7 camping makeup tips for a practical outdoor beauty routine

by | Nov 8, 2022 | Camp hygiene

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I’ll admit that when I go camping, I wear makeup. Mostly because I know that photos will be taken and videos will be filmed.

And I want to look good in them. So sue me!

No, you’re not being ridiculous for planning to wear makeup on a camping trip.

Yes, you’re totally allowed to be a little “high maintenance” as long as you’re practical about it.

These camping makeup tips will help you get the job done.

How do you do makeup when camping?

A woman using a compact mirror to do her makeup while camping.

Good question!

The problem with camping is that there’s no guarantee you’ll have access to bathroom facilities with a mirror.

If you’re car camping in a campground, you might, but don’t count on it.

In the backcountry, the best you’ll get in terms of bathroom facilities is a privy (a.k.a. a box over a hole in the ground to do your business in).

This is why I recommend getting a compact travel mirror if you don’t have one already.

I have this one, which I chose because it has a standard mirror on one side, a magnified mirror on the other, and a built-in ring light for when I need to do my makeup in the tent or take my makeup off at night.

That little mirror is going to be your best friend on your camping trip, so make sure you don’t forget it!

If you have access to a picnic table or some other flat and sturdy surface, I recommend doing your makeup there where you can rest your elbow as you hold up your mirror.

It just makes it a little easier when you’re out of your element. Otherwise, you can lay on your stomach on your sleeping bag and mattress inside your tent so you can prop your arm up and hold your mirror steadily.

Now let’s get on with those makeup tips!

1. Cleanse your skin with unscented facial wipes

Daily cleansing facial wipes.

It’s always best to cleanse your face before applying makeup, but it’s especially important when you’re camping.

You don’t want to apply makeup on top of dirt, sweat, and sunscreen, do you?

I like to use unscented facial wipes because they’re easy to pack and they don’t require water to use.

The reason I recommend unscented is that they’re less likely to attract bears.

Yes, bears can be attracted to scented cosmetic products, so keep that in mind!

I’m a big fan of Neutrogena’s fragrance-free daily facial cleansing toilettes, which also acts as a makeup remover.

This is great, because it means you can use it at the end of the day to remove your makeup and clean your face all at the same time. Super convenient!

The only downside to using them is that they create extra waste that you’ll have to pack out with you.

Always remember to leave no trace!

2. Bring makeup products that are easy to use and hassle-free

A collection of makeup products.

In terms of products, you want to bring the least finicky ones that are easy to use and don’t make a mess.

So, for example, bringing an eyeliner pencil with a smudger on the end of it is a better option than liquid eyeliner because it’s easier to use when you don’t have a steady hand or surface to work on.

Same goes for foundation if you plan on using it. I’d opt for a mineral powder foundation over a liquid one because it’s less likely to make your face greasy and oily if you happen to sweat.

Something like BareMinerals Original Foundation along with BareMineral Original Mineral Veil Pressed Setting Powder would be a good choice.

3. Use BB cream or CC cream depending on your personal preference and skin type

BB cream

Speaking of foundation, I personally prefer using a BB (beauty balm) cream or CC (colour correcting) cream while camping because they’re multipurpose products that help even out skin tone, cover up blemishes, hydrate skin, and protect skin from the sun—without feeling heavy or cakey.

All of that in one little tube! I don’t know about you, but that’s a win for convenience and versatility in my book.

In general, BB cream is great for:

  • Offering sheer coverage with a light finish for a “no makeup” look
  • Concealing small blemishes
  • Moisturizing dry skin
  • Protecting skin from the sun

My go-to BB cream is Maybelline Dream Fresh, which acts as an amazing light coverage foundation with SPF 30.

On the other hand, CC cream is ideal for:

  • Evening out skin tone including redness, under eye circles, discolouration, and more
  • Minimizing signs of aging (fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots)
  • Reducing the appearance of pores
  • Providing sun protection

I use BB cream more often because of my skin type, but as far as CC cream goes, I’ve had great results from Andalous Naturals 1,000 Roses, which offers sheer nude coverage with SPF 30.

Note that if you have oily or acne-prone skin, you might want to stick with CC cream, which is specifically designed to control shine.

4. Consider waterproof mascara

A woman applying mascara.

I’m personally not a fan of waterproof mascara while camping because it’s a lot harder to take off with just a makeup remover wipe, but if you plan on camping in high heat or want to go swimming without having black makeup run down your face, it could be a good option.

I’ve been a loyal user of L’Oreal Paris Telescopic mascara for years (both for regular and waterproof mascara) and I’ve never found another drugstore mascara that’s anywhere near as good.

5. If you must wear eyeshadow, keep it simple

A nude eyeshadow palette.

And by simple, I mean no more than:

  • A nude or light-coloured base eyeshadow all over your lid
  • A slightly darker colour in the crease, and
  • A light sparkly colour along your brow bone

If you want to get a little bit more adventurous, you could also bring a bright colour to use as an accent, like a teal or purple, but I think that’s about as far as you should go.

The last thing you want is for your eyeshadow to crease or fade over the course of the day.

To avoid this, I recommend using an eyeshadow primer — I like Too Faced’s Shadow Insurance—along with natural looking eyeshadow, like the Nyx Professional Makeup Waterprooof Ultimate Shadow Palette in warm nude.

If you want to go even simpler than that, which I often do, I recommend just going for one natural eyeshadow and making sure it’s designed for long wear—so you don’t necessarily need to bring or apply primer.

I’m personally a big fan of Revlon’s ColorStay Crème eyeshadow, which I find stays in place all day long and has a beautiful shimmer to it.

6. Apply a tinted lip balm with SPF

A woman applying lip balm in the woods.

When you spend more time outdoors, your lips can really take a beating from all that sun and wind.

To prevent them from getting dry, cracked, and potentially sunburned, go for a moisturizing lip balm with SPF 15 or higher.

There are many on the market that are tinted in various colours so you can choose one to suit your skin tone and style.

I’m absolutely in love with TiZo Tinted Lip Protection with SPF 45. It’s extremely moisturizing with one of the highest SPF ratings you can find—and the colour is absolutely gorgeous.

7. Reapply SPF throughout the day

A woman spraying SPF onto her face.

Even though your BB or CC cream has SPF in it, it’s good practice to reapply sunscreen every couple of hours or so—especially if you’re sweating or swimming.

I’m currently using HydroPeptide Solar Defense (SPF 50), which is a light moisturizer that comes in spray form. I absolutely love it because you can apply it both under and over your makeup without any sheen or smudging.

I also tend to suffer from drier skin while camping due to being more exposed to the elements, so the moisturizing effect is ideal for me. If your skin is more oily or acne-prone, you may want to a product without the moisturizing effect, like JM Solution Marine Luminous Pearl Sun Protection Spray (SPF 50), which sprays on in a fine mist and doesn’t leave a greasy coating on your face.

Note: Just because it’s cloudy doesn’t mean you don’t need sunscreen!

Cloud cover only blocks out about 20% of the sun’s harmful rays, so you can still get sunburned on a cloudy day.

Follow these camping beauty tips to keep it simple while looking your best

Everything is harder when you go camping. That means it’s essential to simplify as much as possible.

On certain backcountry trips that require a lot of travel, time restraints, and challenging aspects, I tend to scrap my makeup routine altogether and just focus on cleansing and protecting my skin.

Sometimes I just can’t be bothered. Facial wipes, moisturizer, SPF, and lip balm are all bring—and even using these can feel like a big chore at times.

Whatever you do, don’t go overboard and bring more than you think you need. Be realistic about how much effort you want to put into your beauty routine and scale it down as much as you can.

Trust me on this. The point of camping isn’t to focus on your appearance—it’s to let loose, have fun, and reconnect with the natural world.

We hopes these beauty tips helped. Now get out there and have fun! Nature awaits!

Camping beauty FAQs

How can I look pretty when camping?

My advice would be to avoid overly glam makeup looks and go for a natural look. You may look gorgeous when you’re all glammed up, but chances are your smokey eye will have faded and your fake eyelashes will be falling off by the end of the day on a camping trip.

A natural look, on the other hand, is easier, will withstand the elements better, and will last much longer.

I like to stick to the basics:

  • BB (or CC) cream
  • Mascara
  • Tinted lip balm with SPF

You can of course play around with other low maintenance products like a nude eyeshadow, eyebrow pencil, or eyeliner pencil, but that’s entirely up to you.

Camping is all about enjoying and embracing nature. What better way to do that than by highlighting your natural beauty with just a few simple products?

Can I use dry shampoo in my hair while camping?

Yes, absolutely! Dry shampoo is a great way to freshen up your hair on a daily basis without having to wash it.

My only recommendation would be to go with a hair or shampoo brand that’s as natural as possible (in case you go swimming and it washes out) and unscented to prevent attracting bears.

Act+Acre Plant-Based Dry Shampoo is made with just six plant-based ingredients to help absorb oil and boost volume. It’s also unscented and perfect for all hair types and colours!

Can I wear makeup while hiking?

Of course! But again, keep it simple and stick to the basics.

Depending on the weather you’ll be hiking in, your skin and face could be exposed to all sorts of things including sun, wind, and rain. If it’s warm out and you’re working hard, expect to sweat too.

Your BB or CC cream, mascara, and tinted lip balm with SPF should be enough to keep you feeling confident in case you decide to snap a selfie, but be sure to bring extra SPF to reapply if you plan to be hiking for a while.

How do you prevent acne when camping?

You can expect to get dirtier and sweatier when camping, which isn’t ideal for oily or acne-prone skin.

You may want to avoid foundation and go with an oil-free CC cream for a mattifying effect. Many are also formulated with acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid, tea tree oil, or colloidal clay.

When applying makeup products or SPF, make sure that your hands are clean first.

Other than that, be sure to cleanse your face in the morning and night with cleansing wipes or your choice of skincare cleanser and clean, filtered water (which may or may not require boiling your water first). If you want, you can apply an acne treatment (like jojoba oil or benzoyl peroxide) to problem areas overnight to help control breakouts.

Can I go camping if I’m on my period?

It takes a little more planning, but you certainly can! Check out our guide to how to camp when you’re on your period to find out how.

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Elise & Ross

We’re Elise and Ross, avid backcountry campers and outdoor adventurers! We started Gone Camping Again as a way to share our knowledge and experience about wilderness living and travel. Our hope is that we inspire you to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer!

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