Mahalo

Mahalo The Unveil Cleansing Balm

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Mahalo is a brand that has featured many times on the blog and repeatedly day after day on my Instagram too. Their Rare Indigo Balm is possibly one of my fave balm….dare I say over the infamous May Lindstrom’s Blue Cocoon too. So when the geniuses behind Mahalo Care announced their new launch, of course I took a plunge of faith.

What was promised? Well the new UNVEIL cleanser is an ideal balm-to-milk cleansing formula that sinks luxuriously into skin to effectively dissolve makeup and daily impurities, unveiling soft and glowing complexion. Experience: Creamy, soft and delicate, green-tea colored 100% water-free concentrated cleansing complex. Melts upon contact with skin. Will not clog pores. Aroma: Fresh and crisp scent of lemon, rounded with notes of exotic fragonia, ginger, cardamom and pink peppercorn. Hints of warm cocoa create a gourmand calming aromatherapy experience. Ideal Dose: Depending on the needs of your skin. A pearl-size dollop for a regular day makeup removal, or a half pea-size scoop for a thin veil of gentle and soothing cleanse.

I’ve used this balm for few weeks now and ready to share my thoughts and experiences. Firstly the packaging, in a classic Mahalo packaging i.e. glass jar encased in a bamboo outer shell. Whats inside, is a luxurious waterless rich balm enriched with lush oils, butters, matcha green tea and clay. The first whiff of scent is of lemons, cardamom and ginger. On touch and massaging all over skin it gradually melts to an oil. Per instructions, dosage of a pea size didn’t do a thing. My face definitely needs more than pea size and this is not limited to this balm….absolutely any cleansing balm. I don’t understand when people say ‘pea-size’, honestly it takes more than that (I will stop my rant).

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Upon massaging the balm on skin, it melts to a glorious oil and the scents start making their way to my nose. The lemon cardamom scent sure tickles my fancy. Now if I had to compare with Emma Hardie balm, it certainly doesn’t have that level of slip factor. This balm gives more grip than slip when massaging. Next step, emulsifying stage. Personally, I’m a hot face cloth/wash cloth/flannel (call it what you may) kinda woman but to test the claims of emulsification I went with the flow. So yes, it does emulsify…but it takes works to emulsify the balm. The emulsifying feels different…the milky emulsion feels more slippy compared to Emma Hardie or other Asian cleansing balms or sherbet cleansers.

The after effect is lovely on my skin, some say it leaves a residue. In my experience, yes there is a slight residue when I emulsify but the residue is not offensive by any means. The residue on my skin feels moisturized and not slimy or icky (if you know what I mean…not the best way to articulate). When I take off the cleanser with hot cloth, its perfection. Absolutely no fault. Performance wise I find it hard to fault, even with makeup removal. The pic above shows how effortlessly it melts the matte lipstick by Soap and Glory and emulsifies to milky goodness.

Quick dive in ingredient listing – all looks scrumptious to me, nothing negative to say!

Ingredients: prunus amygdalus dulci (sweet almond) oil and in-house phytonutrient infusion* [medicago sativa (alfalfa), arnica montana (arnica), calendula officinalis (calendula), symphytum officinale (comfrey), centella asiatica (gotu kola), ocimum sanctum (holy basil tulsi), azadirachta indica (neem), scutellaria lateriflora (skullcap)], persea gratissima (avocado) butter*, macadamia integrifolia (macadamia) oil*, helianthus annuus (sunflower) oil*, jojoba esters, mangifera indica (mango) butter*, theobroma cacao (cocoa) butter*, astrocaryum murmuru butter*, theobroma grandiflorum (cupuacu) butter*, argania spinosa (argan) oil*, cera alba (beeswax)*, ricinus communis (castor bean) oil*, cetearyl olivate (and) sorbitan olivate, non-gmo mixed tocopherols, salix alba L. (willow) bark*, plukenetia volubilis (sacha inchi) oil*, coco glucoside, camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf*, calophyllum inophyllum (Polynesian tamanu) oil*, cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) seed oil* & papain*, lecithin*, montmorillonite (french green clay), citrus lemon oil*, agonis fragrant (fragonia) oil*, elettaria cardamomum (cardamom) oil*, zingiber officinalis (ginger) oil*, schinus molly (peppercorn) oil*, frankincense sacra oil*, melaleuca quinquenervia (niaouli) oil*, citrus aurantium var. bergamia (bergamot) oil*, commiphora myrrh oil*, rosmarinus officials (rosemary antioxidant) extract*

Given the glorious ingredient listing, I would not use this balm to remove my makeup. Absolutely NOT. It would be a wonderful morning cleanse or second cleanse. fullsizeoutput_3618

Here’s another claim up for discussion, “antioxidant-rich enzymes create a gentle, yet effective thorough cleanse to exfoliate, soften and smooth, while leaving the moisture barrier of the skin intact and balanced.” Now for a cleansing balm which spends limited time on skin, it seems a little far fetched. So I came up with an alternative and creative way to put the antioxidant rich enzymes to work. Massaged the balm on skin, and took some steam with a hope that the enzymes would do their job. Result – nada except skin was softer with rich oils and certainly helped the moisture barrier. Did I have an exfoliating effect…ermm no, far fetched claim.

Now my final point on this balm, which puts me in a place of utmost hesitation in terms of recommending and repurchasing. This balm retails at $70 for 50ml (plus $6 shipping) whereas other balms on the market are lot more value for money. Value in terms of quantity vs. dollar paid.

  • Restorative Cleansing Balm by de Mamiel – 100ml for £54.00 (USD $66) – Double the quantity and the price is still less than Mahalo
  • Emma Hardie – 100g for £38.00 (USD $46)
  • Lilfox Jungle Glow Rainforest Honey Enzyme Cleanser + Mask – 100ml for USD $75.00
  • The Organic Pharmacy Carrot Butter Cleanser – 70ml for USD$74

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore the brand, the creator of this brand and her products, but this product will not be a repurchase for me simply from value for money perspective. Have you tried this cleansing balm? Any other balm cleansers which provide more bang for your buck?

HHW.com

xx

Winter Skincare Wardrobe

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As the colours change, and temperatures drop, the state of skin is temperamental, agitated and protesting the change. Over the years, I’ve come to a solid conclusion my skin has a mind of its own and I need to adapt it’s care needs accordingly.

With fluctuating environments of strong wind chills, to artificially heated offices, cars and homes my skin is almost in an eternally dehydrated and confused state. Whilst it’s predominantly combination skin, with an oily T-zone and drier cheeks, during winter the ‘combination situation’ is exasperated. In addition, let’s not forget to complicate matters worse with a bout of dehydration and breakouts. Now that the problem is sufficiently moaned about, here’s how I adapt my skincare regime.

Aim of the game is similar to Asian beauty routines, where a number of thin layers of hydration and nourishment products are slapped on. With this method, the skin remains hydrated and nourished for longer.

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Cleansers typically I use oils or balms to remove makeup and second cleanse. Well that wouldn’t change for the evenings. However my morning cleanses, will include a lot more nourishing cream cleansers. Some of my faves in this category are, MV Organic Gentle Cream Cleanser, Trilogy Cream Cleanser and, and Good Things Manuka Cleanser.

Some mornings where I could get away without cream cleanser, I resort to milk cleansers and a strong fave has always been Institut Esthederm Osmoclean or Bioderma cleansing milks. New on the block is Forest Essentials Deeply Nourishing Cleansing Paste with ground paste of almonds, pistachios, and other lush Ayurvedic ingredients which provide skin gentle exfoliation and nourishment in one step. Smells Delish too!

Acid or other forms of exfoliation is driven strictly by my skin need, of how strong of an acid I use and which specific type of acid I use.  

Combination of various Acids: Dr Dennis Gross peels (of varying strengths), Biologique Recherché P50 range, MD Sun Skin Exfoliation Pads, Peter Thomas Roth Unwrinkle Peel Pads, M61 Power Peel, Neogen Wine Peeling Gauze

Glycolic Acid: Alpha H Liquid Gold, Bravura London Calendula Toner, Pixi Glow Tonic, Cane & Austin Miracle+ Pads, Avon Anew Clinical Advanced Retexurising Peel

Lactic Acid: Kate Somerville Clinic to go,  Skyn Iceland Nordic Skin Peel

Milk Peels (the new thing!) – Primary Raw or Dr Jart+ milk peels are gentler on skin OR Pre Lab Toning Peeling tap which is essentially exfoliating with enzymes.

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“Toning Mist & Amp up with Essences” A regular toning spritz post acid to stabilize the pH level in skin. Some examples could be basic floral hydrosols such as Rose Water by MV Organic, Alteya Organic, Santa Maria Novella, Whamisa Damask Rose, Andalou Naturals, Forest Essentials, Kama Ayurveda, Just Herbs etc. Or Zinc based like La Roche Posay Serozinc. Other toners with a combination of ingredients to hydrate and provide other benefits to skin could include Farmacy Skindew, Patyka Revitalizing Toner, Sjal Mineral Kalla toner, Antipodes, Aesop or Trilogy toners.

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These toning mists are then followed by serious hydrating or fermented essences to inject and plump the skin. My absolute fave is Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Toner, and from same brand Refresh and Original are just as wonderful. To name a few others: Decleor HydraFloral Essence Lotion, Blithe Vital Treatment Essences, Earth’s Recipe Energy Boosting Toner, Missha Time Revolution The First Essence Mist, Bio Essence 24 Gold Water, Shiseido Ibuki essence, Rohto Hadalabo Shirojyun or Gokujun.

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Masks including Sheet Masks Lots of hydration and moisturizing masks, good ol’ sheet masks are fabulous in this category. In saying so, I also throw in one detoxifying or purifying mask, least once a week. I tend to incorporate this everyday if not every second day. Masks are the best way to turbo boost and treat the skin.

Serums or Ampoules are used as usual to specifically target the problem of the day/week/month/season. I have a whole separate post on Guide to Serums for all conditions and skins.

Moisturisers and Oils are the cornerstone of protecting skin’s barrier and thoroughly nurturing it with lovely oils and ingredients. Some wonders which have stood the test of time with me are; Decleor HydraFloral, Mahogany Naturals Manuka Honey Cream, Whamisa Fermented Water Cream and Nourishing Cream, Bravura London Azulene Cream, Pistache Skincare Hydrating Moisturiser, Missha Misa Geum Sul Emulsion, Yuri Pibu Asiatica, Trilogy Rosapene Night Cream.

Here’s a tip if you don’t want to invest in a separate night cream however are quite content with your  regular moisturiser, just add few drops of oil to your day cream and use in your night routine.

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Balms have a special place in my heart and stash! I view them as amplified  version of oils, and of course more lush experience as well. Strong fave continues to be Mahalo Rare Indigo Balm, followed by Mahogany Naturals Blue Lover, May Lindstrom The Blue Cocoon, Mahalo Balm, Darphin Purifying balm, Decleor Rose d’Orient balm. In terms of lip balm, there was one and always be the one, Nuxe Reve de Miel. The rich beeswax coats the lips and leaves it matte. In saying so, I have a separate post on Lip Balms which explores other lip products too.

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Since I complete my evening skincare routine by 5pm, I Re-balm or Re-Oil my skin one more time before bed. Or mist SKII Overnight Essence, which is moisturizing to skin but also leaves a tingly refreshed feel on the skin. Other categories to nourish much drier skins also includes Overnight Masks which can be argued is a richer version of a night cream.

How do you plan to amp up your skincare routine for the winter?

HHW.com

xx

Encyclopedia of Face Masks

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The western skincare scene has usually been limited to clay, mud, charcoal, cream, gel kind of masks. Move to the east and we have a whole new innovative category of masks. Starting with the more traditional sheet masks for various parts like face, hands, feet with different materials to a rather new age innovative Oxygen bubbling, Splashing or Patting, Rubber modeling, Spot treatment, Lip masks!!!! Below I have a list of masks based on various consistencies and textures:

  • Clay, Mud, Charcoal
  • Powder aka Ubtan
  • Cream
  • Gel
  • Sheet – face and eye – cotton, gel, sea weed/kelp, hydrogel, foil back sheet mask
  • Sleep or Overnight – cream, gel or bouncy textures, water pack
  • Peel off mask – Gels
  • Rubber modeling
  • Oxygen Bubbling
  • Splash or Patting
  • Mousse pack – too cool for school eg mousse pack
  • Nose pack – mainly for white and black heads
  • Spot treatment
  • Hand & feet
  • Lip mask

In terms of why we mask, its simple – immediate crash injection of whatever skin needs. Below are some outcomes expected of masks, and the gobbledygook it’s usually marketed with:

  • Repair, Rescue
  • Detoxifying, Decongesting, Purifying, Deep Cleansing, Mattifying, Clarifying, Pore Correction
  • Exfoliating, Resurfacing, Retexturizing
  • Radiance, Brightening, Glow, Luminous
  • Hydration
  • Moisture
  • Firming, Lifting, Shaping
  • Self Tanning Sleep Mask

I’ll talk about my current masks on rotation based on their purpose in life and intended outcome for my skin. Here I have a decent mix of price points and regional availabilities. Of course if all else fails, diving into your kitchen and whipping up one of your own creations is always an option. I have a post on DIY masks you could refer for some ideas and inspiration.

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Charcoal, Clay and Mud Masks

I hate paying ridiculously priced clay, mud or charcoal masks! They are the cheapest ingredients and formulating a mask with them as a base doesn’t cost an entity as much moolah. Large mark up zone, so beware and ensure you read inci list here. Look for life changing ingredient (as if they exist – eye roll) to justify a price tag.

Generally formulated with some soothing, hydrating and moisturizing ingredients. This category of masks can leave the skin dry and parched. This happens because the mask is left on too long. These masks should be left long enough for it to work but not to the point where they are bone dry. By doing so it is drawing moisture from skin. Once you let it dry completely to the point you cannot move your face, you would need a bloody chisel to break through (exceptions: Aesop, SkinFood NZ, Sanctuary Spa). Therefore I prefer slapping these on when I intend to step in the shower. With the steam and clay/mud/charcoal it draws impurities to surface and truly detoxifies the skin. Plus its easier to remove and goes down the drain instead of messing up the sink.

Great for oily, combination, congestion prone skin. Alternatively also good for skin who need a detox. Drier skins need to be slightly careful with masks, add couple of drops of facial oil to avoid any post-mask tightness or dryness.

Quick blurb on all masks pictured above: Dr. Organic Virgin Olive Oil – too drying, hard to work with; Good Things Manuka Honey – purifying yet leaving skin supple; Nip+Fab Kale Fix – seriously softens the skin; Caudalie Purifying – too strong essential oils, not crazy about this one; Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus – smells amazing but results are mediocre; Moreish – another Kiwi fave mask, almost creamy and leaves skin supple; Cattier – limited availability outside France, good basic clay mask; Mahalo Bean (limited edition) – not available anymore but left skin radiant; Andalou Naturals – great drugstore option; Aesop – long time fave, wonderful detoxifier; SkinFooz NZ – the best mask truly, not drying, applies nicely, very mild exfoliating and nourishing; Derma E – exfoliating particles not for sensitive skins; Sanctuary Spa – warming sensation, easy to remove; Colleen Rothschild Detoxifying – minty freshness, leaves skin refreshed and purified.

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Brightening, Radiance, Firming Mask

Texture wise this category varies between gel, cream and whipped mousse. Ingredient base will usually have some form of AHA, or Enzymes to allow the surface exfoliation which results in brightening and radiance. Occasionally some masks include physical exfoliation aspect as well, in this case its M61 Skincare Vitablast C Scrub & Mask. I tend to slap it on, leave it for a while and then gently massage/exfoliate the skin. Given its formulation with Vitamin C it helps brighten the skin. Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey mask is an unusual one in this category, whilst Antipodes claim it to be purifying as honey draws impurities to surface I prefer this mask for subtle glow and brightening my skin. Easy cream application leaves skin soft, supple and glowy.

Blurbs on others: Andalou Naturals Berry Enzyme – again great drugstore alternative without hefty price tag; Forest Essentials Yogurt Purifying – stings skin slightly, smells yummy, whipped yogurt texture and results are meh; Dr Lewinns Reversaderm – sure shot radiance with runny blue lotion like consistency; Natio 10min Brightening – so good, but limited to Australia; Farmacia Barcelona Gold Mask – slightly gimmicky with gold ‘powder’ but decently hydrating; Nip+Fab Bee Sting – nothing firms skin like this fella, taut skin; Chantecaille Fruit and Flower – smells amazing, feels creamy and leaves skin glowy. love.

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Hydration Boosters

Hyaluronic acids, Glycerin, fermented ingredients or masks formulated with serious humectants are all about major hydration. Absolute treats for skin and sensorial experiences include Mahalo Petal – the smell is heavenly, apply and step in shower and the whole bathroom smells divine. Words are not enough to describe the scent. In terms of hydration its a mild everyday use mask. May Lindstrom The Honey Mud classified as cleanser, but No its too lush to go as cleanser hence a sweet spicy honey mask. An inexpensive treat is Super Facialist Una Brennan Rose Hydrating mask and Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses mask.

The beauty of these masks is you can use everyday (if your skin needs it). Leave it on for as long as your heart desires and skin is left hydrated, nourished and smooth.

Serious hydrating masks are – Bioderma Hydrabio (nothing like this fella), Rodial Dragons Blood Hyaluronic Acid (overnight leave on mask), Natio Ageless Vitamin C hydration and The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture mask.

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Powder masks

The purpose could vary from mere cleansing, exfoliating, detoxifying to enzyme radiance. Recently I wrote about cleansing powders aka ubtans could also be used as masks. Since the ingredients are in dried powder form this one has greater shelf life but can be messy to use. At the same time it gives you the flexibility and allows creativity on the liquids to use for mixing. May Lindstrom’s The Problem Solver is enriched with spices and oils and tends to self heat (due to spices) when applied to the skin. Love this mask for its ability to decongest and purify skin.

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The new concept of splashing or patting unadulterated concentrated ingredients on skin for crash radiance. The methods of application can be as creative as they can get, but what remains consistent is the result on skin. Bright, radiant skin like someone slapped it to life! This product is truly tailored for clumsy individuals like me. Definitely look into this, now available in Sephora too, so you can try a sample.

Click here for my detailed review

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Sheet Masks

These masks are now becoming all the rage in western markets whereas they have dominated the east Asian market for decades. Made with various materials, ingredients these masks pack a punch and truly feed the skin. The beauty of these masks is you can get it for absolutely any skin concern. Sheet masks are also made specifically for neck, hands, feet, eye, and lips.

Personally I love using these after acid tone stage, as my skin drinks up all the essence in these masks, follow with serum or ampoule and finish off with oil or moisturizer. The fits and sizes of these masks can vary for a lot of non Asian faces. In some instances, the forehead is not big enough or nose is tiny, or mask in general is smaller. They are made with Asian faces in mind however the outreach of these masks is phenomenal.

Whilst Korea dominates the sheet masks domain, Asian countries like Japan (HadaLabo, SKII, Shiseido, Harihada, Biore), Taiwan (My Beauty Diary, Naruko, Neogence, Silk Whitia), Singapore (DrGL, BioEssence, RachelK), Hong Kong (Hiruscar,Wai Yeung Tong) are not too far behind and worth giving a try.

These masks are wildly creative with the ingredient formulation too, from oils to fermented ingredients to animal by products (donkey milk, snail mucin, abalone serum), EGF factors, etc. The price points can also range from a $1 to $40 per sheet mask.

The new trend also includes cleansing gel, peeling gel, aqua or milk peel swab (aka acid tones), essence and sheet masks making it a one stop shop for convenience and travel friendly. Reme G, Ettang, Papa Recipe, Somoon, The Saem are some brands which have got on board with this concept.

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Not a huge deviation from above mentioned Sheet Masks, these Eye patches specifically address puffiness, bagginess and brightening eye area. Common ingredients that are often used are caffeine, retinol, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, bamboo water and other fermented ingredients.

On a disgustingly warm day, keeping any sheet mask in fridge for few minutes before application can seriously feel amazing, slapping on cool sheet mask whilst everything around you is boiling and feel like your insides are melting. Amazing for travel, excellent short cut to an elaborate routine without compromising on results.

How innovative and experimentative are you with masks? I’d love to know in comments below is there any category of mask or brand I absolutely must try.

HHW.com

xx

Long Haul Flight ESSENTIALS

Travel Essentials 1Over in the Instagram world, I’ve been asked time and again, what do I pack for long haul flights. First lets clarify definition of “Long Haul”, it’s flying time in excess of 6-7 hours for me. For flight time less than 6-7 hours, I’d have similar essentials but far more condensed version.

Generally my travel toiletry bags are not touched aka, not introduced to the main stash. It’s a one way road i.e. decanting from main stash to travel bag. Any samples of trusted products will make its way to the travel bag. NO experiments are encouraged in bacteria infested air of the vessel.

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Passport (uhhhh)

Tea – They keep changing all the time.Ginger is recommended for long haul flights.

Headphones – Not inserting or placing those filthy ones they provide….just No.

HYGIENE & HEALTH

Flight Duration Hygiene – Hand Sanitizer, Tissues, Wipes

Dental Hygiene – Wispy Toothbrush and Mints

Bodily Hygiene – Deodorant, Lavanilla or your preferred, Perfume – any travel size of pumped in Travalo. Not too strong just subtle and pleasant.

Health – Pain killer for headaches (airplane pressure), hangovers. Ear buds (I don’t have any because generally airline provides). Tiger Balm or any Muscle relax balm for soothe any muscle soreness.

Travel Essentials 2

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  • Micellar Water (with cotton pads) – Bioderma Micellar Water
  • Decanted cleansing gel or balm – I’ve decanted The Body Shop Nutriganics Cleansing Gel, or Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm and take it off with Micellar water soaked cotton.
  • Acid Peel – Dr Dennis Gross peels always travel with me, Dr DG himself may not know but he accompanies me every travel.
  • Sheet Mask – dont hesitate to walk around plane scarring those lil kids! Seriously, skin will thank you when you land. Just try to avoid eating with mask now, its epic fail.
  • Toner or Essence – Keeps changing, although I do like Kiehls In Flight Anti Bacterial Refresher (has alcohol but not drying since I also follow with moisturizer and balm).
  • Eye Cream – not regular with eye cream but try to include Retinol based eye cream like La Roche Posay Redermic R or an all rounder Indeed Labs Eyesilix.
  • Moisturizer – Clarins HydraQuench. Hands down the best. Also love Origins Drink Up Intensive mask (smells pleasant and skin binges away).
  • Face Oil – Tata Harper Replenishing Nutrient Complex, roller ball oil screams convinience with good skin.
  • Face Balm – Generally decanted, love Mahalo Balm, May Lindstrom The Blue Cocoon. Basically any face balm your skin will feel protected.
  • Lip Oil & Lip Balm – Usually carry sticks, no finger dipping in my usual Nuxe Reve de Miel pot.
  • Hand and/or Body Cream – with constant hand sanitizing action, hands will be dry. Need decent hand or body cream.
  • Spot Treatment – THE MOST IMPORTANT. La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo. Inevitably something would be brewing under surface, need to address before I scare the Immigration officer.

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Basic and Minimal.

One solid trust worthy Concealer – Mac Pro Longwear

Multipurpose product – Lip & Cheek kinda deal – Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge. I prefer cream product because they’re hydrating and easily blendable.

Brow Gel – Essence Make me Brow Gel – prefer to have brow gel and stronger brows rather than mascara. Turbulence in plane may result in eye poke….not allowing that to happen. Although I tend to keep a mascara just in case we are expecting clear skies and smooth landing.

Brushes – small and not too fluffy allowing precision and still multipurpose.

RANDOM THROWS:

The Body Shop Facial Massaging (keep that blood flowing), under eye masks (address major panda eye situation).

Entertainment: I dont carry reading material, hate reading in plane. I’m more of movie marathon kinda girl.

Clothing – Light, loose and breathable. Here’s why? Light because you want to feel comfortable, Loose because inevitably you will feel bloated and breathable because you don’t want to wreak.

Sleep – Always, without fail carry those U shaped travel pillows, the BEST. Ensure you wash and disinfect them after each travel. If you can’t sleep, move around, walk around, stretch, squats, lunge….do what you have to keep the body moving and blood flowing.

Uhhhh if you’re flying Qantas, keep away from Tim Tams and Muesli bars….major addiction.

The products/brands of products themselves keep changing, however the categories remain a constant. What do you carry in your bag? I’d love to peek inside your bags? Am I missing anything?

Feel free to use this as a checklist when you travel. Of course I haven’t covered entertainment needs, pillows, clothes, etc.

HHW.com

xx