Mini Me

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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 salihughesbeauty.com and a contributing writer.

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