A Travel Expert Explains the 5 Things to Know About TSA's Liquids Rule

Packing a carry-on bag for a flight is a master class in minimalism. It's best that clothing is streamlined and expertly folded, shoes are versatile and readily contained, and accessories are sparse and easily tucked away. And that's just the first test. The second obstacle is how to pack cosmetics following TSA's well-known liquids rule.

"According to the TSA, a liquid can be a traditional item like water or soda and also any aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes," says Brendan Dorsey, associate editor at The Points Guy. "This includes items like toothpaste, gel deodorants, shampoos, lotions, and consumables like jam and peanut butter."

If you're not exactly a frequent flyer, then these guidelines may be foreign but not exactly unfamiliar—plenty of stores have travel-size cosmetics aisles in order to comply with the TSA. But even if you do jet-set often, perhaps you're still not clear what the TSA means when it says that all passengers must follow the "3-1-1 liquids rule" for items in their carry-on bags. Let Dorsey sum it up: "A passenger's liquids, gels, or aerosols must be in bottles that are 3.4 ounces or less," he notes. "All bottles must fit in one quart-sized clear, plastic, and resealable bag, and each passenger is limited to one bag of liquids."

Following this requirement can be a challenge when your cosmetics tend to be bulkier than your clothing. But with a little finesse, and perhaps some tough-love editing, you can stick to a cosmetics packing routine that meets the TSA's stipulations without causing you much of a challenge. We asked Dorsey to provide more information on what to know about this rule and how to prepare so that your next trip through airport security shows just what a master packer you can be.