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Don’t let the beauty influencers fool you – great skin doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg; especially when you’re traveling and would prefer to spend the money on experiences!

Travel exposes our bodies to many different climates, extremities and environments, so while skincare is something you may not prioritize as highly as your passport, it is something which may hit you unexpectedly on your trip.

Sudden changes in climate can irritate your skin, from exposure to the sun (i.e. Australia) to harsh, wintery conditions (i.e. Antarctica), or polluted cities (ie Beijing), every new destination brings new challenges for our skin.

You can find plenty of affordable brands at the drugstore that offer effective treatments for any type of skin. Even DIY skincare can be great for the face and the wallet.

The trick is knowing what ingredients to look for and how to treat your skin type. Which is exactly what this post will cover!

Budget-Friendly Products for Your Travel Skincare Routine

#1: Facial Cleanser and Moisturizer

Facial clense bathroom RF

If you’re balling on a budget and looking for the right skincare products that won’t cause irritation, then dermatologist-approved facial cleansers are going to be your best friend.

The best products replenish the skin’s natural ceramides (which make up the skin’s barrier and prevent irritation and breakouts). Look for ingredients that don’t include harsh perfumes or dyes, so even the most sensitive skin won’t react to it.

Skincare Tip #1: Make sure to pick up a facial cleanser and moisturizer. Skin that’s cleansed but not moisturized will either feel uncomfortably dry or produce excess oil to make up for the dryness and cause breakouts.

#2: Benzoyl Peroxide Spot Treatment

Benzoyl peroxide is the strongest OTC acne medication on the market—and it can be found in literally any drug store. The chemical invades blemishes and dries out excess oil.

It also helps shed old skin cells from the pimple to reveal smooth, clear skin underneath. Topical spot treatments are used to target specific blemishes at a time, by using a dab of product directly on the area.

The active ingredient in most spot treatments will be benzoyl peroxide. Just use it on whatever area you’re having skin problems, let it dry overnight, and you should see a difference in the morning.

Skincare Tip #2: If you use lactic acid or retinol in your skincare routine, try to avoid applying it to the same areas as benzoyl peroxide. The combination of these chemicals with the spot treatment can cause redness and irritation.

#3: Salicylic Acid

Cream hand RF

Salicylic acid is a wonderful exfoliant. You’ve probably heard all about the importance of exfoliating in the past, but did you know that physical exfoliants (like microbeads and walnut scrubs) can actually create microtears in the skin and cause premature fine lines and wrinkles?

Opt for a chemical exfoliant instead, like salicylic acid.

If you’re really feeling cheap, there is a way to get salicylic acid from something you probably already have in your home -aspirin. Crush up an aspirin (it has to be aspirin, not Advil or Tylenol) and mix it with a little water to create a paste.

Press the paste onto your breakout and leave it as a spot treatment overnight.

Skincare Tip #3: If you’re interested in something gentler than the acid on its own, try a gentle salicylic acid cleanser instead.

In some cultures, like throughout Asia and the Middle East ‘fish pedicures‘ are a medical treatment of this sort – you place your feet in a bowl and the fish eat away your dead skin.

There are however both health and animal welfare concerns around this practice (which you can read about here on PETA), which is why we instead recommend salicylic acid.

#4: Cut Down on Stress

Yoga RF

One budget-friendly skincare trick that doesn’t require an expensive cream or serum is cutting back on stress. A little stress is normal, but when it starts to bubble over it can cause dull skin, breakouts, and premature aging.

If you’re looking for cheap and easy ways to cut back on stress, you have a few options:


Yoga is a great stress reliever. Getting your body in motion without the high impact of typical workouts will increase serotonin and combat the negative feelings of stress.

Get yourself a yoga mat and you’ll be good to go – you can find very compact yoga mats which are perfect to travel with, though this is something which can be done on most soft surfaces if you don’t have a mat.

This site has an excellent assortment to choose from:


CBD has gained a lot of popularity in recent years for its stress reducing properties. Endocannabinoids in CBD attach to mood regulating receptors in the brain and help calm stress and anxiety.

Many CBD gummies and tinctures can be pricey, so if you’re looking for a budget friendly alternative, opt for disposable CBD vape pens instead.

See this resource for a handy and affordable option:

Breathing Exercises

Deep breathing slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and helps gain control over racing thoughts.

If you’re new to breathing techniques, try a guided meditation, or use an app like the one found on this resource:

Skincare Tip #4: Great skin isn’t always about products. Take time to relax and let go of stress throughout the week. Proper sleep also plays a major role in your skin’s appearance – even a cream won’t fix an all-nighter! (Click here for tips for sleeping on a plane).

Great Skin Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank

Amsterdam solo female traveler tourist city camera RF

While hundred-dollar creams from Sephora may look pretty to the eye, it doesn’t mean they’re always going to look pretty on your face.

Many expensive products contain dyes, perfumes, and other unnecessary additives that may make it look and smell nice – but actually do more harm than good.

Whether you’re dry, oily, or somewhere in between, these products are safe, affordable, and effective. It’s worthwhile considering in advance how your skin may react to the destination you’re heading too, though also pack products which can act in the case of surprises.

For instance, I was expecting dry skin in Antarctica because of the below freezing conditions, though I wasn’t expecting severe sunburn! It happened! (Read about it here).

Do you have any skincare secrets to share while traveling? Favorite products?

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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