No need to hit up the "travel-sized" section of the drugstore anymore. This list shows you how to pack in a way that's better for the planet and for travel!
Raise your hand if your favorite part of packing is picking out all of your toiletries from the travel-sized section of the drugstore? 🙋♀️
I mean, it's fun, right?! I can’t really describe exactly why creating a collection of tiny shampoos and cleansers is fun, it just is. If you know, you know. But since I’ve become more conscious of plastic waste and my impact on the planet, I just don’t feel good about buying all those little plastic bottles anymore. Especially since there ARE alternatives. High quality, natural, eco-friendly alternatives.
Give up the bottle!
Making the transition to 'give up the bottle' is so easy thanks to an ever-growing number of brands committed to reducing plastic waste. And it turns out that not only are these eco-friendly options better for the environment, but they’re also better suited for travel anyway! You can forget that 3.4-ounce liquid limit required for flying because pretty much all of the products on this list are in solid form. Plus, I promise that stuffing your bag with shampoo bars and toothpaste tabs is in fact just as fun as picking out those travel-sized bottles. It’s less stressful too because you don't have to worry about whether your liquids are the right size!
If you, too, are committed to 'give up the bottle' and need some fresh inspiration for your travel toiletries, look no further! This list will show you how you can pack an eco-friendly toiletry bag that's good to the earth (and TSA-friendly too)! Now let me show you some of my personal faves…
1. Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
Lots of companies have begun offering solid shampoos and conditioners, which is a big win for the planet and for us frequent flyers. They’re ultra-convenient and while they take some getting used to, they essentially work the same way as the liquid stuff.
One of my all-time favorite eco-friendly brands is Lush. They make my personal favorite shampoo bar - Honey I Washed My Hair. It's compact, yet long-lasting and lathers really nicely, just like liquid shampoo. Plus, the light honey scent is lovely! Lush also offers these storage tins which fit their shampoo bars perfectly!
I also really like the Ethique brand - their Pinkalicious shampoo bar is one of their best-sellers, and for good reason! It's the equivalent of THREE shampoo bottles, is completely vegan, and smells like grapefruit. Try the Wonderbar solid conditioner too!
Love Beauty and Planet
One last shampoo bar recommendation (and the most affordable of the three) is the Love Beauty and Planet Coconut Water 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner Bar. This bar is big and it'll last you forever. Plus, the coconut water and mimosa flower scent is to die for. Two things I don't love about this bar though are that it doesn't lather very well (this is just personal preference) and that I still need to condition my hair despite the fact it says '2-in-1.' I usually "cheat" with the Coconut Water and Mimosa Flower bottled conditioner if I'm being honest, but their bottles are made with 100% recycled plastic! For traveling, you could do the same by putting the bottled conditioner into a 3.4-ounce or smaller container (ideally one you already have).
2. Soap/Body Bar
I decided to ditch body washes, but particularly shower gels, because of their really artificial “feel.” Do you know what I mean? Something about the bright, fake colors and the jelly texture just irks me. Plus, I don't like having to use a loofah or washcloth to apply them. I only recently learned how much bacteria could hide in those things!
The point is, I think bars are best when it comes to cleaning your body! I’m not picky about mine, and I like to switch things up every now and then. If I’m in a hurry, I’ll grab a quick bar of Dove, but otherwise, I’ll head to Lush. They always have lots of options (that are always packaging-free!) and it's fun to pick one out based on the season/your mood/your destination!
3. Face Cleansers and Moisturizers
I've been really into skincare lately, and I'm always on the lookout for new eco-friendly options. Here I'll highlight a few options for cleansers and moisturizers, but if you want to explore a bit of a more extensive eco-friendly skincare routine, check out this blog post of 6 skincare brands with sustainable packaging!
Like I mentioned earlier, Lush is one of my favorite eco-friendly brands. It's a go-to for shampoo bars and also for skincare! I love Lush because of their values: vegetarian and natural ingredients, anti-animal testing, ethical buying, and recycled/naked packaging. Their cleansers and moisturizers come in recycled and recyclable pots – plus, did you know that for every 5 containers you return to Lush, you get a free fresh face mask?! It’s a great incentive to recycle. (Not that you need one). The cleansers are solid, like a paste, so they're good to fly. My personal favorite cleansers are Herbalism and Let The Good Times Roll.
Lush moisturizers are great too, but they're a bit expensive. The plus side though is that the containers are 1.5 ounces so they are well under the TSA liquid limit! (Not to mention that the ingredients are top-notch and good for you!)
Youth To The People
A skincare brand I'm currently obsessed with is Youth to the People. Their Superfood Cleanser is my skin's favorite and I've loved every other YTTP product I've tried, too. Their glass packaging is eco-friendly, not to mention incredibly beautiful. For a more extensive and luxurious travel skincare routine, you could try The Youth Minis Kit! They're flight-friendly and you'll get the opportunity to try a range of their best-selling products!
4. Plant-Based Toothbrushes
Plastic, disposable toothbrushes are a huge contributor to worldwide plastic waste. In fact, there are estimates that nearly 1 BILLION toothbrushes end up in landfills every year from the US alone. 1 BILLION toothbrushes wasted by the United States every year. That’s insane! Luckily though, more and more brands are creating recyclable and biodegradable toothbrushes to help prevent the ever-growing landfill waste. While bamboo is a popular option, I’ve found that after time, they have the potential to give you some mouth splinters (ouch). However, for short-term use (like on a trip!) they do work pretty well However, I'm definitely more into these plant-based options from The Humble Co. The handle is made primarily from corn starch!
5. Toothpaste Tabs
Toothpaste tubes suck. Especially the travel-sized ones. Before discovering toothpaste tabs, I was initially going to recommend Tom’s Toothpaste as a good all-natural, sustainable option. And it still is! Their packaging is at least recyclable, and unlike many other popular toothpaste brands, they use all-natural ingredients. But, toothpaste tabs are an even more sustainable option. And a much easier travel option! With toothpaste tabs, you won’t have to worry about running out of toothpaste and having to find more. Check out Bite Toothpaste Bits that come in a refillable glass container! (If you’re worried about the glass for traveling, transfer them into any other container you have at home).
6. Solid or Natural Deodorant
Ah, deodorants. They’re just one of those tricky things. Between the packaging and some potentially harmful ingredients, it can be hard to find an all-natural option with earth-friendly packaging. Here is where Ethique comes in for the win again!
Ethique has a deodorant bar that comes in three different varieties:
Their deodorant bars have no plastic packaging and no toxic ingredients which will keep your body healthy and chemical-free! Plus, because they’re in a more compact bar form, they’re easy to pack in a purse or backpack for quick applications throughout the day if needed.
If you’re not sold on the idea of a deodorant bar, I totally get it. Try Tom’s natural deodorant. I use this brand personally, but I admit that natural deodorants take some getting used to. The reason why is because a lot of natural deodorant brands don’t contain antiperspirants. Essentially, antiperspirants clog your pores and prevent toxins (including sweat) from leaving your body, and natural deodorants don’t do that. So while this natural deodorant will protect against odor, you may have to reapply more than you’re used to if sweat is a concern.
7. Reef-Safe Sunscreen
Did you guys know that so many of the sunscreens we use are harmful to sea creatures and coral reefs? When we swim, sunscreen that contains toxic ingredients washes off our bodies and contributes to coral bleaching. Coral bleaching is when corals expel the algae living on them, causing them to turn completely white, which leaves them more susceptible to death and stress. (Yes, corals are live creatures!)
If you want to do more to help endangered coral reefs, consider adopting a coral through Coral Gardeners! You can read my post about it here.
With its all-natural ingredients, biodegradable packaging, and TSA-approved size, Mama Kuleana sunscreen is the best of all worlds! This is the perfect sunscreen to pack whether you’re vacationing on the beaches of Thailand or exploring Eastern Europe because sunscreen is important no matter where you are or what color your skin is!
8. Makeup Eraser
The Makeup Eraser is awesome because it eliminates the need for disposable makeup wipes or packages of makeup remover formula. I got mine as a sample from a friend, and I’ve been obsessed ever since! This simple little cloth removes all of your makeup with JUST water! Seriously. Rather than using one makeup remover wipe per day, (which adds up extremely quickly – and multiply that by millions of people), the Makeup Eraser will last you anywhere from three to five years! Plus, it’s extremely gentle and doesn’t sting your eyes like some makeup remover wipes tend to do.
9. Eco-Friendly Razor
Ah, razors, razors, razors. I have yet to find an eco-friendly shaving option that I’m completely sold on, but with an estimated 2 billion disposable razors tossed into landfills each year, I know it’s important to make a change. So rather than going for the cheap plastic ones that work horribly and don’t last more than a few days, the first step is to invest in something more durable. However, due to the fact that blades are a pretty big no-no when it comes to plane travel, razors are pretty tricky.
A safety razor is one of the most sustainable shaving options, but the blades are not allowed in carry-on luggage, so this option only works if you’re checking bags or if you’re not flying! Despite the name, a safety razor is going to be a little more difficult and will require a greater learning curve than the multi-blade cartridge razor you’re probably used to. You’ll need to get used to applying less pressure and using shorter strokes, but once that’s mastered, you’ll end up saving lots of money and lots of plastic razors in the long run. A good handle can theoretically last your entire lifetime, and the blades are easily replaceable and recyclable. Try this one from Bambaw – the bamboo razor handle is compostable!
If you're not into the idea of a safety razor (and honestly, I don’t blame you), there's another option. Try the Preserve razor – it's made from recycled ocean plastic! Because a razor made from recycled materials is at least better than a razor that’s not. It takes cartridge blades, which are completely fine to bring as carry-on items.
I hope this post will inspire you to make some changes to your hygiene routines, whether it's for travel or just at home. Small, simple changes go a long way, and using this list as a reference is a great starting point!