It's the delicious pomade that also works as a cuticle cream!
December 13, 2012 7:11 AM   Subscribe

What are the best toiletries/personal care products that double as other toiletries/personal care products? Either officially or unofficially?

So, I'm planning some travel that will involve both city breaks (where I will want to look good!) and hut-to-hut hiking (where I will want to keep my bag weight to a minimum). Obviously I can just buy mousse (or whatever) in the city, and I will probably end up doing that for some things. But I would also like to be as presentable as I can be on the trail without turning my pack into a giant makeup case like some 80s rom-com socialite.

Some things I've used in the past:
  • Soap/shampoo bars for washing hair and body (with only moderate success)
  • Combination shampoo/conditioner (have not found one that works for me)
Some things I've heard of but have not tried:
  • Using sunscreen as hair conditioner
  • Using hair conditioner as shaving cream
The things I consider essential anywhere* are sunscreen, hair-washing stuff, conditioner, soap/body wash, deodorant and toothpaste. If I'm at home or staying in one place for a while, that list can expand to include shaving stuff, hair "product" (usually mousse or gel, sometimes two or three different ones), face moisturizer, body/hand moisturizer, foot cream (obviously I can use the same product for all of these, but I don't at home), and makeup.

Bonus points for anything that doubles as emergency rations!

* OK, anywhere with running water - I can pare this down a little further if everyone's gross.
posted by mskyle to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (36 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Rosebud Salve in the little blue jar. It's the world's best lip balm, non-sticky and moisturizing and it smells very very faintly of rose petals. However, it is also a phenomenal facial moisturizer for dry spot touchups during the day, and little dabs rubbed on your fingertips make for a great "texturizing" hair pomade. I have even rubbed it into my hands as a cream when I didn't have lotion with me, and my hands were soooooo soft and smelled divine. I love this product and have been buying it consistently for years now.
posted by anonnymoose at 7:15 AM on December 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

Use for everything
posted by MangyCarface at 7:15 AM on December 13, 2012

I use Body Shop Body Butter as hair gel that doesn't leave my hair all gross, sticky, and crusty. I don't use it as "body butter" though, so I can't vouch for its merits as anything but hair gel.
posted by 256 at 7:17 AM on December 13, 2012

I use Dr Bronner's liquid soap for cleaning my make-up brushes, but apparently you can use it to wash everything from hair to laundry.

For make-up, I'd highly recommend getting a freestyle palette - Yaby, Z-Palette or UNII palette - and depotting your individual powder products so they will all fit into one slimline case. YouTube will show you how to do this, and it's incredibly easy. I threw out a carrier-bag full of packaging when I depotted my eyeshadows.
posted by mippy at 7:21 AM on December 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

Shampoo and bodywash can be the same thing (ie the campsuds linked above or Dr. Bronners castille soap), but bring a tiny thing of conditioner with you- the soap mentioned above really leaves your hair feeling weird and dried out, even if you shampoo with it only every other day.

Grab a moisturizer with sunscreen- that'll feel better than just sunscreen.

For makeup, I'd grab eyeliner and powder from home (always nicer to have your own stuff). Those are light and can make a big impact- but pick the one main product you use and grab that.

Otherwise I think you're at the bare minimum already for the camping bit. Once in the city I would buy hair product and a real bar of soap.
posted by larthegreat at 7:21 AM on December 13, 2012

Sunscreen cannot double as hair conditioner. Have you ever gotten sunscreen in your hair? It's sticky and very hard to remove, does the opposite of anything you'd want conditioner to do.

A&D ointment is excellent for lip balm, overnight rough skin conditioner, eye makeup remover, eye cream and minor skin irritation ointment.

Zinc oxide diaper rash ointment is good for other skin irritation too; I used it to soothe a terrible sunburn in the tropics when nothing else was available. The more zinc the better.

Shampoo can be used to do hand laundry.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:22 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Came here to recommend MangyCarface's Campsuds. I use them in the backcountry for 1) dishes 2) my clothes 3) my hair 4) my body 5) my face. They get very sudsy and cleansing. I find them a bit drying on my face, and if I use them without conditioner (which I do) I get flyaways like crazy.
posted by AmandaA at 7:22 AM on December 13, 2012

when I went long-distance trekking I carried with me a few packets of olive oil- I could use it for cooking or for hair conditioner (rub it in to your hair, and then wash out with the shampoo step), and also for intensive moisturizer of sun-burnt skin (run into skin before taking a shower and using body wash/soap to take it off)

I also took along bars of soap, breaking them in half and using half to wash myself and the other half to wash my clothing (instead of carrying around separate clothing detergent)

You can definitely use hair conditioner as shaving cream (but then again, I can just use soap too so would just use that- but maybe you have a higher standard for your shaving experience than me)
posted by saraindc at 7:24 AM on December 13, 2012

I can vouch for hair conditioner as shave cream.

If you were to bring makeup, I would put a little bit of concealer in a small jar, then you could use it as-is for concealer, or mix it with sunscreen or moisturizer to make foundation. You could also use it as an eyeshadow primer, though it won't be perfect. Lipstick makes a great cream blush. Many eyebrow products can be used as eyeliner (some are too hard), but pencils are small & light anyway.

You can also buy mini-size just about everything (makeup items, skincare items, etc) on ebay, if you can't find the specific product you want in-store.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:24 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Monistat Soothing Care Chafing Relief Powder-Gel is a great make-up primer, oil absorber and matte finisher. It's nice on the lady bits too.
posted by space_cookie at 7:30 AM on December 13, 2012

Coconut oil is a great moisturizer and has the advantage of being solid at room temp (so less messy in a bag). Just rub a bit in your hands, then apply like lotion or lip balm.

It's also edible!
posted by fontophilic at 7:33 AM on December 13, 2012

I have more than a few times used lotion/moisturizer as shaving cream. Only issue is that it does clog the razor and you need to constantly rinse off razor. Baby powder can be used as dry shampoo and well as you would use talc.

If you are spending some time in hotels, most will give you items you forgot, so could almost bring nothing and just get small sizes from hotels before heading into back country.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:34 AM on December 13, 2012

Using shampoo as body wash works fine; I would recommend that over using body wash as shampoo. And hair conditioner can be used as a shave cream.

The right moisturizing sunscreen may be able to meet most if not all of your basic skin moisturizing needs. I like cetaphil daily facial moisturizing sunscreen.
posted by drlith at 7:37 AM on December 13, 2012

I think I read the "sunscreen as conditioner" tip in Seventeen magazine circa 1990, and they may have just been punking me :)

I'd forgotten about makeup remover, or indeed face soap in general. At home I usually don't use soap on my face - I use eye makeup remover but otherwise just water and an olive-oil based cold cream (which already kind of doubles - cleanser and moisturizer in one).
posted by mskyle at 7:38 AM on December 13, 2012

Coconut oil, as mentioned... Body and facial moisturiser; lip balm; ends-of-hair post-shampoo treatment; 'nasal lubricant'
posted by kmennie at 7:41 AM on December 13, 2012

I use conditioner as shaving cream regularly. It works better than normal shaving cream for me. I do have to rinse it to ensure that it doesn't clog, though.
posted by xmts at 7:47 AM on December 13, 2012

Cheap bottles of conditioner as shaving cream work quite well.

Neutral-toned lipstick can double as cream blush. Dab a few dots, rub in.

As space_cookie mentioned, Monistat Anti-Chafing Powder-Gel is a fantastic makeup primer and is something like 20 times cheaper than nearly-identical expensive dimethicone primers by fancy makeup brands.

LUSH makes a creamy, oil-based cleanser called Ultrabland that removes makeup well (anything oil-based does, really, baby oil, olive oil, etc).

In a pinch, antibacterial gel can double as a deodorant (temporarily kills the bacteria causing odor) - not an antiperspirant, though.

Stick deodorant can be used as anti-chafing balm (between thighs, on sore spots where shoe straps are rubbing).

Coconut oil for everything. Moisturizer, lip balm, after-shaving on legs. Use on bottom half of hair to moisturize and then wash out. Or leave in a teeny tiny bit, not enough to look greasy, just a healthy shine. Smells freaking fantastic too.
posted by rachaelfaith at 7:49 AM on December 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

I use a moisturing shampoo as a shave lotion. I was travelling once and forgot my shaving foam, so all I had was this Dove stuff. It actually gave me a better shave than the brand-name foam.

Only downside was that the foam was good at capturing the hair on the razor and not letting the water/debris run down your face. The shampoo is not as good at doing that.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:55 AM on December 13, 2012

Bar soap with bentonite clay in it is super awesome for shaving, and can obvsly be used as regular soap as well. Not sure how it would work out as shampoo soap, though.
posted by elizardbits at 7:56 AM on December 13, 2012

I won't leave home without Neutrogena's body oil, which can also double as extra hair conditioner or to smooth flyaways, as a facial moisturizer and makeup remover, and also as cuticle oil.

Cetaphil can be used in lieu of shaving gel/cream.

Switching out to BB/CC cream was the biggest space-saver in my makeup bag.
posted by evoque at 8:07 AM on December 13, 2012

Vaseline. It's lip gloss, face/body moisturizer, cuticle cream, foot treatment, salve for small wounds if you don't have anything better, and, in a pinch, brow tamer.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 8:15 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and it makes a great eye-makeup remover too.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 8:16 AM on December 13, 2012

Another vote for coconut oil. I use it as lotion, facial moisturizer, and mix it with sugar for an AWESOME exfoliant. You can use the scrub before shaving too, because coconut oil makes a great shaving oil. It can be used as a hair deep-conditioning treatment, it can tame flyaways. It's antimicrobial and anti-fungal, so you can smear it on cuts if you have to.

For everything else, Doc Bronner's.
posted by specialagentwebb at 8:20 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm a huge fan of the Intuition Shaver. It has the shaving cream/gel right in the head. It's EXCELLENT for shaving legs, etc in a stand up shower, or where you don't have room to keep moving the shaving cream, razor back and forth. Just wet yourself, zip, zip, zip and you're smooth as a baby's butt.

You buy the reusable razor, and the heads are self-contained in little plastic containers. Great for travel, a bit too much packaging for the environment. My razor lasts about 2 weeks.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:20 AM on December 13, 2012

Provided the water is not too hard, I use any soap/shower gel/shampoo as shaving foam and it's fine.

Some people put a small amount of vaseline in their hair to make it shinier.

If you've got a shaving cut or a hickey, toothpaste (not the gel though) can stem the bleeding.

The creamier (pot) cycling chamois products work fine as moisturiser/body lotion/after sun.

If you were to have a horse, horse shampoo can be used on human hair (hence: Mane N Tail).
posted by MuffinMan at 8:53 AM on December 13, 2012

Coconut oil also works as a deodorant, unless you're planning to sweat a lot.
posted by hannala at 8:55 AM on December 13, 2012

Not sure if it's clear from all the folks telling about the cosmetic benefits of coconut oil, but it is also used in cooking in place of oil or butter for frying potatoes/onions/whatever.
posted by CathyG at 8:57 AM on December 13, 2012

Switching from a shaving gel to oil was the single biggest washbag-space saver I've made. Apparently olive oil (or coconut, as mentioned above) works just as well, but I buy the tiny bottles of King of Shaves oil. They used to do a girly pink spray bottle, but I haven't been able to find that for the last few years, and go for manly blue not-a-spray instead.

If I'm going somewhere for just a few days I tend to take my facewash to double as shower gel, and face moisturiser for anything that needs moisturising, unless I know it's somewhere with horribly hard water that will make my entire body itchy without immediate moisturising. I don't wash my hair every day, and it can cope moderately well without being conditioned every time, so I factor that in to what I pack, but if I was being organised and wanted to look good towards the end of a longish trip I would decant suitable quantities of known products into travel containers. It turns out that just buying whichever ones are on special offer in travel sized bottles doesn't always work out for my hair....
posted by Lebannen at 8:58 AM on December 13, 2012

Your shampoo can double as all purpose 'wash' and shaving cream. A tiny bottle of olive oil would probably take care of most of your moisturising needs, with the added benefit of being suitable for cooking. That leaves you with sun screen and perhaps conditioner. If you must take a small tub of your normal moisturiser for your face. But really, most things can be used for many different things and you can strip your washbag down to surprisingly little without adverse effects. Whatever works for you.
posted by koahiatamadl at 9:03 AM on December 13, 2012

Lebannen - if you want really good quality shaving oil, I'd recommend Ren's Tamanu oil. But it is pricey.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:16 AM on December 13, 2012

While I sing the praises of the Monistat powder for chafing, in a pinch you can also use deodorant for the same purpose. You didn't mention that but if you're out hiking in the same shoes/boots for days on end, you may need something to help with that.
posted by immlass at 9:55 AM on December 13, 2012

Surprised to see no one has mentioned baking soda yet. It is a cheap easy way to meet your deodorant, tooth brushing, cuticle smoothing, skin cleansing, clean hair needs out of the way.
Baking soda!
posted by whatzit at 10:43 AM on December 13, 2012

Listerine doubles as mosquito spray. Seriously.
posted by HeyAllie at 12:41 PM on December 13, 2012

Are you looking for things that would work in a pinch, or things that actually perform as well for a given cost? Or are you trying to optimize for space? I honestly haven't found many multipurpose items that actually do as well as single-purpose, except for the oils. You may not like the texture and/or smell as much, though.

I have had good luck with multipurpose makeup, though. NARS and Benefit both have eye/lip/cheek combos that I like, but I'm sure there are others.
posted by snickerdoodle at 2:56 PM on December 13, 2012

I buy cold processed soaps from places like Etsy and depending on the ingredients, use it as a body soap and as a shampoo. I cannot imagine how people use Dr. Bronners as shampoo, how does it not dry the hell out of your hair and scalp?
posted by crankylex at 6:19 PM on December 13, 2012

Thank you for all the suggestions! I'm applying the "best answer" mark nearly at random. Looks like I should seek out some coconut oil for starters.

crankylex, I feel the same way about Doc Bronner's, it dries the heck out of EVERYTHING on me, and I would have to have gotten something pretty awful in my hair before I'd use it as shampoo :)

Another sort-of-multipurpose thing I like is Burt's Bees tinted lip balm - the darker colors are enough to use as a lip stain/gloss. But it doesn't have sunscreen in it.
posted by mskyle at 11:19 AM on December 14, 2012

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