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Are You Really Saving When You're Buying Travel Size?

June 24, 2019 3 min read

How much makeup do I get in a travel size product?

Smart Shopping: Right Sizing Your Purchases

We’re definitely fans of convenience, which is why we have easy-to-use, portable makeup stacks. You can grab your stack and go, touching up your makeup along the way. Yet, as travel- friendly as our products are, they aren’t technically “travel” products.

To understand how much makeup you actually need, you should get to know sizing labels, product weight and how many applications you get before the makeup expires.

 Sizing Standards

There is no sizing standard for beauty products. “Full size,” “mini” and “sample” don’t have a regulated content weight or package size. There’s no way to validate these labels, and many brands use them differently. A “mini” product from one brand may have the same product weight as a “full size” cosmetic from another.

 While these labels tend to be up to the whim of the brand, there is a consistency with travel-sized products. Travel-sized products are all intended to be thrown into a bag and taken elsewhere for application. That’s it. There may be less product or smaller packaging. Travel cosmetics aren’t packaged in glorious boxes that collect dust on your vanity between uses. The moniker “travel-sized” suggests the product is more disposable and won’t last as long.

The TSA has rules for your carryon luggage, limiting liquids, creams, aerosols and gels that you take with you on an airplane. Contact lens solution, hair spray and shampoo are often labeled “TSA approved” for the size. Many brands self-label these as travel-sized because the intention is not to use them at home.

 Moving Beyond Labels

 Now that you know the brand’s “x size” label doesn’t really mean anything except in relation to the rest of their product line, it’s time to sort out what size of product you actually need. You want a good value that you’ll use within the product’s shelf life.

We recommend you comparison shop by fill weight—not by package weight. In our research we’ve discovered that fill weight is a more reliable way to know exactly how much product you’re getting. For example, one popular brand’s “mini” bronzer has a fill weight of 3.9 grams while another brand’s full-size bronzer is 2.7 grams. A third brand’s full-size bronzer is 9 grams.

Of course, the brand with the highest fill weight isn’t always the best buy. We’re conditioned to crave the most of something at the lowest cost. This is how all-you-can-eat buffets with mediocre foods remain popular. It’s not necessarily a deal just because there’s more in the container. (The cost may be much higher per gram than you’d find in a smaller size.)

All About Application

We wear makeup for a purpose. It makes us feel beautiful by tidying up our skin flaws and giving us a nice glow. It shows the world we’re happy, healthy and ready for battle. How much makeup do you actually need? Makeup doesn’t last forever. Product quality degrades and open cosmetics can become contaminated. To reduce skin and eye infections, here are some recommendations for how often you should replace your makeup.

  • Mascara – every three months
  • Blush – once a year for cream, once every two years for powder
  • Eyeshadow – once a year for cream, once every two years for powder
  • Eyeliner – every three months for liquid, once a year for pencils
  • Foundation – once a year
  • Concealer – once every 18 months
  • Lipstick – once a year
  • Finishing powder – once every two years

We sometimes spend so much on makeup that we keep it around past its best-by date. It’s time to start considering how many applications you can get out of a product before it expires. (It’s better to use it up before then and have to get more than to use a product when it’s past its prime.)

While each cosmetic is used a little differently, our 3.5-gram products are good for about 60 applications. Lip + Cheek lasts for about 90 applications. With budget-friendly pricing for our upper-tier products, it’s very easy to get the most out of your cosmetics spend with Subtl Beauty.


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