How to pack toiletries

Outfit Posts is one of my favorite blogs. I love the way she uses color and accessories to make outfits fun and fresh. Yesterday she posted the first installment in a new One Suitcase series, focusing on a capsule wardrobe for a spring business trip. The pieces are lovely! Colorful, fun, and the opposite of sweaters and coats. I am so excited to see what outfits she comes up with throughout the rest of the week.

But I digress. One of the commenters wrote that she loves the One Suitcase posts, but really needs help packing toiletries. And really, who can blame her? Condensing your beauty routine into tiny bottles and bags seems counter intuitive—let’s have more beauty products, not less! Of course, if you follow that logic, you run out of room for things like clothes. Alas, the beauty regimen must be condensed. But don’t worry! It is totally possible to bring all of your required products and fall within the carry-on guidelines. In fact, on the rare occasions I check a suitcase (usually because I’m on a vacation, therefore traveling with wine) I still only bring my small toiletries bag.

Here’s how I do it.

Get containers. Unless you are going to be gone for months and months, you don’t need more than 3 oz of your shower products. I use Aveda Fillables, but you can get refillable bottles from almost anywhere. Fill them with your own products to keep your routine consistent. For smaller amounts I use contact lens cases.

Have a bag for non-liquids. There are many things that you wouldn’t expect that don’t have to go in the liquids bag: contact solution, mascara, and stick deodorant (gel and aerosol are still supposed to go in the liquids bag), to name a few. Have a specific bag for those things. My toiletry bag includes the above items, plus my razor, comb, and toothbrush.

Find multi-taskers. If you can bring one product that serves two purposes, that is great. Use lotion as shaving cream. Get a makeup stick that will color cheeks and lips. A tinted moisturizer will serve as moisturizer and foundation.

If you don’t need it, don’t bring it. It can be hard to know which products to leave behind. But if you only use hairspray once a month, chances are you don’t need it on a business trip. Same with makeup–you really only need your everyday stuff for most trips. On that note: clean out your toiletries regularly. At one point I realized I was traveling with three (!!) bottles of lotion. Not necessary!

Right now in my liquids bag I have:

  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Face wash
  • Eye cream
  • Tinted moisturizer
  • Lotion
  • Toothpaste

Non-liquids bag:

  • Toothbrush
  • Contact solution
  • Deodorant
  • Razor
  • Comb
  • Cotton balls
  • Hair bands and bobby pins

Readers, any tricks to packing toiletries?


  1. What is your reference for allowing contact lens solution in a carry on outside of a 3-1-1- bag? I can’t find this anywhere and it seem TSA wants it included. Thanks.

  2. I have a medical necessity bag (asthma meds), but I did not know contacts were considered medically necessary.

    Good to know. Leaves more room for souvenirs (like balsalmic vinegar) in the 3-1-1 bag!

  3. If you are traveling to the UK, you have to put mascara in with your liquids. It didn’t seem like a liquid to me, and it is small, but I got mine tossed in the garbage last summer. It was just regular clinique mascara.

  4. Keep the toiletries packed. I fill mine into small bottles and jars, too. Then I just keep it in my ziplock quart bag and refill once I get home.

    Regarding mascara, you can get trial or mini containers from Sephora’s Holiday Packs or Gifts with Purchase. is a great blog to follow so you can get free minis when purchasing full sizes.

    Don’t forget to purge old cosmetics. Eye infections aren’t fun.

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