The ability to reside safely in your carry-on without attracting the attention of the TSA isn’t the only thing travel-size beauty products have going for them—miniature mascaras are the ultimate lash-saver for anyone who never manages to use an entire tube in the designated three-month period before they need to be discarded (a rule you obviously follow); sized-down skin care is perfect for ensuring that $250 moisturizer doesn’t break you out before you buy.
Travel sizes are convenient for several reasons, yes, but are they cost-effective? Well … not always. $13 for an airplane-friendly bottle of that $40 texturizing spray you love may seem like a smart deal at first glance, but when you break it down, there’s a good chance you’re paying more than you should for less product. Here’s an example: If the travel-size version of a $20 product costs $12, and has half the amount of product the full-size version does, you’re paying $2 more than you should. See what I mean?
Calculating how much money you save or throw away by choosing travel sizes over the big guys is a guaranteed way to get a headache real fast, because math. But, just like every other question one can possibly have in life, you can find the answer on Reddit, where a master list of the best and worst travel-size beauty product deals exist. (For what it’s worth, transferring your favorite products into little plastic bottles from the drugstore is still just about free.)
This longtime fave is beloved for its flattering luminous finish and long-wearing power, which helps makeup hold up all day. It's also packed with vitamins—A, C, and E, to be specific—and hydrating castor and jojoba oils for skin-care benefits.
Laura Mercier Foundation Primer - Radiance, $22 for 1 oz ($36 for 1.7 oz full size); at Laura Mercier
A mascara formula that truly does it all, whether you're in the market for enhanced volume, length, curl, or all of the above. The cone-shaped brush is a real winner for both precision (at the tapered tip) and major volume.
MAKE UP FOR EVER Smoky Extravagant Mascara, $12 for .16 oz ($24 for .23 oz full size); at Sephora
This primer is so iconic, it hardly needs an introduction: The lightweight formula and velvety smoothing effect on skin has been a favorite for years, and has been named the #1 face primer brand in the USA.
Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer, $16 for .5 oz ($36 for 1 oz full size); at Smashbox
Sephora's best-selling skin-care product is unrivaled in its category, thanks to a game-changing blend of acne-fighting, anti-aging, pore-cleansing ingredients that make it more than suitable for nearly all skin types.
GLAMGLOW SUPERMUD Clearing Treatment, $22 for .5 oz ($69 for 1.2 oz full size); at Sephora
This frizz-fighting spray is a must-have for curly hair: It adds shine, seals in moisture, and seriously revives lackluster texture with naturally sourced oils such as olive and soybean. Plus, the light lemongrass scent freshens hair up in an instant.
DevaCurl Set It Free Moisture Lock, $8.95 for 3 oz ($19.95 for 6 oz full size); at DevaCurl
This best-in-class cleansing oil deeply cleanses skin without drying it out—and will melt off all makeup, even waterproof mascaras, in the process. A touch of eucalyptus gives it a refreshing feel that's perfect for hot days.
boscia Makeup-Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil, $10 for 1.7 oz ($30 for 5 oz full size); at Sephora
Mattifying, pore-minimizing, oil-absorbing, and ideal for both wearing under makeup or as a midday touchup, this primer is an all-star for kicking off your morning routine.
Dr. Brandt Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer, $17 for .5 oz ($45 for 1 oz full size); at Ulta
Once you get your hands on this versatile formula, you'll forget everything you thought you knew about hair gel: It gives major volume and texture with just the right amount of hold, and no crunchiness or stickiness in sight. Honey, sea buckthorn oil, and grapefruit make it nourishing, too.
amika Haute Mess Texture Gel, $10 for 2 oz ($24 for 4 oz); at Sephora
This mascara is not for the "natural" beauty enthusiast in you—it creates the kind of long, full, oversized lashes that simply do not exist in nature … just in the tube of a legit magical mascara.
Too Faced Better Than Sex Mini Mascara, $12 for .17 oz ($23 for .27 oz full size); at Macy's
This cleansing balm is a lightweight, lower-maintenance version of the crazy-luxurious original cleanser, but its pore-cleansing, makeup-removing formula packed with essential oils is just as effective—plus, it basically smells like a day at the spa.
Eve Lom Morning Time Cleanser, $22 for 1.6 oz ($60 for 4.1 oz full size); at Sephora