Blame it on beauty advent calendars, every brand is going bite-sized

The big boom in miniature make-up: Blame it on beauty advent calendars, but every brand is going bite-sized

  • Sales of beauty miniatures were up by 35 per cent, according to John Lewis
  • Minis are associated with summer holiday but we’re getting them year-round
  • John Lewis has introduced floor-to-ceiling ‘miniatures walls’ in 12 stores

When John Lewis published its annual trend report at the end of last year, there was a big surprise for beauty- watchers — or rather a teeny-tiny one. For sales of beauty miniatures were up by 35 per cent.

Usually, of course, we associate minis with summer holiday travel but, last year, we were scooping them up by the armful all year round.

It’s not just dinky deodorants and minute mouthwashes: you can buy miniature versions of the poshest skincare products, too, with luxury brands lining up to cash in on the demand.

In the beauty halls of 12 of its stores, including the flagship branch on Oxford Street, John Lewis has introduced floor-to-ceiling ‘miniatures walls’, featuring everything from hair treatments and highlighters to eye creams and concealers. It’s calling it ‘bite-size beauty’.


A 4ml tube of her famous Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes is £12, in contrast to the full size (10ml) version for £23

The first appeal is being able to ‘try before you buy’. Who wants to spend £40 on a full-size, 200ml Eve Lom cleanser, only to discover it’s too rich for your skin or you don’t like the smell?

But a 20ml mini for £18? It’s enough to use over a weekend and, if it doesn’t suit your skin, you won’t feel like you’ve wasted your money.

Another reason is that it allows people to experience a luxury band at a budget-friendly price. Take the iconic skin brand La Mer, the favourite of celebrities including Elizabeth Hurley and Beyonce.

At £70, a 15ml jar of its moisturiser doesn’t sound like a bargain (you can even pay for it in instalments on Space NK), but compared with £245 for a 60ml full-size it does.

Expensive brands are all rushing to produce scaled-down versions of their bestsellers as we spend more on skincare than ever before.

Nars’ popular Climax Extreme mascara is £22, but a mini mascara (left) is just £10 and is tiny enough to fit into your jeans pocket

Staring at their own tired faces on Zoom has persuaded many women they need to upgrade their daily skincare routine. UK brand Oskia specialises in bio cellular skincare, and one of its best-selling products is the Super 16 anti-ageing serum. A full-size (30ml) is £92, but a doll’s size version 5.5ml is £23.

Even Victoria Beckham has taken advantage of the mini being the height of fashion. A full-size (50ml) bottle of her Cell Rejuvenating Priming Moisturiser is £140, while the 15ml version (left) is £58.

The minis are still decadent, but not enough to make you feel guilty — the beauty equivalent of those little chocolate bars you get in a tub of Celebrations. A Mars bar? Oh I shouldn’t . . . but it’s only tiny, go on then!

The miniature boom owes much to the success of beauty advent calendars. Everyone from Liberty and Harrods to The Body Shop and Asos produces a calendar, most of which sell out instantly.

Space NK’s £199 version ended up being wait-listed the day it became available. Opening a window and finding a tiny beauty surprise clearly left people wanting more.

As well as toiletries and skincare, there are dozens of make-up miniatures to choose from, all fitting tidily into a minimalist evening clutch bag.

Travel-sized goodie bags have always been available from big cosmetic brands. They invariably feature one product you like and a bunch of other monstrosities, which always include a coral lipstick or peach blusher.

No more! Nars’ popular Climax Extreme mascara is £22, but a mini mascara is just £10 and is tiny enough to fit into your jeans pocket.

A miniature Radiant Creamy Concealer is available for £13 (as a opposed to the regular size at £24.50).

Cosmetic queen Charlotte Tilbury produces minis 12 months of the year. A 4ml tube of her famous Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes is £12, in contrast to the full size (10ml) version for £23.

Or you could splash out on a scaled-down Flawless Finish powder for £20 rather than the traditional size at £35.

Even Victoria Beckham has taken advantage of the mini being the height of fashion – a full-size (50ml) bottle of her Cell Rejuvenating Priming Moisturiser is £140, while the 15ml version is £58

But while we’ve all fallen in love with miniatures, there’s no getting away from the fact many of them are a big old rip off, with a quarter of the size rarely equalling a quarter of the price.

Yet their lack of value is proving no deterrent to consumers.

Online store Cult Beauty currently offers more than 300 mini versions of products.

Meanwhile, the best-selling bite-size beauties at John Lewis inlcude Bobbi Brown Face Base (£15); Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant (£14); Caudalie Beauty Elixir Face Mist (£12); and Dr Jart+ Tiger Grass Colour Correcting Treatment (£15).

I keep reading that 2022 is set to be the year of the ‘big squeeze’ and a time of painful financial reckoning.

Well, this is one squeeze I don’t mind embracing. And if it keeps my annual beauty spend down by stopping me splashing on ultra-expensive product I end up not using, so much the better.

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