If I'm On My Bike, I'm Carrying This Tiny, Jam-Packed Personal-Care Kit

Beauty essentials look a little different when you're a bike courier.
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Ali
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Beauty essentials look a little different when you're a bike courier.

I spend a lot of time fantasizing about owning a large vanity table, the kind you see in fancy magazines about Tuscany home restorations. We’re talking long enough to nap/party on, with tons of natural light, complete with a large, ornate mirror that compliments me and tells me the hourly weather for the day. I could spend hours sitting there just drinking tea and skyping my girlfriends (via ornate mirror, bien sur) and petting my cat.

The truth of the matter is that I don’t have a vanity table and probably could never use it if I had one. I sometimes moonlight as a bike courier, which means that I am being exposed to whatever flavor of the day the weather gods are sipping on, carrying 20 pounds of salad/carpet samples/personalized pens in my messenger bag, and probably rocking more bike grease on my leg than my actual chain.

The best beauty tip that #messlife has taught me is how to be brutally practical with regard to my makeup bag. I can’t be carrying what other girls consider “beauty essentials” with other messengers comparing weight differences between already lightly padded fi’zi:k saddles.

My tiny bike beauty kit vs. my giant delivery bag.

My tiny bike beauty kit vs. my giant delivery bag.

To begin, I pack everything into a small LunchSkins2, a 3x6 in reusable lunch bag that I’ve repurposed as a beauty bag. I like it because it’s cute as hell, opaque, water resistant, washable, sturdy, and velcro sealed.

What can you actually fit inside a bag that small? Turns out, it holds everything I need!

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One clean, folded tissue: Something folks don’t realize is that bike couriers don’t have a dedicated work space. In between deliveries, we hang out in alleys, in random lobbies, under bridges, etc. We definitely do not have a private bathroom. The first thing you learn on the job is where to go when nature calls, more specifically, the keycode to every bathroom with a friendly doorman in the area. And if you’re lucky/friendly enough to con your way into a bathroom, there’s no guarantee that the stall you just entered has TP, hence the tissue.

Two lady pads: Aunt Flo waits for no man, and like Joseph Gordon Levitt, SHE CAN’T STOP AND DON’T WANT TO EITHER.

One Advanced Healing Blister Band-Aid: No matter how fast or experienced you are, you will fall and scrape yourself. I am a total wuss about having leg scars and this is by far the best Band-Aid I’ve encountered for preventing them. Next time I fall off my bike, I promise to document how these babies work, because lemme tell you, they werk.

One contact lens case: I wash out and reuse old contact lens cases as containers. Perfect for holding liquids or creams, mine holds SPF moisturizer in one cup and BB cream in the other. I need to reapply SPF a few times per shift, so always having a tiny portion on hand is convenient.

Two teensy 2mL glass vials: I picked up two vials from American Science Surplus one day while on a fun bike ride and discovered that they were perfect for holding tiny amounts of liquid! You can use the vials to hold serums, but I carry two filled with jojoba and castor oil respectively. Jojoba moisturizes any rough patches of skin I may have, and castor oil removes makeup.

One zinc lozenge: Like most sane people, I hate hate hate having a cold. I’ve had lots of success warding off colds with zinc lozenges, so I carry one around with me and take it as soon as I feel the tell-tale tickle in the back of my throat.

One Altoids tin: I’m not very kind to my messenger bag. It gets thrown around, dropped on the floor, trampled by hordes of kittens, etc. So I protect the two aforementioned glass vials of oil and the zinc lozenge by tucking them into this Altoids tin. It’s the perfect size for anything else delicate that you don’t want smooshed.

One gray eyeliner: A lot of things can happen in a day to ruin my makeup. Sometimes I accidentally rub off the tail of my cat eye along with the sweat on my temples. Or I’ll bike past a construction zone and get grit in my eyes. Maybe my helmet falls just a hint too low and rubs my eyebrows. I like to carry a waterproof eyeliner in a neutral color for when I need to touch up eye makeup or brows.

One clean mascara spoolie: For brushing out brows, or applying castor oil to my eyelashes for a hint of gloss. I wash it after every use and replace it every couple weeks, because even thinking about eye infections gives me the heeb-jeebs.

One tube of theBalm Stainiac in Beauty Queen: The color complements my skin when I’m flushed, and I rarely need to reapply midday even if I’m sweating like a hog. A flushed, beauty queen hog.

One repurposed plastic vial: I am allergic to rude drivers who cut me off in traffic and also rude bikers who don’t use hand signals, and sometimes my allergies take over and I turn bright green and grow five times my usual size and I wanna HULK-RAGE their collective rude asses. These pillz stop the HULK-RAGE in its tracks and fit conveniently into this plastic vial (I think from buying neodymium magnets off Amazon?). It’s smaller than other pill containers I’ve seen and easy to spot because it’s bright red.

One tube of SPF lip balm: For lips but also for tattoos! I’m all about multi purpose products, and Kevin gave the OK to use any SPF rated balm product for tattoo protection. I am vain and want my tats to stay sharp and colored for ever and ever.

One tube of lippy: By now my bag is pretty full, but there’s usually room to squeeze in a lipstick for touchups throughout the day.

Hair pins: I don’t use bobby pins much now that I have long hair, but it’s nice to have them for other girlfriends too.

The contents of my beauty bag change to reflect whatever I am wearing, but these are the stalwart basics to keep me looking fresh after a long day of biking. I’ve also taken this bag on overnights and camping trips, as well as my other job where I sit at a desk all day.

My favorite part about LunchSkins2 is that you get a second bag, perfect for holding snacks to fuel your cycling habit!)

My favorite part about LunchSkins2 is that you get a second bag, perfect for holding snacks to fuel your cycling habit!)