skin care.
Choose a gentle moisturizer with SPF or one that is gel-based rather than something too heavy. If hiking or trekking, you’ll be sweating a lot more, and so in the interest of not clogging your pores, stow a moisturizer that won’t break you out.
Do not forget sunscreen! If you forget everything else, consider this an essential. For camping, I prefer heavier-duty sunscreens that can withstand time spent in the water or hours hiking in the sun. Keep sunscreen in your backpack for reapplication throughout the day. I recommend the sunscreen sticks for camping in case you’re worried about possible leakages while mobile.
Shrink Your Skin Care Sizes
To fit everything into your backpack, I recommend decanting the skin care you’re taking into travel-sized bottles. These little bottles can be easily purchased online or in pharmacies. If you’re worried about stray breakouts while outside, slip in a pack of zit stickers or blemish treatment to calm angry bumps. And remember to hydrate as much as possible by drinking water and snacking on fruit.
Hair Care to Go
Don’t forget your hair while packing your skin care staples away! If you have long(ish) hair, take the time to French or Dutch braid your hair tightly and leave it in the braids overnight. Dry shampoo is your friend—work it in before you braid and the braids will hold much longer.
Also acceptable while camping is the messy bun. In fact, messiness is condoned because mirrors are hard to come by in the woods, and there’s no place to plug in straighteners. So accept a little grit and use a wooden hairbrush at night to tease out the tangles, but know that you don’t need to do much more than that.
Run a bath, put on a sheet mask, and enjoy replaying the memories in your head: the sun dappling the leaves of the trees, listening to the night wind rustle along the tent canvas, the jokes and conversations with friends and family as you pulled each other along the trail. And then start thinking about where you want to go camping next!