How to look just about ok while walking the Inca Trail

Earlier this year my little bro and I travelled to Peru to schlep along the Inca Trail to the lost city of Machu Piccu. We’d been planning the adventure for an entire decade and our tickets had been booked six months previously, but it’s an understatement to say that the day of departure snuck up on me.

It felt like I rushed out of work at 5:30pm on a Wednesday, threw a pile of poorly-selected leisure-wear in a duffle bag, left for Heathrow in what can only be described as a “tizz” and flew to South America early the next morning. All of a sudden I realised I was on the other side of the world, standing on the streets of Lima outside our tiny Peruvian guest house, squinting into the pale April sunlight.



But unlike the rest of me, I knew my makeup bag was ready for action.

The (obvious) trouble with “once in a lifetime” trips is that you only get one chance to do them – and you only get one chance to look ok in the pictures. Yes, I know this is incredibly shallow, and I throw my hands up – but the one thing I knew was that I really wanted to look alright in the photos we were going to be taking. However, with top altitudes of 12,000 feet, freezing nights, potentially scorching days, rumours of at least one 3am start and no (hot) showers throughout the entire trek, being presentable was going to be even trickier than it usually was.

our tent's en-suite bathroom

our tent’s en-suite bathroom

On top of the physical challenges ahead, there were logistical issues as well. Any cosmetics I took had to be light or (better still) multi-purpose, as for the four days of the hike itself we would have to carry our own personal items and the rest of our kit was weight-limited – and I had no intention of being left behind because I’d packed too many blushers.

Plus, even I think it’s a little bit lame to take a lot of cosmetics on an outdoorsy hike of this nature, and I didn’t want to be laughed at by the other people on our trek for leaping from my tent wearing full make-up – I just wanted to look ok. So whatever I took had to be discreet in itself, as well as giving me a truly “natural” look.

giving everything for the blog: on my cheeks is cochineal, or crushed beetles, or the original natural blusher. also: gross. and yes, I know the hat's horrific.

giving everything for the blog: on my cheeks is cochineal, or crushed beetles, or the original natural blusher. also: gross. and yes, I know the hat’s horrific.


Step forward, my key expedition mates:


1. Sephora Eyebrow Editor Complete Brow Kit in Honey Blonde

2. Stila Convertible Colour in Poppy

3. Benefit High Beam

4. Everything Balm by Trilogy

These four survived a squidging in my daypack, being fumbled for during pre-dawn wake-ups and speedily whipped from a bag to be applied while no-one was looking.

Everything Balm – I used this on eyebrows, lips, eyelids for a sheen, cheekbones, on sunburn, on small cuts, on blisters – it was marvellous stuff which I’m still using three months on. An SPF of 15 also came in handy, but was no match for the sun at altitude – ouch.

Eyebrow Editor – a last minute purchase while leaving a branch of Sephora in Florida, but what a buy. With light and dark eyebrow shades plus a wax, tiny brushes and even teeny tweezers, all wrapped up in a sleek box that contains a mirror, this is thoroughly recommended for anyone needing to keep a check on their brows while on the go.

High Beam – the first item of make-up that I can remember loving, and definitely one of my desert island items. Dots along cheekbones and blended in helped me pretend to be awake, even if my body was quite definitely still asleep.

Stila Convertible Colour – I don’t have great luck with this: my first one got stolen along with the contents of my handbag when my Figaro was broken into last year, and I’m currently in mourning for this incarnation as mine fell from my bag and got run over just a few days ago (despite surviving the Inca Trail). If you can keep yours safe, Poppy gives a gorgeously flushed, pinched cheek colour and is perfect for adding warmth to your lips when your real tone is closer to ice blue. Plus it’s a very tactile object that’s easy to find when getting ready by torchlight.

Only want to take one of these? Pick the last: a Stila Convertible Colour compact in your chosen hue should see you right. And as an added bonus, when four days of intense walking leaves you too exhausted to care, you realise your pictures are going to be awesome anyway and you go full-on cosmetics-commando, it won’t take up too much space in the bottom of your rucksack.

~ Charlotte x

2 thoughts on “How to look just about ok while walking the Inca Trail

  1. Pingback: She’s gone balmy | not the nine to five

  2. Pingback: The really wild show… hopefully not! | not the nine to five

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