Working around the TSA 3-1-1 Liquids Rule

For short trips, I always do my best to avoid checking in luggage. It wastes time, and puts your valuables at risk of being damaged or stolen. However, getting everything to fit into a carry-on bag can be a serious struggle, especially when you’re trying to bring your entire 10-step skin care routine. The challenge of fitting all of my creams and liquids into one quart-sized bag is undoubtedly my biggest packing battle. Even with travel sizes for all of my essential products, I continuously find myself at the mercy of the Ziploc bag.

Luckily, I’ve discovered some solid alternatives for a handful of personal care products. Here are some items that will help you outsmart the TSA 3-1-1 Liquids Rule:

Solid Alternatives for Travel

  • Massage Bar – Trade traditional lotion with a massage bar for your next trip. I recently discovered these and they have instantly become one of my favorite body products. The bars are super moisturizing, and perfect for massaging your legs after a long day of exploring. Lush has a great selection of massage bars, but I highly recommend buying them in-store. In my opinion, some of them smell awful, while others might be a bit messy.
  • Perfume Bar – Solid perfumes are quite inexpensive compared to designer brands, and a little bit goes a long way. Try these adorable perfume sticks from Tony Moly, or these little tins from L’Occitane. I personally prefer the stick version, so that you can directly apply the perfume to your pulse points.
  • Sunscreen Stick – I’ve mentioned sunscreen sticks before. One of the things I love about them is that they are totally mess-free. Buy one of these and say goodbye to sticky or slippery hands.
  • Shampoo Bar – This is another Lush product that I recently discovered. Shampoo bars are basically all the effective ingredients of regular shampoo, without the water. These bars are super long-lasting. Each one equates to 2-3 bottles of liquid shampoo. Check out the full selection at Lush.
  • Solid Conditioner – Solid conditioners have been gaining popularity recently for their power-packed moisturizing ability. Just like shampoo bars, solid conditioners contain the essential ingredients, molded together sans solvents.
  • Body butters – These solid, exfoliating body butters from Lush are an awesome alternative to shower gel. Plus, they’re so hydrating that you won’t need to apply any lotion after your shower.
  • Face soap – As much as I love my foam cleansers, they can be a pain to transfer (see tip below). Swap out your liquid cleanser with a bar soap, like this Jeju Volcanic Pore Soap from Innisfree. Also on my radar: Innisfree Green Tea Mineral Cleansing Bars.


  • Save your Korean skin care samples for travel. I know, it’s super tempting to open and test all of the products immediately, but Korean brands give out tons of samples. Chances are you can spare some duplicates or already own some of the full-sized products.
  • Make your own lotion bars at home with just a few ingredients. Here’s a recipe for homemade Orange Honey Lotion Bars that I just might have to try. Turn your lotion bar into a massage bar by using a textured mold.
  • Replace your bottle of dry shampoo with a small container of baby powder or baking soda. To use, just lightly sprinkle some into your roots and work through your hair.
  • Break off a small piece of solid conditioner and keep it in your cosmetics bag. Use a little bit throughout the day to add shine or tame flyaways.
  • Trade your spray deodorant for a small stick deodorant.
  • Transfer products into small travel-sized bottles or repurposed containers. You can buy empty bottles at Target or the drug store, but my favorite containers actually come from used up lip balm pots and Sephora samples. They’re perfect for serums and eye cream.
  • On the subject of transferring products between containers, foam cleansers should be transferred into reach-in tubs or squeezable bottles. There’s a reason why they’re always sold in tubes. I once made the mistake of putting my Skinfood Egg White Pore Foam into a rigid bottle, and I’ve been struggling to extract the product ever since.
  • Instead of bug spray, try a BugBand. In my experience, they work just as well as repellent lotion. Plus, they won’t make you smelly or sticky.
  • Glamour had a couple of valuable tips that were completely new to me: prepare makeup on cotton swabs and protect breakables with cotton pads.

Featured items

  • Lush Pearl Massage Bar – This massage bar was “inspired by bubble tea,” so it’s no wonder why I love it. It’s made with tapioca, sago, argan oil, and rose oil.
  • Tony Moly Pocket Bunny Perfume Bar – I absolutely love Tony Moly packaging. These little bunnies are just so cute! Bloom Bunny (purple) is my favorite scent. At the moment, US shoppers can find these perfume bars at Urban Outfitters (both in-store and online). Sephora has also started carrying Tony Moly products, but they don’t offer these perfume bars quite yet.
  • Lush Jumping Juniper Shampoo Bar – Out of all the Lush shampoo bars, this one is probably my favorite. It smells so good! I just purchased one on Wednesday and can’t wait to use it.
  • Lush Seanik Shampoo Bar – Seaweed and lemon oil? Yes, please. This will probably be my next shampoo bar purchase.
  • Banila Co. Hello Sunny Sun Screen Stick SPF50+ PA+++ – I have yet to try this product, but it contains Sunberry Complex which probably smells amazing. The complex contains kakadu plum, acerola (cherry), and acai berry.
  • Lush Big Solid Conditioner – This conditioner leaves my hair feeling super smooth and shiny. It’s scent reminds me of baby powder.
  • Lush Each Peach (and Two’s a Pair) Massage Bar – This is my current massage bar. It’s very hydrating and mess-free. In my opinion, Each Peach is also the best smelling Lush massage bar. However, don’t be fooled by the name, it smells more citrusy than peachy.
  • Lush Buffy Body Butter – I haven’t tried this (I don’t think I’ve even seen it in the store), but it’s definitely on my wish list.

That’s all for now. Do you have any tips for carry-on luggage or beauty alternatives? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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