Like many New Orleanians, I often have meetings or events to attend throughout the day in various locations all over the city. For most, I have to dress in business or business casual attire, so the usual summer clothing (shorts, light sundresses, sandals) aren’t an option. Compound that with difficult parking situations — especially in the French Quarter — that sometimes mean walking several blocks to the intended destination in the sweltering heat, and you’ll walk into that meeting looking like you just crawled out of the Mississippi.

To combat these situations, I keep two “emergency kits” — one in my desk and one in the car — on hand at all times. Below are the items I recommend for staying well groomed, fresh and presentable even on the hottest Crescent City workday.

• Hairapy: A brush or comb, travel-size hairspray, dry shampoo (Batiste and Dove make great ones with a fresh, pleasant fragrance) and — for those with long hair — hair ties and bobby pins will help you control the coiffure. For your car kit: Favor non-aerosol hairspray and dry shampoo to avoid exploding cans. For the latter, Klorane gets high marks and is available at Sephora.

• Facing Forward: Blotting tissues are great for controlling shine. I also like to keep an Evian facial mister handy in my desk drawer kit to rehydrate my skin and revive makeup. Baby wipes are a great alternative for the car. Q-tips are a must-have for both kits because they have so many uses. For makeup wearers, the powder and lip gloss or stick you likely keep in your purse will usually get you through, especially since you can use the latter as blush in a pinch. Be mindful of your mascara, however, and if it begins to run, you’ll be glad you have those Q-tips. Just moisten one with the mister or water, swab below your lash line and voilà!

• Work: An extra antiperspirant or deodorant will become your best friend. Opt for a roll-on version for the car, because solid will melt (I found that out the hard way during my time in Texas) and again, because aerosol cans and heat do not mix. I also like to keep a light body spray, such as Le Couvent des Minimes “Botanical Cologne of the Morning,” or one of my favorite Bath & Body Works scents, both in the desk and the car. Hand lotion is also one of my essentials and I tend to always come back to travel sizes of Eucerin Intensive Repair. Vitamin E oil is a good substitute in a pinch and is also great for cuticles and to give your legs and arms a little extra sheen.

• Minty Fresh: Dental floss and mouthwash are essential for both kits, but you can probably get by with a toothbrush and toothpaste in the desk kit only. A tin of your favorite mints is also a good idea for those rushed moments when you don’t have time to slip away to the bathroom to use the more intensive tools.  

• Spotted: It’s not heat related, but a Tide To Go Pen will save your life over and over again, especially if coffee is as attracted to your clothing as it is to mine. I’ve become hugely popular at the office based on my willingness to share this particular item with coworkers.  

A couple of clear, plastic travel pouches should be all you need to contain this grooming arsenal. Keep the one for your car in the trunk, which shouldn’t get as hot as the interior of your vehicle. Do not perform any of these grooming duties at your desk, especially if you share an office. Five to seven minutes is usually all it takes, and it’s worth the effort to avoid those potential grooming disasters that we all become susceptible to when — as my dad says — it’s hotter outside than a billy goat with a blowtorch.




This post originally ran in the August issue of Biz New Orleans Magazine.