15 Beauty Hacks I’ve Learned While Living the Van Life

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Just because you’re living this wonderful thing called vanlife, doesn’t mean you have to put your beauty standards aside. As a female Van Lifer that’s always on the go, I’ve picked up a ton of easy beauty hacks that can make a big difference when you’re always on the road.

But, I totally get it – as a chronic traveler, it can be hard to find the time to take care of all those skin & hair routines. This is why I’ve created a list of my favorite beauty hacks that are super quick & easy to do on the road and totally budget-friendly.

These hacks are perfect for women who are active, always out and about, and who love using natural products. If this sounds like you, see my top 15 beauty hacks below!

Full Disclaimer: I’m Caucasian, so most of these tips have a Caucasian bent. But lots of these beauty hacks (like coconut oil and silk pillowcase) are good for all kinds of ethnic hair!


Over the years, I’ve learned that you can use coconut oil for literally anything and everything. Coconut oil is a super healthy alternative to most other cooking oils. So, when it comes to cooking, it’s definitely the better choice for your overall health.

Additionally, coconut oil can be used on the hair and skin to replenish and moisturize, to soften the cuticles, and to prevent razor bumps after shaving. Oh, and if you’re traveling with your significant other, coconut oil is also a great and totally natural lube. My favorite brand of coconut oil to use is Lou Ana non-hydrogenated coconut oil. And yes, I use it to cook and to moisturize.

  • Time required: >5 minutes
  • Cost: $5
  • Best for cooking, skincare, hair care, nail care, and moisturization


Okay – this might sound a little gross, but hear me out. Mayo contains a plethora of essential oils that can restore damaged hair and leave your locks feeling smooth, silky, and conditioned.
Treating your hair with mayo can also help reduce frizz and prevent those pesky tangles.

To revitalize your dry and damaged hair, grab the closest jar of mayo. Apply (2) tablespoons to the hair and massage in from root to tip. Let it sit for 20 minutes and then shower, shampoo, and condition. Best of all, this method works for most Caucasian and natural ethnic hair!

  • Time required: 20 minutes
  • Cost: $3
  • Best for reducing frizz and revitalizing dry and damaged hair


If you’ve never made an avocado face mask, you totally need to! Avocados contain healthy fats and vitamins that soak into the skin and provide a multitude of benefits. These benefits include preventing acne, moisturizing the skin, and reducing facial inflammation.

To create an avocado face mask, simply mash up ½ of an avocado and apply to the face. Leave for 10 minutes and then rinse and moisturize. For an extra beauty kick, feel free to add a bit of honey, oatmeal, or aloe to your mask. These ingredients can provide an extra boost of moisturization and exfoliation to your mask.

  • Time required: 10 minutes
  • Cost: $2
  • Best for reducing facial inflammation, preventing acne, and moisturization


Turns out, ice isn’t just for keeping your food cold on-the-go. It can also be used to reduce inflammation in and around the face. For those mornings when you wake up with dark circles under your eyes and, especially after those long travel days, grab a couple ice cubes and massage them into your face. Not only does this feel amazing on your skin, but it also promotes lymphatic drainage and blood circulation. Both of which improve skin tone and complexion.

  • Time required: 10 minutes
  • Cost: >$2
  • Best for reducing facial inflammation


Like ice, you can use cucumbers to fight eye puffiness. To quickly get rid of those dark circles and bags under the eyes, cut a few slices of cucumber and place them directly over the eyes. Let the slices sit for 5-10 minutes and remove. And, there’s no need to wash your face afterward. Just allow the cucumber juice to soak in and continue providing its anti-inflammatory benefits.

  • Time required: 10 minutes
  • Cost: >$2
  • Best for reducing facial inflammation.


The key to soft and sexy skin is exfoliation! A great way to exfoliate on-the-go is to simply use your coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are amazing for exfoliating because they don’t dissolve in the shower. This makes for a much better exfoliation experience. Plus, the caffeic acid in coffee grounds has anti-aging properties that can help prevent wrinkles and dark spots. Next time you’re in the shower, grab your coffee grounds and rub them in small circles on your skin. Rinse and repeat 2-3x per week.

  • Time required: 10 minutes
  • Cost: >$2
  • Best for exfoliating the skin and reducing fine lines and wrinkles


For those travel days where you find yourself in-between showers, it’s always a good idea to keep some dry shampoo nearby. Dry shampoos to choose from include powders, sprays, and foams. I’ve found that some powder dry shampoos can leave a white, powdery residue in your hair. And, when it comes to foams, some can actually leave your hair looking even dirtier than before. I find that when I’m traveling full-time, I enjoy using the Original Batiste Dry Shampoo. It smells so nice & fresh and it even comes in a mini travel size perfect for women living vanlife.

  • Time required: 10 minutes
  • Cost: $5-7
  • Best for reducing the look of dirty hair


Did you know that you can lighten and brighten your hair with an all-natural product? Instead of going to a hairdresser or using store-bought products, just throw a little lemon juice on your hair. The acidic properties of lemon juice can noticeably lighten your hair color when exposed to the sun.

Pour (2) tablespoons of lemon juice into a spray bottle and fill the rest with water. Shake well. Then, spray all over your hair and enjoy your day in the sun! Because lemon juice can dry out your hair, be sure to shampoo your hair later that day or the following morning. Repeat 1-2 times per week until you notice a difference in your hair color.

DISCLAIMER: If you already have blonde highlights, you should skip this beauty hack. When blonde highlights are exposed to lemon juice, they can end up turning a more green than blonde color.

  • Time required: 2-3 hours
  • Cost: >$2
  • Best for lightening and brightening hair color


Drinking lemon/lime water is my absolute favorite all-around beauty hack. Adding lemon or lime juice to your water has a plethora of amazing beauty and health benefits. Not to mention, it makes your water taste great. Lemon and lime juice contain a ton of vitamin C, which directly contributes to clear skin and hydration. These juices are also known to aid in digestion, support weight loss, prevent kidney stones, and freshen breath. Depending on your taste, feel free to add as much or as little juice to your water as you like.

  • Time required: 10 minutes
  • Cost: >$2
  • Best for cleansing the body, preventing acne, and promoting healthy digestion


Just like the rest of our body, our lips need to be exfoliated too! In order to maintain soft, sexy, and supple lips, you’ve got to remove all those dead skin particles that lead to dry and chapped lips. The best part is, exfoliating your lips is as simple as brushing them with your toothbrush after brushing your teeth.

Gently exfoliate your lips by moving your toothbrush in small circles over your lips for 20-30 seconds. I try to do this at least 2-3 times per week. After exfoliating, always remember to re-moisturize your lips.

My absolute favorite lip moisturizer is Aquaphor Healing Ointment. Not only is Aquaphor great for dry and chapped lips, it also works wonders on minor scrapes and burns. Plus, it helped me heal my chronic eczema in less than 2 weeks.

  • Time required: 30 seconds
  • Cost: >$1
  • Best for exfoliating and preventing dry and cracked lips


Since I’m always on–the-go, having a quality makeup remover is absolutely essential. Instead of using harsh wipes or cleansers, I recommend removing makeup with micellar water. My favorite brand of micellar water is this Burt’s Bees micellar cleansing water with coconut and lotus water. It’s made with almost 100% natural ingredients and leaves my often dry and sensitive skin feeling clean, fresh, and smooth.

  • Time required: 3 minutes
  • Cost: $5-$7
  • Best for gently cleansing the face and removing makeup


Do you ever wake up with your hair literally matted to the back of your head? This is because you’re using a regular, cotton pillowcase. To prevent bed head, tangles, and hair breakage, always sleep with a silk pillowcase. Many women with tightly curled hair, especially African-American ethnic hair, swear by silk pillowcases to prevent the breakage of natural hair.

  • Time required: N/A
  • Cost: $10-$20
  • Best for reducing bedhead, tangles, and hair breakage.


Like sleeping on a silk pillowcase, sleeping with your hair in a scrunchie can also help prevent breakage, tangles, and that dreaded beadhead. Be sure to leave your scrunchie loosely tied throughout the night. This will prevent the scrunchie from making an indention in your hair the following day.

  • Time required: N/A
  • Cost: $5
  • Best for reducing bedhead, tangles, and hair breakage


Epsom salt has literally been my lifesaver on so many occasions. From sprained ankles to dry and cracked feet, epsom salt works wonders for fighting inflammation and restoring tired and dull skin.

Epsom salt is also a really good exfoliant. And, when consumed, it can help soothe an upset stomach and constipation. I almost always use Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt Soaks. But, any natural and organic epsom salt will do the trick.

  • Time required: 20 minutes
  • Cost: $5
  • Best for exfoliating, reducing inflammation, and healing dry and cracked feet


I love keeping a few small plants in my van. But, the one plant that I absolutely can not live without is my aloe vera. Aloe vera is an amazing cooling agent for burned and sunburned skin as well as an awesome moisturizer for dry & irritated skin. For burn and dry skin relief, apply a liberal amount of aloe to all affected areas of the skin and allow it to soak in.

  • Time required: N/A
  • Cost: $5
  • Best for moisturization and soothing all types of burns

Get ready to live your best and most beautiful #vanlife!

* * *

With these beauty hacks, you can make absolutely sure that your skin and hair are always on point, each and every time you show up at a new destination. And the good news is, all of these hacks are super easy to do right out of your van, RV, or other modified camping vehicle.

As you spend more time on the road, you’ll figure out which hacks work best for you and maybe even create some of your own! Until then, I hope these beauty hacks for women living van life come in handy as you fulfill all your greatest van life adventures.

From one female #vanlifer to another, I wish you the best of luck & the safest travels along your route!

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Samantha is a college student, turned van-lifer, turned full-time digital nomad! She spent most of 2020 exploring the East Coast in her 1988 Volkwagon Weekender before taking off to explore Latin America. Her work includes everything from virtual assisting to blog writing & she enjoys hostel hopping, meeting new people, and diving head first into different cultures. Samantha has lots of experiences to share about what it’s like to be a young, female, digital nomad in the world today!

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