Let’s be completely honest: most of us don’t do our homework before buying makeup. We walk into Sephora, and the beauty department expert shows and tells us how a product will make us feel.
We rarely read the label and examine the packaging. We don’t ask if it’s a good value, how long we should expect it to last, or how much actual product we’re getting for that price. The analytical consumer is too wowed by the idea of the product to make sure they know what they’re really getting in that pretty package.
We’re here to help you navigate this evaluation process, so you know what you’re really getting before your next beauty purchase.
- Hourglass Ambient Lighting Mini Bronzer - $26 for 1.3 grams of product ($20/gram)
- Hoola Matte Bronzer Mini - $17 for 4.0 grams of product ($4.25/gram)
- Subtl Beauty Bronzer - $12 for 3.5 grams of product ($3.43/gram)
What actually is Travel Size Makeup?
It might surprise you, but there is no standard authority providing guidelines for what makes a product “full size” instead of “travel size.” One brand might call two grams a mini or travel version, while another labels two grams of product as full-size.
In fact, the only governing body that provides any regulation for cosmetics size is the Transportation Security Administration or TSA. The TSA has rules for your carry-on luggage, limiting liquids, creams, aerosols, and gels that you can take with you on an airplane.
When products are labeled as being “TSA-approved”, all it really means is that they fit the TSA size requirements to allow you to bring it in your carry on luggage. Beyond traveling limitations, there is no real standardization when it comes to cosmetic product sizing.
- Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Mini Highlighter - $22 for 2.4 grams of product ($9.17/gram)
- Subtl Beauty Highlighter - $14 for 3.5 grams of product ($4/gram)
- Ofra Rodeo Drive Mini Highlighter - $18 for 4 grams of product ($4.5/gram)
Travel Makeup: Bigger Isn’t Always Better
“You get what you pay for” isn’t always true in the beauty industry. You’ve probably come home with a beautifully packaged product, only to discover the jar is double-walled and there isn’t nearly as much product inside as you had expected.
Packaging design can be deceptive, enticing you to buy because it’s pretty. To prevent future disappointment, 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 determine 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. The “full” versus “travel” size labels are relatively meaningless when it comes to actual product amount.
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, but it’s not necessarily a deal just because there’s more in the container. You want a high-quality product with a good value that you can use within the product’s shelf life.
- Tarte Shape Tape Mini Concealer - $10 for 1 gram of product ($10/gram)
- Subtl Beauty Cream Concealer - $14 for 3.5 grams of product ($4/gram)
- Nars Radiant Creamy Mini Concealer - $13 for 1.4 grams of product ($9.29/gram)
How much makeup do you actually need? Cosmetics don’t last forever; product quality degrades and open cosmetics can become contaminated. When we spend so much money on makeup, it can be tempting to keep an expensive product around long past its best-by date.
It’s time to start considering how many applications you can really get out of a product before it expires, especially when considering how much you are paying for each gram of product. It’s better to use it up and get your money’s worth than to use a product when it’s past its prime, risking bacterial infections.
To keep your skin (and yourself!) healthy, here are some recommendations for how often you should replace your makeup:
Mascara: 3 months
Blush: 12 months for cream blush, 24 months for powder blush
Eyeshadow: 24 months
Eyeliner: 3 months for liquid liner, 12 months for pencil liner
Foundation: 12 months
Concealer: 18 months
Setting powder: 24 months
Lipstick: 12 months
When it comes to the beauty industry, “travel size” means next to nothing. While one brand’s full-size product is 3.5 grams, another brand’s travel size product might be 1.5 grams.
We recommend you compare the fill weight of different products and consider their price-per-gram. This allows you to compare the actual value of different products.
Even if you go with the more expensive item, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting for the price. Nothing is worse than dropping too much money on a product you thought would last you much longer than it does.
At Subtl Beauty, each of our 3.5-gram products are good for approximately 60 applications (Lip + Cheek lasts for about 90). With no-nonsense packaging and customizable options, it’s easy to get the most value from your purchase with a Subtl Stack.
Wanna read more travel tips? Check out Everything You Need To Know About The Best Travel Makeup!