If there's anyone who knows how to navigate an airport, it's Lisa Ling. The 38-year-old host of Oprah Winfrey's OWN network's "Our America With Lisa Ling" travels regularly for the show, which documents a different subculture on each episode, such as people living below the poverty line for the first time in their lives, or people undergoing gender reassignment surgery, or even sexual swingers, which Ling notes is a "fascinating, fascinating world."
Also fascinating is Winfrey, who happens to be her boss. Is Oprah really as together as she seems? "She's even more together than she seems!" Ling — who also co-hosted "The View" from 1999 to 2002 — reveals. "Every time I interact with Oprah — and it's not that often because she's so busy all the time — I'm always kind of blown away by how attentive she is and how much of a great listener she is. That's why she's a great interviewer. She can be very intense, but in a good way, and she really believes in her mission. She really believes in her purpose." As does Ling, which is probably why she plans to stay in her latest job for a while.
"I love doing this kind of work because I always go into every story thinking I know what's going to happen, with a preconceived idea of what people are going to be like," she shares. "And inevitably, once I meet people and start immersing myself, start engaging, I realize that nothing is so black and white. There's so much complexity to everyone's story."
Though it's tough to constantly be on the road — thanks to her current gig, she never stays in one place for long — Ling has figured out a way to make every faraway destination she visits feel a little bit like home. Check out her must-have items ... in any place:
Yoga mat: "For me, [yoga] is a terrific total body workout," says Ling. "It's very, very low impact. It stretches every part of your body, and it gives me a lot of mental clarity when I'm traveling a lot and switching time zones. And you can do yoga anywhere."
Nectresse Sweetener: Ling, whose family has a history of diabetes, is a fan of the new natural no-calorie sweetener. Nectresse is made from monk fruit, a small green melon cultivated for hundreds of years in Asia. "It tastes really good, actually," Ling says. "It's slightly sweeter than sugar."
Greek yogurt: "The first time I had Greek yogurt, I was actually in Santorini, [Greece], and I just fell in love with it, because of its thick and creamy consistency," she notes. "It also has more protein than other yogurt, and a lot less sugar. I eat plain Greek yogurt, and I use Nectresse to sweeten it. I'm glad [Greek yogurt] is becoming trendy, because it's so much better for you. I think a lot of people are deceived by the fruity yogurts, but those are just so saturated in sugar. ... I sometimes use Greek yogurt as a mask as well, because it's very moisturizing. I might leave it on for 15 minutes and then wash it off, and my face is a lot softer."
Coconut oil: "Coconut oil has been used throughout the Caribbean for a long time, and it's very hydrating both for your skin and for your hair. It also works as something you consume. Coconut water has become really popular, because it's more hydrating and it apparently has more electrolytes than a lot of the electrolyte-infused drinks. There are natural electrolytes in coconut water. The coconut oil, I'll just put it all over my body and just keep it on. I'm very, very dry," Ling says, adding that she sometimes uses coconut oil in her hair and leaves it in as a frizz tamer.
Hot pepper sauce: "I've also been known to carry hot pepper sauce around with me. The one I like is from Jamaica, and it uses Scotch Bonnet peppers, which are really, really spicy. My whole refrigerator — the right side — is filled with different kinds of hot sauces, because I love to experiment with them. Hot sauce is known to speed up your metabolism a little bit, and when your mouth is on fire, you're not going to want to consume as much," Ling explains.
Eyelash curler and eyebrow pencil: "My eyelash curler and my eyebrow pencil always go with me, no matter where I am. Your eyebrows really shape your face, so I don't like to wear a lot of makeup, but an eyebrow pencil is an essential item."
Skin wipes: "I use these ones made with aloe vera, because sometimes when you're traveling in the world, the water can be very drying, so I'll use those moisturizing aloe vera wipes to wipe off makeup and impurities."
SPF: "My one imperative thing that I carry with me is sunblock."
"Our America with Lisa Ling" airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on OWN.
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