How to Pack Makeup for Travel: Tips and TSA Rules

How to Pack Makeup for Travel: Tips and TSA Rules

When navigating airport security, travelers often wonder if the way their makeup is packed will fly or get flagged. Some of beauty products are expensive, and having them confiscated is a costly prospect. Plus, you risk being left without your favorite makeup or products while away.

Packing travel friendly makeup in your carry-on luggage is doable, but what kind of makeup you're taking with you matters. Knowing the TSA makeup rules will ensure you clear security with ease and don’t accidentally hold up the line.

TSA Rules for Makeup

Most of us know the 3-1-1 rule regarding liquids in your carry-on bags. The guideline says: containers should be 3.4 ounce or less, inside 1 clear, quart-sized bag, and only 1 of these bags in your carry-on luggage. In terms of makeup, what causes confusion is what exactly is considered a liquid? Are gels, creams, and other semi-fluid liquids counted, or are they exempt?

The bottom line is that basically anything with moisture is considered a liquid and must abide by the 3-1-1 rule. Aerosol containers, like certain setting sprays, are also covered by this rule. The good news, however, is that there are ways to optimize your quart-sized liquids bag to pack the makeup you want to take on your trip.

While you could grab a plastic zip-top bag and stuff it full of items, there are much better ways to keep your products organized for your trip. Toiletry bags make the perfect travel makeup bags with individual compartments for travel sized makeup and toiletries. 

Related: How to pack your toiletries for travel to stay organized throughout your trip.

What if you have something that relies on compressed air- like an aerosol can? It’s fine as long as it’s travel-sized–less than 3.4 ounces–and fits in the tsa approved makeup bag.

How to Pack Makeup for a Flight

Aside from abiding by the 3-1-1 rule, there are many ways to ensure that you arrive at your destination with all the products you need in your position and intact. Below, we have rounded up the 6 most helpful tips on how to pack makeup for travel.

Prevent Leaks

Nothing can ruin a trip faster than your liquids leaking all over your clothing and shoes. When not properly contained, those gels, creams, and liquids can ooze out and wreck everything else in your bag. Fortunately, most toiletry bags now come with waterproof compartments for your liquids, which will help prevent a disaster.


If you’re like most people, you pack your luggage within a day of departure. Your makeup may be one of the last things you pack, only to find that everything you want to bring won’t fit into a single quart-sized bag. Pre-packing, even as a test run, will prevent unpleasant, last-minute surprises like this and give you time to purchase travel-sized containers, if needed.


Your whole toiletry bag doesn't have to be quart-sized. Only the part holding your liquids does. Don't waste that valuable space on anything that isn't liquid.

Instead, use a bag with multiple compartments and pack like-items with like-items. You will stay more organized and able to quickly separate the compartment that holds your liquids if you are required to do so.


Long before you begin packing, plan your outfits. Coordinate colors and styles to minimize the amount of makeup necessary for the trip. Bring items that can be used more than once, have multiple purposes, and are truly necessary.

Keep a Bag Packed

Frequent travelers know that one of the best ways to ensure you always have what you need is to keep a toiletries bag packed with everything you need for travel, instead of packing these items each time you are planning a trip. Do the same for your liquid makeup, brushes, and other grooming tools, then just replace items as they run out.

Purchase Upon Arrival

If space is running low, consider purchasing your lower-cost makeup products upon arrival. Then you don't have to worry about getting everything into that single quart-sized bag.

Makeup Items to Bring on the Plane

Check out the below chart for which make-up and toiletries are considered liquids and whether they should be packed in your checked luggage or you can put them in your carry-on.

Makeup Item: Is TSA a Liquid? Carry it or Check it?
Concealer Yes, TSA considers concealer to be a liquid, unless it is in stick form. Carry it – most concealers are small and fit in your quart-sized bag.
Face Wash Yes, it can only be carried on in 3.4 ounces or smaller containers. Carry it if you can get by with a small amount. Check it if you have to bring the whole bottle.
Makeup Wipes No, makeup wipes and baby wipes are not considered liquids. Carry it – wipes are not liquids, so load up on what you need.
Lip Balm Lip balm and lipstick are not considered liquids. Carry it and use it– air in the plane can get dry; stay moisturized.
Mascara Yes, mascara is a liquid.  Carry it – Mascara is small enough to fit easily in your quart-sized bag.

If you plan to travel with other personal hygiene tools, check out this chart for what you can and cannot bring with you in your carry-on.

Breeze Through Security Knowing the TSA Makeup Rules

With modern security screening technology, it's nearly impossible to try to sneak through forbidden items. Remember, if it has moisture in it, it's likely to be considered a liquid by TSA standards. Pack well to fly through security and enjoy your trip without sacrificing your favorite essentials.

But now that you know the TSA rules regarding makeup, you can pack accordingly. The only thing left is to have the right luggage to keep things organized and contained.  Check out the TravelPro collection of toiletry bags that will make sure your makeup fits, is safe, and meets all regulations.

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