Only the bare necessities

Wherever you're going you can't take the bathroom cabinet. ANNALISA BARBIERI selects your essential holiday beauty kit

Holiday skincare requirements depend almost entirely on how you're getting to your destination. Hence this article is divided into what to take if you're travelling by plane and need to pack really light, and what to take if you're travelling by car and can take what you please.

Plane travel, unless you're a celebrity with your own jet and people to carry your luggage, requires a more spartan approach. If you're really tight on space you can get it down to four essentials: cleanser, moisturiser, sun cream and body lotion. (Hair products can always be bought when you get there because you don't have to be so choosy with them.) If you have no time to get yourself together then you could do worse than buy Molton Brown's New Age Traveller Set, pounds 39, which houses every product you'll need for a short break.

A fantastic, cheap cleanser - perfect for holidays since it leaves you feeling sparkling fresh - is Muji's Face Soap, pounds 2.50. The best moisturiser is Jo Malone's Day Moisturiser I, pounds 14.50, which really comes into its own on holidays for three reasons: it's deeply hydrating yet dries to a matt finish; it doesn't contain a sun filter (more about why I think this is good later) and it comes in a plastic bottle. If you're really short on space then Elizabeth Arden's excellent Ceramide Time Complex, pounds 43.50, comes in capsules so you can count out your exact requirements. They also come in eye versions, pounds 33.

You can do without toner, night cream and eyecream for a fortnight - just dab a tiny bit of your normal cream round your eyes to stop them drying up. But don't do this long term - eyes require creams of a lighter formation. Get your eyelashes dyed before going and take a tin of Smith's Rosebud lipsalve, pounds 6, for lipglossing/intensive moisturising purposes. Forget about aftersun if you need to pack light and use the glorious Dry Skin Relief (Original) by Revlon, pounds 3.65, which is everything you need for your body, anytime of year. If you have the space and budget for an aftersun, get Aftersun Tan Prolonger, pounds 15, by Lancome. Its pinky gel keeps your skin feeling smooth, cooled and - sneaky this - it has a very mild fake tan element. Highly recommended.

There are loads of fabulous sun creams around - if you want to get a bit of colour, I'd recommend a sunblock to put on delicate bits and another one of SPF 15 for everywhere else. Fifteen is the optimum SPF because if you use a preparation with a very high sun filter value you won't tan, you'll get frustrated and you'll stop using it altogether. High SPFs also make you think you can just apply them once a day, whereas 15 will make you less complacent - and you should re-apply every couple of hours, more if you swim.

If I had to choose just one sun cream it would be Daily Light Guard, pounds 17, by Aveda. It smells gorgeous, comes in an easy-to-pack plastic tube and uses very few chemical filters. (Oxybenzone, the most popular ingredient in sun filter products, has been linked to cancer because it is said to destroy the skin's natural defence against sunlight. More research is needed into this so there's no need to go into a mad panic but be aware.) Daily Light Guard doesn't contain oxybenzone but for a completely non- chemical sunscreen try Lancaster's Chemical Free Sunscreen, SPF 15, pounds 13.50. Chemicals aside, if the sun brings you out in a heat rash try Piz Buin's Allergy with SPF 15, pounds 11.79.

If you are going to be in a position to start adding a few more things to these four basics it is a good idea to think first about their transportation. The best way to carry them is in an old-fashioned hard-sided vanity case, the type that Delsey and Samsonite makes. This will protect your products, free up suitcase space and you will be able to find them quickly. An excellent range to take with you on holiday is Clarins's Eau Dynamisante, which has been going for years but still has no competitors - it smells gorgeous. And it doesn't react with the sun, unlike some perfumes. If you can go the whole hog, both with space and budget, then bring shower gel, pounds 12.50, body lotion, pounds 19.50, and the spray, pounds 20. If not take the spray, body lotion and shower gel in that order.

The reason I mentioned earlier that moisturisers are best without sunscreens for holiday purposes is that, for goodness sake, you do want to go home with a bit of colour. If your day cream isn't loaded with filters you always have the option of putting sun cream on later, but if it is you're stuck unless you go without completely. But if you do decide you want a sun protective day cream then bring Lancome's Bienfait Total, pounds 14.50, with you. And rather than using soap, take the highly refreshing Origins Mint Condition Shower Gel, pounds 14.50.

Now then, make-up. Of course you know you should be able to get by with nothing more than a lick of lip gloss - Clinique's Glosswear, pounds 8, has an SPF of 8 (my fave is the Airkiss colour) or try Aveda's Rosemist, pounds 12. (Clinique also does a fab product which has a devoted following, All About Lips, pounds 15, which plumps up your lips to make them fuller - you can almost see it happening.) But if you really can't bear to go without foundation then Erno Laszlo's Multi pHase dual option foundation, SPF 8, pounds 32 is the thing to pack. It comes in a compact - so perfect for travelling - and you can use it wet or dry. Wet provides a sheerer coverage. Laszlo also does two other products worthy of holiday note, a very good Multi pHase Active Tint Moisturiser (SPF15), pounds 22, and a Multi-pHase bronzer, pounds 29, to brush over your (light) foundation or just your moisturiser for a bit of a glow.

You'll see I mentioned a tinted moisturiser. Cheating is a very good idea on holiday until you get a natural tan. The best face fake tan of all - in fact I cannot stress enough how fabulous it is - is Lancome's Flash Bronzer face gel, pounds 15. It's very mild and won't make you look like you have false tan on, it will just give you a healthy glow. No matter how slapdash I was in applying it it still looked natural. In this range there is also a Body Spritz, pounds 15, and a Leg Gel, pounds 15, which contains sparkly bits. These require more care in their application than the face gel and I found the leg gel in particular made me go a little bit too brown too quickly. A good tip here is to apply any body fake tan mixed with normal body lotion: you get a far better result. (Remember to exfoliate first, though.) I got on better with Californian North Titanium Self-Tanning Cream, pounds 15.50, which, despite the name, didn't make me look that ridiculous beauty-queen brown that I'd feared. It's quite light so you can control how dark you go. It absolutely honks though, so don't apply it and get straight into a confined space like I did (an hour long car journey) - the smell will drive you insane. Handy, though, if you want to keep that seat next to you free on the plane. Happy hols.

Aveda: 0171 410 1600; Californian North Titanium: 0345 697072; Clarins: 0171 629 2979; Clinique: 0171 409 6951; Erno Laszlo: 0345 697072; Jo Malone: 0171 720 0202; Molton Brown: 0171 499 6474; Lancaster: 0181 971 1300; Muji: 0171 323 2208; Origins: 0800 7314039; Piz Buin: 01403 218111; Revlon: 0171 491 5450.

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