Can You Bring Make-up on a Plane?

Make-up is surely high on many people’s packing lists when getting ready for a trip or holiday. So, can make-up be carried on a plane? The short answer is yes, but, as you might expect, there are certain caveats to this. Make-up isn’t a single product, but rather a catch-all term for a wide range of different products that have very different physical forms and ingredients.

As such, there isn’t really one clear answer when it comes to the question of whether you can take make-up on a plane – it really depends on what sort of make-up you’re talking about!

The most obvious restrictions on make-up relate to those that come in liquid form – this is obvious enough for things like foundation, lip gloss and mascara, but is not so clear-cut for products like lipstick and compressed powders like eyeshadow. These are clearly not liquids, and whilst security at some airports will not treat them as such, others will and will expect them to be present in your liquids bag if carried in hand luggage. 

None of this is helpful to the traveler and it can be extremely frustrating when inconsistency in definitions leads to expensive products being confiscated. 

can you take make up on a plane

Why Wouldn’t You Be Allowed to Take Make-up in Carry-On Luggage?

Many make-ups are considered to be liquids and whilst this is fairly obvious with some types of make-up, airport security can be quite ‘elastic’ with this definition which can lead to them confiscating products that really are not liquids at all. Powdered make-up can also arouse suspicion if it’s not totally clear what it is or if you are carrying large quantities of it.

Will security treat your make-up as a liquid?  Security at many airports will treat items like lipstick and even compressed powder like eyeshadow as liquids. This means they’ll be subject to the same restrictions as other liquids: no containers over 100ml/3.4oz – that won’t be an issue for many items of make-up – and they must also all fit in a single clear plastic bag – that could be an issue if your liquids bag is already full up with other items such as aerosol, toothpaste and sunscreen.

Is it obvious what your make-up is? This is especially the case with powders. If you have decanted some powder into a small bag, or are travelling with a large amount of powder, it’ll instantly arouse the suspicion of security and it may result in the item being confiscated. 

So, Can I Bring Make-up on a Plane as Carry-On Luggage?

Yes you can, but to avoid having costly products confiscated, the best course of action is to assume that apart from really obviously solid items like eyeliner pencils and loose dry powder that airport security will treat your make-up as liquids.  So, ensure your make up meets the requirements for liquids in hand luggage: that means no individual containers larger than 100ml/3.4oz and all of your liquid containers must fit in a single, resealable clear plastic bag sized 20x20cm or with a volume of 1l/1quart. Remember that make-up brushes and sponges do not need to go into this bag.

This can be a frustrating limit for many travelers as it limits the amount of other liquids that may be carried in their hand luggage. However, this overly cautious approach is the best way to ensure you aren’t caught out be inconsistencies in airport security and, especially if you have high-value products, it’s the best way to ensure that they don’t’ wind up in the bin at the security check. 

USA – What Does the TSA Say About Make-up?

If you’re traveling to the US, the TSA clearly states that bringing makeup in you carry-on baggage needs to fit within the liquids regulations. They make clear information available on the 3-1-1 rules you need to stick by. This essentially means 3.4oz or 100ml and 1 2x20cm clear plastic bag. This has to be sealable, and you are only allowed to bring one per person.

If you have powder compacts and other powder formulations within your makeup, you can generally keep these in another bag, but you should always make sure you keep them well stored so that they don’t break.  

The UK – What Are the UK Government’s Regulations Concerning Make-up in Hand Luggage?

Similar to the US, the UK also has restrictions on the liquid elements of your makeup that you’ll need to follow to travel with them in your hand baggage. Liquids must be up to or under 100ml. The containers these are in can’t be any bigger than this and everything that is a liquid needs to be in a clear plastic bag. You are only allowed one per person and ideally, this should be 20x20cm in size.

This bag must seal and should not be knotted. You will generally have no problem traveling with a powder and they are not subject to the same restrictions, however you should make sure any fragile items are protected during travel.

Europe – What Are the EU’s Guidelines Regarding Make-up?

As you might expect the guidelines in the EU are similar to those in the US and UK. You need to make sure that no make up that is a liquid that you bring is over 100ml. These all need to be within a clear plastic bag that can be inspected by security and easily go through the scanner. This should be 20x20cm. Powders are generally ok to be kept outside your liquids bag with other products like perfume, but you should make sure they’re well protected for the journey to stop them breaking.

Anything that is a paste does need to be included in your liquids bag, however.

can you take makeup in carry-on bags

Australia – Does the ABF Have Laws About Make-up?

As with all countries, in Australia, restrictions apply to carrying makeup in your carry-on baggage. If your make up is a liquid, it must comply with the 100ml limit and be packed in a transparent, resealable plastic bag. This is limited to one per customer and needs to be 20x20cm in size. Powders are generally permitted but should be secured to prevent breakage – so you could consider taking your makeup bag for these items.

New Zealand – What Are the CAA of New Zealand’s Rules About Make-up?

The rules in New Zealand are much the same as other areas around the world – if your make up is a liquid, it must be in a container no bigger than 100ml. This must be stored in a clear plastic bag, no bigger than 20x20cm and needs to be sealable. You are only allowed one per customer. If your item is a paste, it is still included in this, similarly to if it is an aerosol. If it is a powder, you are generally ok to not include this in your liquids bag.

Canada – What Does the CBSA Say About Make-up?

Canada adopts the same policy as most other countries; you are allowed to travel with makeup provided each container is under 100ml and is taken through security screenings in a clear plastic bag no larger than 20x20cm.

The Rest of the World

As most countries adopt the rules and regulations around 100ml or less liquids for carry-on baggage, it is important to assume that this applies to anywhere you travel. Whilst some of the rules around liquid sizes are being phased out, this is a marginally small number of places and it is best not to get stuck with different rules in your outbound versus return destination. Though it is advisable to check directly with your airline or country of travel beforehand just to be certain. 

What’s the Best Advice for Travelling on a Plane with Make-up?

The best advice when packing make-up is to assume that airport security may stretch the definition of a liquid which has caught out many travelers over the years, so air on the side of caution if you don’t want your make-up confiscated! Also bear in mind that a make-up spillage can ruin other items in your luggage and potentially destroy electronics, so it’s wise to always pack make-up in something that can contain a spillage.  A knotted plastic bag is a simple, light and effective solution to this problem.  

What Happens If Your Make-up Is Flagged by Airport Security?

It’s airport security’s job to be on the lookout for anything they consider suspicious, or which breaks the rules of what can be carried. If your make-up is flagged, it’s likely because something about it doesn’t look right to security. It may be that they simply want loose items of makeup packed into a liquids bag.

Remember that security has the final say on whether an item is allowed to fly or not so, to minimize the chances of having your products confiscated and to avoid potential delays to yourself and other travelers at security, it’s always a good move to ere on the side of caution when packing your make-up in hand luggage and assume that most items will be treated like liquids by security.

can you bring make-up on a plane

How to Pack Make-up in Your Luggage

Make-up is generally very easy to pack. With hand luggage, the key concern is that you are in compliance with liquid quantity restrictions and in hold luggage, the concern is that you pack to minimize any problems cause by accidental spillage. 

Packing Make-up in Carry-On Luggage

You should assume that security will treat most of your make-up like liquids and as such, it will need to be in containers no larger than 100ml/3.4oz and all your makeup and other liquids will need to be placed in a single, resealable plastic bag measuring 20x20cm or having a capacity of no more than 1l/1quart. Make-up brushes, sponges and items like eyeliner pencils do not need to go in the liquid bag. Also use common sense with powders: if you decant fine powder into a smaller bag, this can look very suspicious to security!

Packing Make-up in Hold Luggage

Makeup stored in hold luggage is not subject to the same restrictions as make-up in hand luggage.  However, it’s worth bearing in mind that a make-up spillage can damage or ruin clothing or electronic equipment in your luggage. With this in mind, it’s worth packing makeup in a sealed bag – either a dedicated makeup case or simply a knotted plastic bag – to contain nay spills.  Remember that checked hold luggage can be subjected to knocks and bumps during handling, so it’s wise to pack fragile plastic make-up cases in the center of your bag surrounded by clothes to help absorb any shocks and bumps. 


Generally speaking, it’s fine to travel by air with makeup. Airlines and security do not usually have a problem carrying it and countless travelers transport make-up by air every day.  However, problems can crop up when airport security classifies solid make-up as liquid – and this unfortunately happens regularly. With this in mind, it’s always a smart move to be cautious when packing your make-up and assume that security will treat all but the most obviously solid items as if they are liquids.  This is frustrating for sure, but it’s the best way to ensure your products don’t wind up in a bin at the security gate.