SMART SHOPPING: Mini vs. Full Size Cost Comparison

by - November 24, 2017

After doing my Eyeshadow Palettes cost comparison, I decided to follow it up with a cost comparison of miniature or travel sized products versus full sized products. Because so many of us, myself included, really get drawn in by the little aisle of doom at Sephora, I really wanted to delve into what the value of those mini-sized products that seem like such a good deal while you're waiting to pay for your purchases really is. There are a couple of types of products I chose to leave out of this list, which I'll get into in a minute, but I decided to choose products from across makeup, skin care, and hair care products to really get a sense for these kinds of things. I have to say... some of these price differences are downright shocking. The way that I calculated the price difference is is how much less or more you're paying per gram by percentage, because I feel like that makes it the clearest.

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Ultimately, I decided that there were two types of products that I was going to leave out of this list and there are two quite different reasons for this. I left mascara out of the list because I personally think that a miniature size of a high end mascara is almost always the better option. The biggest reason for this is because it is suggested the we replace our mascara every three months both for eye safety and quality of the product and I feel like you can usually get 3 months out of a mini mascara just as easily as a full size. The second reason is really just my personal taste because I actually prefer a drier mascara formula and I find that a mini dries out a little bit faster and gives me the look that I want on my eyes more quickly, but again does still last that three months.

I also left out lipsticks from this list. Generally, lip minis are sold in sets and I do think that there's an inherent value in a variety of lipstick shades that can't be measured in dollars and cents. Like the difference between single eyeshadows and eyeshadow palettes, I don't think you can make a true comparison of value between three different lipstick shades in smaller sizes and one full sized lipstick. 

Besides these two types of products, I didn't descriminate. If you're looking for cost comparisons on eyeshadow palettes, please check out my previous 100 Eyeshadow Palette Cost Comparison post. 

I have to admit... I just about fell out of my chair when I saw each of these price differences. In the past, I had actually considered picking up a mini size of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer to try it out, but after seeing this price difference I think I'd rather save up a little bit and invest in the full size. When it comes to products like bronzer and face powder particularly, I know that I can actually get through them if I like them, so paying 3x the price for small sizes just seems insane to me. 

This section is also definitely firmly in the Not Going To Buy it category. As soon as the price difference is double or more, I have to say... I'm out. Interestingly, like the Hourglass products, I had actually been considering trying out the mini sizes of the MILK Makeup sticks, but knowing now how much more I'd be paying I'm definitely taking those off my list. 

One thing that I already knew going into this post was that there is definitely a huge price jump when it comes to setting powders. Unfortunately, I have been sucked into the smaller size of the Laura Mercier Translucent Setting Powder, because it is such a spendy powder (particularly here in Canada), but knowing that I'm paying nearly twice the price per ounce if I go for the smaller size definitely means that I'll go for the full size next time. Setting spray also, I'll admit, somewhat surprised me, so I'll be skipping on the purse size and just going for full size in the future.

Now that we're getting into the area where you'll be paying 25-50% more to buy the smaller size, I think we're getting into the area where you have to to consider what it is that you're buying and whether the price difference makes sense. There are some products that I'm willing to ultimately pay more but spend less for because I know that it'll be difficult to get through a full size before it expires. Unfortunately, most of the things on this section of the list are things that are easy to go through, particularly the cleansers, dry shampoo, and body cream, so it's probably best to just go full size for those.

I think this is the turning point in the list for me where the 10-25% price jump actually starts to feel a lot more manageable, particularly for quite expensive products like the SK-II, Estee Lauder and Tata Harper products because the initial investment makes it much more manageable for my budget. However, when it comes to products that are more affordable than that, particularly products that you'll use up, I think it's still worthwhile to consider spending a little bit more to start to get the full size. 

When it comes to these products where the difference is under 10%, I think this is really where it starts to make sense to go for the travel size, particularly with something like the Hoola Bronzer since the price difference is so small and it takes a while to get through a powder pan even if you bronze a lot. With the all over face products, I'd say this is really where you should consider your budget and whether you want to spend a little bit less up front, but a little bit more in the long run if you repurchase.

Clearly, this is where it's really just a question of how many times you want to go to the store, right? And actually, I initially did the math and on the Créme De La Mer in Canadian dollars and it was actually cheaper per ounce to buy the smaller size, so if you're here in Canada and were thinking about splurging on this product I'd go for the 0.5oz size and save a little bit of money. 

And now we have the products that you should absolutely be buying the smaller size of. I actually already knew this about the MUFE Primer because I discovered it when I purchased it finally earlier this year, but with the other ones I really had no idea. The one that really, really jumps out at me most is the Ole Henriksen Truth Serum. Not only is there a significant difference in price, but you're also looking at a product that contains Vitamin C, which oxidizes and becomes less potent over time so it's likely a good idea to purchase smaller bottles of this more often for maximum efficacy. 

Hopefully this helps to give some perspective for the next time you're standing in the aisle of doom. I 100% understand - trust me - that sometimes you really want something and can't fit a full size item in the budget, while the mini size is manageable. I think there will always be times when the full size of something you want is outside of the budget, but I think that considering value instead of just upfront cost is particularly important for those of us who are shopping on a budget. I'd rather get a good deal than a low price at the end of the day.

Anyway, like I said, I really hope this was helpful and gives some context to the Aisle Of Doom.

Thanks for reading!

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