When flying commercial, the official liquid/gel allowance for hand luggage is one transparent, quart/liter-sized, resealable bag. There is no cap on how many bottles can be contained within this bag, but each must be limited to 3.4 ounces/100 milliliters and all the contents must fit comfortably within so the bag completely zips shut.
If you're like me and despise checking luggage, read on to see what's in my always-packed toiletry kit and to learn a few tricks that will help maximize your carry-on cosmetics allotment.
First and foremost, I HIGHLY recommend that you go online right now and get yourself a BlueAvocado Travel Quart Bag. Although it technically satisfies the airline regulations (I haven't had a single issue with it yet), it buys you a heck of lot more space than the plastic bags they hand out at airport security. It's also reusable, washable and durable. Scroll through the slideshow images below to see how the same set of toiletries fit into the BlueAvocado versus into a standard zip bag.
Two other refillable items that you’ll find in my flight bag, which I fully endorse include:
Perfume/cologne mini-bottle: Easy to fill, takes up next to no room and isn’t glass/breakable like most eau-de-toilette bottles. I actually have a black and a and silver one, so I can bring multiple scents and can identify them by color.
Toothpaste: How many times have you had a travel-sized tube with too little toothpaste for your whole trip, but too much to throw out? Then you end up having to purchase and carry several tubes. With this refillable system, you can avoid packing multiples, all whilst doing your small part to offset your carbon footprint.
In addition to the items already mentioned, below is a complete list of the other supplies that I carry with me when I'm on the move:
Face Lotion: BareMinerals Smart Combination Smoothing Lightweight Emulsion is what I use when I travel. The bottle is narrow and is 50ml/1.7 fl. oz. It lasts for months.
Deodorant: Solid antiperspirant sticks are neither liquid nor gel, so don’t need to be included in your toiletry bag. If you find that you need a bit of extra room for other products, store the deodorant elsewhere in your luggage.
Shampoo: MoroccanOil’s Moisture Repair Shampoo is 2.4 fl. oz/70ml of scrumptious-smelling, color-safe, sulfate-free, phosphate-free and paraben-free goodness! Since I also use this shampoo when I’m not traveling, I refill the bottle as necessary from my stash at home. MoroccanOil also have loads of other great travel size versions of their products.
Conditioner: Since my youth, I have never been able to determine when conditioner has been fully rinsed from my hair. During my high school years, this issue lead to unnecessarily long showers and tardiness to class. After reprimand from my teachers and parents, I switched to leave-in conditioner and have stuck with it all these years later. I use Dove Intensive Repair Leave-in Conditioning Spray at home and then refill a Dove mini hair spray bottle that I keep in my on-the-go cosmetic bag.
Body Wash: Again, I use this same product at home, so I just refill the travel version as and when needed.
Baby Oil: To keep my skin hydrated, I use Johnson's Baby Oil in the shower, after I wash. I do a very quick rinse after applying then pat dry with a towel. The bottle isn't refillable, but it’s inexpensive.
Body Lotion: I haven’t found a travel-sized version that I love yet, so I mostly just steal minis from hotels. At the moment I am using a starter size cream that I got at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.
Face Wash: I store my Jurlique Replenishing Foaming Cleanser in a Bliss face wash bottle that I took from a W Hotel, rinsed out and refilled.
Sleep Enhancer: I always keep Deep Sleep Breathe In roll-on travel companion in my cosmetic kit to help with disrupted sleep patterns/jet-lag.
During the summer months, you’ll also find the following in my BlueAvocado:
Bug Spray: Pardon my bragging, but mosquitoes LOVE me. I get bitten more than anyone I know and my bites swell so much that they become painful, so insect repellent is a must for me. I recently bought Autan Tropical Spray in an emergency situation in Italy and it worked great. Before I stumbled upon Autan, I used to carry around Skintastic OFF! Towelettes. These are individually wrapped wipes that can be stored in a purse/wallet, smell pretty good and don’t cut into your liquid quota.
Tiger Balm: For those times when the insect repellent fails me and the bugs win, the ONLY thing that provide relief is Tiger Balm. It smells medicinal, but works wonders and a small jar lasts ages.
Lip Balm with SPF: I prefer Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula.
Sun Cream: Nivea Protect and Bronze Face Cream SPF 30 is what you’ll find if you were to search my toiletry bag. Although it's designed for the face, I also use it on other small areas of my body which are prone to burning, like my shoulders.
Aloe: I refill a small plastic jar with aloe vera, as necessary and bring it with me on sunny vacations.
The tips below should help you fit everything you need into your travel kit thereby avoiding you having to check your luggage:
Minimize your contents and only bring what's entirely necessary
Use powders instead of liquids where possible
Replace sprays/removers with wipes/towelettes
See if there are solid versions of your products that won't cut into your liquid ration
Use refillable travel bottles to avoid waste and unnecessary purchases and fill them up with the same products you use at home
Look for two-in-one, multi-purpose products
If you are staying in a hotel, consider using the shampoos/conditioners/lotions that will likely be provided
It's a risky strategy, but you can technically fill two clear plastic bags with toiletries. If you put them in separate bins on the conveyor belt for x-ray screening, it is often unnoticed that both belong to you. You have to be a bit sneaky about this method and be prepared to check/dump the products should you get caught.
Please note that medications, special dietary supplements and baby food can be exceptions to the 100ml rule.
There you have it! I hope this helps you circumnavigate the liquid/gel restrictions a bit better and allows you to breeze through security with hand luggage only. Happy packing!
For other helpful luggage travel loopholes, read this post.