When she models for makeup artist Pat McGrath, and the brands H&M and Nike, Paloma Elsesser constantly zips across the world. It’s a specific form of work travel, one where airline food and sleepless nights don’t cut it. Her job, after all, is to arrive looking fresh and ready to be photographed. Luckily, she’s got a slew of tips (and beauty products!) to help her look and feel her best—something that she finds extra important because she’s often traveling alone. No surprise, either, that self-care is in her arsenal of tricks, as a plus-size model and inspiration to young women everywhere. Here, she talks about her travel uniform, her favorite hotel, and what’s in her Glossier pouch.
I don’t like being underprepared. That’s not my vibe.
“I am a chronic overpacker. But nobody’s waiting for a checked bag, which makes travel take so much longer—on top of customs, on top of passport control. So I fall into a hole of not wanting to check a bag, but also of being able to bring extra, which is how I like to pack and travel. I don’t like being underprepared. That’s not my vibe. I generally pack in outfits, so maybe I’ll bring a few solid pants, but then a bunch of different T-shirts and crop tops and things like that. The strategy is to roll things like a little burrito, not fold them. I always bring too many shoes, but I put sunglass cases inside my shoes, with my sunglasses and jewelry inside.”
Silk pajamas are good because they’re warm, but light enough for when you land in hot climates.
“I have sets of silk pajamas that can be worn during the day, too. I have a set from Sleepy Jones, some that I got off Asos, and some from Supreme. Silk pajamas are good because they’re warm, but light enough for when you land in hot climates. I’ll wear the pajamas and a little tank top underneath, and then when I get off the plane, I’ll wrap the pajama top around my waist. I usually wear Vans to the airport because they’re easy to take on and off.”
I always go into Duty Free and slap on weird stuff—even though I shouldn’t.
“I go absolutely no-makeup on the plane. I kind of am a freak—I wear sheet masks during the flight. Before I leave for the airport, I do a full routine to get my skin prepped—a good scrub, exfoliation, and then use Biologique Recherché Lotion p50 and a good moisturizer. I always go into Duty Free and slap on weird stuff, even though I shouldn’t. The most important element of traveling is moisture. Greasy in life could be potentially problematic, but greasy on a plane is fine. I love Embryolisse, a French moisturizer that’s pretty heavy, and I love the smell—I’ll dab that on throughout the trip. If I have a breakout or some kind of moisture issue, I’ll use some kind of sheet mask. They’re great for travel because you don’t need to wash them off—you just plop them on and then peel them off and rub the leftover into your skin. I like the Sephora ones, or the Dr. Jart+ Water Replenishment Cotton Sheet Mask. I also really love the Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Pure Luxury Lift & Firm Hydra-Gel Eye Patches—they’re really good for early call times.”
I always watch the most weird, strange, depressing movie.
“You’re so vulnerable on a plane, and I always do this—watch the most weird, strange, depressing movie. When I was coming back from Morocco, I was like ‘oh I love Marion Cotillard, so I’m going to watch Allied’—I was hysterical! So I’m wearing a full sheet mask, a scarf because I get cold, a neck pillow, and I’m watching a weird movie and crying. That’s my m.o. That’s my look.”
I just pretty much implant it in my head to be in the moment.
“I don’t struggle with jet lag. When I’m traveling I struggle with going to sleep, which is when melatonin comes in to play. But I’m not lolling about the city, like ‘I’m so tired.’ I just pretty much implant it in my head to be in the moment. If you’re at dinner—even if it’s 4 a.m. back home—just be at dinner.”
The robe is Frette, but I didn’t buy it brand new.
“I am an unpacker. I go on a lot of trips by myself, and the little stuff makes me feel more at home. I have a little Dyptique tuberose travel candle that I bring with me, and bringing a robe is super nice, if I remember to. I brought it on a trip once as a beach accessory, but then I just started using it, like when I got out of the shower. When you’re just chilling, it’s nice. (The robe is Frette, but I didn’t buy it brand new—I’m not that bougie. I randomly thrifted it, but it is Frette.) I don’t like to make a mess of hotel rooms or spaces either. You feel grounded if you unpack. If you maintain a space nicely then you’re like, ‘oh, it’s nice to be here,’ and not like, ‘I’m in this weird, sterile environment’—because you’re not always staying in nice hotels, or at least I’m not.”
I like the Chateau Marmont, too, but only to hang out.
“My favorite hotel in the whole world is the Hôtel Saint Marc in Paris. It is so fucking cool, the décor is stunning, and there are not that many rooms. The Soho Beach House in Miami is really nice, and I love Shoreditch House in London. In L.A., I like the Petit Ermitage, and the Sunset Tower. I like the Chateau Marmont, too, but only to hang out.”
- 1Buly 1803 toothbrush, $40
- 2Biologique Recherché Lotion p50, $62 (5.1 oz)
- 3Calvin Klein scarf, $20
- 4Diptyque tubereuse travel candle, $34
- 5Frette robe, $450
- 6Dr. Jart+ Water Replenishment Cotton Sheet Mask, $7.50
- 7Korres Jasmine Body Butter, $10 (1.69 oz)
- 8Smith’s Rosebud Salve, $6
- 9Sleepy Jones silk pajamas, $376
- 10Vans Slip-On shoes, $50