Photographer, filmmaker, and writer Margaret Zhang is forever on the move. VIOLET GREY catches up with the multihyphenate millennial just long enough to upgrade her in-flight routine.
With the holiday season behind us—a flurry of packed airports and family-bound travelers— there’s no better time to pack your bags and escape somewhere entirely for yourself. For Margaret Zhang—a multihyphenate millennial who began her career with a fashion blog at age 16—hopping a flight is just another day in the life. “I’m on a plane every two weeks on average and about three quarters of those are longer than ten hours,” says Zhang, who primarily splits her time between New York and Shanghai when she’s not jetting around the world for work.
“Half of my products are always in my suitcase and the rest live in my medicine cabinet in New York,” she explains of her beauty arsenal. “Because I travel so much, there are always so many variables—climate, pollution, water hardness, etc.—[that impact] what is actually effective on my skin. I wouldn’t say I swear by my routine, but I know what hasn’t worked for me in the past. It’s a bit of a process of elimination.”
Since Zhang, who recently released two short films (I’ve Been Thinking About What You Look Like and How Do You Like Your Eggs?) and is currently working on her first feature film, isn’t wedded to anything in her regime, VIOLET GREY decided to step in and streamline her in-flight essentials. The only requirements for this assignment: Every product must be quick, easy, and effective. “Anything that winds up being more than 20-30 minutes gets on my nerves,” says Zhang. “I hate having to wash my face too many times.” Here, eight TSA-friendly finds guaranteed to leave any frequent flyer looking refreshed.
new travel must-haves
One thing that hasn’t held up on the fly is face wash. “I’ve had too many cleansers confiscated at security or explode in my bag,” says Zhang. She’s since resorted to a stick cleanser to avoid spillage, but these gentle cloths infused with nourishing botanicals and mineral-rich water from Japanese hot springs are just as easy to take on the go. In addition to removing makeup and airplane grime without any harsh scrubbing, these wipes contain white birch sap, as well as lavender, rosemary, sage, and ginger root extracts to help condition skin at 30,000 feet.
“I shift to more oil-based products during New York’s dry winters and more water-based products in humid places,” says Zhang who switches up her skin care routine depending on where she is in the world. One thing that remains a constant on the road: Augustinus Bader. This set from the cult-favorite brand covers all the bases with two equally effective face savers: The Cream, a lightweight hydrator, and The Rich Cream for more intense moisture. Both formulas feature the company’s high-tech Trigger Factor Complex that jumpstarts skin’s innate renewal process.
Zhang’s biggest skin insecurity is the inflammation that flares up around her nose and cheeks after a flight or a vigorous workout. This botanical-based cream neutralizes redness, calms, and is clinically proven to reduce the appearance of flushing and blushing. Plus, it helps strengthen the skin’s natural barrier function to prevent future irritation from happening in the first place.
Already a fan of the brand’s Rose Gold Facial Treatment Mask, Zhang is sure to fall in love with this concentrated treatment that delivers the same glow-boosting benefits in seconds. Packed with skin-plumping hyaluronic acid, brightening niacinamide, antioxidant-rich Damask rose extract, and 24k-karat gold particles, this ultra-luxe serum instantly illuminates dry, tired skin.
Forget the dim airplane bathroom. Thanks to this portable magnifying mirror bordered by LEDs, Zhang will always be able to find her light. Three stages of dimming allows her to customize the level of brightness, while a retractable finger ring makes for hassle-free makeup touchups before touchdown.
Already a core product in Zhang’s nightly routine, this moisturizing elixir made with fresh camellia petals keeps color-treated hair soft and shiny. The travel-friendly bottle also makes it easy to add a few drops to parched strands throughout the flight.
“I wash my hair once a week to avoid breakage because my hair often snaps off when it’s wet,” says Zhang. To keep her color vibrant between sessions with New York-based colorist Aura Friedman or Paloma Rose Garcia’s team in Sydney, Zhang mixes Evo Fabuloso Blue with Olaplex once every two weeks. For added strength, she can use this pre-shampoo treatment from the same brand that works on a molecular level to restore bonds broken by chemical, thermal, and mechanical damage. And at 3.3 fl. oz., it’s just small enough to slide past the TSA.
Asked how she hauls her beauty products on the go, Zhang candidly answered: “In a hotel laundry bag that just gets thrown in and out of suitcases.” VIOLET GREY is happy to offer an ultra-chic upgrade. For us, this sleek and shiny case is the only acceptable place to house VIOLET CODE-approved essentials.