It's important to maintain your beauty routine when traveling, even though it sometimes means bringing travel-sized products. The TSA regulations that establish which cosmetics and toiletries can be brought onto an aircraft in carry-on bags have undergone dramatic changes in the past decade, now allowing passengers more leeway in keeping makeup close at hand while flying. While most makeup and toiletries are permitted onboard, rules on liquids and sharp objects require passengers pack cosmetics accordingly.

Travel Tips

Anything you can’t pack in your carry-on baggage for air travel, you can usually put into your checked bag or checked baggage according to TSA rules. There is an additional screening process for carry-on only luggage, like going through x-ray machines and having to remove your toiletry bag or liquids bag from your carry-on. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents and TSA officers are specially trained on these regulations for the security checkpoint.

Liquid Cosmetics

TSA has a liquids rule and limits the amount of liquids that can be brought onto the plane in your carry-on with its 3-1-1 rule. This includes cosmetics in liquid form such as eyeliner, mascara, nail polish remover, foundation, lotions, lip glosses, makeup remover, and moisturizers. It also includes perfume. The rule states that any liquids must be in a resealable container that is 3.4 ounces or less and that all containers must fit in one clear, plastic, resealable 1-quart-sized bag. You will need to take this bag out of your carry-on luggage when passing through airport security.

Non-Liquid Cosmetics

Other types of non-liquid makeup such as powder makeup, lipstick, blushes, and pastes are allowed in your carry-on with no limits – you don’t need to put them in a zip-top bag. You may also carry on solid lip balms with no restrictions; however, gel lip balms are subject to the rules for carrying on liquids. Since these items are not subject to the 3-1-1 rule, you are free to keep them organized in your cosmetics bag as you normally would.


Toiletries are allowed in your carry-on as long as they conform to the rules about liquids. Stick deodorants have no restrictions, but deodorants in spray or gel form must be in the quart-sized bag. Liquid soap, mouthwash, toothpaste, saline solution, hairstyling gel and hairspray – indeed, anything in an aerosol can – are subject to the 3.4-ounce limitation as well. Most toiletries can be purchased in travel sizes that conform to the 3-1-1 rule, taking the guesswork out of packing them.

Sharp Objects

As of 2013, the TSA allows typical sharp items found in a cosmetics bag in your carry-on, though not entirely without restrictions. Scissors must have a blade no longer than 4 inches to be allowed, even those with pointed tips. Disposable razors and their cartridges can be put in your carry-on, but safety razor blades must go in your checked luggage. Tweezers and nail clippers can be brought onboard. The TSA recommends that all sharp objects be wrapped to prevent injury to TSA agents who may need to look inside your bag.