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Traveling With Style and Beauty Products Through the Checkpoint

Friday, July 18, 2014
beauty products

I hate to admit it, but I’m a bit of product junkie. When it comes to traveling, I don’t like to skimp on my favorite personal care products in exchange for travel sized brands.

While I know I can stuff my checked bag full of products, my frugal side tells me to pack it all in my carry-on.

When you spend your hard-earned money on beauty products that you really like, you certainly don’t want to have to toss them at the checkpoint, so I wanted to share some tips to ensure your products make it to your destination with you.

Even though the rule has been in effect since 2006, officers still continue to find liquid, gel and aerosol items in carry-on bags, often from passengers who haven’t traveled in a long time or who didn’t realize that their perfume or face cream is a liquid. Our officers often hear” “But this isn’t a liquid - it’s shampoo!” Officers don’t enjoy telling passengers that their liquids can’t go through the checkpoint, so we’d much rather you pack them correctly.

Perfumes, lotions, shampoos and other liquid or cream cosmetics fall under TSA’s 3-1-1 rule. The 3-1-1 rule goes like this: to be taken in a carry-on bag, all liquids, gels and aerosols must be in 3.4 ounce or smaller containers that fit in 1 sealed zip-top plastic bag, with only 1 bag per passenger.

  • Use refillable perfume dispensers. There’s no need to pack your entire bottle of perfume or cologne as it’s likely over the 3.4 oz. limit. Instead, if you’re a frequent traveler, you can purchase a refillable travel-size perfume bottle that meets 3-1-1 requirements.
  • Pack your liquids, gels and aerosols separate from other toiletries. For many people, it makes sense to pack your toothbrush with your toothpaste, and powder blush with liquid foundation to keep things all to one bag. It makes more sense to pack your liquids in the zip-top bag and put your razor, toothbrush, floss, lipstick and your solid deodorant in a separate bag.
  • Pack oversize liquids in your checked bag. If you’re checking a bag, you can pack unlimited quantities of liquids in it. One tip I suggest to protect the other items in your bag is to put any shampoo, lotions, etc, in a cosmetics bag or zip-top bag, just in case anything opens in flight. That will prevent anything leaking onto your clothes. Many toiletry items, like liquid foundation or moisturizer with a pump, allows you to turn the pump in one direction to lock it.
  • You don’t have to throw it away. If you find yourself at the checkpoint with a 6 ounce jar of expensive face cream, throwing it away isn’t your only option. In many airports, there are kiosks where you can ship an item to your destination or back to your home. You can also ask to leave the checkpoint and see if a store in the airport has a smaller container to put your product into, and then put that container in your zip-top bag and go back through security. Another option would be to go back to the ticket counter and check your bag. Yes, these options cost money, but they are options for any traveler who would rather not throw out an expensive product.

When in doubt, check it, ship it or buy it after arriving at your destination. I’ve done them all, and it’s worth it. Packing smarter on the front end reduces your chances of having to leave behind or pay to ship products when you’re at the airport.

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Submitted by Keith Miller on

I have a bottle of cologne that does not say the fluid volume of the cologne. It is only sold in two sizes, both under 3.0oz. If I had a print out, clearly visible with the bottle in the appropriate baggy, would this work?

Thank you.

Submitted by Unknown on

Please, I would love to hear their answer to this as well!!! I just had to let them have my face wash because they gave me such crap going through the check point.

Submitted by Khanh on

I believe the reason is that the things themselves aren't generally dangerous until you mix them in certain quantities (as someone might do once they are on board). There are known mixtures that create explosives.

Submitted by Vicki Vinson on

No they just took them iut of my zip lock bag from my CHECKED luggage. 2 of the make up containers were just empty. Oddly, they missed the lipstick. Guess it wasnt their color...

Submitted by Cindy on

Great suggestion! I reread it several times to see if maybe they’d increased the bag size

Submitted by Anonymous on

My containers of cream where obviously half full.but the agents still took them.
Can't the think out of the box

Submitted by Anonymous on

They told me icanpour some out.they we're half full already. This nuts.when have we had any explosion using face cream

Submitted by Anonymous on

so what youre saying is that i could bring bags of water with me in my luggage and no one could stop me? cool beans

Submitted by Fred on

You're so right. Traveling used to be fun and exciting. Now it's like volunteering to be probed and assumed to be suspicious. I don't fly anymore, and if the airline industry knew how many thousands of dollars they're losing from people like me, you'd think their lobbyists would get after the TSA and have things changed.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Can I carry an eos lotion in my handbag?

Submitted by Anonymous on

In June I will be using spirit airline, the experiences these travelers had are horrible. I was warned not to use this airline but I want to have my own experience. I pray to God that these employees aren't as bad as stated and if so I hope they were retrained or disciplined if they were. Wish me luck and thanks for sharing your experiences, they were very helpful.

Submitted by Annonymous on

People such as this should wear warning lables.

Submitted by Brie Cooper on


Submitted by Kimberly Slade on

I could not agree more! It’s absurd. I saw another comment that I agree with, if they were so dangerous why did they just dump them in the trash! Some of my favored products don’t come in travel size. It seems to me to be a way for the airlines to force you to pay for checked luggage.

Submitted by Kathey on

I hear ya, ditto that!

Submitted by Joan McManus on

I've had bad experiences with TSA screeners, in particular, taking something of mine, from the bin as it went through xray. TSA worker complimented my sunglasses, made me take them off and put them in the bin. When the bin came out on the other side of the xray the glasses were gone. I yelled out loudly, WHERE ARE MY SUNGLASSES!!!!!!, several times. A bunch of TSA agents gathered into a group and lo and behold my sunglasses appeared. These are the people who are supposed to be protecting us? What a joke...............

Submitted by Donna Anderson on

I spent quite a lot of time this am looking on this website to verify that persons 75 and older do not have to remove their shoes to go through security. In the end I called TSA to ask about it and the agent I got was polite but she had to look it up to confirm that now that I am 75 years old I no longer have to take my shoes off.
To me, the answer to my question should have been very easy to locate on your website.

Submitted by Me on

Old rules and dumb TSA personnel. In this day and age, after all we as Americans have been putting up with. Tell me people. The TSA can't tell the difference between hair products, tooth paste, etc. to what is really dangerous. Really!! When is the training ???

Submitted by Liz on

Is there a limit to the size of the ziplock bags? They come in quart, gallon, and even larger.

Submitted by Kathy R on

I TOTALLY agree with you about the TSA. Bunch of wanna be cops on a power trip. They can be such jerks. 😡

Submitted by Peggy Cooper on

Trying to get definitive answer, may I carry on a case of mason glass jars filled with dry
soup mix ingredients? It fits easily in a carry on size bag. They are homemade Christmas gifts.