5 Things I Learned About Skin Care From My Trip to Spain and Morocco

Relaxing at Casa Perleta in Chefchaouen 5 things I learned about skin care from my vacation


For me, going on vacation does not mean a vacation from my skin care routine. Of course, the mister and I prefer to travel light (a rucksack and a carryon roller suitcase was all we brought for 16 days in Spain and Morocco), so I usually can’t bring my full-sized products with me (sob). But what I will do is bring travel-sized substitutes with similar ingredients to ensure a continuity in my regimen.

Thankfully, I’m generally not overly reactive to skin care ingredients or products, so I don’t have to worry about testing a product for sensitivity before bringing them with me on vacation. I actually consider my holiday a chance to try new products that I normally may not have the time or willingness to try. I’m a use-it-to-the-bottom-of-the-jar type of girl, to fully allow any skin care product a full three months or so to do its thing, so sample-sized skin care generally get no play in my daily regimen. It’s only when I travel that I get to try out those minuscule tubes and tear-off pouches.

This latest sojourn was no different. I packed all sorts of tiny dropper bottles and tubs, doubling and tripling up to make sure I wouldn’t run out. (Because no vitamin C serum in a city built in the middle of the Sahara? I don’t think so.) And after 16 days of hardcore travel while trying to keep up my skin care regimen with brand new products, here’s what I learned.


Selfie at Ben Youssef Medersa in Marrakech

Selfies offer better insight into the state of my skin while traveling than overly dim hotel lighting.


1. Ingredients and consistency matter.

Dim bathrooms with minimal counter space and bad mirrors — that’s the price you pay for staying in a centuries-old, renovated dar in the medieval medina of ancient Fes. Heck, even the Hilton in Madrid had super dim lighting in the bathroom.

Needless to say, I had no idea what my skin was doing for 16 days. Frankly, it was the last thing on my mind. When you’re in survival mode (where to eat next, where’s the nearest bathroom, where’s the pharmacie for something, anything to put on my painful shin splints), enlarged pores aren’t exactly a pressing matter.

So imagine my surprise when I came back and got in front of my mega-magnifying vanity mirror, and those two particularly annoying little sunspots actually looked lighter. Was it an optical illusion? Was it lack of sleep? Was it the new vitamin C serum (Eminence), the new brightening cushion compact (Sulwhasoo), the new lactic acid treatment (Sunday Riley)?

You see, it’s hard for me to notice a change in my skin day-to-day. I’m examining it like it’s my job twice a day, if not more. So when 16 days passed before I got a good look at my skin again, the improvement was obvious to me. And no, I don’t attribute it to a miracle product (there are none). I attribute it to a consistency in the ingredients I apply on my skin every day, twice a day (vitamin C, niacinamide, antioxidants, peptides, AHAs and BHAs), and the fact that I was able to have a two-week gap between witnessing my “before” and “after.”

It’s enough to make me think maybe I should stop looking in the mirror so much. I know that on this jam-packed trip in particular, ignorance (of what my skin was doing) was often bliss.


2. A 10-step skin care routine is possible, even on The go.

Of course, there were times when I wished I had brought an oil cleanser, especially after a particularly grimy day in the medina (Chouara Tannery, I’m looking at you). And I definitely could have brought more sheet masks. (Note to self: Sheet masks are a brilliant time-saving hack for when you’re dead tired and dreading going through those 10 little vials of serum, especially as the mister lies snuggled in bed, snoring away without a skin care care in the world.)

But my Koh Gen Do micellar water cloths did the job perfectly well. (It was more mental — I’ve seen enough freshly skinned sheep flesh to last me a lifetime.) And no matter how tired, I always managed to get through those little vials, give or take.


morocco what i'm packing beauty edition


3. Travel sizes last quite a long time.

I definitely underestimated the longevity of travel sizes. That vitamin C serum in the tiny, albeit adorable, dropper bottle? It lasted me a full two-and-a-half weeks. In fact, I still have more in the vial. I didn’t need all the backup vitamin C serums I packed. Same goes for my clarifying cleanser, hyaluronic acid serum, AHA treatment, and sleeping mask. Lesson learned. Pack even lighter next time.


4. AND Next time, more sheet masks.

Those evenings when I just wanted to collapse into the hotel bed (read: every night)? If only I had a sheet mask I could slap on for 20 minutes. For me, a sheet mask saturates my skin with enough essence to rival five layers or more of serum. So while, yes, it was probably better in the long run that I took the time to pat on a retinol serum, a firming serum, a peptide serum, and an antioxidant serum — man, if I had to do it all over again, I’d press on an oil, apply a sheet mask, press on more oil, a night cream, an eye cream, and just be done with it. After all, as I recently learned in my 1 day, 1 mask experiment, a sheet mask offers some serious skin care benefits that sometimes even a serum doesn’t.


5. finally, I love the ritual of my skin care routine.

Granted, I’m a creature of habit, and yet there’s something especially soothing, really comforting about my skin care routine, especially my morning ritual. Sitting on my pouf in my own little bathroom, examining my skin up close in a brightly lit vanity mirror, taking the time to pat each step in, giving myself a facial massage as I breathe in deeply — it’s all become as vital a part of my “waking up” as my morning coffee.

On our travels, my “waking up” was a lot more jarring. As we jumped from hotel to hotel (we traveled to a new city every two days or so — hey, there’s a lot to see in Spain and Morocco), packing and unpacking, I had to be quick and efficient in my morning routine. No lingering over coffee as I waited for my actives to absorb. Pat it in (double time), get through the little vials and jars, wrap it all up, pack it all in, rush to breakfast before the kitchen shuts down, then spend the next eight to 10 hours walking all over Granada, Marrakech, Fes. A leisurely trip this was not.

So while I loved being on the road, that first morning when we returned home and I was able to re-start my morning ritual — it was like, hey, coming back home isn’t so bad after all. And let me tell you — it does a lot to alleviate that post-vacation hangover.


Anything you learned about beauty while traveling? Let me know in the comments below!



7 thoughts on “5 Things I Learned About Skin Care From My Trip to Spain and Morocco

  1. zllvs says:

    Wow, I just loved so much reading this. First of all, I totally agree with the Mask Sheet tip, exactly! They help so much, imagine while traveling, just put the packs inside the little refrigerator (if we have the chance to have one, depending on the hotel) and voila, it is so practical. Ahhh. I must tell you a little secret though. I am going to write a review on my blog about these pads I bought that can do 4, 5 and even six beauty routine steps just in one! My husband kept on saying the next day I applied one :You looked soooo beautiful. and me, when? when you gave me those flowers? hahahaha. Anyway, yes, I will write about this and I am sure they can help when travelling, so easy, quick and great. But of course, Masks too, please!

    Now, about how great your skin looks, and yes, it does look great, the photo is so natural, with light and shadows, I can see it is in very good shape. I have realized during my trips that I don’t have time to really perform a beauty routine, and less if I decide to stay some place to spend several months, then I just go to local pharmacies and discover products that I had never heard of before. Maybe this would be great for another post as well! 😀

    The thing is, I remember when I went with my the boyfriend and later husband (the same person, haha) on our trips to distant places, that we walked a lot, visited monuments, ate in a rush or under a serenade but I was just not aware of any beauty routine. I did not really have time. Yet, my skin looked great and without any need of serums, I was happy discovering new places, I guess psychologically speaking there was a change, not anything monotone, but variated, and surprising, so I felt good, and my skin reflected this. My hormones were not stressed or bored , I was having a great time. My skin too, I guess.

    And lastly, whenever I travel I like discovering beauty tips and rituals, for example in Morocco they make a soap (also in Algeria) that is used in the hammam, so whenever I visited the hammam, I would have a massage and spend time there chatting with other women who would let me know about their beauty rituals. So I loved buying kohl, one that really itches the eyes, oufff. but after some seconds it calms down. It is specially made for when going to the desert, and avoiding the sand irritate the eyes through the clothes that cover the face. Anyways, I bought it, and it makes the white of the eye appear bluish… so beautiful. I still have some, it’s made from a stone. How the exfoliating is made, how to use this or that. I learned from other places and I wish I could get some of the things that don’t come here, like a very good lip softener for winter that has coconut and cocoa butter but it is so great, made in Egypt.

    Well! I have extended myself a lot here. But I just love your post and I got inspired! Hugs!


    • AnnaMPark says:

      Ok, you MUST write about that multitasking pad! I’m dying to know what it is.

      Ah, I wish I could be as intrepid as you in trying out beauty products from other countries I’m visiting. That’s so amazing that you went to a hammam and talked to local women about their beauty rituals. That’s a true reporter!

      I’m a little worried about using things on my face unless I can read the ingredient list or know where it came from. I’m sure I could learn so much if I experimented more when I travel, but I’m a bit of a scaredy-cat! All the lotions and potions looked so tempting in Morocco, but our guidebook warned against trying henna or using local kohl because sometimes they use dyes that are toxic (!), so that sort of scared me off from trying anything. I do love perusing the pharmacies in Spain and the drugstores in Asia — how I wish I could read the labels. 😦

      I’m sure all the endorphins released from all the beauty and wonder around me as I travel is balanced out by the stress of traveling, haha. We hope one day to be able to spend several months in another country as well. I’d love to immerse myself in the local culture and especially the skin care rituals!

      I love all your insights, Carmen. I could read your comments all day. You have such an inspiring perspective on not just beauty but life!

      Liked by 1 person

      • zllvs says:

        Hi Dear Ann, yes, you are so right about trying products in places we don’t know! I have had a bad experience with a foot cream, I will never forget! Yes , we must always be wary, and not go ahead and try things without knowing anything about them. Maybe that’s why we should never forget that Benton Aloe Propolis gel just in case 😉 Thank you, sorry for the lenght, I loved so much what you wrote, I got fuelled with ideas. Yes, I will publish about those magical pads very soon! I wish you a super weekend filled with relaxation and beauty routine 🙂 xo


  2. outofmythoughts says:

    A lovely idea for a blogpost. I find that I also really enjoy the ritual of my skincare when I travel. I find that since everything is out of routine when you travel, it is nice to have that familiarity at the end of the day. I usually take my time and reflect on the day. What a lovely trip!

    Liked by 1 person

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