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Beauty Essentials for Gross Bus Rides

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I love airports — always have. And I love getting dressed up to go to them. Blame the celeb airport style paparazzi culture for infecting me with such an impractical penchant if you wish, but travel is always exciting to me, and always feels a little glamorous. Plus, I want to look my best when I get where I'm going. 

However, there is truly nothing glamorous about a bus ride. And if you've been in NYC's Port Authority bus terminal, you'll understand that I don't even really want to wear my "good shoes" there. So writer Alicia McElhaney went on a mission to find out if a little extra beauty prep could help bus rides suck less for all of us. 

And next, the eternally funny Rebecca Jennings on a very underappreciated look: the fancy little bitch aesthetic. If Samantha was your favorite American Girl doll, this is for you. —Stephanie Talmadge, social media editor

Travel Beauty Essentials for the Megabus
Insert alt text here
Story by Alicia McElhaney

We, as a culture, are obsessed with looking and feeling good on airplanes. A surplus of stories on how to keep your skin from drying out mid-flight and what celebrities wear when they fly have all led to a complete oversaturation of airplane-specific content. And that’s okay: I personally love knowing how Gwyneth Paltrow functions at cruising altitude and what Kim Kardashian puts on her body to glide through LAX.

But as a broke girl living in New York with a significant other in Washington, D.C., I find myself on a Megabus far more often than an Airbus A320. As a result, my search history is rife with terms like “Megabus beauty” and “how to survive the Megabus” and “luxurious Megabus travel.” Perhaps not surprisingly, none of these stories actually exist.

Where is the Glamour article on how to best layer for the bus? Or the Allure feature on the best in-transit masks to scare away potential seatmates? There’s not even an #ITGTopShelfie for bus beauty! Disappointed, I set out to curate my own positive Megabus experience (while simultaneously writing the internet’s first-ever post on Megabus Beauty Essentials).

To prep for my most recent trip, I aggregated air travel tips from Oprah and Gwyneth, because the things that suck about airplanes also suck about the Megabus — mainly, the cramped quarters, gross circulated air, and lack of running water.

Then, I packed like I’ve never packed before and lugged a Madewell tote stocked with beauty products, snacks, and a bottle of Smartwater to the New York Megabus stop in hopes of having the best trip of my life.

I knew from experience that Megabuses err on the side of freezing, so I wore a loose Gap T-shirt and an Old Navy cardigan, along with a pair of Lululemon leggings, socks, and Adidas tennis shoes — the finest athleisure for the four-plus hour ride. I also packed my favorite scarf from a trip to Chile (do I sound like a jetsetter yet?) in hopes of warding off the Megabus’s signature chill.

I took off my makeup from the day using an Acure Organics Coconut + Argan Oil Cleansing Towelette, which come in travel-sized packs. I spread some rose-scented Glossier Balm Dotcom on my lips and cuticles and some R & Co. Badlands Dry Shampoo Paste through my bangs. This dry shampoo in particular is especially convenient for bus travel because you don’t have to disturb other passengers with a spray.

I also rubbed a little bit of lavender oil on my wrists and temples to relax (and to cover up the scent of the egg salad the person behind me was eating). After that, I put on a sheet mask. Weird looks aside, it wasn’t successful in scaring away other passengers. There are more frightening things on the Megabus than a sheet mask.

There are more frightening things on the Megabus than a sheet mask.

But even with all that prep, I still felt like shit when we pulled into Union Station. My skin was greasy, I smelled like egg salad, and my muscles ached from the small seat. I was defeated. How could this have gone awry given all the money I spent at Birchbox?

Maybe there’s a reason there are so few articles on luxury bus travel. The cramped seats, the other passengers, and the constant delays actually make it physically impossible to enjoy a trip by bus. I turned this over in my mind during my weekend trip, and when I boarded the bus on Sunday, I figured it had to be true.

(That is, until I saw two women a few rows back clinking portable plastic cups filled with red wine. It was then that I promised myself to continue my quest for a luxurious Megabus trip — just this time, with a thermos of pinot noir instead of a bag full of “beauty essentials.”)

So what is actually worth bringing on the Megabus? I find that the circulated air actually does dry my skin out, but it’s often easier and less messy just to use a sheet mask as a remedy once I’ve reached my destination. Removing makeup doesn’t change much, though those wipes are nice to have handy regardless, because the Megabus is gross.

I do recommend bringing along the dry shampoo paste for after the ride, too. Other, more practical accoutrements worth considering are a gel eye mask (available at most drugstores) and noise-cancelling headphones.

These things, while nice to have, likely won’t transform your Megabus seat into a first class flight, as much as you wish they did. But then again, the same goes for most travel. No amount of content from Goop or Allure or Into The Gloss or any other lifestyle site touting luxurious travel can make being up in the air or on the road any easier. Though there exists a complete empire of beauty ritual-related travel content, it’s likely that much of it won’t change a thing.

In Praise of the Little Fancy Bitch Aesthetic
Samantha dolls.

In ninth grade, my English teacher read us The Destructors by Graham Greene. In it, two very bad teenage boys do something bad. I can’t remember what it was (bad), but I do remember that the overall takeaway of the story was that they were bad, very bad, and when you leave here and go out into the world, do not be like them, which is bad.

The teacher then asked us to raise our hands if we had any sympathy for these, indeed, truly terrible characters. From the very front row of the classroom, I raised mine immediately, and it wasn’t until I turned around that I realized I’d been the only one to do so. I sheepishly lowered my hand and the teacher grimaced as if to say, “I look forward to reading about your future murder trial.” Everyone laughed, and then he changed the subject.

This was not the first time I realized I was more interested in terrible people than good ones, at least when it comes to stories. I love a villain, and over the years, I’ve developed a particular soft spot for a certain kind.

Veruca Salt. Muffy Crosswire. Lavinia in A Little Princess. Angelica Pickles. These are the characters little girls are told, over and over again, not to emulate. You can be anything, the world says, but definitely don’t be that.

Here is a very short quiz to help you determine whether a character is going to be one of these: Look at her collar. Is it loose, dirty, or not even worth describing at all? If so, she’s a sympathetic character who will probably accomplish some kind of impressive and noble feat before the story’s end.

But is her collar frilly, high-necked, brightly colored, and/or heavily accessorized? Congratulations! You’ve found the character on whom the writer has projected his or her own fears about femininity and materialism — or as I call her, the Little Fancy Bitch.

That is a term of endearment, by the way, because I believe this trope to be woefully misunderstood. The funny thing about the Little Fancy Bitch is that often she isn’t really a villain at all — most of the time, she’s actually a friend or acquaintance of the protagonist, written into the story solely to show how cool and chill said protagonist is. But to me, she just illustrates how overrated being cool and chill is.

Keep reading and see how to get the little fancy bitch look here >>
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