Folding clothes into miniature versions of themselves in order to maximize space in a carry-on is hard; strategizing the smartest way to fit all the 3.4 oz versions of your life-or-death skin care necessities into a plastic bag originally intended for sandwiches is harder. I understand that this rule is in place for a reason, and I don’t want my plane to go down because of a bomb in a bottle of Gatorade any more than you do, but come on—do you think I’d really waste an entire 7.3 oz container of SK-II Facial Treatment Essence on an attempt at domestic terrorism? Absolutely not.
Adorable as they may be—so tiny!—buying specifically travel-sized products is very, very low on my list of priorities, because I want what I want, not something that I settle for just because it happens to come in plane-friendly packaging. So my general workaround is to only bag things that I must have in liquid form: moisturizer, serum, micellar water, and … that’s basically it. Cleanser used to rank high on that list, too, because who in their right mind would risk using a hotel bar soap on their face instead?
But I’ve found a great solution to the conundrum of just how much cleanser you can fit in your carry-on—well, I wouldn’t say I found it, because it’s not like some #hack I developed on my own. (I have never developed a #hack on my own.)
Cleansing sticks originated somewhere in Korea, and have sloooowly made their way stateside. They are, for anyone who struggles with the way carry-on limitations negatively impact your skin care routine, a revelation. They come in a twist-up tube as a solid—almost, but not quite, as satisfying as those Flintstones push-up pops I will never forget from my childhood—so there’s no reason you can’t just toss the thing in your suitcase and forget about it. Wet your skin, swipe on the stick, and then use your hands to lather as you would your regular cleanser. It’s so easy, and ideal for all low-maintenance and/or laziness purposes, that you’ll want to use them every day.
I’ve picked up on more and more options hitting the market recently, and not just on those slightly shady foreign sites I stalk like it’s my job (and it is, kind of). But here are the 6 best you can find right now, whether it’s on Sephora shelves or the dubiously named shopatkorea.com. The next step is figuring out how to fit all of them in your carry-on at once.