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Still on the Carry- On only theme...

I'm planning to take only carry-on luggage on the Fall when I go to Europe.
I have always checked a bag on many trips to many places, so I'm just trying to find out a few details.
Can anyone tell me if hair-styling putty/wax and hair mousse are considered liquids these days, and need to go in the clear quart bag at the airport, or can I pack them in the actual suitcase ? (Leaving more room for other liquids in the quart bag.)
Speaking of the clear bag, usually a Ziploc or flimsy airport-issue bag; I'd like to hear if others have used their own stronger see-through plastic version, such as bought for use for cosmetics; and if so, have you ever had a security person make you empty out that bag and use an airport issue one instead, even though yours was a quart-size bag?
I like the look of a sturdier one; as, having a flat bottom, it would stand up on a bathroom counter, unlike a Ziploc version.
Trivial, but every bit of space counts!
Thank you.

Posted by
14149 posts

Liquids, gels, pastes, mousse must go in the 3-1-1 bag. Look at it this way....if it spilled on the floor would it make a puddle? If yes, it goes in the bag. As for the putty/wax I have no idea. You can go to the TSA website and ask but ultimately it is up to the security officer.

Some airports will allow the sturdier bag, some won't. The UK airports want a ziploc type bag. They even supply them for free. If you put your liquids in a ziploc type bag and then into your sturdier one you should be okay.

Posted by
11294 posts

Some have reported problems at some airports (I believe Heathrow) with non-standard, flat bottom bag; otherwise, as long as it's a quart bag, it should be fine. You can always bring an extra ziplock bag, just in case; then, once you're done with the flights, just re-pack the items in the flat bottom bag for your hotels.

Hair mousse is most certainly a "liquid"; not sure about hair styling putty. The way I've seen it phrased is that something has to go in the 3-1-1 bag if it "pours, smears, sprays, or does not hold its shape outside the container." They also sometimes use the phrase "liquids and gels."

I know that stick deodorant (and my more recent find, stick sunblock) is not a liquid, but some other "thick" things like peanut butter are.

Posted by
8203 posts

Well once your bag has gone through the x-ray machine, it doesn't matter if its in an "airport issue" bag or not, They can and should take it out and see what it is. If the person working the x-ray machine can't tell what the can, bottle, jar, etc., is, they are going to want to look at it. So it doesnt matter if the language of the rules isn't specific enough, they win the argument.

Posted by
4090 posts

I normally use the heavier 3-1-1 for travel sold at Target. However, Heathrow makes you use their flimsy airport-issued bag.

Posted by
2087 posts

It was odd (for sure), but one time (Greenland) we even had a security screener take out every single item from our quart bag, look at it closely (as though verifying the oz. amounts) then transfer each item to the airline's 3-in-one bag. It was taking forever (we were boarding an Icelander charter flight, so not like we would have missed the flight), and it was rather irritating. Once other security personnel realized what she was doing, that quickly changed. I think she was new and was just over cautious. Our stuff was the typical shampoo, small can of shaving lotion, small tube of Crest toothpaste, etc......nothing weird at all!! We were not the only ones...she did it with others boarding until someone corrected official her.

So, as with travel in general, ANYTHING can happen. But, the more standard your bag is, likely the less reason it will give to have someone take a second look. I would go with the standard zip lock, and if you then want to transfer into a more sturdy bag after clearing security, that's easy to do.

If you ever get an AirCanada standard-issue clear bag, keep it. They seem to be a bit bigger (at least they were the last time we flew with them :) :) Grab an extra one, if you can.

If it can be stirred, it counts as a liquid. I think your hair wax would fall into the liquid category. If it's malleable enough that you can comb it through your hair or work it in with your fingers - it's a liquid. You can buy small pill bottles that are clear and shaped like hockey pucks at Wal-Mart. You can put your putty in these. Or, find a translucent 3 oz "cold cream" shaped jar.

Posted by
2114 posts

I noticed your location is Canada - here is the page for your 311 rule: (here is the US TSA page) Note they provide some guidance on the type of bag (must be clear, specific size, etc.). I use quart size freezer bags (sturdier) and several brands have flat bottoms (advertised as "stand and fill").

Your hair putty and mousse go in the bag. Since you have time, you can test how much you actually need on a weekly basis so you can downsize the container to match your trip. You may find you need much less than you think.

Posted by
1259 posts

“Every bit of space counts!”

You cannot believe it now, but when you get more experience with carry-on-only packing, you will realize that statement is not true. It is truly amazing what you can do without, not because packing light is about deprivation, it’s about practicality. Many items of clothing, gadgetry, and toiletries that you consider essential at this moment will likely become unnecessary, perhaps even silly, in a few more weeks.

Posted by
22984 posts

Not recently but a couple of years ago had stick deo taken because it was loose in the bag. TSA is always correct, customer always wrong.

Posted by
1662 posts

Hi SJ,

My personal experiences in the last few years, I have used the clear, zipped, expandable bottom, cosmetic case.

Logan is my base. I've never been questioned or asked to change out to a zip lock quart bag. I've flown through Heathrow & FCO; no one blinked an eye. I've also flown through other Domestic airports in the last few years, & again, no one said anything.

I got cases at a store "here" in the New England area called Christmas Tree Shops and That!. They sort of resemble a larger envelope. They are 100% see-through right up to the white zipper. They pretty much meet the "measurements" even though the cosmetic cases are a little bigger than a zip lock.

They don't stand out (like neon) where a security person would need to take out a measuring tape. They have the 'soft-bottomed' expandability & a decent zipper. I think they are sold in-store only. The stores also have a huge selection of travel items for those who don't want to decant or need something unusual.

Check out TJMaxx & Marshall's for the ones that are similar but come with little jars & bottles for decanting. Make sure to stay away from the overly decorated ones or the ones that are too rounded or too hard plastic. The simpler, squarer, the better. Walmart has all kinds of travel sized items.

Unless your mousse is very specific for your hair needs, maybe consider a travel spray gel/travel mousse. Nexxus is pretty good. I found TRESemme to be drying. I use Garnier products & decant my own spray gel - get a little funnel at Walmart & slowly pour the gel into a 2-oz bottle. Yep, because it's thicker, it will take its time. Make sure to not let it build into a glob in the funnel, lol.

To be on the safe side, take a couple of the sturdier zip lock baggies just in case the TSA or security at other airports tell you to change out.

Keeping organized is key. For the little jars, I decant any creams/makeup, etc. I "stack them" & tape them together so they stand upright in the bag - allowing more room. I usually use 2 oz. bottles. There are also spray bottles that size too. They can be slimmer. Eyeliner is a pencil, blush is a travel sized compact, lipstick, gloss - brushes, sharpener & lash curler don't need to be in 3-1-1. (Extra liquids go into the checked)

Check out your department store makeup counters. Lancome & Estee are good about giving out samples of a favorite blush, eyeshadow (if you wear it) & travel mascara. Those are usually in the goodie bags when they have their promos. Sometimes, they have those purse samples left over.

Years ago, I was surprised to learn that mascara needed to go into my 3-1-1. No biggie, it fit of course. I decant a liquid hairspray into bottles. I have longer hair, so if it's just not doing its thing that day, I can use a hair clip and wear it up or use a pony tail holder for a lower pony style -- the holders are made to look like little rosettes -- I get the muted tones -- they come in a set of 3. I take black & brown headbands -- they have a fabric on them which makes them a bit dressier. All can be found at Walmart. I think? they are made by "Goodie" or a similar brand. Not expensive. They sell travel size deodorant or solid.

I check one bag & carry on a smaller bag with 3 days worth of clothes & my tote/purse for valuables -- makes it easier to take into a lav. 3-1-1 bag is good for 5 days.

With just a carry on, it's a bit of a game changer. I stay in one place when traveling so it's easier for me to take two bags & other things I favor. For those on tour or staying 2 days here & there, then it's probably more cumbersome.

Europe will have Farmacias, discount stores & supermarkets selling things you may need, forget or don't want to carry. Yes, sometimes, it can be more expensive, but, you have to 'weigh' what's important to you.

Play around with things; see what works. Maybe some of my travel ideas may work for you. Good luck.

Posted by
2864 posts

Great information, thank you everyone!
And Girasole, you are my kind of traveler!
I've travelled a lot for years, so I have a huge bag of tiny bottles and jars, and every time I see one I get another one....for know...

I won't be stuffing my carryon to the absolute full point, as I do like to shop in Europe.
It's sort of a game, at this point; to prove to myself that I can actually take my trip with just carry on.
Looks like hair products, though sticky and not really liquids; will have to go in the Ziploc.
I am from Canada, and never fly through or into the USA; so I'll be looking for those Air Canada clear bags at the airport.

Posted by
1662 posts


Compared to what I've experienced, I guess some travelers have experienced a pause with their 3-1-1 bags at Heathrow or other airports. To repeat, take a couple of the zip locks. If you get a security person whose persona is that of a drill instructor at boot camp, then best to be prepared.

Posted by
2864 posts

And it's interesting that lipgloss is listed on the Canadian detailed CATSA site.
I've taken lipgloss and lipsticks on planes for years, (and mascara and travel sized toothpaste), and have never even had them looked at , or confiscated.
It must be more strict in the US security searches.

Posted by
1662 posts

And Girasole, you are my kind of traveler!
I've travelled a lot for years, so I have a huge bag of tiny bottles and jars, and every time I see one I get another one....for know...

lol, Thanks! And me too. I like the comforts of my stuff. So, I've 'perfected' ways to take every day things I use. But, checking a bag helps with the extras. Eye makeup remover, and liquids like that etc. are decanted for use for a few days; the rest in the checked cosmetic bag.

I'm surrounded by TJmaxx & Marshall's - more of TJM in both Mass and NH. D.a.n.g.e.r.o.u.s. :)

One of my friends and I will make a day of it sometimes - go check out the stores and go eat later. ha! Between handbags, travel bags and accessories or clothes - yikes. We don't always buy, but, it's fun to see what's out there.

Actually? I got the idea about the plastic cosmetic bag when I went through Milan (Linate). I saw a fellow traveler with one. So when I got home, I went on the hunt. I began to see them in a lot of stores in the past few years. It has caught on.

Yes, you may get an overzealous security person, but, that's why it's good to then whip out the baggie, lol. and shut them up. I find it amusing they allow knitting needles but can make a big deal about a baggie. Hmm.

Posted by
1662 posts

I've taken lipgloss and lipsticks on planes for years, (and mascara and travel sized toothpaste), and have never even had them looked at , or confiscated.

One time, I went through Logan with a little aerosol hairspray and my mascara out of the 3-1-1-. No one said anything.

But, when I got to Heathrow, the agent asked me if I could put them in the bag. He was very nice about it, low key, no loud voice. I apologized and said I didn't realize about those products (as I was also cleared at Logan.) He said "they" should know better. oops. lol. Anyway, the products fit, and I was on my way. Now, I know. But, this was some time ago.

Yes, I take the travel tubes of toothpaste. I ask for a few from my dentist. I usually work out a visit a month before my travels.

Posted by
4429 posts

The bags aren't meant to keep everything water tight...just compliant. I have been using the same airport issue bags for numerous trips and I only worry about zipping the top if it is chockablock full. Sticking to that bag means no questions or transferring of products. There is always something else and something new they want to check. Sunday it was my packing folder board and a granola bar. So for me, keeping the liquids in their bag is one less 'thing'.

Posted by
1662 posts

Oh, and I realize this was not part of the inquiry, but, depending on the traveling, I use Kipling bags which are very lightweight, have a ton of pockets, sturdy, pliable and therefore can fit more stuff comfortably. My checked has been either a Kipling rolling duffle or my "new" TravelPro Walkabout 3 - (two-wheeled) which I've been loving.

The Kipling carry on is called "New Weekend" plus I take a Kipling travel tote/purse for day. The carry on meets the BA's measurements. BA is very generous with their baggage policy though. One free checked up to 51 lbs! Phew! Two free carry on items - a bag of 22" and up to 51 lbs, again Phew! and a smaller hand baggage.

Of course, some abuse that. But, most FA's will eyeball the items as pax enter. Once or twice, I saw the FA take a bag and walk down the aisle. Either it was too big for the OH or room ran out.

The "Sasha/Sherpa" carry on bag is good too - older model if you can find it in a TJM or similar store in Canada.

When I took the Kipling 22" duffle as a checked, I also took a 20" carry on. Those were good - as my first trip to Rome back then, I "generously" contributed to the Roman economy, lol.

Second trip to Rome, I packed a little better, took the 22" TravelPro and a smaller carry on and tote/purse. They were fine.

Posted by
492 posts

I use a styling paste (that comes in one of those disc-shaped, hockey puck looking containers), as well, and have had TSA agents consider it liquid. While I personally think it's not too far off from stick deodorant in terms of form and malleability (the paste is fairly solid until you start to actually apply it), I err on the safe side anyways and include it in my 3-1-1 bag. Since the containers take up so much space, one thing I do now before trips is use an old lip balm container (similar round shape as the hair paste container, similar crew on top) for it. Emptied out and thoroughly washed it, and since I only have to ever use a very small amount of hair paste the tiny lip balm container holds enough for at least a week of use!

As for the clear bag, I've found I like the TSA-compliant travel bags they sell at Walgreens, CVS, and other pharmacies - they meet the size/volume requirements, and yet are shaped better and fit stuff more easily than a regular quart-sized ziploc bag (and have the flat bottom so I can set it on a counter). Since I've had one rip in the past, I also seal my quart-sized clear travel bag inside a gallon-sized ziploc. Never had an issue doing this - everything is contained within the space of the quart bag, with the ziploc around that just adding an extra layer of protection.

Posted by
3134 posts

I'm with Maria:

So for me, keeping the liquids in their bag is one less 'thing'.

Every airport's or country's security line is different, and that is why I try to keep with as many of the guidelines as I can. I use a small zipped sandwich bag for my liquids. As my toiletry kit is always packed and ready to go, I use this bag no matter how I'm being transported to a new location. I have a small ebags toiletry kit and when not ready to show TSA my 311, it rests upright in this bag with my non-liquid items, and stands up on the counter or hangs with the rest of the bag. Again, I'm talking about the small, which holds all my toiletries and personal grooming items.

I just about always fly through Heathrow and I don't think I've ever gone through without the assistants telling everyone to use their 'sandwich' type bags for security. I don't have to bother stopping to transfer items because I'm already in compliance. I'm the first one who likes to buy cute travel gadgets, but sometimes it is best to just go with the simple tried and true. There will be something else that you need to do that you didn't previously know about. This way you won't get flustered or anxious when the next request happens and you're still working on the one you already knew about. I like to make things as easy as possible for myself, and require my brain to work as little as possible on these practical considerations.

Posted by
1316 posts

Girasole, I made a pilgrimage to the Christmas tree Shop last summer after an absence of 10 years. Shopped so well I did have to check a bag on the way home. 😉

Posted by
1662 posts

Ha ha Doric8, that store can be a little "dangerous." 😁

CTS can be fun. Hope you got lots of goodies!