It's 5 o'clock on a Wednesday evening, and I've just arrived at my hotel room in New York City. I'm visiting from L.A. for the week, staying with my best friend in Queens. But I decide to get us a hotel room in Manhattan for a night—a deluxe king room at the Evelyn, no less—just as a little something special. I figure we'll do some sheet masks, order vegan pizza to the room, and watch bad television all night. Can you think of a better way to spend an evening in the city?
But of course, as luck would have it, I unzip my backpack to find that I have forgotten my entire skincare bag at my friend's apartment. (If this has ever happened to you, you know it's the worst.) I flashback to leaving it on a shelf in her bathroom—my cleanser, my moisturizer, my toner, my acne medication, my face masks. Everything.
There's no way I'm going all the way back to Queens to pick up my stuff. I'm not even prepared to walk to Sephora or the drugstore to buy replacements for all my precious products. My friend and I are in for the night, and I'm just going to have to make do.
So, I take stock of what products the hotel has provided. I've got mini bottles of C.O. Bigelow shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and bodywash. I've got a bar of soap. I've got a toothbrush, a razor, and some cotton pads. I can make this work.
I dig deep into my beauty editor brain to come up with ways to DIY these simple toiletries into the skincare products I'm sorely missing. (I also get celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau on the line to help me brainstorm.)
If you ever show up to a hotel room to find you've left one or all of your skincare essentials behind, we've got you. Keep scrolling for eight genius ways to turn average hotel items into legitimate skincare products!
Bar soap is normally too drying to use on the face. But according to Rouleau, you can easily hack your hotel soap into a gentle cleanser by sudsing some in your hand and adding a bit of body lotion. "The lotion has emollients that will counteract the drying, foaming properties from their soap," she says. Voila! Now you don't have to go to bed with your makeup on.
Are there green tea bags in your hotel's lobby or mini bar? To create an effective DIY toner, brew the green tea then pop in in the mini fridge. Pat the chilled green tea onto your skin with a cotton ball or pad. The detoxifying properties of the green tea will help reduce inflammation and breakouts. Who needs that $40 toner you left at home?
Traveling tends to take a toll on the lips, especially if you're switching climates. I always tote a little pot of Sara Happ's The Lip Scrub in Brown Sugar ($24) when I travel. But in a pinch, wetting a toothbrush and gently running the bristles over your lips works just as well. The brush helps physically slough off any dead skin or flakiness, leaving the lips super smooth.
Believe it or not, conditioner actually gives you a closer shave and softer skin than most standard shaving creams. The shaving creams' paraben and sulfate-packed formulas are a recipe for irritation and don't protect your skin from the blades (especially those of a cheapy hotel razor). Ideally, you should use an oil, like Kopari's Coconut Melt ($34), to shave. But a dollop of conditioner serves as an effective substitute.
This is a hack I actually learned from my mom as a young teen. In lieu of makeup removing wipes, take a pea-sized amount of lotion and spread it on a tissue. Wipe the tissue across your face, and your makeup will come off with surprising ease. It works with eye makeup, lipstick, and face makeup; plus, it moisturizes your skin while removing the product. Just make sure not to get the lotion in your eyes or mouth (it doesn't taste good). I removed my makeup this way at the Evelyn with C.O. Bigelow's Body Lotion ($9), and it worked like a charm!
My spot treatments are my lifeblood, but I was at a loss for how to create one out of my hotel room products. For this, Rouleau says to raid the mini bar. "The goal with any blemish is to dry out the infection to get it to heal more quickly," she says. A dab of vodka will do just that. "On clean skin, dip a Q-tip into the vodka, apply directly onto a blemish, and let dry," says Rouleau. "Cheers to clear skin!"
Can't go a night without your face scrub? If your hotel room is stocked with packets of coffee grounds, you're in luck. Mix three parts coffee grounds with two parts olive oil. Then gently massage the mixture onto your skin and rinse with water. The grounds exfoliate while the oil moisturizes and soothes. If the grounds aren't super finely milled, they might feel a bit harsh on the skin. But in a pinch, it's worth a try.
While you're digging through your hotel room's coffee supply, bag a stack of coffee filters to use as blotting papers later. They work amazingly well to pick up excess oil on the face (better than some actual blotting papers). Plus, coffee filters are infinitely less expensive!
Want more creative beauty hacks? Check out five lazy-girl hair hacks models always use!