TSA counts mascara as a liquid, so the 3-1-1 rule for packing it in hand luggage applies. It states that all liquids have to be in 3.4 oz (100 ml) bottles or smaller and packed in a 1-quart bag.
Mascara usually isn’t above 3.4 oz, so you’re free to pack it in your hand luggage. But you have to pack it in your bag of toiletries together with all your other liquids.
In checked baggage, there aren’t any packing restrictions for mascara. When placed in checked baggage, you don’t have to put it in a separate bag of toiletries.
Flying With Mascara Internationally
When flying internationally, we advise packing mascara and other toiletries in a 1 liter, 20×20 cm Ziploc bag. That’s because, in other countries, reusable toiletry bags often aren’t accepted.
Mascara is treated as a liquid by airport security all across the world. And airline regulators in other countries also limit liquids in hand baggage to small (100 ml) quantities.
The only exception is domestic flights in New Zealand and Australia, where liquids in any quantities are accepted. They also don’t have to be packed in a 1-quart bag. This is because New Zealand and Australia have switched to more modern airport scanners, which reduces the safety risks of liquids in hand baggage.
Tip: Don’t Pack Solid Toiletry Items in Your Toiletry Bag
We often see travelers packing solid toiletries in their toiletry bags. To free up space in your toiletry bag for mascara and other makeup products, you should learn which toiletries count as liquid and which solid.
If you can spread a product or it moves by itself when turned upside down, it’s a liquid. Only pack these items in your toiletry bag. You can pack all your solid toiletries in a separate makeup bag, which you can keep in your luggage when going through security.
Here are some examples of solid toiletry items that people often confuse with liquids include: stick deodorant, lipstick, lip balm, hair wax, concealer (powder), blush, bronzer, lip liner pencils, eyeliner pencils, bar soap, wet wipes, and capsule vitamins.
Some travelers also get confused the other way around. Here are some liquid toiletry items that people often think are solids: mascara, liquid eyeliner, liquid lipstick, lip gloss, face lotions, hand creams, face masks (where you can feel some liquid inside the package), roll-on deodorants, toothpaste, and all aerosols/sprays.