Mini Beauty Products: Are They Cost-Effective?

We've compare mini beauty products to full-sized to see if they truly cost you less.

A selection of mini beauty products
(Image credit: Unsplash)

We’ve all been there. You’re standing waiting in the queue to pay for your items, and you notice a basket of mini beauty products. It’s tempting to pick one up. After all, these are typically well-sought-after products from premium brands at a fraction of the full-sized price. The question is: are they worth it? 

With the cost of living crisis, most of us will be looking to see where we can cut back on expenses. Knowing which products will actually give you the best return on investment can be difficult. We’ve broken down the value of mini beauty products so you don’t have to. These items are from the make-up and skincare categories, as these tend to have more miniatures than other categories. We’ve included mostly mid-price to premium brands, as these also have more mini-products available. 

Our initial impression is that the price differences between minis and full-sized products can be quite steep with some brands. We chose to keep things simple and calculate the price difference per gram/milliliter with a mini. As the Health and Beauty editor at MyVoucherCodes, I’ll take you through it step-by-step. 

Things to Keep In Mind

There are a few things to bear in mind with the value of beauty products. You might find that on paper some mini eyeshadow palettes are worth the money per gram. However, it’s worth noting they might not always have every shade included in the full-sized eyeshadow palette. 

It’s also worth considering when the expiry date is for certain makeup products. Generally, different types of makeup products have different expiration dates. You can find a helpful list of the expiration dates and makeup products at our partner publication Marie Claire. Mascaras only have a 3-month expiration date with use every day or 6 months with occasional use. If you won’t use a full-sized version by this time, then it’s better value to choose the mini.

I’d also recommend considering how often you use the product. If the initial cost is expensive but you use your beauty product for months, it might save you money.

Expensive Mini Beauty Products

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Figure 1 - Higher-priced beauty products comparison
BrandProductMini - sizeMini - price£ per gram/MLFull-sized - sizeFull-sized - price£ per gram/MLPrice difference with mini
HourglassVeil Translucent Setting Powder0.9£20.00£22.2211£41.00£3.73496.21%
HourglassLightning Finishing Powder1.3£24.00£18.4610£45.00£4.50310.26%
HourglassAmbient Lighting Bronzer1.4£25.00£17.8611£50.00£4.55292.86%

Let’s take a look at the highest percentage price difference first. This means you’re paying the biggest difference between the mini and full-size products. As predicted, it was extremely high-end brands that took these places. In particular, Hourglass had over 200% price difference between their miniature and full-sized products. 

In the past, I admired how beautiful Hourglass blushes and bronzers were with their swirling patterns. They are definitely a more high-end makeup product and would make an excellent gift for someone. With the price difference percentage, I would recommend investing in a full-sized powder or bronzer. 

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Figure 2 - Another higher-priced beauty products comparison
BrandProductMini - sizeMini - price£ per gram/MLFull-sized - sizeFull-sized - price£ per gram/MLPrice difference with mini
By TerryHyaluronic Hydra Powder1.5£18.00£12.0010£42.00£4.20185.71%
NARSRadiant Creamy Concealer1.4£15.00£10.716£26.00£4.33147.25%
HourglassAmbient Lighting Blush1.3£24.00£18.464.2£39.00£9.2998.82%

Unsurprisingly, it is again the more expensive brands with the biggest price difference. Figure 2 shows us a price difference of close to 100% or more between the mini beauty product and the full-sized one. The most expensive beauty product from Figure 2 was the Hyaluronic Hydra Powder from By Terry. This has 185.71% price difference percentage between the mini and full-sized. 

Now, I am a firm lover of the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. It’s one of the products I have bought each time it runs out. It seems to have a lot higher coverage than drugstore concealers, although there are some good dupes out there. I was quite shocked to discover there was a 147.25% price difference with this product. I would recommend this product but definitely not the mini size now.

If you're looking for more information about beauty dupes, make sure to check out our other blog post on beauty dupes.

Mid-Range Mini Beauty Products

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Figure 3 - Mid-range beauty products comparison
BrandProductMini - sizeMini - price£ per gram/MLFull-sized - sizeFull-sized - price£ per gram/MLPrice difference with mini
Laura MercierTranslucent Setting Powder9.3£20.00£2.1529£34.00£1.1783.43%
Natasha DenonaZendo Eyeshadow Palette4£22.00£5.5019.25£66.00£3.4360.42%
Too FacedChocolate Soleil Bronzer2.8£15.00£5.368£28.00£3.5053.06%
Huda BeautyGlowish Bronzing Powder3£16.00£5.338£28.00£3.5052.38%

There are mid-range to high price difference percentages between the mini beauty products and full-sized too. These brands included Laura Mercier and Natasha Denona at the higher end. Too Faced Cosmetics and Huda Beauty were both around the 50% mark. 

If you know anything about beauty, then you know Laura Mercier Translucent Setting Powder has been a cult favourite for years. It’s worth knowing there is over an 80% difference between buying the mini and the full-sized powder. If you do want to pick up this staple beauty product, I’d suggest investing in the full-sized. 

With Figure 3, it’s also worth noting that Too Faced and Huda Beauty are incredibly popular brands at the moment. Huda Beauty alone has over 4 million subscribers on YouTube. With such a popular brand, I am pleasantly surprised the percentage price difference isn’t higher. This being said, it’s still worth investing in the full-sized version for the best return on your money.

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Figure 4 - Another mid-range beauty products comparison
BrandProductMini - sizeMini - price£ per gram/MLFull-sized - sizeFull-sized - price£ per gram/MLPrice difference with mini
BenefitHoola Bronzer2.5£12.75£5.108£28.50£3.5643.16%
MILKRise Mascara4£13.00£3.2510£24.00£2.4035.42%
MACPigment2.5£14.00£5.604.5£18.50£4.1136.22%
NARSBronzing Powder3.3£18.00£5.458£32.50£4.0634.27%
Revolution MakeupLoose Baking Powder10£2.50£0.2532£5.99£0.1933.56%
Charlotte TilburyAirbrush Flawless Filter Powder3.4£20.00£5.888£36.00£4.5030.72%

With these products, you’ll be paying around a 30 - 40% price difference between the full-sized and the mini. Interestingly, most of these products are bronzing powders so this category might offer more value for your money than other beauty product types. 

Personally, at this price difference, I might consider a mini beauty product if the brand and product are one I would really like to try. The price of the mini beauty product also needs to be reasonable for me. For example, £20 for a mini Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Filter is a lot of money. 

However, I have bought the mini Benefit Hoola Bronzer for £12.75 before in the past. In fact, I still have this product and it’s lasted me a good amount of time. If you’re likely to use this product for months, it might be worth investing in.

Lower Cost Mini Beauty Products

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Figure 5 - Lower-cost beauty products comparison
BrandProductMini - sizeMini - price£ per gram/MLFull-sized - sizeFull-sized - price£ per gram/MLPrice difference with mini
MACLipstick1.8£14.00£7.783£20.00£6.6716.67%
BenefitGimme Brow1.5£13.00£8.673£23.50£7.8310.64%

These two products are ones with a 10% - 20 % price difference percentage. At least in comparison to the other mini beauty products we’ve looked at, these could be can be more achievable. If you’re looking for a mini beauty product for a gift or a small treat to yourself, these are some more reasonable options for most budgets.

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Figure 6- Another lower-cost beauty products comparison
BrandProductMini - sizeMini - price£ per gram/MLFull-sized - sizeFull-sized - price£ per gram/MLPrice difference with mini
BenefitBo-oing Cakeless Concealer3£12.00£4.005£21.50£4.30-6.98%
CliniqueHigh Impact Mascara3.5£10.20£2.917£23.00£3.29-11.30%

Figure 6 shows the two mini beauty products which have more value over the full-sized version. If your purchase decision is based on value alone, then definitely choose the mini beauty product over the full-sized one. With these options, you should be paying less per gram for the mini beauty product. 

I would also highly recommend the mini Clinique High Impact Mascara. I’ve bought this product myself and I was pleasantly surprised to see its better value over the full-sized mascara. In general, most mini mascaras seem to be better valued as you should change your mascara every 3 months. This means for most of us there are countless full-sized mascaras that have dried out and been thrown into the bin but cost us a lot at the time.

So…are mini beauty products cost-effective?

With mini beauty products, there are some that are more cost-effective than others. It’s safe to say that mini-beauty products are becoming more available at big beauty retailers such as Boots or Superdrug. 

Now, with these prices, we have not included any loyalty programme price discounts or special promotions. An example is the Boots Advantage Card, which sometimes has discounts on premium brands such as Benefit. These would make a mini beauty product more affordable and possibly change the price percentage difference. 

With the overall beauty landscape, it seems more cost-effective to buy full-sized beauty products. We have done extensive research on the mini-beauty products available, with only two mini-beauty products working out as better value. If you simply can’t say no to a cute miniature beauty product, one of our retailer discount codes might give you more value. 

A note on pricing: all costs stated were as of writing, in March 2023. Prices per gram may have increased slightly due to inflation.  

Becky Spicer
Health & Beauty Editor

I’ve been the Health and Beauty Editor here at MyVoucherCodes since March 2022. I love writing, and I’ve been doing it since my second year of university back in 2019, and what I love to write about most is beauty, skincare, health, protein, and wellness. On top of my work for MyVoucherCodes, I have a lifestyle blog on social media.

In my spare time, I enjoy heading to the gym, watching Love Island, and spending some time with a good book. I also have a degree BA degree in Creative Writing and English Literature from Bath Spa University.