Guide to Packing Makeup for Air Travel

Is your suitcase almost zipped, but you’re feeling a little jittery about packing your makeup for your flight? Looking glamorous at the end of a journey is everyone’s dream, and makeup plays a big part in that. However, it can be a little daunting to navigate the myriad rules surrounding what makeup you can carry onboard. Let’s simplify that for you. This guide will walk you through the TSA regulations and let you know what makeup essentials you can bring on your flight.

Unravelling the TSA’s 3-1-1 Rule for Carry-on Liquids and Gels

Before we get into specifics, it’s crucial to understand the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule. This rule allows each passenger to carry one clear, quart-sized bag filled with liquids and gels. The catch? These liquids or gels must be in a container no larger than 3.4 ounces (100 millilitres). Keeping this cardinal rule in mind can make your security check a breeze.

Now, you might be wondering which makeup items fall under this rule. Let’s break it down:

  • Travel-sized Foundation: Many cosmetics companies offer travel-sized versions of their foundations, which are perfectly suited to TSA regulations.
  • Mascara: Opt for travel-sized mascara or ensure your regular one contains less than 3.4 ounces.
  • Lipstick: Most standard-sized lipsticks comply with TSA rules. However, beware of liquid lipsticks or jumbo-sized ones.

And don’t forget, the 3-1-1 rule applies not just to makeup but also to any skincare products that are liquid or gel-based.

Packing Non-Liquid/Gel Makeup in Your Carry-on

So, what about makeup that isn’t in liquid or gel form? Good news! The TSA regulations are far more lenient with these items. Here’s what you can pack in your carry-on:

Foundation and Concealer– Powder or Solid Foundation and Concealer: These makeup essentials are fine to carry.

Blush and Bronzer– Powder Blush and Bronzer: You can safely stow these away in your carry-on.

Eyes– Powder or Pencil Eyeshadow and Eyeliner: These are perfectly fine to pack.

Mascara and False Eyelashes– Mascara and False Eyelashes: Yes, you can bring these along.

Lips- Lip Products: Your beloved lipsticks, glosses, and balms can come too.

Tools- Makeup Brushes and Tools: Brushes, sponges, and similar tools are also allowed.

Setting and Removal– Pressed Powder and Setting Spray: These are within the permissible limits. Makeup Remover Wipes: Not only are they allowed, but they’re also perfect for a quick touch-up during the flight.

Palettes and Compact Powders- Solid or Powder-Based Products: Eyeshadow palettes, compact powders, and blush palettes can safely be packed in your carry-on.

Always double-check with the TSA or your airline for any specific guidelines.

How to Deal with Liquid and Gel Makeup Items

Liquid and gel makeup items require a little extra attention. Here are some pro tips:

  • Travel-Sized Containers: If your must-have liquid foundation or moisturizer exceeds the 3.4-ounce limit, transfer it into a travel-sized container.
  • 3-1-1 Rule Adherence: Ensure all your liquid and gel makeup items, including skincare, are neatly packed in a quart-sized clear plastic bag.
  • Skincare Products: Creams, lotions, and other liquid or gel-based skincare items must also adhere to the same rules as liquid makeup items.

Be Careful with Sharp Objects and Pointed Tools

Packing makeup tools requires some care, especially when they’re sharp or pointed. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Storing Tweezers, Eyelash Curlers, and Scissors: If these are part of your makeup kit, keep them safely to avoid accidents.
  • Protective Cases: Store sharp and pointed tools in protective cases or covers to comply with safety regulations and prevent mishaps.

Beware of Flammable or Hazardous Makeup Products

Last but not least, keep an eye out for flammable or hazardous makeup products. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  • Aerosol Sprays: Avoid carrying aerosol sprays like hairspray or dry shampoo in your carry-on due to their potential flammability.
  • Acetone Nail Polish Removers: These are generally not allowed in carry-on luggage due to their flammability. Consider non-acetone alternatives or pre-travel nail care.

Safety is paramount, and adhering to TSA regulations ensures a seamless journey.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I bring a full-sized bottle of foundation in my carry-on?

Only if the foundation is less than 3.4 ounces (100 ml). If it’s larger, you can transfer it into a smaller, travel-sized container that meets TSA requirements.

Are powder makeup items allowed in carry-on luggage?

Yes, powder makeup items like foundation, blush, and eyeshadow are typically allowed in carry-on luggage without any restrictions.

What about mascara and false eyelashes?

Travel-sized mascara that is less than 3.4 ounces is allowed. False eyelashes are also permitted in carry-on luggage.

Can I bring my makeup brushes and tools to my carry-on?

Yes, makeup brushes, sponges, and other similar tools can be carried on board. However, be careful when packing sharp objects like tweezers or scissors, and ensure they’re safely stored.

Are there any restrictions on carrying nail polish or nail polish remover?

There might be some restrictions due to flammability. While nail polish is generally allowed (as long as the bottle is under 3.4 ounces), acetone-based nail polish removers are usually prohibited in carry-on luggage. Always check with your airline or the TSA for specific regulations.

What about aerosol sprays like hairspray or dry shampoo?

Aerosol sprays are generally considered flammable, so they’re typically not allowed in carry-on luggage. You should opt for non-aerosol alternatives or pack these items in your checked luggage.


Understanding TSA guidelines concerning makeup items is the secret to stress-free air travel. With the 3-1-1 rule, you can take along your treasured liquid and gel-based makeup products. Plus, a wide range of non-liquid/non-gel items, from foundations to lipsticks, are usually allowed in carry-ons. But it’s always wise to double-check with the TSA or your airline for specific guidelines.

So, before starting your adventure, go through the TSA rules and ensure all your makeup items comply. This way, you can enjoy a relaxed journey and still arrive looking your best.

Join the Conversation

We hope this guide helps you pack your makeup for your next flight. Share this post on social media to help fellow travellers pack their makeup with ease.

For those fascinated by aviation, don’t miss our latest piece, “The Ferrari Of The Skies. Piaggio P.180 – A Dive into the World of Aircraft and Turboprop Technology”.

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