Zip Through TSA With Your Beauty Products Using A Clever Cotton Pad Trick

To say that the TSA is a stickler for rules would be an understatement. In the name of safety, the agency subjects passengers to a litany of protocols just to pass security screening. Shoes and jackets must come off, computers must be taken out of bags, and, of course, let's not forget the infamous 3-1-1 liquid rule. This regulation demands that all liquids, gels, and aerosols must be funneled into 3.4-ounce bottles and then placed into a single, clear quart-sized bag. This rule is a win for those who love packing light, but a nightmare for everyone who carries a large arsenal of beauty items during their travels.


Luckily, with a little bit of work, anyone can skirt around this strict rule and breeze past security with many of their favorite beauty products in tow. All you need are cotton pads, which are likely already a mainstay in your beauty ritual. The idea behind this hack is instead of risking your expensive skincare products being thrown away at security or going through the drudgery of decanting them into travel-sized bottles, you simply drench the cotton pads with your liquid products, essentially turning them into makeup wipes. And since the TSA allows makeup wipes for both carry-on and check-in and doesn't really have a clear policy on the allowable amount, there's very little reason for the security to flag you down. You'll be able to bring many of your favorite skincare favorites with relative ease.


Be sure to use airtight and leakproof containers

There's no magic trick involved in trying out this cotton pad hack. As TikTok user @holidayextras demonstrated in a video, making your toiletry kit TSA-friendly is pretty straightforward. Pop a couple of cotton pads into a container, pour your beauty product of choice over them until they fully absorb the liquid, and then seal the container for later use. Ideally, you'd want the cotton pads to be thick to soak up as much product as possible and minimize the risk of disintegration. And, when it comes to choosing a container, opt for an airtight and leakproof option (think tiny Tupperware and Ziplocs). That way, you won't have to worry too much about the pads drying out in transit or, worse, accidentally spilling onto the rest of your belongings.


With this hack, feel free to use as many cotton pads as you need for your trip. There are also virtually no restrictions on the type of beauty products to saturate the pads in. You can do it with makeup removers, toners, micellar water, facial cleansers, beauty mists, and just about any skincare liquid imaginable. As long as it's part of your beauty regimen, it's fair game. But if you are to "cotton pad" multiple products, remember to add a label outside each container to avoid confusion when using them. You don't want to mistake your toner for your makeup remover at a critical moment.

You can also try using contact lens cases as containers

If you're not sold on the idea of using a ton of cotton pads for packing beauty products, there's an alternative that utilizes something you likely have lying around in your home: contact lens cases. These containers might seem miniscule, but they can help you minimize the bulk when packing your toiletries, especially if you're only going on a short trip and don't want to waste money buying travel-sized containers. The best part is they are way below the TSA threshold, too, with the tiny compartment only holding roughly 2.5 milliliters of solution.


For beauty products and toiletries that you don't really need a ton of, like toothpaste, eye cream, foaming cleanser, moisturizer, and serums, you can squeeze them into the tiny contact lens cases, seal them tight, and you're good to go! If you're bringing cosmetics with you, this trick can also work with foundation and loose powders. Similar to the cotton pad trick, it goes without saying that your contact lens container should be spill-proof. Do away with contact lens cases with snap lids and opt for those with screw-on lids to prevent any mid-trip spillage. And, of course, remember to add a label after decanting so you always know which product is which.