8 years ago by

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


Add yours
  • After 10 years of remote backcountry trips (remote = a float plane or helicopter drops us off far from civilization for a week and we wander around with back packs on foot or skis…), I’ve decided on a few essentials. Handi-wipes, Micellar water. Develop skills for taking a bath in a freezing cold alpine creek/lake (lots of shrieking required) with only the tiniest amount of soap (it’s not good for the environment). Good quality sunscreen and hand/face cream (in little Nalgene jars). Wool base layers. Loose clothing and cover up to keep the bugs away. Clean underwear every day. Forget the mirror at home!

  • Je crois que tu t’es très bien débrouillée en fait ! Lâcher prise et apprécier ton road trip est la meilleure chose à faire. Mon expérience de cabane dans le désert israélien me semble presque confortable en comparaison !

  • Jaunemoutarde August, 5 2015, 9:54 / Reply

    Un road-trip sédentaire par nature? Je ne suis pas d’accord. Je suis en bicyclette avec tous mes bagages en road-trip. J’ai traversé les États-Unis, Cuba d’Est en Ouest et fait le tour de Taïwan = 10000km. Je n’ai jamais eu une aussi belle silhouette en mangeant autant et aussi mal.
    Produits de beauté? J’ai les cheveux blonds jusqu’aux milieu du dos, je les attache en chignons ou en tresse quand j’ai mon casque de vélo.
    Une bouteille de camp-sud ou de broomer comme truc à tout faire (cheveux, corps, vaisselle etc) BIODÉGRADABLE , une crème Ceravie FPS30 et un nettoyant anti acné ET de l’huile de coco (cheveux, corps, coups soleil, cuisiner etc).
    Er maintenant cap sur Taipei car Souledor arrive bientôt et LÀ c’est le temps de prendre un hotel!

  • L’eau micellaire, si pratique… donne des points noirs ! Une invasion

  • Laurence D August, 5 2015, 1:11

    Et est irritante pour la peau en fait! A force d’en entendre dire merveille dans toute la presse féminine française, je m’y suis mise. Et j’ai aggravé des problèmes d’allergie… C’était évident pour tous les médecins à qui j’en ai parlé!

  • Caroline Mt August, 5 2015, 2:41

    Je me permets de répondre sur l’eau micellaire : comme tous les produits, ça dépend des peaux. Sur certaines, ça fait des catastrophes et sur d’autres ça fait des merveilles!
    Le mieux c’est quand même de demander à un dermato avant.

  • Hey all! I’ve switched to a 100% natural / organic beauty routine (washing with water+honey, moisturising with oils and that’s all) and using a microfiber cloth to remove makeup. Then on holidays I forgot my microfiber and had to borrow my mother in law’s Eau micellaire (the famous Créaline H2O by Bioderma) to remove makeup on my eyes… My eyes were burning all night long and even one day later. And I’m not especially sensitive: I used to use the stuff for all my teens + early 20s… So I wouldn’t call it a “gentle alternative to tap water”. I experienced the same with toothpaste: if I now use the stuff you buy in supermarkets vs a gentle, clay-based toothpaste, you’ll feel how agressive it is… Cheers!

  • Been going on an epic road/camping trip with my hubs and another couple for lots of years now. Re: food, over time I’ve started packing a week’s worth of hiking snacks that won’t melt (whatever bar you like, dried fruit, nuts, jerky, those little packets of almond butter), buying gas station fruit (whatever), and eating dates (itty bitty but full of calories, you won’t feel hungry). I feel like this creates a ton of trash, and I’m way more conscious of that when I’m out in the bush, but it works for me. Just pack the trash out!

  • I was just talking to my boyfriend about going on a road trip! such a great post

  • Babouille August, 5 2015, 10:36 / Reply

    C’est marrant, moi, j’ai l’impression de me connecter à la nature quand j’y fais pipi !!

  • Lily Gianduia August, 5 2015, 11:48

    Ouiiiiii!!! Tellement! J’adore aussi! Ca sent bon et c’est tellement plus propre que certaines toilettes publiques ou de restos! :-)

  • trop vrai/marrant :-D!

  • I love this post! I just went camping for the first time in years, and beforehand had to think a lot about my extensive sensitive-skincare routine.. plus I can’t go a day more than a day without showering or I feel like I can’t function!
    My solution: washing up in a lake! If you’re anywhere close to fresh water that is swimming friendly on a road trip taking a “lake/river/bath” is fun and and it’s a great excuse to get some quality ‘beach time’. Of course it’s very important to be eco-friendly and use 100% organic and biodegradable products. I tend to use Lush because they automatically come in small containers and they also have bar soap shampoo.

  • I believe that there is a moment for everything..i enjoy taking my time and have the pleasure of taking care of my skin, my hair…and there is a moment where all this seams so much less important…when you are out in the nature and you are on vacation and the mirror isn’t in front of you…unless we have our i phone ….
    peace and love
    Yael Guetta

  • I’m not a camper either, but this post was so much fun to read!

  • Lisa Walker August, 5 2015, 1:24 / Reply

    This is hilarious and true! But I must say, having the same straight-as-an-arrow hair as yourself, I too had the limp-hair syndrome. And nothing made my hair more beautiful that a daily rinse in a river or stream. All sorts of living things were camping on my head, for sure, but my man said I never looked so good. Bring a bottle of lavender spray, the hippie-kind you find at a farmers market or co-op, and spray it on your sleeping bags, clothes, whatever. It keeps the moths and spiders away and smells good.

  • I broke up with my boyfriend because of a bloody roadtrip. I went ape shit over the lack of showering and he liked it a bit too much . I absolutely hate that kind of holiday. Hats off to you, Garance.

  • ha, oh I completely agree with you. Sleeping on sticks is what I call it, and I don’t understand at all! Our ancestors worked hard to figure out shelter and plumbing and air conditioning. It’s called progress. Sure, you CAN take a boat across the ocean, but we take airplanes, don’t we? Oh well, some people love it, so more hotels rooms for the rest of us.

  • Alli Baar August, 5 2015, 2:26 / Reply

    Since I’ve a very outdoorsy boyfriend, and I’m slightly obsessive about my beauty routine, I’ve learned some tricks and now find beautifying in nature to be a total pleasure. I always bring cotton washcloths and Dr. Brommer’s (eco friendly for the fishes) for what I like to refer to as my “french whore’s bath”. This can happen in either a lake or a river (heaven) or in the dark out of the back of the car with a plastic jug of Arrowhead water splashed on the washcloth. I keep a pouch with my essentials, such as cleanser, moisturizer, sunscreen, serums, a little mineral powder and bronzer (because lets face it, he’s photographing everything) on hand. Also, I always bring a good detoxifying face mask and a body oil, for any afternoon spent lazing near the river, after a good swim and maybe some yoga, I’ll open a bottle of rose` and tune into natures spa. I am glowing and refreshed by bonfire time.

    Also, as far as food/health goes, there are amazing health co-ops in small towns across America. We always make sure to stop in and stock up on local smoked fishes and fresh fruits and healthy snacks for those long stretches in between pretending I’m in Pulp Fiction or Drugstore Cowboy eating french fries and shakes:) Happy roadtripping!

  • Ana@Champagnegirlsabotttown August, 5 2015, 2:32 / Reply

    The idea of road trip across America is still one I dream of but I have to accept that I will never again go camping so that’s that for me. I mean, we crossed California and Nevada once but there was a warm shower waiting at the end each day so I guess that was cheating :)

  • Ca me rappelle moi en camping, je déteste

  • I consider myself a pro at camping and looking well during. Its taken years to perfect it but here are my tips :

    1. Wear a bun.
    2. Every day could be a bad hair day. Wear a cool cowboy hat.
    3. Slather sunscreen. Wear that cool over priced hat.
    4. Wipes. Not a luxury but a necessity. Wipes with skin care , absolutely a plus.
    5. Get a facial after you get back. Absolutely deserved and will help skin bounce back after all the dirt.

    Although, the fresh air and water does wonders to my skin and I come back with glowy skin.

    Good luck !

  • Sorry but after reading your article I would never do what you call a “Road trip”. I don’t even understand the necessity to impose ourselves such torture, with a diet consisting of eating junk food and staying in a car all day long :D

    I would rather stay in the city and be able to move freely.

  • Alexandra August, 6 2015, 8:03

    trust me, you have to take a road trip someday. you won’t understand until you do. :)

  • Estelle August, 5 2015, 5:54 / Reply

    Hey, si vous croisez un ours pendant votre trip , ce sera peut être moi, je voyage depuis 6 semaines…sans épilateur…

  • Je réponds sur l’eau micellaire car c’est depuis des années mon produit miracle recommandé par mon dermato pour ma peau super réactive qui a tendance à avoir des boutons. La seule marque qui vaut la peine est Crealine H2O de Bioderma, je ne peux pas imaginer qu’elle provoque une réaction allergique ni des points noirs ! Autre truc qui que j’ai découvert et qui peut aider, l’exfoliation douce (DCL Multi-Action Penta Peel toléré par les peaux sensibles est fabriqué aux US et en vente sur

  • Thanks Lisa for the beauty on the road tips! If you ever get rash from poison ivy or ortie, morsquito bites or any other itching just get the Anti-Pruritic Lotion by DCL, no prescription, you can get it on Dermstore and after trying everything at the pharmacy it’s the only one that works:

  • My “roughing it” beauty regimen: Try to stay clean, but accept that you won’t be as clean as at home. Focus on the areas that count (i.e. the face and the potentially smelly ones).

  • In some places, flies lay eggs in grass and water and if you swim or bathe in it you risk getting a parasite. It happened to my dog. So gross. I’ll spare you the disgusting details.

  • I like TOMS shoes for vacay, or New Balance

  • For beauty I do a lip stain that will last about a week (benetint) or lush. I will also bring ysl touche eclat and cover my bags before anyone can catch me using a touch of makeup (done in am when everyone is sleeping). For pm I bring a natural toner usually green tea toner made from lush toner tabs use before bed yo get rid of all the sweat and grime from the day.

    For health I get a case of tomato juice and drink one everyday to get some vitamins in and buy fruits and veggies that dont need cooking at every pit stop we make (instead of junk food). Also pushups sit ups can be done anywhere, but swimming is the best exercise if at all possible. Hope that helps ;)

  • Francesca August, 6 2015, 3:02 / Reply

    Though I’ve never been camping and I’m pretty sure that’s not my style either, this post was so much fun to read!

  • Florence August, 6 2015, 3:42 / Reply

    Coucou, moi l’idee du roadtrip me dépasse un peu. Personnellement je trouve bien pire les 8 heures par jour de voiture que le camping et l’absence de produits de beauté. 8 heures/jours dans une voiture? C’est un peu l’angoisse non? On profite de rien vraiment…

  • mêmes impressions qd on randonne en montagne: avec rien, mais besoin de rien, aussi…

  • My advice: do the road-trips when young!
    They are fun, but can be really uncomfortable. A young person is more tolerant, more excited about the trip, her/his muscles will not ache from all the sitting. Plus a young person in love doesn’t really notice all the annoying things around. :)

    As for the beauty tips on the road…

    1. Wet wipes for face, hands, etc. Lots of them.
    2. Multipurpose cream for dry skin, burns, insect bites etc.

    By the way, I’ve got a crush on multipurpose creams even if I’m not travelling. They’re great! And some are really cheap! Look for some new kinds when travelling in other countries. The good old Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream is of course the most known.

    4. Dry shampoo – because it works and is easy and greasy hair ruin my mood. Then why not take it.
    5. A mini perfume – I think it makes you feel more fresh even if you can’t shower.
    6. Sunscreen – well, can’t leave that.

    Road trips will make amazing memories! I kept a small diary for every one when I was a kid. It was the highlight of the summer.

  • I have never been camping per se, but as the sentence “mountains are my playground” became my motto few years ago, I try to sneak out to the mountains and run there whenever I can (which is not easy, as the nearest mountains are about 4-5 hours drive, I have a job and a family, but the family is very understanding). And when I spend a week in the mountains, putting on miles and miles of running, my attitude towards beauty changes automatically, because, frankly speaking, I am so exhausted and sometimes so sore from the exericse, that I just don’t care. I may loose a toenail – who cares – it will grow back, get all types of lovely blisters on my feet, bruises and scratches on my legs (my knee is sort of purple at the moment) and, sometimes, arms and elbows, I may get a sunburn, my neck and my shoulders may become chafed from a bacpack, etc. And don’t get me started on hair and face – I sweat all the time and at the end of a day, I feel like I am covered with a wafer thin layer of salt. I find myself very put together and elegant whenever I take a shower, put a clean t’shirt on and have my hair combed. So, it’s all the matter of perspective :) Great post, Lisa!

  • je reviens d’une semaine de trip bivouac Kayak de mer dans les îles éoliennes (Stromboli, Lipari etc…) au large de la Sicile.J’étais allée chez une coiffeuse affro pour me faire tresser la demi tête, comme ça pas de problème de cheveux, je pouvais me baigner, dormir,transpirer, bref, nickel, en plus, ça claque sur les photos car plutôt originale comme idée.Dans ma trousse de toilettes, lingettes Cavaillès, mini eau micellaire bioderma TS, brosse à dent pliable+mini dentifrice+mini rince bouche Plax, 1 baume Carmex, l’huile solaire Léonor Greyl pour mes tresses, et une crème ultra riche bioderma+mini brumisateur Avène .Je précise que nous étions en pur bivouac, donc que du camping sauvage sur plage, je remplissais chaque jour une bouteille d’eau non potable, mais qui me permettait de me rincer le sel de mer.

  • Road tripping, camping, backpacking, discovering the outdoors and educating oneself about the United States and it’s natural wonders, I highly recommend it to everyone. A beauty routine while on the road, a piece of cake. Simplify, decant into small containers, sunscreen, organic liquid soap(Aubrey organics liquid body soap), wash cloth, towel, small bucket/ recycled yogurt container, portable sun shower( buy on line at camping goods site, sun will heat water for you), tinted lip balm, concealer, hair tie, and a hat. Try bathing in a lake or river, however , never use any soap, organic or not, in any natural water source, that’s what the bucket is for. Please go away from the water source and use the soap and pour it out away from the lake/river. Food on the road, easy, co-ops, farmers markets, small town markets. Adventure, discovery, be flexible, have fun. Smile, the best beauty product on the planet. By the way, I’m taking time to write this before I go out the door this morning for a day trip to a hot springs to bath outside. Stopping to pick-up my 70 year old friend. She has spent her entire life road tripping/ camping as have I, since we were little children, 125 years combined. You get the idea.

  • We just came back from a road trip to New Mexico. Some tips: McDonalds is America’s bathroom and doesnt care if you buy something when you use the loo. Pack fresh fruit in an ice chest. Stay in a motel every few days so you can shower and sleep in a bed. And lastly, take Cetaphil.

  • Alexandra August, 6 2015, 8:00 / Reply

    Hah, I love this post! I drove cross-country and back when I was 20 and I actually feel like the opposite happened for me. I brought the bare minimum for your exact reasons and then realized I couldn’t look like a literal witch for an entire summer, so I wound up buying a few beauty products and making use of any bathroom/rest stop I could find. I was also SO worried about getting a “road trip bod” so I made a point to buy fruit and almonds and “healthy” food, and I also brought 10 pound weights with me so I could do quick exercises anytime we got out of the car. Road tripping is FREEING and EFFING FUN and I have to say it’s worth all the bear sightings/bug bites/bad skin.

  • A snake in the car?! What?! I probably have gone home straight away and not have to worry about any of this stuff at all! Problem solved. :)

  • Hi Lisa-
    I just came back from Joshua Tree (it was amazing!). My tips:
    1) stock up at a Whole Foods when you can (possibly in Vegas or Phoenix whereever you fly into) – there are virtually no good supermarkets around Joshua Tree!
    2) the Fairfield Inn at Twentynine Palms (great name, hein?) is good to stay at
    3) driving through Joshua Tree around sunset is the BEST – the light is incredible and the temperatures are great, too (but driving through it once is also enough… I would rather go north toward Las Vegas after – it’s a super-nice drive (partly on Route 66) and we took the BEST pictures there; actually the round trip: Las Vegas – Grand Canyon – Sedona – Josua Tree – Las Vegas was awesome and I can more than recommend it – we did it in a week and finishing it with 2 days in Vegas to lie by the pool was great)
    Let me know if you have more questions – happy to dicsuss :)

  • I can’t believe I have something to add to a topic on this site. My camping and road trip tips:
    1. Food. On the road, find a supermarket or better yet, a farmers markets for fresh food. has a good list. Camping somehow ends up revolving around the campsite kitchen. What helps stop me from overeating junk food is to make or find the best camping coffee I can manage and savor it. Also try wonderful teas. I plan ahead and pack the “durable” fruits and vegetables such as bananas, grapes, apples, carrots. Instant oatmeal cups are easy to do as well.
    2. Hair. I like the Buff Headbands. They are cooling, comfortable and not tight, help disguise less-than-showered hair and get some color near your face when you’re not wearing makeup. Shower whenever you can, even if it’s not luxurious.
    3. Face. I use facial cleansing wipes throughout the day. Also a moisturizer with a high SPF sunscreen and no scent. I cannot imagine wearing makeup while camping. You’ll look clownish and overdone in the forest.
    4. Exercise. When you see a sign for a lighthouse, gardens, park, or trail, stop and pull over. Get out of the car and go see what it’s about. Keds might not be your best choice always, but you don’t need enormous hiking boots to enjoy most walks and trails. Also, swim, especially if you have kids along, who will keep you in the water for hours.

  • Essaie Freeletics! On voit les résultats après deux ou trois semaines et sa marche partout :)!

  • Essaie Freeletics! On voit les résultats après deux ou trois semaines et ca marche partout :)!

  • McDonalds oatmeal is very good I look for starbucks

  • Maureen Poschman April, 19 2016, 10:47 / Reply

    As an urbanite who transplanted to the the mountains of Colorado 25 years ago….here are my suggestions:
    Micellar water is miraculous. I started using Darphin’s version 6 months ago and it has made a huge difference for my skin – and I did take it on a hut trip. That and Darphin face oil are all i use when camping, + sunscreen by day of course.
    Sun showers – this is a great investment for any camping. Fill it with water and sit it in your back window. when you arrive at your destination, you will have a short – but hot – shower! I used them on river trips, and it provides amazing pleasure.
    Body Oil – if you’re desert camping, make sure you take body oil. I love Osmia Organics. Smells great.
    Unscented baby wipes = for morning freshening.

  • Sandrichka April, 20 2016, 12:24 / Reply

    Simple now has micellar infused wipes (!) in a resealable packet of 25. I keep ’em by the bed for (most) nights when I’m too lazy to wash my face in the actual bathroom -AND they are perfect for travel (not a liquid you have to fit in a ziplock!) you are welcome! via @amazon

  • Je reviens juste de Guadeloupe pour un road trip sur la Grande-Terre et la Basse-Terre, je dois avouer que je trouve votre article un peu tard. J’ai la peau un peu rose, pas vraiment un homard mais quand même, surtout la peau sèche en revenant d’un pays tropical on se rend pas vraiment compte du taux d’humidité et lorsque que l’on rentre en Europe avec le chauffage électrique, la la peau dérouille, je vais tester toutes vos astuces.

From the Archives

This or That
  • This or That
  • Holiday Gifting
  • Happy Holidays!
  • #AtelierDoreDoes
  • How To...
atelier dore this or that summer sandals chunky sandals vs. delicate sandals

This or That / Sandal Edition

This or That: American or Française?

This or That: American or Française?

atelier dore this or that lingerie lace or cotton sex month

This or That / Lingerie Edition

This or That / Blush vs. Bronzer

This or That / Blush vs. Bronzer

This or That: The Beanie

This or That: The Beanie

This or That: Nails

This or That: Nails

This or That

This or That

This Or That

This Or That

Silja Danielsen Photo

This Or That: Low Knot or Top Knot