Young Thais are drawn by the big city lifestyle
Travel is a beautiful thing. But often, it takes its toll on personal beauty with high humidity, dry heat, extreme cold, dehydration, chlorinated water, salt water and a limited capacity for carrying beauty products.
In some destinations, native beauty treatments provide a relaxing and rejuvenating window into local culture. So the next time a long-haul flight has you feeling worn-down, take some time to immerse, exfoliate and explore.
A local bargain
Treatments that cost a lot back home are often far cheaper overseas. Try beach pedicures in Bali, leg-hair threading in Vietnam or having your dead skin nibbled off by doctor fish in Hong Kong.
Bargain beach massages in India can be hit and miss, but a stay at an Ayurveda retreat could be just the ticket (try Kerala's Somatheeram Beach Resort). Wat Po, in Bangkok, offers excellent pummellings and Lila's in Chiang Mai offers treatments performed by released and retrained prisoners.
While you are there, check out local products that have been tried and tested on the ground. In India, invest in coconut oil and massage it into your scalp for lustrous hair. In Thailand, bottles of lotus flower extract are just a few baht, perfect for rejuvenating dry skin. In Israel and Jordan, try salty Dead Sea products.
Check out local customs too. A Middle Eastern hammam (public steam bath) is a cheap way to get a deep clean and an insight into the life of local women. Hammams are sex-segregated; towels, clogs and soap are usually provided. Ask your concierge where the best ones are.
Similarly hot springs are good for the skin and for tapping into local culture. Sitting in an onsen breaks down barriers with the Japanese (nakedness is the norm), while Icelanders love to socialise in their volcanic steam baths.
For day-to-day maintenance, keep a lookout for beauty schools: they need guinea pigs, you get freebies. Even big chain hairdressers offer cheap cuts if you are willing to be practised on. Appointments are often during the day, which is not a problem when you are travelling.
Becci Coombe, who runs www.girlstravelclub.co.uk, shares this bit of travel advice: "Leave your lipstick at home - it'll melt in the heat. Instead, take a tin of Vaseline, which will also melt, but will be less annoying. Use as a lip gloss, then smear a dab on your cheekbones for a healthy glow. It can also be used to secure windswept eyebrows, on cracked heels and toes and to soften cuticles."
No need for posh creams either. "Mash up a ripe avocado and plaster it over your face for 15 minutes - you'll smell like a chicken salad but your skin will feel revitalised," reckoned Coombe.
Need a body scrub? "Pinch a cup of porridge oats from the breakfast buffet, tie it up in a sock, float the sock in a hot water, then use as a puff to massage your body," Coombe added. "Keep a couple of sugar sachets in your washbag. When your skin feels dull, mix one with a squirt of shower gel for an invigorating scrub."