Miniature marvels: The best travel-size beauty, grooming and haircare sets for summer

14 Jun 2022 | Updated on: 27 Sep 2022 |By Zoe Gunn

Don’t let airport security come between you and your look

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The one (and pretty much only) thing we didn’t miss about foreign travel during lockdown was draconian airport security rules. There was, after all, something rather joyous about optimistically packing a full-size SPF50 sun cream alongside your raincoat for last summer’s trip to the Lake District.

But no longer. The promise of long weeks spent bathing on sun-drenched shores awaits – but first, you’ll need to make some judicious travel-size beauty decisions. Will a Greek supermarket carry your usual brand of shampoo so you can pack your favourite face cream? Should you leave behind your lipstick to make room for your night serum? Will you be able to decode the ingredients on a tube of Turkish toothpaste?

Before you panic, remember that many of the essentials (deodorant, mouthwash, soap etc) can be bought abroad relatively easily and cheaply, leaving space for the products you’re loathe to leave behind. Alternatively, avoid any security hold-ups with these hand luggage-friendly travel sets from our favourite skincare, beauty and grooming brands.

Essential travel sets

Aesop Chicago city kit, £55,
Grown Alchemist travel kit, £57,

Let’s start with the basics. Whether it’s long haul or just a long weekend, no one should be going anywhere without a basic toiletries set including shampoo, conditioner and moisturiser. But, if you’re looking to pack a more extensive regime into your carry-on, Aesop and the Grown Alchemist have devised all-singing, all-dancing essentials sets that will still neatly fit into an airport-approved plastic bag.

Designed specifically for city breaks, Aesop’s Chicago city kit boasts a full complement of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, mouthwash, cleanser, moisturiser and serum, each packed with the brand’s hero geranium leaf and parsley seed ingredients. Grown Alchemist, meanwhile, has packed eight of its best-selling products, including the Hydra-Repair day cream, Gentle Gel cleanser and facial exfoliant, into one neat bag you’ll be using long after the bottles are empty.

Skincare travel sets

The Hero Skin Ingredients kit, £85,
No Makeup bestsellers bundle, £64,

It can be easy to leave behind your usual cleanse, tone and moisturise regime when you go on holiday but, thanks to the combined effects of sun, sea and probably a few sangrias, your skin will thank you for all the care you can show it while away. Net-A-Porter has done the hard work by curating an edit of its most-loved skincare products, presented in a handy, see-through travel bag. Expect cult products, including Lancer’s Retexturizing Treatment, Sunday Riley’s Luna Sleeping Night Oil and Dr Dennis Gross’ C+ Collagen Deep Cream, in adorable miniature sizes.

Perricone MD, meanwhile, has put some serious thought into its travel set, creating an edit it promises will leave your make-up bag redundant – meaning you can save space on foundation and concealer. Among its highlights are hybrid products, such as the High Potency Classics Face Finishing & Firming Tinted Moisturiser and No Makeup Mascara lash treatment, which deliver powerful skincare benefits while mimicking the effects of traditional makeup.

Suncare travel sets

Ultra Violette Skinscreen Collection, £120,
Sun protection duo, £118,

A good-quality, high-SPF sun cream should always be at the top of your packing list if you’re off to sunnier climes. Not only is SPF vital to maintaining a youthful complexion, as well as preventing skin cancers caused by sun damage, there’s also the simple fact that no one looks good in a lobster hue.

Luckily, SPF has come a long way since the thick, gloopy, T-shirt staining creams of your childhood holidays. Take, for example, the five-strong set of products in Ultra Violette’s Skinscreen Collection. Among them are specific formulas for face, hands and body, including creams that double up as serums, moisturisers and primers and boast classic skincare ingredients including Vitamin E and aloe vera. Chantecaille, meanwhile, has created a duo that cares for both your skin and the environment. The brand’s signature Ultra Sun Protection SPF45 PA++ anti-ageing sunscreen is offered alongside a reef-safe SeaScreen 30 formula that is infused with non-nano zinc – a multi-tasking ingredient that protects skin from UV rays while being completely harmless to ocean life.

Makeup travel sets

Complete Beauty and Care Kit, £115,
Hourglass Bestsellers Set, £48,

We would always recommend slimming down your usual makeup routine when travelling, both to save room and because, realistically, no one wants to be applying layers of foundation and powder when it’s 35 degrees outside. If the thought of hitting the beach bar barefaced fills you with dread, however, mini versions of well-proven favourites are your best friend.

Developed for use before, during and after exercise, Skin In Motion’s range of sweat-defying products are ideal for sunny days. Its Complete Beauty and Care set features carry-on compliant versions of its full product range, including a tinted moisturiser, concealer, lip balm, waterproof mascara, cooling mist and cleanser, promising full coverage in formulas that are breathable, light and won’t result in breakouts.

Hourglass’s Best Sellers set, meanwhile, does exactly what it says on the tin, promising miniature versions of the brand’s four most popular products in a handy set that caters to both skin and eyes. Begin with the Veil Mineral Primer before applying a dusting of Veil Translucent Dusting Powder and adding finishing touches courtesy of an Unlocked Instant Extensions mascara and mechanical gel eyeliner.

The haircare travel sets

UKA Wake Up! Travel set, £32,
Virtue Recovery Discover kit, £36,

If you’ve ever returned from holiday with the kind of dry, sun-bleached locks that earn you a stern lecture from your hairdresser, you’ll know that it’s best not to rely on a hotel to provide top-notch haircare products. Instead, invest in a set that offers a full-service regime in perfectly-proportioned sizes.

UKA’s Wake Up! set promises to revive tired tresses with a trio of products which are simultaneously light and nourishing while cleansing away grease, sweat, suncream, chlorine and saltwater. Likewise, the Recovery Discovery kit from Virtue features a shampoo, conditioner and treatment mask all formulated with Alpha Keratin 60ku to strengthen natural hair keratin, as well as baobab seed oil and vitamin C to restore dry and damaged hair and create natural bounce and shine.

Grooming travel sets

Gent’s Timeless Treasures, £32,
Dr. Barbara Sturm Glow Kit, £160,

Gents, a summer holiday is no excuse to let normal standards of grooming slip. Your skin is not immune to the effects of dehydration and do you really want to return to work with a beard tan line having let your shaving routine fall by the wayside? We thought not.

Espa’s Timeless Treasures set includes all the essentials – a shower gel, shave mud, post-shave rescue balm and razor – to keep your stubble-free and smelling fresh. For a more intensive grooming routine, look to Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Glow Kit. This unisex travel skincare collection features every product in the brand’s signature illuminating programme, including a cleanser, scrub, mask, hyaluronic serum, face cream, primer and glow drops, leaving skin looking healthy and revitalised.

Fragrance travel sets

Ex Nihilo Attraction eau de parfum travel set, £110,
Solid Scent Duo, £56,

Taking full-size fragrances on holiday with you is always going to be a waste of precious liquid space – especially when there are so many fantastic travel sizes waiting to be discovered. Take, for example, Ex Nihilo’s Attraction travel set, which features 7.5ml versions of the Parisian perfumer’s most popular scents: Vetiver Moloko, French Affair, Bois d’Hiver, Citizen X and Cologne 352. Plus, they’re unisex, so you can share them with your travel companions and save even more space.

Alternatively, Jo Malone’s innovative solid perfumes needn’t take up any space in your liquids bag at all. Offered in a series of paired scents designed to be layered or worn alone, each duo evokes a certain mood or emotion, with options including Energetic, Lively, Playful and Delightful. Once used, each scent can be replaced with an eco-friendly refill.

Read more: Beauty and skincare trends for summer