Gone are the days when you have to check a bag just to bring your toiletries. Who needs a full bottle of lotion for a one week trip? Bringing travel sized bottles can help you cut back and go carry-on, but are travel sized versions really the best toiletries for hand luggage?
When it comes to dealing with TSA restrictions and the chance of liquids leaking, the best toiletries for hand luggage might just be their solid versions.
Most of these solid toiletries are easy to find online and in stores and some can even be made at home! While there is a bit of a learning curve to a few, like the shampoo, but you can always pick and choose which ones work for you. Cutting back your liquids where you can is better than not at all!
Types of Solid Toiletries
Limit your toiletries by going with the solid versions, many of which exist on the mass market. The benefits of many of these is that you can bring only as much as you need, cutting off pieces of a bar. Consider these alternatives for packing in your hand luggage.
Solid Shampoo and Conditioner
We’ve tried a few types of solid shampoo, but the main company known for offering them is Lush (check out our Lush shampoo review here). Wet your hair first, lather the bar in your hand like you would with soap, and massage through your hair. Alternatively, rub the bar through your wet hair. Rinse after a few minutes. The same goes for conditioner!
Lotion is a major hassle for travel as their containers frequently leak. Solid lotion solves this problem by moisturizing your skin without ruining all your clean clothing when the bottle breaks. Keep it in a tin or bag and simply rub it between your hands to feel the benefits. Etsy is a good place to find solid lotion bars of different scents!
Solid Body wash
An obvious alternative to your liquid body wash is soap. Dove makes body bars of soap that cleanse your skin while moisturising. Don’t forget to bring some sort of container to keep it in until it dries. This is an easy item to pick up at the dollar store.
Solid Face wash
Washing your face is an important part of your daily routine but face wash can add to your toiletry bag. Swap out your liquid face wash in favor of a bar. Neutrogena and Lanolin Agg-Tval are two of my favorite brands for facial cleansing bars, especially for sensitive skin.
One of our favorite products is solid perfume, which can keep you smelling nice while also being easy to throw in your bag. Choose from brands like Lush, Pacifica and, one of our favorites, Aroamas. You can get them in tub or tube formats for easy application.
Skip the aerosol deodorants in favor of solids. I always have a full sized deodorant and travel sized on hand at my house to be prepared for last minute trips. Travel sized deodorants from brands like Secret are available at your local pharmacy and just about everywhere else.
Even toothpaste can be solid instead of liquid! Lush makes what are known as “toothy tabs,” which look like mints. Simply wet your toothpaste and chew one up in your mouth. Then brush normally. You won’t feel like you’re missing the liquids!
A number of brands also have solid sunscreen sticks, but these tend to be better for key areas like face and shoulders, not all-over coverage. Another alternative is sunscreen wipes, which also come in mosquito wipes.
Soltan Active Ultra Resistance Suncare Protection Stick Review
Lottie told us that the Soltan Active Suncare Stick was her one little thing she couldn’t travel without. Having skin that burns easy makes sunscreen a high priority, and a sunscreen stick means you can have a way to touch up throughout the day that doesn’t leave to a mess in your handbag or daypack.
Lottie was thankful to have the solid sunscreen when hiking up Mount Kilimanjaro where altitude can make normal cream bottles ooze and leak. Not the solid!
In most of her travels, she doesn’t rely just on the solid, but instead uses it for touchups and ear, nose, and face coverage.
>> Check out the Soltan Active Suncare Stick on Amazon.
Neutrogena Beach Defense Solid Sunscreen Review
Review by Ali: Neutrogena’s Beach Defense solid sunscreen stick has an SPF of 50, which is great for people like me who burn easily. It’s also water resistant for up to 80 minutes, so you’ll still have to reapply during a long day of water activities, but 80 minutes is still a decent amount of time.
It was a little odd at first because it feels like putting deodorant on all over your body, but once I got over that, it wasn’t a big deal. It had a light beachy scent, nothing too overwhelming, and I actually quite liked the smell. It felt a little greasy but comparable to liquid sunscreen or even a little less greasy than that. Plus you won’t get it all over your hands while applying it. Applying it on my ears was a little tricky, so I did sometimes use my fingers for that.
It’s really easy to apply, but I did notice that it’s harder to tell if you’ve missed a spot since it goes on clear from the start. As a result, I ended up with some blotchy sunburn on my arms and knees from where I missed during a snorkeling trip in Belize.
With two of us using one stick for a few days a week over a 3 ½ week trip (mostly on our faces, necks, and arms), we went through about half of one stick. This was not a long beach vacation for us. If you’re spending more time in the sun, hanging out on the beach, doing more water activities, you’ll go through it faster.
Overall, I liked the Neutrogena Beach Defense sunscreen stick. Even though it’s a little harder to make sure it’s evenly applied, having sunscreen in a solid form made up for the small hassle.
>> Check out the Neutrogena Beach Defense Stick on Amazon.
Solid Bug Repellent
Repel’s Sportsmen Stick Review
Review by Ali: If there’s a mosquito within a 10 mile radius, it finds me. So when I travel to places with mosquitoes, especially mosquitoes that potentially carry tropical diseases, it’s important to me to have good bug repellent.
I decided to try solid bug repellent for our most recent trip to Central America. I went with Repel’s Sportsmen Stick with 30% deet. It says it protects against mosquitoes, ticks, gnats, biting flies, chiggers, and fleas. It also says it repels insects for up to 8 hours. I didn’t notice much of a scent, and it didn’t feel too greasy.
The bug repellent stick is sort of shaped like a giant lip balm, but without the little turning piece that makes your lip balm come out. It was a little frustrating at first trying to figure out how to get the stick to come up enough to be useable. Finally Andy whacked the stick a few times against a table, and the repellent nudged out the top a bit, and we were able to use it.
I did not make it out of that trip free of bug bites, but when I used the bug repellent stick (a few swipes on my arms, legs, and neck), I almost never got any bites. I didn’t apply it to every inch of my skin like I would with sunscreen because I felt like a few swipes on the exposed areas was sufficient.
Though my husband did use the bug repellent stick, I definitely used it more often than he did. I used it almost every evening before we left to find dinner. I used it in any wooded areas, like the ruins at Tikal and Copan. And I usually carried it with me and applied some at random times if I started seeing bugs. After 3 ½ weeks, we used about half of one stick. You’ll probably use more if you’re camping or hiking for an extended period of time.
Overall I was happy with the Repel Sportsmen Stick solid bug repellent. I wish it had an easier way of getting the stick out, like a twisting mechanism, but that wouldn’t stop me from using it again.
>> Check out the Repel Sportsmen Stick on Amazon.
Making Your Own Solid Toiletries
If you don’t find the product you’re looking for, you can get crafty and make your own! Check out the links below for recipes on making your own solid toiletries to bring in your hand luggage.
- Hair Shampoo Bars, The Feral Turtle
- DIY Solid Conditioner, Her Packing List
- Handmade Deodorant, Diary of a Mad Crafter
- DIY Solid Perfume, Treehugger
- Lotion Bars, The Backyard Farmwife
- Toothpaste Dots and Other Toothpaste Packing Hacks, Her Packing List
P.S. How to get free travel sized toiletries + How to pack liquid toiletries
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I couldn’t get into the LUSH shampoos/conditioners…they didn’t work all that well for my thick, curly hair. I’m currently trying out the ‘no poo’ system of baking soda/water for shampoo and apple cider vinegar/water for conditioner. It’s going well so far, but the ACV is an extra liquid I have to carry around (though I keep it in a 3oz squeeze bottle), so once I use that up I may give LUSH another go (maybe different kinds this time?)
I love lush and use their solid shampoos all the time, even when not travelling. However, I don’t do “no poo”, adn I’m quite sure that most of their solid shampoos still have the SLS that most “no poos” avoid. You might want to go into the store and see if any have a smaller amount of SLS that you might want to try, just when travelling. Personally I’ve found Copperhead to leave a less “drying” feeling on my hair.
What are those bottles in the picture at the top of the page?
They seem to be 3.4oz (100ml), plus pretty colours, which I’ve been looking for.
I believe they’re IKEA travel bottles
Thank you so much, you’re really a life saver 🙂 🙂
You can usually get those at any CVS or Walgreens.
Feral Turtle says
Thanks for the link to my hair shampoo bars! What a great post for travellers. Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend!
One question I have is what types of soap containers do solid lovers use? This is a problem I am having right now.
I know some people buy the Lush tins for solids. Someone commented that the GoTubbs are good for them as well.
I use a small knitted soap saver/soap sack thing I found on etsy. Generally the bars are dry enough when you get out of the shower to just put them straight into the bag and hang them up overnight or for a couple of hours before chucking them back in your bag. Saves a little space too. If you really don’t have time to let them air dry, you could attach them to your bag or just put them all in a small plastic bag for a while.
I use a small plastic container for my solid bars. I leave it open to dry off whenever I can, and close it up for travel.
The bars I totally recommend is Ethique. They have a great range and do samples. I travelled the world for a year using two shampoo bars. Amazing and my hair has never been healthier.
You can put your solid bars in a lingerie wash bag and let them hand and air dry for a bit.
TRESA BOCKUS says
I’ve used the bug repellant in stick form for many, many years, especially for my ears when I’m out in the woods, it just pushes up from the bottom with your thumb like a push pop, no twisting needed, just stick your thumb up the bottom of the container and push, sometimes it’s stubborn at first, but if you do use too much force, I’ve launched my bug dope out like a cork popping before lol, oops, pick it up, dust it off and push it back into the case and be more careful with it the next time lol. Thought maybe you’d like to know for future travels.
Claire Laporte says
Loved the list but some of it is packaged in plastic. There are other alternatives to items that are either in cardboard or glass. No need to use plastics anymore