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You’ve packed your carryon and everything fits perfectly. That is, until you need to fit in your toiletry bag. We’ve all been there, but now you can learn how to downsize toiletries in a carryon bag following these tips from our readers.
How to Downsize Toiletries
Table Of Contents
Travel Fashion Girl help! A reader asks:
I’ve been packing carry-on only for 10+ years with my quart-size bag of liquids, but I can’t seem to get my other toiletries any smaller. Maybe I’m too attached to my cute toiletry cases? I would love to know what you pack to help me rethink my essentials.
It certainly can be daunting to plan ahead which toiletries you will need and which to leave behind.
What are the best methods for making sure you have the essentials and can follow TSA guidelines while saving space?
Here’s what our readers shared about downsizing toiletries:
Download Our Free Toiletry Checklist
Start by downloading our Ultimate Packing Guide for Toiletries. It’s FREE! You canClick here or click the image above to open the editable file.
The list features unique categories to help you pack for your trip efficiently. It includes all the items listed in various categories and has spaces where you can fill in your own information.
With this guide, you can:
- Write in an item’s weight (lighter items means less overall baggage weight)
- Note if you need to purchase something or if you already own it
- Organize where you’ll pack each item including suggested packing organizers like these
Read this post for a printable packing list that includes clothes, shoes, and more!
BaBylisspro Nano Titanium Travel Hair Dryer
Switch to Mini Sizes
For many travelers, accessories like a hair brush, hair dryer, or straightener can be their bulkiest item. However, most brands offer travel-sized versions of your favorite products that can help save on space. As a bonus, you can easily slip a mini hairbrush into your purse while out and about, either abroad or at home!
Several of our readers recommended mini hairdryers and straighteners, as they can save the most room. You may also want to check your accommodation, as many hotels provide hair dryers for free in every room.
We’ve rounded up these travel-friendly, dual voltage hot brushes to achieve lovely looking tresses anywhere you go!
Take Advantage of Gifts and Samples
Many makeup and skincare retail stores give miniature products or deluxe samples as a gift when you purchase items. Save them up and use them for your next trip to save space in your luggage.
These gifts and gift sets are favorites of TFG travelers! One reader says, “I save the gift with purchase items from Sephora and Ulta and use them when I travel.” Another reader adds, “Clinique also has great gift sets a couple of times per year with travel-sized items.”
Ethique Eco-Friendly Solid Shampoo Bar
Replace Liquids with Non-Liquid Alternatives
The beauty of living in the 21st century is that now many products come in a variety of states—liquid, powder, solid, etc. Many readers recommend the Ethique brand for its variety of non-liquid alternatives, including shampoo, conditioner, and face wash!
One reader says, “Ethique products are really good. I’ve been using Ethique for about three years now and I honestly don’t think I will ever stop. I use them at home and when traveling.”
Instead of packing liquid makeup remover, many readers have recommended the MakeUp Eraser towel that removes makeup (even waterproof makeup!) when activated with water. One reader says, “The makeup eraser towels work surprisingly well!”
They’re gentle on the skin yet highly effective, and are incredibly lightweight and packable!
Follow our ultimate guide to creating the perfect travel toiletries list and master the art of packing!
Invest in Quality Containers
Many readers suggest investing in your own travel-sized containers, rather than continuously buying travel-sized products. This helps customize your toiletry kits with your personal essentials, while also ensuring you don’t waste products that may come in too big of a container.
Many readers recommend flat pouches because they’re super lightweight and take up way less room on the way back from your trip. One reader says, “For decanting liquids, I used refillable pouches on my two last trips overseas. They worked well because they pack so flat.”
GoToobs are carry-on approved, squeezable tubes made from soft yet rugged silicone, with a no-drip valve and a large opening that makes them easy to fill—perfect for makeup remover, toner, contact solution, and more.
A reader reports, “If I have a lot of something thick, like face wash, body wash, sunscreen, then those squeeze tubes have been my favorite.”
Find out the most creative ways our readers pack liquids like creams, toners, and foundations for travel!
Many travel-sized containers are the standard 3.4 ounces, which can actually be too big for some products, and therefore take up unnecessary space that can be utilized for other toiletries. Downsize to 1 or 2 ounce containers, which save space and help you waste less product.
“Most travel-sized products are actually too much for me, even for a 2-week (or longer) trip. Plus, I’m very particular about which ones I use, so I can get away with decanting into smaller tubes or bottles that fit better in my liquids bag,” recommends one reader.
Shop MAC Eyeshadow Palette: Amazon | Nordstrom | MAC | ULTA
Re-Think Your Makeup
Many readers use powdered makeup when traveling, as they can pack it separately from their liquids bag. In order to save space, look for palettes that have different types of makeup in one, so that you don’t have to bring multiple containers.
One user of the pictured Mac palette shares, “The colors in this palette are ideal. The palette fits comfortably in a small purse and is great for travel!”
Another option to cut down on space taken up by makeup is to find products that do double duty, such as tinted moisturizers or BB creams.
“Pare down your makeup routine if yours is complicated. I use tinted BB cream, face powder, lip balm, and mascara and that’s all my makeup,” says one reader.
Combining multiple products into one (such as moisturizer and foundation) allows for more room in your carry-on for other necessities!
You’ll want to look your best when you travel! Read my travel tips to Pack Light Stylishly!
BAGSMART Toiletries Travel Bag
Find a “Carry-All” Toiletry Bag
Along with downsizing, a carry-all hanging toiletry bag can help you keep your toiletries organized while traveling. So, instead of a makeup bag, skincare bag, and liquids bag, you can store everything together while still keeping them in separate compartments.
TFGs love using a hanging toiletries bag for keeping everything in one place. One says of her BAGSMART toiletry bag, “I love mine. I just used it for a trip to Europe and it really does hold a lot and packs nicely in a carry on!”
Neutrogena Beach Defense Water-Resistant Sunscreen Stick
Buy Products at Your Destination
Many readers suggest saving space altogether by buying products at your destination, especially when it comes to bulky items like shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, body wash, and sunscreen. However, just make sure to do some research beforehand.
One reader says, “There are professional shops everywhere and you just might discover some new favorite products! It’s a great way to learn about the areas. I have loved visiting pharmacies and salons in other countries and learning, getting recommendations, and discovering great products.”
Another reader agrees, saying, “So much easier to just get what you need there, leave any leftovers behind. Voila! Room for one more pair of shoes!”
What are your tips on how to downsize toiletries in a carry on bag? Share in the comments!
For more tips on travel toiletries, please read:
- 10 Best Travel Toiletry Bags
- The Ultimate Guide to Hair While Traveling
- Ways to Fit All Your Toiletries into Your Carry-on
- The Simple Guide to Essential Travel Beauty Products
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I use disposable contact lens cases for mascara remover, and other very small quantity liquids. I use a small plastic container like the ones in today’s email for day face cream – in which I have premixed a good moisturizer and a tinted sunscreen along with a stronger face sunscreen. This gets multiple needs into one container. I only use a quart zip baggie for my liquids, and before I close it off I add a snack size baggie as the last item. It contains lip gloss, a small tube of hand cream and chapstick. When I’m through security, I can remove that and keep it at my seat during the flight. My non-liquids go into two different baggies – one for things I know I will use every day on the trip and one for items that I don’t want to be without but may only use periodically or not at all. We check in carry-on’s only and separate baggies are so easy to pack into the ‘trenches’ created by the retractable handles of the bag!
Great toiletry packing hacks, thanks for sharing Jan!
I use contact lense mini containers for my day moisturiser and night moisturiser for a couple of days away. One lid is white, one green, so you can distinguish which is which.
I also found a mini mascara, sample size toothpaste from the dentist, mini sized Argan oil for my hair, listerine strips, makeup remover pads.
Great toiletry packing tips, thanks for sharing them with us Susan!
Re Gotubbs/GoToobs: since they’re made of silicone, anything that contains silicone as an ingredient (like hair products) will dissolve the walls of the container and make the product leak out. I found this out the hard way.
Hi Inge, thank you for sharing this with us. If you are looking for other suggestions for containers to store your toiletries, have a look at the different suggestions featured on these articles: https://www.travelfashiongirl.com/how-to-pack-liquids-for-carry-on/ and https://www.travelfashiongirl.com/best-travel-containers/ Hope this helps. Happy travels!