100ml and Under: Sustainable Beauty Essentials to Fit in Your Hand Luggage

Travelling hand luggage only means a limited liquid allowance, which often leads to unnecessary plastic buys to keep your products under 100ml. Sophie Parsons suggests some simple swaps to help make your wash bag more sustainable, with the added bonus of a little more space in your suitcase.

Short haul flights, city breaks and long weekends often begin with the strategic packing of tiny suitcases, bound by the budget airline limitations and the refusal to pay the equivalent of another ticket for more luggage. Packing transforms into a Marie Kondo-esque challenge, picking only the absolutely crucial and folding and rolling to adhere to the tininess of the tiny suitcase. Perhaps the biggest challenge faced by the hand luggage traveller is that of the liquid allowances; miniature shampoos and toothpastes, face wipes and deodorants marketed as travel-sized essentials for our daily beauty regimes.

Tourism has been linked to producing around one tenth of the world’s carbon emissions, with air travel being one of the highest contributors. There are ways in which you can help to reduce this; offsetting your carbon, being more conscious of your plastic usage in the air and packing more consciously. Hand luggage liquid allowances come with a multitude of restraints, with the inclusion of pastes and most make-up products and exclusion of aerosols, making it confusing as to what you must include in that little plastic bag. However, there are small sustainable swaps that can help to create a more planet-friendly washbag, whilst still adhering to the one litre x 100ml luggage allowances.

Reusable, Refillable Bottles

Perhaps the easiest way to ensure your hand luggage washbag stays as sustainable possible is by investing in a pack of reusable bottles that you can refill time and time again, dispensing your already opened beauty creams and lotions into the regulation 100ml bottles. In opting for this method, as opposed to buying new mini versions, plastic usage within your trip can be dramatically reduced, as well as your pre-holiday spending. This is also helpful for avoiding the lure of complimentary soaps and shampoos often offered by hotels throughout your trip, which are often encased in plastic and renewed almost daily.

Soap & Shampoo Bars

Finding alternatives for the essentials, which coincidentally don’t count as liquids, is beneficial to both the planet and your packing list. In swapping shampoo, conditioner and body wash for hard soaps and bars, you are making room for a possible three more items, as well as opting for a plastic-free, cleaner beauty alternative. Commonly available in most natural and health shops, brands such as Faith in Nature and Soap Daze offer palm oil-free, vegan alternatives which can be bought loose and plastic-free. Be sure to store in metal tins or airtight containers when travelling, to maintain their longevity.

Zero-Waste Toothpaste

Zero-waste toothpaste, made from a powder rather than a paste, is a natural, organic and plastic-free alternative that is also excluded from the liquid allowance, once again making more room for more exciting luxury items in your liquids bag. Pair Georganic natural toothtablets with a bamboo toothbrush for the ultimate plastic-free beauty swap.


Multi-Use Beauty

Multi-use products are perhaps the best trick to cut down on products and make space for more. A small tin of coconut oil can double up as nourishing hair oil and a natural face and body moisturiser. Lipsticks can be used as cheek stains, bronzers as eyeshadows. Most multi-use make-up is created as a clean beauty alternative, with brands such as RMS Beauty offering organic make-up that is better for the planet and your luggage allowance.

Alternatives to Aerosols

Aerosols are banned from hand luggage due to the pressurised nature of a plane and so makes beauty essentials such as deodorants and dry shampoo frustratingly difficult to navigate. While roll-on deodorants are an easy alternative, cream deodorants such as those offered by The Natural Deodorant Co. are a gentler, more hydrating alternative, without any of the alcohols or artificial fragrances. Dry shampoo makes for a quick, lazy hack that helps to make beach hair last one day longer. Non-aerosol alternatives are few and far between, so why not try making your own? A simple mix of corn starch or arrowroot powder and essential oils can create an as effective, DIY alternative that no longer is excluded from your hand luggage.


Following the rise in beauty influencers, in-flight beauty regimes for glowing skin is accredited to a heavy moisturising routine and mid-flight face masks. Sheet masks, following the discovery and rise of Korean skincare, are perhaps one of the most effective products for combatting the dehydrating effects of travelling by plane. Whilst this is great for your skin, these plastic-packaged, single-use items are simply adding to landfill. However, if you really can’t resist an inflight treatment, natural skin company Rawganic offer organic cotton sheet masks that can be composted, as well as being vegan, cruelty free and 99.9% natural.


Sun Protection

SPF is a crucial part of our everyday skin regime, especially when travelling to sunnier far flung places. Natural sun block, made from zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, is best for both your face and the overall health of the planet, combatting the 14,000 tons of toxic sunscreen being washed into the oceans each year. Finding natural alternatives that comply with hand luggage sizes and limitations can be difficult. For a completely zero-waste alternative, Shade offers an all-natural sunscreen consisting of coconut oil, shea butter, beeswax and zinc oxide. Greenpeople offer coral safe and chemical-free suncreams for both your face and your body, with a special kids and scent-free range.

Whether you simply opt for reusable bottles rather than buying new minis, or overhaul your beauty essentials to lower waste, more natural alternatives, conscious packing, can help with reducing your consumption and increasing luggage space.


Go one step further and make sure your suitcase itself is sustainable.

For more zero-waste beauty, read our everyday eco-friendly beauty swaps.

Double check your sustainable summer holiday packing list.