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Last Updated on 24/07/2021
Using solid toiletries for travel makes packing light a dream – particularly if it’s a carry-on. Nothing beats the satisfaction of bundling your sparse belongings into a tiny carry-on suitcase and whisking it off to the airport without so much as a glance at the checked luggage counter.
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Going carry-on only – particularly for air travel – is hassle-free, and it makes travelling so much easier when you’re not bogged down with baggage. However, getting the packing bit right is a challenge.
I’m sure you’re all familiar with that old game of ziplock bag Tetris?
The one where every essential item in your carry-on seems to resemble a liquid of some kind and you’re left shoving these little 100ml blighters into every available crack and corner of your TSA-friendly ziplock bag.
It takes a go or two and a few different strategies, but you squeeze them all in hoping the bag won’t explode until at least after you’ve got through the security check at the airport...
Why you should use solid toiletries for travel
Solid toiletries are perfect for travel because they’e liquid-free, last longer and take up less space!
Carry-ons are great, but we could really do without those tiny bottles of liquid toiletries than run out after a few uses. Now, luckily, we can. Liquid-free toiletries are becoming more of a reality and ziplock bag Tetris a thing of the past.
Swapping your usual travel toiletries for solid alternatives not only saves you a lot of packing stress but it’s also more economical.
You get so many more uses out of your product – mainly because you get to take its full version in a concentrated form (which saves water!) with you as opposed to the 100ml allowance on a flight.
If looked after, solid toiletries and beauty products can last you months. Gone are the days when you try to stretch out of the contents of your tiny shampoo bottle for an admirable length of time.
These toiletries are here to save the day. They’re the travel heroes you never knew you needed.
Want a more sustainable suitcase? Here’s what else I include in my eco-friendly packing list.
Non-liquid toiletries are more eco-friendly
Solid toiletries are kinder to the environment. They last twice, if not three times, as long as their plastic bottled cousins, which means less waste. In fact, most of them don’t even have plastic packaging to throw out making them the perfect zero-waste alternative.
Incorporating them into your packing list is a great way to limit your single-use plastic consumption and they can allow you to pack lighter which is also more sustainable.
What’s more, they have a much lower carbon footprint than the liquid versions simply because of their size. Research found that a lorry full of shampoo bars holds roughly the same amount of hair washes as 15 lorries carrying liquid shampoo!
A quick note on going cruelty-free
Cruelty-free cosmetics and toiletries are generally much healthier for you because they tend not to contain an ingredient list saturated with harmful chemicals, including parabens and sulphates.
Cruelty-free products are also much better for your skin as you’re less likely to suffer breakouts, acne, allergies and irritation. It’s also worth noting that whatever you put onto your skin gets, to some extent, absorbed by the body.
Above all, making your packing list cruelty-free is an important step towards being an ethical traveller. Sustainable travel is about ensuring that our impact as travellers causes minimal damage to all communities, wildlife and the environment.
That includes the ethical treatment of animals no matter where we go in the world.
Liquid-free toiletries kit
Here’s a quick overview of top liquid-free products to add to your sustainable packing list. Scroll down to read more about each of these toiletries for travel and get yourself started on a carry-on luggage revolution.
Recommended toiletries kit:
- Shower gel
- Shampoo bar
- Conditioner bar
- Shampoo 2 in 1 bar (alternative)
- Cleansing bar
- Toothpaste tabs
- Mouthwash tabs
- Crystal deodorant
- Mineral sunscreen
- Soap tin
1. Shower Blocks
Super sudsy Shower Blocks help you feel fresh wherever you go without the need for liquid shower gels. They’re also completely plastic-free. In fact, 1.5 bottles of plastic waste are saved when you use a Shower Block.
Made in the UK, they’re also vegan-friendly, cruelty-free and contain 96% natural ingredients. No parabens and no squeaky feeling you get with soap. Just hydrated and moisturised skin!
There are currently six fragrances to choose from, including Naked Unscented for those who are allergy-prone or prefer scent-free. My favourite is Lime and Sandalwood as it’s zingy and refreshing with luxurious woody notes. You smell amazing afterwards too.
Shower Blocks are also partners of Toiletries Amnesty which means every block sold gives a shower to someone in need.
2. The Little Goat Soap Company Shampoo Bar
This shampoo bar produces silky suds and leaves your hair feeling softer and thicker. It’s perfect for travel as it offers a welcome treat for damaged travel-worn hair, particularly after long exposure to that dehydrating recycled oxygen during flights.
The bar is perfect for those with sensitive skin and its soothing formula can be used to relieve the discomfort of Eczema, Psoriasis and itchy scalps.
It’s cruelty-free but not vegan so if you would prefer a vegan solid shampoo alternative, New Shampoo Bar by Lush gives your hair a wonderfully healthy shine.
It’s a good idea to get your hair used to shampoo and conditioner bars before travelling. Start using them about a month before for the best results.
3. EarthKind Conditioner Bar
This oaty conditioner bar smells good enough to eat. Handmade by a multi-award-winning hair care brand, this fan favourite is rich in micro-proteins and wheat amino acids that moisturise your hair, increases elasticity and prevents breakage. Suitable for all hair types, the solid conditioner is vegan, cruelty and plastic-free.
Plus, it was formulated by a leading UK hair scientist so your hair is in good hands – or suds, if you will.
A little goes a long way with EarthKind’s conditioner bar and it’s recommended that you only use a sparing amount to get the desired effect. It’s in a concentrated form after all.
This conditioner is one of the best solid toiletries for lengthier trips as it helps you avoid buying heavy bottles of hair products while travelling.
4. Ethique St Clements Shampoo Bar
Okay, I’m throwing Ethique’s St Clements Shampoo Bar on the list because it’s my current hair care holy grail. My hair is fine and fly away which means heavy products cause it to oil up very easily with the wrong products.
Not St Clements, however. This shampoo bar is designed to tackle oil-prone hair. It contains luxurious orange and lime oils that balance natural oil production and leaves your hair feeling fresh and smooth without harsh foaming agents or silicone.
But that’s not all.
This solid shampoo bar is perfect for travel because you don’t need to use a conditioner with it. It contains humectants that draw moisture to your hair without oil.
Not only does St Clements save you money because you only need one product, but it also helps you pack light. Plus, all of Ethique’s products are plastic-free and a tree is planted with every order.
5. Gallinée Cleansing Bar
Despite its appearance this not a soap for your face. The Gallinée Cleansing Bar is completely soap-free, and its balance of prebiotics and lactic acid is designed to protect the skin’s natural barriers.
This cleanser can be used for your face and body so it’s an ideal all-in-one travel essential. In fact, this handy little bar is a perfect pick-me-up for when your skin is feeling a bit dehydrated and grubby from a long day of travelling.
I find cleansers quite tricky as I have sensitive skin. All too often after using them my face would feel clean but uncomfortably tight. However, when I used this Gallinée Cleansing Bar I was pleasantly surprised at how fresh and hydrated my face felt.
It also lasts years. Seriously. It’s currently one of my favourite solid beauty products.
6. Lush Charcoal Toothy Tabs
Charcoal toothpaste is all the rage at the moment due to its tooth whitening properties. Now, thanks to Lush’s new line of eco-friendly solid toiletries, you can get it in a dry tablet form.
The plastic bottle they come in is 100% recyclable, and there are no harmful chemicals in the toothpaste tabs so it’s ideal if you’re thinking about your environmental impact (read more tips on how to be a sustainable traveller here).
To activate the toothpaste you nibble on the tablet so that it breaks down into a paste. Admittedly it’s a method that takes some getting used to but at least you won’t have to worry about using up your tiny travel toothpaste in about three days.
It’s worth being aware that charcoal toothpaste should not be used every day as it can actually erode the enamel. If you would prefer something minty, try ecoLiving’s Toothpaste Tablets.
7. Lush Crème de Menthe Mouthwash Tabs
Thanks to Lush you can even get a solid mouthwash for your travel essentials. Similar to the Toothy Tabs, simply pop one tab in your mouth, take a sip of water and feel the tablet start to fizz.
It’s a pretty intense sensation but they’re very travel-friendly. Simply slip them in your bag and use them on the go.
Using these solid toiletries for travel isn’t a recommended alternative to brushing your teeth. However, they’re super handy if you’ve been travelling for most of the day and you feel like a quick blast of minty freshness to make yourself feel less grungy.
8. Salt of the Earth Crystal Classic Deodorant
Not only is this crystal deodorant a perfect non-liquid alternative for travel but it’s also a great investment because it lasts a long time. I’ve had mine for about two years now and I still have a lot left before I need to think about replacing it.
This deodorant contains only one ingredient: Potassium Alum, which means it’s essentially a huge rock of salt. It’s completely fragrance-free so it can suit anyone and there are no harmful chemicals to worry about.
Tea tree oil is naturally antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal so it can combat odour. It’s another liquid to add to the pile, true, but if you swap in a few solid toiletries you should be able to find some room in that ziplock bag.
9. Brush On Block Sunscreen
Sunscreen is a crucial part of your skin health whatever your plans. But the hard truth is chemical-based sunscreens are bleaching coral reefs and some have been found to contain carcinogens. Your best best is non-nano mineral-based sunscreens (I have a whole guide on that here).
If you’re looking for a liquid-free sunscreen, I love Brush On Block. It’s particularly useful when you’re wearing makeup and need to touch up your sun protection.
The SPF30 is a powder that contains just five ingredients, including titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, chamomile flower extract, green tea extract and honeysuckle extract. It’s also vegan and reef-safe. You can get a translucent or slightly darker shade. No awkward white streaks in sight.
For best results, put a base layer of suncreen or block on (I like Green People) and then use Brush On Block to touch up your face and exposed areas throughout the day. You can even brush it through your scalp too.
The one downside is that it’s not plastic free, however, the tube is refillable. Once you run out you can order powder cartridges rather than buying the entire tube again.
10. Suma Travel Soap Tin
If you’re taking solid toiletries with you while travelling, you’re going to want to keep them as clean and protected as possible.
You don’t want your precious cargo to suffer the wear and tear of your bag and you don’t want sudsy mush getting all over your clothes.
That’s where travel containers like this soap tin come in handy. Made from recycled aluminium, this handy little tin is lightweight and fits your soaps and solid toiletries like a glove.
Looking for more sustainable gadgets to add to your packing list? Check out this gift guide for ethical travellers.
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