Being able to bring makeup on a plane, and particularly in carry on luggage, is something that most women (and some men these days) are likely to need to do at some time or another. This is particularly true as so many only take carry on luggage these days for short trips.
The Quick Answer: You can bring makeup on a plane in both your carry on bag or checked bag. But if taking makeup in your carry on luggage you must ensure, if it is considered a liquid under TSA rules, that it is 3.4 ounces or less (100ml). If so, it must be placed inside a one quart-sized clear ziplock bag with any other liquids you have.
If you are taking checked luggage with you then there are basically no restrictions as to the amount and type of makeup that you can take in those. So any makeup you know you will not need to use on the flight is best placed in your suitcase.
- 1 What makeup is considered a liquid?
- 2 Can I take makeup on a plane in my purse?
- 3 Can you bring powder makeup on a plane?
- 4 Can you bring makeup wipes on a plane?
- 5 Can you take nail polish on a plane?
- 6 Can you take nail polish remover on a plane?
- 7 Can you bring perfume on a plane?
- 8 Can you bring a mirror in carry on?
- 9 Other carry on airport security posts
What makeup is considered a liquid?
TSA and the regulations of other governments state that any one liquid container cannot be larger than 3.4 ounces (100ml). That refers to the size of the container, not the amount of liquid in it. So, for example, you cannot take a 6oz container that is half full in hand luggage.
What is less obvious are things such as:
- aerosols (deodorant, body spray, hairspray etc)
- mascara (yes this is considered liquid makeup)
- Liquid, cream or gel eye shadow
- Gel lip balms
- Liquid foundation
Powder and solid makeup are allowed and do not fall within the liquids rules. However, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) states any “powder-like” substances which are larger than 12oz (350ml) must be placed separately in a bin to be screened by the X-ray machine during the screening process. You may also be asked to open them to show what they are.
I would say, if you are unsure whether an item counts as a liquid or not, then place whatever it is in your resealable quart-sized bag for liquids. It is better to be safe than sorry.
You can buy an approved liquids bag on Amazon quite cheaply – TSA 3-1-1 Approved Clear Airline Carry On Bag
Can I take makeup on a plane in my purse?
You can take makeup in your purse but the same liquid makeup rules above apply.
But if you are carrying your purse as well as a separate carry on luggage then anything that is considered a liquid, in either of your bags, must be placed in just one clear plastic resealable liquids bag per passenger when passing through the security checkpoint. You cannot just leave it in a makeup bag
Can you bring powder makeup on a plane?
You can take powder makeup on a plane in either your carry on bag or your checked bags as it is non liquid makeup.
In theory there are no restrictions on the amount you can carry with you in your hand luggage through the security checkpoint. However, any powders over 12oz should be placed separately in one of the security trays for additional screening.
I cannot imagine that anyone would want to take this much powdered makeup with them in their carry on bag though.
Can you bring makeup wipes on a plane?
Yes you can take makeup wipes in both carry on and checked bags. The TSA do not consider these a liquid, although they do obviously have liquid in them as they are wet.
Can you take nail polish on a plane?
Again, you can, but the liquids rule applies so it cannot be larger than 3.4ozs (100mls) but most nail polish bottles are small so that shouldn’t be an issue.
When taking nail polish on a plane it must be carried in your clear resealable liquids bag though.
You can also take nail glue on a plane.
Can you take nail polish remover on a plane?
Nail polish remover is allowed but must be less than 3.4 ounces (100ml) and must be placed in the resealable liquids bag to pass through airport security. Larger nail polish bottles can go in your checked baggage.
Can you bring perfume on a plane?
Since perfume is obviously a liquid, then yes you can take it on a plane but it must be smaller than 3.4 ounces (100ml) to be compliant with the liquids rules. It must also be placed in your liquids bag for separate screening by airport security.
If you are traveling internationally and buy any perfume in the duty-free store at the airport (after airport security) then this can be carried on the aircraft with you, even in containers that are 3.4oz/100ml or larger.
But remember, if it is larger than that, and you are on your outward journey, when you return home it will have to go in your checked luggage otherwise it will be confiscated when you pass through airport security before your return flight.
It is also worth mentioning that if you have used some while away such that the contents are now less than 3.4 fluid ounces then this is still not allowed in a carry on bag as it is the size of the container, not the amount of the contents themselves that counts.
So if you buy a bottle containing 6 fluid ounces in duty free or on the plane on the way out and you use half or more then the bottle is still larger than the permitted size.
Can you bring a mirror in carry on?
TSA regulations allow makeup mirrors on a plane in both carry on bags and checked luggage.
I asked my wife which she thought was the best travel makeup mirror. Whether we have a checked bag, or only carry on bags, she says this one she takes with her is the best (well she would as she wouldn’t buy something that wasn’t the best would she!)
It is 5.3 inches by 7 inches so it will fit in carry on baggage without a problem. It has LED lights and adjustable brightness.
The AskTSA service on Twitter confirms that these (and other makeup mirrors) are allowed in carry on baggage:
Other carry on airport security posts
I have been traveling around the world by air since the early 70s and living overseas too. I worked for British Airways for a number of years and I am also a private pilot.