She makes some of our favorite mascara on the planet (even the packaging is fab!), has fashion-icon Alexa Chung star in her ad campaigns, and jet-sets around the globe like a true professional, so naturally we needed to know every little detail about the travel-habits of the gorgeous Nina Leykind, founder of cosmetics brand Eyeko (and all-around ‘cool girl’). Our verdict: better than we could have imagined.
City you call home?
How often do you travel?
A lot! I’m on a plane every other week, for work mainly, but I always tag on a fun trip or visit whenever I travel.
How many countries have you visited?
By asking me this question you’ve made me literally sit down and do a list! From what I can recall it’s 40+!
Favorite destinations to travel to?
Seoul in South Korea and Tokyo in Japan are work favourites as we do most of our manufacturing there and I’m always excited by the innovation as well as street-style and culture. Europe is always fun for quick trips—I just recently visited St. Paul de Vence in the South of France which is a magical, little, medieval hillside town. As much as I love to travel I’m always happy to return to London as it’s not only home but still my favourite city. The Maldives is the only place I’ve been to where I’ve cried when I had to leave to go home.
Where’s your “happy place” to visit?
Deia in Mallorca is one of our favourite places. The city on the island is actually Palma, which is nice, but Deia (a little village up in the hills) is quite magical, so much so, we named our daughter after it!
What was your last vacation and where will your next one be?
I’m typing up these answers from Barcelona, Spain! Next up will be work trips to Asia, US and Monaco! I was looking forward to going to Copenhagen this weekend but now I have a photo shoot so Max, my husband, is going alone and I’m very jealous! Our daughter’s godfather is a famous Danish photographer and she has been there but I never have!
What brand of luggage do you use?
Samsonite and Rimowa (Salsa mutli-wheel case in matte black) for hard cases. I only use zip-up cases as I hate buckles—they always break on me. In my opinion Samsonite has better zippers than Rimowa. For soft cases I really like Mandarina Duck and I just got a Lipault Business plume four-wheel cabin case that is life changing! It’s so light and holds so much and looks pretty cool too for the price. I try to stick to a carry-on for trips less then a week. I have an old Louis Vuitton Neo Eole 55 that I always tote.
What type/brand of camera do you bring?
My iPhone 6 Plus and a LOOQ selfie stick! We just got a GoPro specifically for our Maldives trip to take lots of underwater footage and pics! My daughter brings her Fuji Instax camera too—old-skool style!
I’m loyal to British Airways. I’m not sure it’s my favourite but having a gold card definitely makes for a lot of perks.
Heathrow Terminal 5 and Singapore for the shops! I also like the airport in West Palm Beach because it’s so easy and old fashioned—it’s like being at grandma’s house!
What are your in-flight travel essentials?
Cashmere, blankets, jumpers and socks! Swedish lip balm Hudsalva—it’s so natural you can cook with it! Eyeko Hydrogel Eye Patches and Mascara Off Wipes for in-flight pampering and Eyeko Lash Curlers and Black Magic Mascara for putting my eyes back on for landing. Skullcandy headphones, Holistic Silk Sleep Mask, Japanese Pilot fountain pen and a Smythson notebook. And of course my iPhone or should I say ‘eye’phone to stay connected and in work mode! Oh, and I’ve finally caved and bought a Kindle but I still like buying books and stacks of magazines for the plane.
Aisle or window?
The window…always! I love looking out at the clouds and having a bird’s eye view of the world. I’m very annoying to sit with though as I drink so much water in-flight I make everyone get up a hundred times so I can go to the loo!
Preferred in-flight beverage?
Champagne and water!
Airplane food or bring your own?
I actually love airplane food even if it’s rubbish. I like having my food all compartmentalized on a little tray! I always bring extra water and chocolate Galaxy Minstrels, which I buy at the airport.
What music is on your travel playlist?
LA LOVE (la la) – Fergie, Q-Tip & GoonRock seems to be our summer track for some reason! My daughter and I have the VideoStar app and compete who makes the best videos. Of course there’s a lot of love for Taylor Swift too and my son only wants to listen to classical so our travel playlist is quite the mix!
Gadget you can’t leave home without?
My iPhone6 Plus! I can be without my laptop but never without my iPhone.
Do you use any travel apps?
Uber and British Airways.
Do you have any travel rituals or superstitions?
I hate missing flights so now I prefer to be super early if possible and have a few glasses of champagne in the lounge. I actually love airports (minus the security process) and of course the fun people-watching.
How do you entertain yourself at 35,000 feet?
I read, watch movies, eat, snack, nap, and do some beauty prep. I pop on my Eyeko Hydrogel Patches and put on hand cream or moisturiser regularly throughout the flight. I like to carry a little pot of Steam Cream that I can use all over. I just finished reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood—both were fun and easy reads. I watched The Theory of Everything, which was sad but so uplifting, and Focus which was quite fun with the gorgeous Margot Robbie looking fabulous.
What’s your go-to uniform for the plane?
If it’s autumn/winter then always a pair of jeans (currently I love Paige denim or Topshop), and then any navy blue jumper or cardi teamed with a mac or Crombie style coat if needed. In summer I favour Isabel Marant linen v-neck T’s and cotton mini’s from Surface to Air. Cashmere blankets and scarves are always a must, as is the classic Chanel wallet on a chain and a pair of sunglasses. I always get stopped because of my Cartier diamond Love Bracelet that sets the alarms off and can’t be removed!
What’s the one item you never leave town without?
My makeup bag!
How do you deal with jet lag?
I immediately adjust to local time and resist the urge to have a nap before bedtime. I also always try and go for a walk as soon as I land. I don’t really get jet lag anymore because I travel so much I’ve almost become immune to it!
What’s your exercise routine when you’re on the road?
Walking! Swimming! Yoga, if there are free classes going. In the Maldives we stayed at the Como Shambala resorts where they offer yoga classes twice a day. The teacher at Maalifushi was amazing. Max (my husband) was never able to touch his toes before and now he can. At the Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg, Florida they have classes all day long—really fun stuff like hula hooping that you do side-by-side with the snowbirds!
How do you manage your health + eating routine when you’re away from home?
If we are traveling for work then we tend to go to lots of client and press breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, which can be challenging as I love to eat. If it’s days of desksides and press events then often you don’t get to eat at all so I’ll be sure to start the day with a green juice to make me feel nourished and not so guilty if I grab a burger on the run between meetings. It also depends where I am in the world—I definitely eat so much naughty food in the US as I just can’t resist classic American diner food.
What’s the first thing you do when you get into your hotel room?
I take off all the cushions and throws from the bed as I suspect they don’t get washed after each guest! I’ll unpack if I’m staying for more then 4 nights but more often then not I just live out of my suitcase.
Are you an over-packer or under-packer?
We are seasoned travellers and my packing skills are much admired! I often have to pack for all scenarios in one trip. The most complex was beach family holiday / press events / Christmas / New Year’s / and a winter wedding in Chicago. all in the span of a 3-week trip!
Do you have a packing strategy?
I use pre-printed packing lists and if I have the time I even sketch my outfits for each event so I can visualise what goes with what. I like separate baggies for everything—I get mine from Fragonard which are so pretty and sweetly embroidered that it makes packing fun.
One surprising thing you always pack?
I always add a Downy laundry sheet to each bag to take away that yucky plane smell, and then I transfer it to the hotel wardrobe to make everything smell fresh.
What are your favorite items to travel with?
Princesse Tam Tam, which is my favourite French brand. I have lots of navy, grey and blush sets.
Valentino Rockstuds are so comfortable, they go with everything and work for every season.
Isabel Marant, Zadig & Voltaire.
Hermes, Chanel, Cartier and my sister-in-laws semi-precious stone bracelets, Rachel Lynn Chicago.
Nike, New Balance
What beauty-essentials do you travel with?
I love any lip balm from La Mer to Swedish Hudsalva for soft lips, Chanel Les Beiges Powder Compact SPF15 for an instant glow, Visine Eye Drops to literally beat the red eye, Eyeko Hydrogel Patches for wide awake eyes (whatever the time zone) and to combat salty plane food, Eyeko Black Magic Mascara (it goes with everything!), and Eyeko Lash Curlers (a must to lift my lashes and hold the curl). I always save mini hand creams and moisturizers to use on the plane—Josie Maran whipped argan oil or Philosophy Amazing Grace are my favorites. Byredo Blanche perfume atomizer is the perfect travel-size of my favourite scent, and I can’t sleep without my Holistic Silk Sleep Mask. I also always have This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray with me—I love the lavender scent and spray it on my pillow and the kids. It smells divine and makes you feel instantly relaxed.
For my skincare I travel with Ole Henriksen 3 Little Wonders set which includes serum, day, and night cream, in little mini pots. For sunscreen if I’m doing carry-on only I’ll pick up some Hawaiian Tropic dry oil SPF15 at the airport or otherwise I’ll take Hampton Sun Continuous Mist Sunscreen. I like Frederic Fekkai Brilliant Glossing shampoo and conditioner and MoroccanOil (it’s still one of my favourite products and I always stock up when I’m in the states). I don’t travel with nail products anymore as I get a gel manicure (always OPI Passion), and if I’m away for a long while I’ll just go to a local salon or spa. As I get Brazilian Keratin treatments I don’t bother travelling with hair tools either. If I have a specific event then I’ll go get a blow dry. Of course I take Q-tips and cotton pads, and I stock up on black cotton buds from Japan when I’m there.
Favorite item to order from room service?
A club sandwich! It’s almost a tradition for me as I’ve been ordering that since I was a kid!
Favorite item from the hotel mini-bar?
Water! I never drink alcohol from the mini bar. I love staying at the Soho House group hotels as the barman comes to your room with a cocktail trolley in the evenings—much more civilised then those little mini bottles!
Best travel advice?
Drink lots of water and Champagne; take a stack of magazines and your kindle; unless your travelling over 10 hours don’t bother taking your make-up off, but do keep re-applying hand cream and lip balm. I also recommend packing some anti-sickness wrist bands—they really work when it gets turbulent up there.
Have you ever had a travel mishap?
Every time I travel with American Airlines they lose my luggage. It has happened so often now that I don’t even break a sweat, I just use it as an excuse to buy more stuff! I make sure that I have some makeup essentials with me in my carry on as that’s the biggest pain! I’m truly lost without my Eyeko Mascara!
If your luggage was lost, what are the 5 items you’d buy at the drugstore?
Toothpaste & a toothbrush, a Gillette razor & shaving foam, Simple face wash cleanser, and St. Ives face scrub.
Favorite find/souvenir from your travels?
I like picking up jewelry, beach bags, and cover-ups whilst on my travels. Drugstore makeup from the US, France and Asia is also great. Each country I visit has something enticing. I’ve gotten some coral from Male, Moorish side tables from Marrakech, painted tin cases and ornate textiles from Nepal, buddhas from Thailand. I travel light and come back loaded like a pack horse!
Favorite childhood memory of traveling?
I spent a lot of time at my cousins villa on the island of Hvar in Croatia where we would take a boat out to the beaches and just generally run wild—breakfasting on fresh rolls from the bakery at 6am after a long night out listening to rubbish German bands.
Travel destinations still on your bucket-list?
French Polynesia (as the manager at Cocoa Island in the Maldives said it’s even more amazing then the Maldives), Iceland to see the almost lunar landscapes, and I’d love to go on a safari.
Nina Leykind photographed in Maribor, Slovenia