Beauty Call: How to lighten your cosmetic load when travelling

Here are some tips to take a load off when on the go

If you’re leaving on a jet plane any time soon, luggage allowances may be on your mind. Things have improved somewhat for Ryanair passengers, but that doesn’t mean we can be flaithúlach with our gear when packing.

Toiletries can really weigh a case down. One summer, setting off to backpack around Europe, I got as far as the hostel in Cherbourg before I had to ditch the enormous bottles of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and body lotion, which felt like bricks in my rucksack.

My friend refused to part with her heavy hairdryer and suffered through six countries but her hair did look nice that whole summer. When you’re 19 that’s important.

However, there are things you can do to lighten the load. For a start, most of us overestimate how much product we need to remain clean and shiny on holiday; a teaspoon of shampoo every time you wash your hair is enough; aftersun will double up as body lotion; and hair conditioner makes a great substitute for shaving gel. It is highly unlikely that you’ll use that face mask; you’ll never get through a can of hairspray; and there’s a limit to how much hair product one person can use during a two-week holiday.


Panic packing can cause us to overload, and that’s why travel miniatures are so tempting. They are packaged beautifully and contain just the right amount of product. However, it’s more expensive to buy mini toiletries, so it’s always helpful to see some comparisons.

It’s a given that if men spray more they get more, but if you pick up a Lynx Africa travel-size deodorant, you’ll spray less and pay more instead: 35ml will set you back €1.99, while the 200ml size costs €5.69. Nivea for Men Cool Kick shower gel is even worse value: 35ml costs €1.99, while 250ml costs €2.32. That means the mini costs €5.69 per 100ml, while the full size is just 93 cent per 100ml.

You’ll find similar pricing across most travel-size toiletries, so it makes sense to try and cut down your luggage weight if you can.


This is the first rule of packing light, but one that many of us are too lazy to bother with. Buy some little plastic bottles – even better, reuse some empties – and pour in just enough product to last you the holiday.

Use samples

If you regularly buy make-up at the Clarins counter, ask for a foundation sample or a mini mascara.

If you buy Clinique skincare, get them to throw in a serum sample. If you love Lancôme, use your charm to see what they can do on the sample front.

Buy when you arrive

Ireland is an expensive country for cosmetics. You can often pick up great deals in foreign supermarkets and pharmacies for everything from sun lotion to cleanser.

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Aisling is on Twitter @aismcdermott


Micellar water

Instead of picking up a travel pack of seven cleansing wipes (Simple, 7 uses, €1.99), buy a big bottle of micellar water and decant enough for your holiday (Garnier Micellar Water, €6.50, 400ml). You'll save and it will be better for your skin.

Travel hairdryer

The Corioliss Vintage travel hairdryer (€49) is lightweight and perfect for travelling. It's a travel investment you will have for years.

Waterproof mascara

Waterproof mascara (such as Lancôme Hypnôse Doll Eyes, €27.50) are a holiday essential. If you're going to a hot country, use waterproof everything to make sure you don't look like you've gone two rounds with Katie Taylor.

Travel bottles

Chemists and supermarkets are full of clear plastic containers, perfect for decanting full size lotions into. Pick up a set: it will last for many holidays to come and produce long-term savings. (Boots mini travel set, €4.29)

AISLING LOVES . . . Bobbi Brown Surf & Sand Collection

Kate Upton has replaced Katie Holmes as the face of Bobbi Brown, and this new limited-edition collection is her debut for the range. Surf & Sand is laid-back, beachy and wearable. Perfect summer make-up.