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I’m going on a long-haul flight in a few months for the first time in many years. I’ve been searching for ways to protect my skin from the going nuts during the flight and also easy travel makeup tips. I’m not someone who likes going bare-faced anywhere but the gym and to bed, but I understand that my usual makeup routine may be too heavy for a 10 hour travel day. If it matters, I’ll be traveling to the South of France in November, so I’ll already be battling winter skin. I’ve been thinking of face oils or hydrating masks. Something like that. Can you tell us your routine? Or some good tips? Thanks!


Thanks for your question, Danielle. Two of my favorite things: beauty and travel together!

Yes, your normal makeup routine is definitely too heavy for a 10 hour flight (unless you’re one of those unicorn people who claims that your skin looks better after not washing off makeup). Personally, I understand the impulse to head to the airport with makeup on, and I often go with a full-face while trying to play the upgrade game. Every little bit helps, especially on an international flight. (Once while flying back to the states on British Airways from London, I simply asked for a business class upgrade…and they actually gave it to me! I damn-near fainted.) But once you’re on the plane, it’s time to pull out your trusty travel beauty bag, which I’ll always have handy under my seat in my purse.

My long-haul plane routine generally goes like this. And by generally, I mean, exactly to a T. I have it down to a science:

— Go to the bathroom.
— Glare at the people in business class.
— Remind self that I must really do better with my life.
— Take off shoes and change into thick, comfy socks for the remainder of the flight.
— Read US Weekly for 20 minutes.
— Remind self that this is probably why I’m not in business class. Should be reading something highbrow instead.
— Scroll through the movies on offer.
— Get cranky because I don’t like any of the movies on offer.
— Settle on something terrible that went straight to DVD, like a Keri Russell movie about Jane Austen-obsessives.
— Judge myself for loving it.
— Ooh! Food! (I always pre-order a special meal online or over the phone. You have to do it more than 24 hours in advance, but it’s worth it. The meals are a billion times better than the regular offerings. I usually go for the “Vegan” or “Muslim” meals, which are often delicious little non-dairy curry dishes with spices, rice, and veggies.)
— Eat while watching said terrible Keri Russell movie.
— Down a glass of red wine or pop an Ambien. (“Or”? Who are we kidding here? I do both.)
— Pull out travel bag (see below for details of what’s in my kit).
— Use a wipe to clean my hands.
— Take off all my makeup with TWO more makeup wipes. (One will suffice, but the second ensures your skin is truly clean.) Literally any brand will do, but I like anything from Neutrogena (they have a travel packet of 7 Make-Up Remover Cleansing Towelettes that’s perfect) or Ponds Wet Cleansing Towelettes. I emphatically do not like the generic Sephora-brand wipes.
— Take out and store my contact lenses in a case pre-filled with solution.
— Pat on some facial serum or moisturizer. I like Kiehl’s Rosa Arctica Lightweight Cream. It’s non-greasy and won’t break you out, but contains enough hydration to get you through a long flight. Go to any Kiehl’s store and request samples, and they’ll give you single-use sachets. Genius for flights.
— Pop on eyeglasses. (I am BLIND.)
— Head to the bathroom with a travel-sized toothbrush, travel-sized toothpaste, and small bottle of water.
— Brush teeth with the bottled water.
— Pee.
— Get irritated again that I’m not in business class.
— Back at seat, watch a few more minutes of Keri Russell until the sleeping pill kicks in.
— Apply Lucas Papaw Ointment to lips and hands. (Elizabeth Arden Eight-Hour Cream works, too.)
— Groggily put on face mask and insert earplugs.
— Pass out for the next…ZZZZZzzzzz.
— Wake eight hours later.
— Pop an Aleve.
— Pound another water.
— Briefly wish I had woken in time for breakfast.
— Remind myself that no airplane food is better than sleep.
— Use a Colgate Wisp to get rid of morning breath.
— Pop some gum.
— Use another makeup wipe to freshen my skin and wash the airplane off.
— Use another Kiehl’s Rosa Arctica Lightweight sachet to re-hydrate.
— Apply the leftover Kiehl’s moisturizer to my hands.
— Swipe on mascara. You can have your regular favorite handy, or get a travel-sized sample at most department stores. I’m currently testing out Urban Decay Perversion mascara and Lancome Grandiose mascara and LOVING them both.
–I normally stop there with the makeup, but if for whatever reason I need more, I’ll forgo my beloved bareMinerals (too messy on a plane) in favor of a BB cream or tinted moisturizer. I like Boscia BB Cream Light SPF 27. (You don’t want to forget the sunscreen!)
— Deplane!

Nadine Jolie Courtney travel bags

And just for the heck of it, here’s what I personally have on hand when I’m long-haul traveling:

— A long, heavy scarf that can double as a blanket
— Thick, cozy socks
— A travel pillow
— Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone earplugs
— An eye mask
— Gum
— Colgate Wisps
— Travel-size toothbrush/toothpaste
— Contact lens case already filled with solution
— Makeup wipes
— A travel-size tube (or at least two individual-use sachets) of face moisturizer or serum
— Lucas Papaw Ointment (good for chapped lips, dry hands, and raggedy cuticles)
— Aleve
— Ambien

If you have dramatically drier skin, Kiehl’s might still be a good solution with their individual-use samples. Instead of the Rosa Arctica Light, however, ask for samples of Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream – Intense Hydration.

For more details about my travel carry-on, check out travel website Destination 42, who recently interviewed me all about it. I hope that helps and let me know if you have any other questions!

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Hi Nadine, I’m a big fan of the books and the blogs. I have two questions. I finally got nice makeup brushes from Bare Escentuals, but I was wondering how often and how I should clean them so I don’t ruin them. Also I use Bare Minerals foundation and I used to use fair but noticed that I looked really pale in pictures. I went up one color and it looked good during the summer, but now it seems to make me look yellow, so I went back to the lighter shade. Do people often need a different shade for winter and summer? Thanks so much.


Hi E,
Unless you are incredibly vigilant about sunscreen and live in a climate with the same amount of sun year-round, most women will need two different shades of foundation depending on the season! It’s for that very reason that the Bare Escentuals starter kit include 2 shades. Make sure you’re using SPF 30 sunscreen in the summer, so that your skin tone doesn’t get too much darker from sun damage…but it’s natural and reasonable that you’ll get a little extra color here and there, and will therefore need a slightly darker shade to blend into your skin.

As far as cleaning your brushes, I recommend soft cleaning them on a daily basis with a product like MAC brush cleanser  (sprinkle a little on top of the brushes, and then stroke the brush back and forth across a washcloth, tissue or paper towel before rinsing clean).  Meanwhile, deep clean them every other week using baby shampoo (lather up the brush with the shampoo and swirl it in the palm of your hand, rinsing several times until the water runs clean).

Take caution not to wet the brushes above the metal bit of the handle (this can rust it and damage it) and when done cleaning, lay the blush flat across a pile of washcloths, with the wet bristles hanging off the edge to dry. Some people use Extra Virgin Olive Oil to deep clean their brushes – I’ve never done so, and have to admit it scares me because of my acne-prone complexion…but there you go!  Some people love it!

It can be a bit boring cleaning your brushes (believe me, it’s not one aspect of my beauty routine that I perform like clockwork) but it truly is important to maintain the life of your brushes, and also to prevent bacteria from building and transferring to your skin in the form of nasty breakouts.  Cheers, and happy makeupping!

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Hi Jolie, I noticed on an old post that you are a fan of Lancome Fatale. Can you explain how to use the friggin’ stuff? I’ve looked up tips for using it, but all I get is huge clumps that stick all of my eyelashes together. I keep combing it through, just like I’ve read, but it seems to make things worse. I even try separating my lashes with an eyelash comb, then with pointed tweezers. They glob together, and it’s a hot mess. I’m really good at makeup application, and I’m a fan of other brands that use the unconventional wand for fatter lashes, but this Fatale stuff has me thrown for a loop. Thanks!


Thanks for your email, A.!  Here are a few tricks for you to try, alone or in tandem:

1) Run the closed tube under warm water for about 30 seconds-1 minute to help loosen the formula up and keep it from clumping.
2) When you take the wand out of the tube, press a piece of toilet paper/kleenex around the wand and then gently squeeze, to take off excess product
3) Take the wand, and rub it back and forth against the lip of the tube, to take off even more excess

But, keep in mind: some mascaras are supposed to look spidery and crazy. Those tricks should help, though, but something like Fatale will never look like wimpy mascara that gently defines; it’s definitely a Look At Me! mascara.

If you’re looking for barely-there, try Maybelline Great Lash (shudder for me, but there are those that love it), and if you want definition without craziness, try Max Factor Lash Perfection or Too Face Lash Injection Pin Point. I hope that helps!

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Hi Nadine- love your blog and all your advice!! I have a question I don’t know if you have answered before…but my eye makeup seems to disappear. Like there is it all pretty and nice and I swear 10 minutes later it’s gone! Faded into my eyes? Fallen off my face? UGH! I cant get eye shadow or liner to stay on…any advice on what to use as a base on my eyes before the makeup to make it last? Do you recommend a type of eyeliner that seems to stay on as well? Thanks greatly!


Hey E.!  Thanks for your email.  Believe me, I can relate to the Case of the Disappearing Eyeshadow!  Even those who aren’t cursed with oily skin sometimes fall prey to Slick Lid Syndrome.  Luckily, a few simple tricks will help your shadow (and liner!) stay put.  Here’s my routine:

– Apply a makeup primer to eyes, patting gently with your 4th finger to avoid pulling the delicate skin.  I like OC Eight Mattifying Gel, but any primer will do.  (A great option is Skindinavia, which makes a slew of oil- and paraben-free Makeup Finish mists to hold shadow in place.  Try Skindinavia No More Shine Makeup Finish.)


– Use a makeup brush, not your fingers.  The oils on your fingers will transmit to your lids, speeding up the fading process.  High-quality brushes are fine and dandy, but even cheapie brushes from the drugstore, Target or Sephora will aid in smooth, longer-lasting makeup application.

– After you apply eyeliner, double back over it with an eyeliner brush dipped in translucent powder, or in a shadow the same color as the eyeliner.  (This trick also works on eyeliner on the “waterline” inside lower lids.)

– Finish with a light dusting of translucent powder over shadow (my standby is Bare Escentuals bareMinerals Mineral Veil), topped off with another spray of Skindinavia Makeup Finish.

– Finally, if you’re out and about, keep some blotting papers handy.  Clean and Clear makes fabulous, cheap versions–or, in a pinch, run to the ladies’ room and use a toilet seat cover!  Sounds gross, but it works like a dream to banish oil.

Good luck!

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