You Asked: Beauty Emergency! What Products Should I Have In The Hospital?

Spending time in hospitals is rough. Here are the supplies you'll need to make the experience suck a little less.
Publish date:
October 21, 2013
moisturizers, advice, hair, lip balms, skin, nails, eye drops, bad times, beauty advice from the future, hospitals

This week’s question comes from ME, because--without putting too fine a point on it, except to say that I am personally OK--last week was one of those weeks that is just a never-ending horrific nightmare.

Dear Future Alle,

I am spending a lot of time in hospitals lately. What are some things I should have with me to stop from shriveling up like an applehead doll?

Love, Present Alle

I am so glad that you asked, Present Self! I am writing this from the future, where I can tell you that everything ends up OK... as well as provide some guidance.

Whether you’re a patient or a loved one of a patient, hospitals are tough. You’re stressed, you’re in an intimidating environment, you’re not feeling great--it straight-up sucks.

Here are some things that you should have with you if you are going to be spending a significant amount of time in a hospital:

Disinfectant wipes. Usually I am not about these, but if you’re in a waiting room, wipe down EVERYTHING. Wipe the chair you’re sitting on, the vending machine buttons, etc. You don’t know who has been touching what, or what they have. Take care to keep yourself healthy.

Lip balm. Now really isn’t the time to worry about lip colour, but hospital air is DRY. You’re not going to feel any better if your lips are all chapped and bleeding. I like Rosebud Salve and Sugar Lip Treatment, because both keep my lips feeling really moisturised and lovely, even when the rest of me is stressed and tired.

A mirror. Sometimes you can’t run all the way to the bathroom to check if you have Snickers between your teeth.

Face wipes. After spending a lot of time in an uncomfortable chair in an ER waiting room, my skin felt HORRIBLE--a gross combination of dried out and sweaty. Yuck. Since obviously full-on washing my face was out, I would have paid lots and lots of money to have a pack of really soothing face wipes to clean my skin and make me feel more human.

Moisturiser. And of course, what would face washing be without moisturiser? Seriously, WHAT DO THEY DO TO THE AIR IN HOSPITALS TO MAKE IT THIS DRY. My kingdom for a bottle of CeraVe PM! Make sure you pick something you can also put on your hands. They dry our really quickly, too.

Nail file. I used to bite my nails really, really badly--and in stressful situations, the urge is still there. If I’m waiting for a doctor and I’m stressed, and I feel a rough edge on a nail, it is WAY BETTER to have a file on hand to fix it with, rather than trying to stop myself from tearing or biting it.

Deodorant/antiperspirant. A fun thing I’ve learned recently: anxiety sweat smells different from normal sweat. If I’m at the gym, sure, I’m not exactly a bouquet of roses--but it’s not horrible, and I say that as someone who hates smells. Anxiety sweat smells AWFUL. A good deodorant helps with this a lot. I use one that has a light cucumber fragrance, and it helps. Take it with you in case you need to reapply.

A brush. My hair very rarely tangles, but when it does, I don’t have a brush and it turns into a giant ball of knots. I don’t know what even happens to hair when you’re stressed out, but whatever it is, head it off at the pass with one of those little fold-up brushes. Also, braids are better (and more comfortable) than ponytails. Trust me.

If you’re a patient, you might not be able to have some of this stuff. Likewise if you’re trying to put together a care package of helpful things for someone who is in hospital. If you’re in doubt, ask someone--a nurse or a doctor would be best, but even a pharmacist might be able to give you some practical guidance.

Here are some more spending-lots-of-time-in-hospitals essentials that you will need:

  • Layers. Hospitals are usually pretty cold, so wear a bunch of things that you can add and remove as necessary.

  • Dollar bills. For vending machines. If you’re waiting for doctors, you probably won’t have time to run off and get an actual meal, so make sure you’ve got the right bills to grab some trail mix.
  • A phone charger. Fun thing I realised last week: most hospitals have almost no cell reception, which totally KILLS your battery. This is really unhelpful if, say, the hospital is a long way from home and you need Google maps to get back. Make sure you have a charger with you.
  • Eye drops. For many reasons, I’m not really a crier--what happens to me instead is that I can FEEL the tears behind my eyes, but they don’t really come out. This makes my eyes puffy and red and really, really sore. Any kind of soothing eye drops work wonders, but make sure they’re OK for contacts if you wear them, too.
  • I’m also not above popping a low dose of sinus medicine to help take away some of the pressure behind my eyes.
  • Tissues. My nose runs like crazy in hospitals, thanks to the combination of cold and dryness, and for some reason you can never find a box of tissues when you need it (unless it’s empty). Bonus: the untinted lip balm you’re using on your mouth will help keep the sides of your nose from getting chapped and sore if you’re wiping it a lot.

As always, I don’t want you guys to read this and think that I am telling you to worry about your prettiness to the exclusion of everything else. If you’re spending a lot of time in a hospital, you have bigger things to think about than how you look--but it’s easier to take a couple little steps to maintain your hair, skin, nails and lips, rather than trying to fix problems afterwards. If given the option, you should choose maintenance over repair every time.

I sincerely hope that NONE of you guys have to use this information. I hope that you and all your loved ones are and remain healthy, and that you only have to visit hospitals for happy reasons (like babies being born). But I know that isn’t real life. And like everything in real life, taking care of little problems makes the bigger ones easier to deal with.

It’s going to be OK. Whatever it is. I know this, I am from the future.

And now, we discuss: What are some helpful things you’ve brought people (or been brought) in hospital? What are some things that you wouldn’t want to be without if you’re stuck in various waiting rooms for long periods of time? Do you ever wish your future-self could give your past-self some advice? Tell me everything! And as always, submit all your beauty-related questions to me in the comments or on twitter!