TSA Requirements for Travel-Size Toiletries

By Jodi Thornton O'Connell; Updated June 08, 2017

Pack smart with dry toiletry alternatives

TSA Requirements for Travel-Size Toiletries

Traveling light with only a carry-on can save you time at the airport by not having to go through baggage check-in or waiting at baggage carousels when you land. But TSA requirements can make packing tricky. To maximize room in your carry-on bag, substitute TSA-approved items for unregulated alternatives.

Know TSA requirements

TSA's 3-1-1 rule limits you to taking anything you can squeeze out, pour out or spray out in a 3.4-ounce or smaller container. That means limiting the amount of toothpaste, hair spray, cologne and other toiletries you can take on board. To make the task more challenging, all the containers you take must fit in one quart-size plastic zip-top bag.

Get around the 3-1-1 rule

If the 3-1-1 rule sounds like it will cramp your beauty style, don't worry. Just substitute as many liquids as you can with dry products. Here's a few ideas to get you started.

  • Go back to basic bar soap. Soap doesn't have to be harsh on your skin. Many bar soap brands make a thick, pouf-friendly lather that is a good stand-in for gels. Or, look for a bar that moisturizes and exfoliates. 
  • Do a dry shampoo. Most hotels supply you with free shampoo and conditioner, but if you want to bring your own, switch over to dry. Try sulfate-free bar shampoos with coconut and argan oils to nourish your locks and make a rich lather. Follow up your shampoo with a silky conditioner bar. 
  • Clean your face. Use a solid facial cleansing stick. 
  • Beat dry skin the dry way. Some beeswax moisturizing bars come in their own travel-friendly tin. Your body warmth turns the texture from dry to creamy as you smooth it along your skin. 
  • Protect your skin. Use an SPF 70 sunscreen stick. The formula goes on completely dry.
  • Discourage pests from biting. Use a solid insect repellent stick. Some repellent sticks contain 30 percent DEET to fend off mosquitos, biting flies, ticks and chiggers. Natural bug repellents fend off pests without DEET. Check out after-bug balm sticks to soothe any bites. 
  • Pack alternatives to liquid makeup. This helps you look your best without having to worry about TSA limits. Some major name brands make foundation sticks that you simply rub on and blend.
  • Clean your clothes. Use laundry soap sheets. The sheets dissolve in water and are useful for either machine or hand-washing. 

About the Author

Indulging her passion for vacation vagary through the written word on a full-time basis since 2010, travel funster Jodi Thornton-O'Connell guides readers to the unexpected, quirky, and awe-inspiring.