"What is wrong with your face!" Sumit said with a grimace. "Wrong?" I turned the rear view mirror of the car to find a crusty face with flaking skin staring back at me. I was taken aback!
While Spiti Valley can be a salve for your heart, it can be extremely ruthless to your skin. The high altitude, close proximity to the sun and arid weather can do some serious irreversible damage to your skin. I realized this the hard way. On my first road-trip, I went equipped with only a mild moisturizeAr, a sunscreen and a tinted lip balm and ended up looking like a specter. But the lesson was well learnt. The trip made me realize that I had EXTREMELY dry skin, and that it was photosensitive too (something that I was not aware of before!). By the end of the trip I had severe sunburn, dry and moulting skin, that hurt when touched and hives on my neck and forearms because of prolonged exposure to the sun and no sunscreen. It took over a month of extreme care to heal some of the damage, but some of it - like the hard tan, was permanent.
The second time I went to Spiti, I did not repeat the mistake. This time I went with an arsenal of skincare products that helped me save my skin from any serious damage. If you are planning a trip to Spiti too, I would recommend you to carry these products - and consider them as must haves. I am listing the products that I took with me, but you can switch them up with the products that suit you or the ones that you already use and swear by.
1. A good cleanser
If you are on a road trip to Spiti, chances are that you will be on the road everyday for more than 6-8 hours, and because of its dry and barren nature the place can make your skin very dusty and grimy. You must carry a cleanser that is mild and would not strip your skin of its natural oils. I carried with me the L'oreal Paris Revitalift Milky Cleansing Foam which I have been using for a couple of years and very much love. This facewash deep cleans my face without stripping it of its moisture. Another product that I would recommend is the Cetaphil face wash which is very mild and dermatologically tested.
2. A heavy moisturizer
When you are travelling, it is not always possible to follow a CTM (cleansing-toning-moisturizing) routine, especially if it is a road trip. I skipped on the toning part and moved directly to moisturizing. I carried with me the L'Oreal Paris Hydrafresh Genius Multi-Active Essence Cream. I had heard a lot about it, but it did not do all that it claimed. I had to keep reapplying it multiple times to saturate my skin completely with it. I also took with me Dr Reddy's Venusia Max Intensive Moisturizing Cream which is a non-cosmetic cream used to treat very dry skin. The combo of these two creams worked for me. I would also highly recommend Cetaphil Moisturising Cream which is a substitute for Dr Reddy's Venusia.
3. A serum
It is best that you let your skin heal overnight from all the damage from the day. For this, you can carry a good serum that can do the job. I carried with me the Good Vibes Rose Hip Serum which I have been using for quite sometime and absolutely love. It is a non sticky and lightweight serum and is very moisturizing and nourishing
I cannot stress enough about this one. You must have heard this before, but I'll reiterate. Do not skip your sunscreen! I personally use a dermatologically prescribed sunscreen known as Rivela by Cipla. It is of 50 SPF strength and is readily available at all chemists and comes in a normal and a tinted variant. I can swear by this sunscreen and will highly recommend that you try it. It acts as a double moisturizer along with protecting you from the sun. I use the Rejuva sunscreen for my face. For my body, I used the Nivea Sun - Protect & Refresh Invisible Cooling Spray which is also of 50 SPF strength and comes in a spray bottle. The spray form makes it convenient to use on the body and is easier to reapply after every 2-3 hours.
5. Body moisturizer
Your body deserves as much care as your face. I especially love to deep moisturize by body along with my face. Till date, I have not found a replacement for the good old coconut oil for my body skin. I use a small squeeze top bottle to carry about 30 ml of coconut oil which easily lasts me for 10-15 days on the trip. The coconut oil also serves as an eye and lip makeup remover, a hair serum, a lip moisturizer, a hand cream and so much more. Its is good to carry a product that serves more purposes than one so that you can minimize on the products that you carry on the trip
6. Facial Oil
If you are travelling to Spiti, I would highly recommend that you take some kind of a facial oil. You can use coconut oil on your face (I do this all the time) or you can take an oil that suits your skin type. I carried with me Bio oil which is acts as a very good facial oil for the skin. I also used it mixed with my foundation on my first two days and saved myself from having a cakey face. The facial oils from Good Vibes and Innisfree are also great alternatives.
7. A makeup remover
If you are like me and you like to apply little hints of makeup like a lipstick, kajal and mascara even on a road trip, then you would need to carry some kind of a makeup remover with you. I use coconut oil to remove the tougher makeup like mascara and liquid lipstick and then go over it with a micellar water. The micellar water that I use is from Garnier Skin Naturals. I use the pink variant and it works to remove all the makeup traces that the coconut oil cannot remove and also takes off the dust and other impurities from the skin
8. Face Masks
One thing that I do whenever I am not the road, is to keep some time away for myself in the evenings and treat myself to a face mask. I try to do this once in every two days so that I can take away the tiredness and replenish my skin. I love to use a sheet mask or some honey directly on my skin. On my second road trip to Spiti, I carried with me the Good Vibes sheet masks. I used the avocado deep nourishing variant and it did the job. One pro tip is to carry more sheet masks than you would need so that you can share them with your partner or travel buddies and can have a relaxing evening together.
9. Lip balm and lip scrub
You all know the importance of a good lip balm and I believe that nobody needs to learn this from me. However, one thing that I have learnt from my numerous travels is that normal lip balms just don't make the cut when you are on the road, especially if you are in a dry arid place. In this case you would need something that is very very hydrating, and which remains on the lips for a long time. Also, it is very important that your lip balm has SPF in it because the skin on the lips is very thin and could burn very easily. I took with me the Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Lip Balm which has SPF 15 in it.
Another important thing is a lip scrub. You can carry a lip scrub that is available in the market or can use a new toothbrush to exfoliate your lips. I use a toothbrush all the time and keep it properly cleaned and sanitized for the next use. You just have to use a little vaseline or lip balm on your lips and then scrub away with the toothbrush. Works every time for me!
You may think that a deodorant does not come under skincare, but it does. When you are travelling to a dry place like Spiti, chances are you wont be able to take a bath daily and hence you would need to apply some kind of a deodorizer. You should consider not using a deodorant that has alcohol in it. A deodorant with alcohol can dry the underarms and other delicate areas of the body. On my second road trip, I carried with me the Nivea Whitening Smooth Skin roll-on deodorant which comes in a gel form and is very hydrating and nourishing apart from being a very good deodorizer.
These are the ten skin care items that I took with me on my second road trip to Spiti and saved myself from any serious sun damage. These do not include the makeup products that I carried. To know about the makeup products that I took with me to Spiti, please read this article. Apart from these, I also carried other items in my skincare pouch like tissue papers, cotton buds, cotton swabs, wet wipes and a small washcloth. I also carried with me a large silk scarf to cover myself when the weather got too harsh. You could also carry a large brim hat or a baseball hat and good sunglasses for extra protection.
I hope this article helps you in your Spiti travel planning. Let me know if it did.
Happy Traveling JB