Solid Toiletries: A Proven Gamechanger for Travel


January 22, 2024

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Imagine this: You’ve meticulously planned your dream trip to Spain. I mean, everyone’s going this year, right? 🇪🇸💃🏻

What you don’t want is that new, lovely silk blouse you bought specifically for this trip to end up a soggy, stain-streaked mess when you get there, thanks to a rogue leak from a shampoo bottle. Nor do you want the items in your 3-1-1 bag swimming in a sea of mouthwash.

That’s where solid toiletries come to the rescue!

What Are Solid Travel Toiletries?

Solid travel toiletries are compact, mess-free alternatives to their liquid counterparts.

There are various types of solid toiletries beyond the obvious soap bar. Think solid shampoo, conditioner, lotion, toothpaste, and more. Using solid toiletries instead of their liquid cousins is a great way to pack lighter and save space when you travel.

If you haven't already, download your free travel toiletries checklist. Follow along as you read this post and make notes as to which solid toiletries might work for your next trip.

What Types of Toiletries Are Best Suited for Travel?

Solid shampoo and solid conditioner bars

Forget limp, lifeless locks or that annoying frizzy halo that can happen with cheap hotel shampoo. Solid shampoo and conditioner bars are concentrated formulations of their liquid cousins. They lather up beautifully and leave your hair clean and manageable.

Brands like Ethique and HiBAR have a number of options for different hair types, from curly to color-treated to fine. There are options for dry hair, gray hair, and for people with scalp issues.

If you want to try a dry shampoo, check out Batiste. It comes in different scents and doesn't leave white dust on your black shirt. A real winner there!

Expert advice

Try your choice of solid shampoo and conditioner at home before you leave to be sure you have the right formula for your hair type.

Solid soap and solid body wash

No more lugging around multiple plastic bottles of shower gel, face wash, and body lotion. Solids like the shower gels from Lush and Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap can be your new best friends. They’re gentle on your skin, reduce the risk of spillage, and eliminate plastic packaging.

Plus, Dr. Bronner’s can do double-duty and wash almost everything―your hair, face, body, and even your clothes.

Solid lotion

If you have dry skin or are heading to a dry climate, you know the importance of having some lotion to moisturize your skin.

For travel, a must-try solid lotion bar is Bee Bar Ultra Moisturizing Lotion Bar. It’s ultra-moisturizing and made with essential oils and natural ingredients. It’s available in a variety of scents and comes in its own tin for travel. There's both a larger bar and a smaller bar, so you can get the size you need based on the length of your trip.

Another option is Esthique’s Nourishing Solid Body Cream. It comes in a recyclable push-up tube and is available unscented or in a variety of scents.

Expert advice

Apply solid lotion right after you get out of the shower or bath. Towel dry, then warm the bar between your hands or press it against your skin for a few seconds. Since you’re warm from the shower, it will go on easier, and you’ll use less.

Couple relaxing on the beachSolid sunscreen

Sunscreen should be non-negotiable, right? Thankfully, there are some great solid sunscreen sticks like CeraVe Mineral Sunscreen Stick or Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Mineral Sunscreen Stick.

Neutrogena's Beach Defense will be your go-to if you’re at the beach or in a hot climate. And Badger’s Face Sunscreen Stick is great to pop in your day bag so you can apply it frequently.

These solid sunscreens provide mess-free sun protection that’s easy to apply.

Solid toothpaste

I resisted this for a while. I mean, how much space does a little travel-size tube of toothpaste take up? But once I tried these tiny gems, I decided they were the way to go. Lush has a minty flavor that whitens and contains fluoride. Prefer to avoid fluoride? Try SuperBee Dentos Tablets.

Just bite one of these toothpaste tablets a couple of times until it gets pasty (they don’t foam as much as regular toothpaste), then brush. I travel with mine in a tiny plastic bag. Packed this way, toothpaste tabs take up no room whatsoever.

If you prefer toothpaste powder, try Primal Life Organics Dirty Mouth Toothpowder. It's a whitening formula that includes kaolin and bentonite clays as well as baking soda. It comes in spearmint or peppermint flavor.

Solid mouthwash

I never bothered taking mouthwash when traveling until I discovered Lush Crème de Menthe Toothpaste Tabs. Now, they've moved into the category of travel essentials. They're perfect for freshening up after a meal out on the town.

These little beauties are so tasty! They not only come with me traveling, but they're right next to me at my desk as well. The grapefruit-flavored tabs are also nice if that is more to your liking.

Solid deodorant

When I say solid deodorant, you’re probably thinking of deodorant in a push-up stick form rather than the spray variety. But I’m not talking about those.

I’m talking about the one-and-only Crystal Deodorant Stick. A friend introduced me to this years ago, and I use it every day. It comes in a large size, or a 1.5 oz size, which is perfect for travel. Just remember to wet it before applying. It’s non-staining, non-sticky, and protects for 24 hours. Honest! You can thank me later.

Solid perfume

Lush has some awesome perfume in a solid form. I’m a fan of Karma and Lord of Misrule. And Viking Revolution has some great solid colognes for men. They don’t take up much space and make you feel a little special after a day out exploring.

Solid makeup remover and solid face cleansers

Makeup wipes? They create so much waste and are not good for the environment. Yet, for a long time, they were the only solution I could think of. I used them only when traveling, never at home.

Then, along came The Body Shop’s Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter. I bought a small tin a few years ago, and it’s lasted me through about 5 solid months of travel. (Granted, I don’t wear a ton of makeup when I’m traveling, but I do wear enough that I need some way to remove it at the end of the day.)

Ethique also has the Bliss Bar Gentle Solid Face Cleanser which removes oil and makeup without stripping away vital skin moisture.

Solid insect repellent

Nothing will ruin your vacation faster than being eaten alive by a thousand bugs. Let me hear it for mosquitos, sand flies, midges, and ticks. For mosquitos and flies, try Badger Anti-Bug Balm. It’s 95% organic and contains natural oils like citronella and lemongrass. 🚫🦟

Another DEET-free option is the Cliganic Mosquito Repellent Bracelets. I haven’t tried these yet, but they get great reviews, and I’ll try them on my next trip if I expect lots of mozzies.

I always try my best to get by with repellents made of essential oils or at least as natural as I can get them. However, there are times when DEET is required. Think ticks that spread Lyme Disease. Think malaria-infested parts of Africa. If you know of a good solid insect repellent that contains DEET, please let us know in the comments below.

Why Choose Solid Travel Toiletries?

Save space

Solid toiletries are concentrated. They take up less space in your toiletry bag than liquid toiletries, so you'll have more room for any essential liquids. Guess what else you’ll have more room for when you ditch the shampoo bottle? Souvenirs and shoes!

Breeze through airport security

Getting through airport security is much easier because you don't need to take these solids out of your hand luggage like you do with liquids.

Save the environment

Because you're using concentrated products, you're reducing your carbon footprint. And most of these products use essential oils rather than harsh chemicals and are as organic as possible.

In addition, solid toiletries often come in recyclable boxes or containers rather than plastic containers, so there’s less waste going into the landfill and the ocean. You are recycling, aren’t you? Of course you are.

Save money

Solid toiletries may seem more expensive, but because they’re more concentrated, they last longer. For example, Ethique says you get at least 80 washes out of one shampoo bar. The 2024 price of $16 works for a bar works out to 20 cents per shampoo. The travel-sized shampoo I used to travel with is now about $4.50 per 3-oz bottle. Using a half-ounce per wash, that’s 75 cents per shampoo.

Plus, there’s no waste. You can use every bit of a solid toiletry, unlike trying to squeeze the last drop out of a bottle.

Save weight

With airlines clamping down on baggage weight, you want to take the smallest amount that you’ll need for your trip. If you're on a long trip, you can take enough for a month or two in just a small bar. Just slice off as much as you need and leave the rest at home.

Avoid disaster

Say goodbye to catastrophic spills. No more ruined clothes and soapy suitcases. You need to pay attention, to how you pack these toiletries, though, especially if you’ll be going to a hot climate.

Packing and Storing Solid Toiletries for Travel

The most important thing about solid travel toiletries is to be sure they remain solid. And that means keeping them dry.

  • Use a small, airtight container to store them. This could be a tin or Ziploc bag.
  • Let them air dry after you use them and before you pack them.
  • Keep them in a cool, dry place while traveling. Be especially careful of “butters” as they can get pretty soft if it's really hot.

The Best Part? Solid Toiletries Work When You’re Traveling

I will admit there may be a slight learning curve with these solid alternatives in order to get them to lather up properly and swipe on smoothly, but that’s why you practice before you leave home. Once you learn to use these solid toiletries for travel, I bet you won’t go back to liquids.

So as you get ready for your next trip, try some of the recommendations above. You’ll not only save space and weight, you can also travel stress-free knowing that at the other end of your journey, there won’t be any toiletry spills when you open your suitcase.

Now go forth and explore the world, one perfectly-packed, leak-proof suitcase at a time.

Let us know in the comments below what YOU think are the best solid toiletries. Also, please share your favorite travel tips for avoiding spills in your luggage. 🧳🧴🙀

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