There was a time when the travel minis bars at Selfridges, Superdrug or Sephora were my ultimate beauty spot. There’s something so delicious and irresistible about hundreds of dinky face, hair and body products lined up like patisserie, that prompts a beauty lover to go wild in the aisles. Which, of course, is precisely their purpose.
But in recent years I’ve quit single-use minis and noticed the pick’n’mix beauty bars have in many cases downsized, no doubt in response to concerns for the environment.
There is no justifiable reason to buy a tiny traditional shampoo when you could use a plastic-free solid bar (I love those by Garnier and Nuddy, both under a tenner), or to choose a 30ml plastic shower gel when you could just refill a travel bottle from home and reuse it in perpetuity.
I use Muji’s bottles, pots and tubes (£1.25 to £1.95), since they’re soft enough to not require too much squeezing, firm enough not to leak, and have necks wide enough to fill with any product without spillage. You can even buy a cleaning brush (£2.50) for when you want to switch contents.
I label them all with my Dymo machine (any opportunity to deploy it, frankly) and for short stays, carry the lot in a transparent airport-friendly pouch.
Short-hop skincare can be made even tinier with “monodoses”, which are not to be confused with single-use blister packs and sachets that make their way swiftly to landfill.
Smart monodoses of serum or cream are sealed in biodegradable capsules that are twisted, squeezed and applied once or twice daily, meaning you can just chuck a couple in a pillbox for weekends away, or even store in your washbag long-term and know the active ingredients won’t spoil.
Elizabeth Arden was a pioneer of capsule skincare and I still turn frequently to its Radiance Renewal Vitamin C and Ceramides (£47 for 30 biodegradable pods) for a night away.
They’re terrific on any skin and so unctuous that you may find you can omit night cream from your luggage. No7’s versions of the Arden classics (there are four – vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, squalane and ceramides, each at £19.95 for 30 monodoses), offer similar practical benefits.
For long holidays, I’ll take full sizes from home, especially suncare products, which need to be applied lavishly in order to be effective. In this specific instance, packing light is a bigger waste.