Smashbox is known for making its travel-size Photo Finish primers cheaper per ounce than the full sizes ($16 for 0.5 oz vs. $36-42 for 1.0 oz, a discount of 11-24%). I was curious to see how other travel sizes stack up, so I searched “travel” at Sephora and took a look at what popped up – sure enough, those primers aren’t the only product that are cheaper per oz in the travel size.
Edit: information available in most updated form on Google doc
Obviously, sets have been excluded – those are usually a much better value. I’m sure I missed some products, and some of the travel and/or jumbo sizes may be out of stock (perhaps permanently).
Personally, I’m of the opinion that it’s reasonable for travel sizes to be slightly marked up (you’re paying for convenience/packaging, not just the volume of product), and in some cases I don’t think I would use up a full size (either because I’d pass the recommended use-by time or because I’d get bored and want to try something else), so the cost-per-usable-ounce for a travel size might be cheaper.
Benefit is the big offender here, with They’re Real! Push-Up Liner costing $12 for 0.1 oz ($1200/oz) for the travel size vs. $24 for 0.4 oz ($600/oz) for the full size, for an increase of 100% on what already seems like a ridiculously high price. The next highest markup is Urban Decay‘s Perversion Mascara at 40% more expensive per oz (full size $22 for 0.4 oz = $55/oz, travel size $10 for 0.13 oz = $76.92/oz)
On the discount end, MUFE‘s Smoky Extravagant Mascara is 28% cheaper per ounce – a double win in my opinion, since I never use any one mascara fast enough to finish a full-size tube before it’s time to toss it (3 months recommended, though honestly I keep them for closer to 6). Besides the Smashbox travel primers, which vary from 11-24% cheaper per ounce than the full sizes, Cover FX‘s setting powder is also notably cheaper (-22%) in the travel size, as is the tarte BB Tinted Treatment (-22%).
Other travel sizes that are 1-20% cheaper: boscia B.B. Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 27 PA+++ (-5%), Laura Mercier Foundation Primer – Oil Free (-3%) and Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20 (-15%), Cover Fx Mattifying Primer With Anti-Acne Treatment (-16%), Touch in Sol Stretchex Stretch Lash Effect Mascara (-14%).
Not shown are the calculations for jumbo-size products – the 32oz Cinema Secrets Makeup Brush Cleaner is 63% cheaper per oz than the typical 8 oz full size, and the 1.7 oz Smashbox Iconic Photo Finish Foundation Primer is 20% cheaper per oz than the 1 oz.
Overall pretty fair. Clinique has both the highest markup (Take the Day Off Cleansing Oil, +104%) and the highest discount (Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief, -22%).
Notes on calculations: many of the skincare products come in jumbo sizes. Sometimes it wasn’t clear which sizes were travel/full/jumbo (and several products came in more than 3 sizes) but I made my best guesses (e.g. assuming that if one size is sold in store, that’s the full size). A few items (Dr. Dennis Gross peel, Josie Maran/Ole Henriksen/Sephora wipes) are per unit, not per oz. The Fresh Anti-Redness Serum travel size consists of 7 separate ampoules, and the product page/packaging say that each ampoule is 1 ml/0.33 fl oz, but this is incorrect by a factor of ten – 1 ml is 0.033 fl oz (otherwise the travel ampoule packaging would have greater volume than the full size, and would be way cheaper.
Bath & Body
Short list with some bad offenders: Supergoop! Forever Young Hand Cream Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 40 PA+++ has a 216% travel-size markup, and L’Occitane Hand Cream has a 123% markup. The only other hand cream on this list, Tocca Crema de Mano – Hand Cream Stella, has no travel-size markup at all.
Rahua‘s Body Lotion (+2%) and DERMAdoctor‘s KP Duty Lotion (+5%) are also pretty reasonable. DERMAduty’s KP Duty Lotion also comes in a jumbo (14 oz) size that is 32% cheaper per oz than the full (4 oz) size.
The Marvis toothpaste also comes in Jasmin Mint, Aquatic Mint, Cinnamon Mint for the same price as the Classic Strong Mint.
I had no idea this was going to be so crazy.
Show Beauty has the worst offenders, with their travel-size Premiere Dry Shampoo and Premiere Finishing Spray both 201% the cost-per-ounce of the full size.
Lots of companies have travel sizes that are >100% more expensive per ounce than the full sizes – amika is the most consistent about doing this, with 4 out of the 7 products they offer in travel size marked up at least 121%. Yet at the same time, they’re one of the few companies on this list that offers a travel size that is cheaper per oz than the full size (the Haute Mess Texture Gel, which is $24 for 4 oz or $10 for 2 oz – a 17% discount for the travel size).
The other cheaper-per-oz travel sizes are Bumble and bumble Color Minded Conditioner (-12%) and DevaCurl Set it Free (-10%).
On the plus side, lots of hair products come in significantly discounted jumbo sizes, with Bumble and bumble Gentle Shampoo and Thickening Shampoo each discounted 46% and the corresponding Super Rich Conditioner and Thickening Conditioner discounted 48%.
Companies that have relatively fair travel pricing: Gloss Moderne only offers one travel-size product, the High-Gloss Masque, which has a modest 11% markup. The Dry Bar offers the Hot Toddy Heat & UV Protectant at a 7% travel-size markup and the Triple Sec 3-in-1 at a 26% travel-size markup. Captain Blankenship Mermaid Dry Shampoo and Mermaid Sea Salt Hair Spray both have a 17% travel-size markup.
The Phyto shampoos all have a 48% travel-size markup, and the PHYTOKÉRATINE Repairing Thermal Protectant Spray has an 88% travel-size markup, but their travel-size products are otherwise reasonably marked up (10-24%).
One last note – Klorane‘s sizing is a mess. For example, at Sephora and on the Klorane site the Shampoo with Mango Butter is offered in a 3.38 oz travel size and 13.5 oz jumbo size but not the full (6.7 oz) size (which I did find elsewhere online, but with varying prices), while the corresponding Conditioning Balm with Mango Butter is offered in full (5.07 oz) and travel (1.69 oz) sizes. (I use conditioner way faster than I use shampoo, so this seems especially weird to me.)