What I Brought for a Month in England

Packing makeup for a month away isn’t an exercise in minimalism unless you choose to make it one, which (surprise) I didn’t. But I did have to limit myself somewhat in what I brought to the UK, so perhaps my not-quite-capsule collection will be of interest to others. I’m proud to report that my entire suitcase weighed in at 39 lbs, well under United Airlines’ 50-lb limit! Given that my suitcase was routinely overweight when I traveled back and forth to Oxford in my junior year of college, that’s quite an achievement. I guess I’m no longer terrified of being temporarily separated from my books. If there’s one thing that will make you less precious about books, it’s a doctoral program in literature. Seriously.

Anyway, let’s rummage through the contents of my giant makeup pouch (giant head included for scale). Excuse the tea-towel backdrops and overcast British lighting throughout.


L-R: Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin in mini CVS spray bottle (complete with Glossier stickers!), CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion, mini Lush 9 to 5 cleanser, Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence. I also brought Skinfood’s Super Nut sheet mask to use after my seven-hour flight. Yes, I bought Super Nut mainly for the name.


Clockwise from top left: NYX eyeliner in Golden Bronze, Urban Decay Naked2 Basics palette, Topshop Chameleon Glow in Wax + Wane, NARS Lhasa, Urban Decay Demolition eyeliner, NARS Habanera duo, Revlon Volume + Length Magnified mascara, NYX HD primer, theBalm custom eyeshadow palette.


Clockwise from top left: NARS Mata Hari, Sleek Life’s a Peach, ColourPop Lunch Money, Illamasqua Zygomatic, ColourPop Rain.


Clockwise from top: NARS Dolce Vita, Glossier Cake, Urban Decay Streak, Maybelline Vibrant Mandarin, NARS Mysterious Red, Bite Radish (mini), NARS Angela, MAC Eugenie, Glossier Jam, MAC Up the Amp (almost gone!), Bite Lavender Jam, NYX Amethyst, NYX Stone Fox, Milani Matte Naked, NYX Tiramisu, ColourPop Trap, Revlon Sultry.

Note to self (and others): never twist up your Glossier Generation Gs to see how much you have left. I did this with Jam and the bullet snapped off and fell out of the tube! This has never happened to me with any other lipstick. The Generation Gs are so delicate because they’re so thin, and they’re so thin because they’re so damn tiny. If they were the width of an average lipstick, they’d be about as long as my tube of Urban Decay Streak above. Could Glossier truly not afford to make their $18 lipstick a tiny bit larger? I’ve read ITG comments about other people’s Generation Gs breaking, which assures me that I’m not uniquely clumsy and this really is a design flaw. Maybe Glossier should put a little more money into product design and a little less into moodboard photoshoots.


Clockwise from top: two Target kabuki brushes, leftover spoolie from Milani clear brow gel, Sephora lip brush, Sephora eyeshadow blending brush, e.l.f. small angled eyeshadow brush, NARS pencil sharpener.


L-R, top-bottom: Butter London Bossy Boots, Floss Gloss Dinge, Essie Lounge Lover, Essie Altitude Attitude, Revlon Quick Dry Top Coat, Illamasqua Melange, Zoya Kristen, Revlon Multi Care Base + Top Coat.


L-R: Fresh rollerball in Citron de Vigne, NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla, CoverGirl concealer in Ivory, Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula lip balm, Glossier Boy Brow in Brown, Vaseline Lip Therapy in Rosy Lips.

Not shown: DevaCurl B’Leave-In gel, Lush shampoo bar in Jason and the Argan Oil, Lush solid conditioner in Big.

Ten days into my trip, I’m proud to report that I’ve used almost everything pictured above. In fact, it’s easier to list what I haven’t used: NYX Golden Bronze, Topshop Wax + Wane, NARS Habanera, NARS Mata Hari, NARS Angela, NYX Stone Fox, Revlon Sultry, Maybelline Vibrant Mandarin, ColourPop Trap. Yes, that means I’ve worn twelve different lipsticks in ten days. In fact, when I started writing this post three days ago, I had already worn twelve lipsticks! For the last few months, I’ve often found myself using at least two lipsticks per day, starting with something sheer like one of my Glossier Generation Gs and graduating to a bolder color for afternoon or evening. I say this as if I have a lifestyle that involves multiple dramatically different environments per day, which I absolutely do not, but…I don’t know, I’m fickle and moody, and switching my lipstick helps me transition from one mood to another. Incidentally, the lipstick I’ve worn most often in the UK is none other than Bite Lavender Jam! I’m so glad I didn’t return it to Sephora. I still haven’t brought myself to wear NYX Stone Fox in public, but I swear I will before I leave. Maybe in London next week, though my boyfriend’s family will be visiting and his female relations don’t wear makeup at all…

I haven’t done much makeup experimentation since arriving here, I’m sorry to say. I tend to wear less makeup overall while traveling (even if I’m staying in one place for a few weeks), and the lingering effects of depression have taken their toll on my creativity. I did step outside my comfort zone last night, though, with a smoky eye and nude lip, and I really liked it! More on that in another post. If I could change anything about my makeup selection for this trip, I’d probably switch out a couple of the nude/MLBB lipstick shades for a brown (something like Revlon Lacquer Balm in Coy) and a vampy purple. I’m usually all about the pinks and corals by late spring, but this year I’ve been clinging stubbornly to my gloomy winter shades, and I wish I’d brought one or two more. I’m happy with my selection of blushes and eye products, though. And I’m absurdly proud of myself for unconsciously choosing lipsticks with 16 different packaging schemes: the only two with identical packaging are the Glossiers. Makes it so much easier to find the lipstick I’m looking for in my cavernous pouch.

I was planning to end this post with a series of makeup swatches I’ve made in the past ten days, but I think I’ll save that for my next post. Frankly, I’m hungover and not at my most eloquent. So let me end instead with one of the most bizarrely punctuated signs I’ve ever seen:

15 thoughts on “What I Brought for a Month in England

  1. I had a bunch of LPN students in my library this week who were horrified to see the pile of books in our recycling bin and demanded to know why they were in there. I think they were even more horrified by the nonchalance with which I explained that we throw books out all the time. Having to actually maintain a library has made me ruthless in even dealing with my own books. It also makes me love my Kindle even more.I'm glad to see Lavender Jam is growing on you! It really is a stunning colour. I am also never restrained in packing, though I'm really good at stuffing things into tiny spaces, so my deceptively small suitcases always weigh a ton.


  2. My out-loud-laugh was UGLY at \”Maybe Glossier should put a little more money into product design and a little less into moodboard photoshoots\” hahaha. Also question! Do you use your fingers or a brush for Zygomatic? What about the ColorPop ones?


  3. I don't want to sound like a shallow and obnoxious makeup fiend, but in terms of muddiness risk I'm slightly horrified that you only have one eyeshadow brush. Please forgive me. Your bag seems great, I always end up juggling several smaller ones.


  4. No, you're absolutely right that I need more eyeshadow brushes! I've known for a long time that I need to buy some, but I keep putting it off because I'm cheap and lazy. In my defense, I rarely wear more than one color of eyeshadow at a time, but there's no doubt that a new brush or two would improve my application. Do you have any suggestions for synthetic ones? I've heard good things about Real Techniques and EcoTools…


  5. Yeah, Glossier never fails to bring out my snarky side (\”do you have another side?\” I hear some readers asking). I actually love the formula and portability of the Generation Gs, but I don't think Glossier has any business charging $18 for them (I received mine as gifts from another blogger). I use my fingers for all of my cream products! I just don't like getting cream formulas in my brush bristles, and blending with fingers is so quick and easy.


  6. When I was in college, I knew a few other English majors who would routinely humblebrag about how many books they'd brought from home and how they'd had to get new bookshelves at Target because their puny dorm bookshelves couldn't possibly contain their erudition, etc. etc. I wanted to shout \”YOU HAVE ACCESS TO FIVE UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES!\” but I always held my tongue. I've only become more cynical since! I confess, though, I've never been able to abandon physical books. If I have to read more than 20-ish pages from an online source, they're getting printed out. I feel like Lavender Jam has gotten slightly less slippery with time, but it's more likely that I'm simply noticing the texture less!


  7. Yes! Real Techniques has a starter set for the eyes, it's five brushes for around $15 and it's truly phenomenal. That plus their shading brush are the only eye brushes I'll ever need. Also RT is often on sale at Ulta (:


  8. Thanks so much for the recommendation! I'll definitely look up that set when I'm back in the US. And thanks for the kick in the pants to get more brushes–I don't know why I'm so eager to buy new makeup, yet so reluctant to buy new tools to apply that makeup…


  9. That lipstick picture is SO aesthetically pleasing. Love it. And I think you actually packed quite light – I've found myself gravitating towards packing those quantities of makeup for week-long trips.I still have so much book separation anxiety! Currently the bulk of my books are in Montreal (along with a lot of my other stuff), and I've been missing them a lot. When I think about moving back to the UK it's the thought of leaving my books behind that makes me panic, even though I know I won't need most of them. Moving eight times in the past four years has taught me to be a light packer and to detach myself emotionally from most of my possessions, but books are another story! I need to take a leaf out of your book (har har).


  10. I'm so impressed by the skincare bit. I waaaay overpack skincare stuff when I travel, not so much different products (ok that's a lie) but amounts, certain that I will run out of something and my skin will freak out, which it always does when I travel anyway so. I also overpack makeup and then wind up wearing the same eyeshadow the whole time ( applied w the same brush) out of laziness. Good on you.


  11. I have a very minimal skincare routine in general, so this is not much less than what I use ordinarily. I wish I could be one of those people with six- or ten-step routines, but it's all I can do to remember to moisturize before bed. And I've overpacked makeup pretty shamefully in the past, so this collection represents some lessons learned!


  12. Arranging all those lipsticks on the tea towel brought back memories of playing with my Barbies on the floor as a kid, haha. I guess it's weird for someone who has devoted her life to studying literature, but I've never been super-attached to the physical forms of books. I love handling old books in archives, but I don't think I'll ever be one of those academics who spend hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars on rare editions. Then again, most academics wouldn't understand my compulsion to collect every shade of purple lipstick, so.


  13. You're a braver woman than I am. When traveling for an extended period, I leave the screaming shades at home and bring the more muted and appropriate colors from my lipstick collection. You, on the other hand, have decided to bring Amethyst and Stone Fox. Brava!I'm going to be in the Bay Area for a few days in September. I'll be meeting a dear friend at Craftsman and Wolves sometime then. Since theBalm's flagship store is nearby, I want to check it out. Are you satisfied with your custom palette? Because I'm thinking of getting myself one.


  14. I promise I'll review the palette before your trip to SF! I'm very happy with it overall; there are just a couple of colors (the blue/purple duochrome and the dark brown with copper glitter) that I find lacking, but even those are workable. A lot of people seem to dislike theBalm's cardboard packaging, but it's light and surprisingly sturdy.


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