Mini Me


Seasoned traveller Debra Brock on why well-chosen miniatures are the passport to beauty.

In a previous life, I had a job that involved a lot of European travel. To be honest, it sounded like exciting international jet-settery when I first got the job, but I soon realised it actually involved spending a lot of evenings in airports, way too much time in taxis and that pretty much all of Europe’s industrial estates look identically bleak. On top of these valuable life lessons, I also learned that standing at baggage carousels at 10pm praying you’re not today’s luggage lottery loser is fraught and tedious. So I rapidly swapped to travelling hand baggage only, at which point another couple of life’s universal truths became apparent: packing a full beauty kit into a cabin sized bag will mean that you only have enough space left in the case for two pairs of knickers and a stocking in the low denier, and lugging a full beauty kit through Amsterdam Schiphol will give you a shoulder injury within three trips.

I quickly became expert in blagging sample sizes from beauty counters and decanting the things I couldn’t blag into mini size bottles (I’m still a sample size hoarder. They’re all sorted into freezer bags by product category. Some of them have been on at least two house moves with me). The mini beauty kit and I continued our travels around Europe quite happily for many years. But since then there’s been a huge change in the way we travel. The rise of the budget airline means we’re taking many more short haul flights; the fact that they charge eleventy billion quid to check in a suitcase means we’re all travelling hand luggage; and the restrictions on liquids mean that we can’t lob in a full size cleanser even if we want to.

Behold then, the beauty brands spotting a gap in the market for mini sizes of their products. Larger than a sample size, but small enough for hand luggage, these perfectly proportioned little sisters of the full size products are generally designed to last at least a week, if not longer.

Boots of course now has an entire aisle dedicated to travel minis – I’ve spent many a happy hour fossicking in the pods of travel sized Soltan perfection. Superdrug does much the same and when overseas, Sephora has a deeply satisfying minis bar of flight-friendly exclusives from major brands. But you can get travel kits in all sorts of places – Space NK has a good selection, as does Cult Beauty and I always keep an eye on their sales to see if any minis are included (they often are). I really like this one from REN, £20, which comes with an airport friendly bag (check though; I’ve seen bags like this being declined at my local airport for having an opaque strip).

What I’ve not seen before is a curated travel kit of products from different brands, but this popped into our inbox from Net-A-Porter the other day. It contains 12 products from an assortment of brands, covering everything from shampoo to nails to lips. At £38 it’s far from bargainous, but such a lavish self-gift might just take your mind off the fact that you’re in a budget hotel on an industrial estate on the outskirts of Frankfurt. Bon voyage!

Debra Brock

Debra Brock is co-founder of and a contributing writer.

Related - Features
Related - Features + see all

SALI LOVES: Lisa Macario’s slogan sweatshirts

Any words you want, hand-stitched on a flattering sweatshirt? Sali Hughes is spoilt for choice

Sacred Brows

Comedy writer Sarah Morgan gets microbladed and finally sees what all the fuss is about

Meet The Experts: Nicola Addison

Fitness expert Nicola Addison tells Debra Brock how we can all easily improve our wellbeing

Mother’s Day Beauty Gift Ideas

Debra Brock trawls the aisles for the best gift ideas