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Travelling the world with REN and DAY Birger et Mikkelsen

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Even if you’re not able to travel First Class, there is no reason not to travel in First Class style. Taking along a finely-tuned edit of wonderful products to make the journey more comfortable is something any savvy traveller can do. We all know the difference a touch of cashmere and a little skincare treat can make amidst the recycled air and synthetic upholstery.

Curating what works for you is an art honed by the frequent flyer, but if you’re short on time British skincare brand REN and Danish fashion brand DAY Birger et Mikkelsen have done the hard work for you with a limited edition travel kit made up of eight products in a cool little wash bag (RRP £35).

REN Skincare, founded in the UK in 2000, is an award-winning, well-respected company which prides itself on its 100% plant and mineral derived ‘clean’ skincare formulations. Its products contain no parabens, sulphates, mineral oil, petrolatum, synthetic fragrance, synthetic colours or silicones.

It was perhaps inevitable that DAY Birger et Mikkelsen would do a travel collab: Keld Mikkelsen, founder of the fashion brand, created the label in 1997 based around the vision of a ‘chic silhouette’ combined with details ‘inspired from his world travels’.

Aside from the fact that both brands like capital letters in their names they have found more common ground with this covetable collection.

In a chic shade of sea green with faux-leather trim and a woven label the wash bag is just the size to be popped into your hand luggage. None of the products exceed 50ml so come in well under the 100ml cabin limit and the whole eight product haul will fit into one of those plastic security bags. Just the thing for a mini break or business trip when you don’t want to take up any precious time hanging around the carousel.

I do find that although this kind of travel size bottle looks tiny, they do usually contain enough product, heaven knows how, for at least a week and often considerably longer.

With a work trip to Paris in the diary I decided to take my REN pouch along.

Looking through my mini REN collection, I selected the Evercalm Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask and Vita Mineral Lip Balm to use on the plane. I cannot board a flight without a lip balm (even going to the corner shop the panic starts to rise if I realise I’ve not got one stashed in my bag) what with the dehydrating air, the change in climate on arrival, the flick-flack from air-conditioning to central heating, it is an absolute essential in my travel kit.

From the hydrating, replenishing Vita Mineral range, this Lip Balm feels ultra-rich and comes in a tube with a little hole through which you squeeze the product, using the sloped tip of the tube to apply the balm directly to the lips. This is by far the best lip balm packaging for travel in my opinion as (a) it takes away the need to use your fingers, which may not always be 100% clean and which then end up sticky and (b) prevents the melted disaster which can ensue with the twist-up bullet style which, in my bag, always seems to have a knack of propelling itself into its lid thereby becoming squished and unusable. The richness of the Balm means a tiny dot of product goes a long way too.

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Time spent staring at a seat back is time that is well spent on a treatment. I am super self-conscious and would not be able to sit in a sheet mask without feeling totally exposed (unless I was in the privacy of First Class, possibly) but the unobtrusive Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask isn’t going to turn any heads (in a good way).

Evercalm, REN’s range for sensitive skin, claims to be able to ‘train skin to be less sensitive’ and protects against environmental aggressors and pollution. All good news in the definitely skin-unfriendly environment of an airline cabin. My tip: Board with clean, make-up free skin so you are ready to apply the mask during the flight. This is a Mask that doesn’t look like a mask. In other words, a stealth mask: It goes on like a moisturiser, there is no visible product covering your face advertising to your fellow passengers that you’re indulging in a bit of narcissistic self-improvement. It feels very nourishing and almost like it’s cushioning the skin. The directions advise leaving it on for ten to 15 minutes but I think it is gentle enough to be left for longer. After that you wipe away any excess which you can do from your seat and then before landing wash your face in your usual way and apply make-up as you wish. It left my skin glowy and plumped up, definitely a bonus for that all-important ‘emerging into arrivals’ look.

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The Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk comes in a generous 25ml tube, definitely enough to last a holiday. I worried on my initial application as it is more scented than my usual cleanser, something which is usually a red flag for my sensitive skin but I needn’t have worried. It is as gentle as its name suggests, feels lovely and not only soothes but also seems to smooth as it goes on. Fennel Seed Extract, Omega 3 and 7 and Calendula Oil work to calm and minimise signs of irritation. After massaging into the skin, you rinse off with warm water and it left my skin feeling calm and, yes, definitely smoother.

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Vita Mineral Daily Supplement Moisturising Cream with ‘powerful’ antioxidants, trace elements and vitamins to protect and energise the skin is light enough not to over-load the complexion but emollient enough to feel thoroughly moisturising. It has a pleasantly floral but not overpowering fragrance and again left my skin feeling smoother while definitely adding that much-needed radiant glow. Who doesn’t love a little radiant glow in a bottle? According to REN this moisturiser is popular with men and women alike and in fact that is an important point for the whole of this collection: It is totally gender-neutral and suitable for all.

Once installed in my hotel room in Paris (oh, it’s a hard job) I unpacked the shower elements of the collection. The Neroli and Grapefruit Body Wash has a gorgeous scent formulated from neroli oil distilled from Tunisian Orange Blossom and cold pressed grapefruit oil. Just the thing to perk you up after a journey and, just to labour the point, the subtle scent is not overtly feminine so most definitely suitable for anyone and everyone. Light and refreshing, you will not be surprised to learn that it is kind to even sensitive skin. The Neroli and Grapefruit Body Cream, to slather on post-shower, is a welcome addition to the range as going away is often the only time I actually have time to treat limbs to a matching body cream, massaging in the hydrating, silky cream and enjoying the layering of the fragrance and the effect of softened skin. It is amazing what a difference the application of a bit of body cream can have: The combined benefits of added hydration and the boost your circulation gets from you massaging the cream in makes for an instant improvement in appearance. 

There are two major selling points to this REN x DAY Birger et Mikkelsen set. One is how stylish it is and the other is that (aside from make-up) you really have everything you need in one small bag. It is so handy to be able to simply pick this up and throw it into your luggage knowing you are all set. Works hard, looks good – what more do you need?

NB It’s a truth universally acknowledged that everyone loves getting a little extra present and in this case, the wash bag comes in its own attractive and very handy cotton drawstring bag, perfect to double as a small laundry or shoe bag on your travels.

Available at UK World Duty Free stores 

Clare Austin
written by: Clare Austin
With a background in fashion and beauty journalism for magazines such as Elle and Harper’s Bazaar Clare is a beauty enthusiast whose pulse quickens whenever a new product hits the shelves.