Carry on Toiletry Packing Guide

The Ultimate Carry-on Toiletry Packing Guide

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As you are packing your carry-on for your next trip, you will have to figure out what do with your carry-on liquids. This guide will walk you through everything that you need to know about packing your toiletries in your carry-on.

This guide was written with a US/TSA frame of reference. If you are from another country, double check your country’s carry-on liquid regulations.

TSA 3-1-1 Liquids Rule for Carry-ons

The TSA Liquids Rule can be summarized as the ‘3-1-1 Liquid Rule’. This means: Less than 3 ounces in 1 quart sized bag, 1 bag per flyer. The formal TSA Liquids Rule is below:

You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. Placing these items in the small bag and separating from your carry-on baggage facilitates the screening process. Pack items that are in containers larger than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters in checked baggage.
Any liquid, aerosol, gel, cream or paste that alarms during screening will require additional screening.

TSA Website

TSA Approved Clear Liquid Bag

You can use any clear quart sized bag for your checked liquids. However, the downside to using a sandwich bag is they are often not very strong. They tend to leak and tear.

I use the following TSA approved clear liquid bag when I am traveling for work. This liquids bag can hold so much, and is still approved to fly. I bought the two pack to have a back-up, especially since they are so cheap. These TSA approved liquid bags even have zippers in fun colors.

Packing Makeup in Your Carry-on

You can bring makeup in your suitcase on a plane. You will need to be strategic with how you pack your makeup in your carry-on, because your makeup still falls under the 3-1-1 liquids rule.

When packing my carry-on, I have a makeup bag and my clear toiletry bag. I will put face wash, liquid foundation, and sunscreen in my clear toiletry bag. The rest of my makeup, including eye shadow powders, eyeliner pencils, and powder foundation can be placed in my makeup bag. And I can bring as much of that makeup as I would like!

How to Pack Makeup on the Plane

Your makeup does need to be in containers less than 3.4 ounces, otherwise you risk having to throw it out. It can be difficult to fit all of your creams in the clear toiletry bag. For a packing hack, use pill organizers or contact lens cases and transferring small amounts of the products you need into there. Otherwise, invest in travel-sized carry-on bottles that are less than 3.4 ounces.

Even if you have less than 3.4 ounces of liquid in a container, if the container is more than 3.4 ounces, it will likely get thrown out. Don’t risk it!

My Experience with TSA Makeup Rules

I personally have traveled with liquid eyeliner, eye shadow primer, mascara, nail polish and lip gloss in my toiletry bag, outside of my liquids bag. I have never been stopped in security for my makeup in the United States. (Knock on wood!) Though if you want to be safe, it is best to put these items in your liquid bag.

My husband has tried carrying a regular sized tub of Vaseline on the plane, and he had to throw it out. Use travel sized containers!

Frequently Asked Toiletry Packing Questions

Here, we address some of the most common questions asked when packing your clear liquids bag in your carry-on. If you have additional questions, feel free to comment at the end of this post.

Where can I buy travel sized toiletries?

Stores such as Walmart or Target have travel sized toiletry sections. Many of your favorite brands may already have travel sized bottles. Keep in mind that the travel sized bottles are typically more expensive per ounce than the regular sized bottles.

Walmart or Target will also sell empty travel sized bottles, for you to add your own liquids. You can also buy empty travel sized bottles on Amazon. It is most cost effective to purchase empty travel sized bottles, and then to refill as needed.

How much liquid can you bring on a plane?

You can bring as many liquids on a plane as you would like, as long as they fit within travel-sized containers less than 3.4 ounces, and those containers fit within a quart-sized bag.

Can you take a razor on a plane?

Disposable razors can be brought on a plane. These are the razors that can be completely thrown out with the handle, or have removable cartridges. Safety razors and straight razors are not allowed in your carry-on luggage.

Can you bring deodorant on a plane?

Yes, you can bring a regular size of stick deodorant on the plane. If you use a liquid, gel, or aerosol deodorant, it is best to make sure it is a travel size.

Can I bring toothpaste on a plane?

Yes, you can bring toothpaste on a plane. I frequently bring toothpaste tubes larger than 3.4 ounces, and I have never had my toothpaste confiscated. However, I have had friends who had to throw out toothpaste tubes that were too large. If you travel with a regular sized toothpaste tube, do not bring an expensive brand in case you have to throw it out.

Can you take hairspray on the plane?

Yes, you can take hairspray on the plane. Your hairspray should be in a container smaller than 3.4 ounces, and will need to fit in your quart-sized liquid bag.

Can you take tweezers in hand luggage?

Yes, tweezers are allowed in your carry-on on the plane.


Traveling for work? Also check out:


How to pack your toiletry bag for your carry-on and getting through TSA security screening. Purchase a TSA approved liquid bag with a zip rather than using a quarter zip lock bag. Pack your makeup in pill containers or contact lens cases to save space. Keep your liquids under 3.4 ounces. You can carry-on as many liquid containers as will fit in your TSA approved liquid bag. #packingguide #travelforwork

8 Comments

  • Julien Casanova

    I recently bought clear liquid bags and they are great for keeping small toiletries organized and clean. I will never go back to ziplocs again! It’s great to learn small tweezers are allowed in carry on.

  • Amar singh

    I do a lot of travel in the EU and it’s normally with the Mrs and she always complains or forgets something in her handbag that makes us go through opening stuff so great pointers here. Liquids again is one where we need to be careful and I go with a reusable bottle which I refill past security rather than buying one again and again. It’s sometimes painful but if we prepare and use your post life can be made easy. Thanks for this post.

  • Annick

    I recently received a clear bag and find the zipper so much easier to use than the slide on a sandwich bag. There are some things that make me crazy – like mascara is supposed to be in the liquids bag. I do like the idea of using a contact lenses case to bring smaller amounts but I haven’t tried it yet. Thanks for the tips!

  • Parnashree Devi

    This is a great toiletry packing list. I loved the way you have written the post with details. A few of the things are not allowed here in India like you can’t carry razor, deodorant etc in your hand language. But having said that, this is quite a helpful post. I am bookmarking this as it will help me whenever I plan to travel in USA

  • Martha

    I travel exclusively with a carry-on, so it’s very important that I know what liquids and products are acceptable by TSA. I’m like you and know what TSA is prone to checking and throwing. I also squeak by with some extra toothpaste. I do also try to limit the number of products I bring by buying products that are multipurpose. I love your make up packing hacks as well!

  • Amrita

    Oh, I did not know so much about the rules of carrying toiletries on plane. In India, I usually travel with hand baggage only but have not faced much issue on a plane. Only once, my nailcutter and my swiss knife was thrown out. Thanks for this helpful post.

  • Yukti Agrawal

    Thanks for sharing a detailed post on what to carry in our toiletry kit. I generally carry such items in check-in luggage but not in a handbag but now knew many things can be carried in hand luggage too. Carrying a small number of fluids in a handbag is always so good because sometimes check-in baggage is misplaced or takes time to come through.

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