Can You Bring Nail Polish on a Plane? Here’s the Answer

Your manicure is chipped and you didn’t get a chance to fix your nails before the flight. Or perhaps you simply want to reapply or touch up during your vacation.

So you chuck in bottles of nail polish into your luggage.

But you have a doubt lingering in your mind.

You ask yourself: Can you bring nail polish on a plane?

Nail polish bottles

Before you go…

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Does the TSA allow nail polish on a plane?

According to TSA, you can take nail polish on a plane as long as it conforms to liquid rules. As a carry-on, the nail polish has to be less or equal to 3.4oz/100ml. In the checked luggage, there is no limit stated.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is a USA government-run agency that is focused on protecting the transport system of the USA. Since 2001, TSA has been ensuring the safe freedom of movement for people and commerce.

The TSA mandates the items that are allowed on planes, differentiating what can or cannot be brought through screening as hand carry. Here is a full list of what is not permitted.

If you are still uncertain about the rules, or if you have a specific item that is not included in the TSA’s list, you can send a question to AskTSA on Facebook Messenger or Twitter.

How can you pack nail polish for the flight?

To bring any liquids (including nail varnish), gels, pastes, creams, and aerosols onto a plane, they must not exceed 3.4oz/100ml and they must be packed into a clear quart-sized bag. You are only permitted one quart-sized bag per person. 

The containers themselves must not exceed 3.4oz/100ml. For example, using a container labeled 6.8oz/200ml but which contains 3.4oz/100ml or less of liquid will still be rejected by TSA Officials. 

If you are carrying your nail polish in your checked luggage, ensure it is securely packed.

Unfortunately, checked luggage can take a bit of a beating and fragile contents may break, as this poor Twitter user found out.

Do all airlines allow nail polish on a plane?

Whilst the TSA allows nail polish on flights, the equivalent officials in other countries may not.

Jenna Short had her nail polish removed when she boarded a flight in China.

Additionally, airlines have their own rules about what is and is not allowed on their flight. Before arriving at the airport, check with your airline carrier. Usually, an email that details prohibited items is sent to you when you book your flight. 

We have included a couple of links for popular airlines below for you to reference their prohibited items;

Can you bring nail polish remover on a plane?

Nail polish remover

Yes, TSA allows nail polish remover on a plane. Again, you have to abide by the 3.4oz/100ml rule for carry-on bags as nail polish remover is a liquid. 

However, nail polish remover is flammable so there are limits to the volume you can carry in each container, and in total. The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) outlines quantity limits for all medicinal and toiletry items here

If you are ever unsure, a quick tweet or Facebook message should get your question resolved quickly, just as Megan Marie did.

Can you use nail polish on a plane?

Some people can be sensitive to the smell of nail polish and/or nail polish remover.

The FAA states that “Not all carry-on items may be used during flight. Consult the flight crew before using items that give off strong odors or vapors such as nail polish and remover”. 

In 2019, Southwest Airlines had to swap aircrafts after a worker was taken ill. Initial reports speculated that acetone in nail polish remover had leaked in the cargo hold, emitting a strong smell. 

Can you bring manicure items on a plane?

Manicure kit

A manicure kit includes items such as nail clippers, a nail file, a cuticle pusher, and tweezers. Some also include scissors. Most of these items have sharp edges and may be seen as potential weapons by Security Officers.

Nail clippers are permitted by the TSA. However, it is noted that any sharp edges must be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to inspectors or baggage handlers.

Scissors are permitted by the TSA. Whilst there is no problem with scissors in checked bags, if they are in a carry-on bag, they must be less than 4 inches/10.16cm from the pivot point. However, some security officers may still confiscate scissors that meet this requirement (as the author found out in Laos).

Metal nail files are permitted by the TSA. Similar to nail clippers, sharp edges must be securely wrapped or sheathed for checked baggage. 

Tweezers are permitted by the TSA. Once again, sharp edges must be wrapped up well if they are in checked baggage to prevent any injuries to baggage handlers or inspectors. Find out more about rules on bringing tweezers on the plane.

Cuticle pushers are permitted by the TSA. The same standards will apply to securing sharp edges.

The final layer…

Hopefully we have answered your questions about carrying nail polish and manicure items on a flight. We do ask you to remember three things:

  • Ultimately, the decision for anything passing through screening lies with the TSA or security officers.
  • Do check with the cabin crew and adjacent passengers before cracking open any nail polish during a flight.
  • Please, leave the pedicure until your reach your destination.

All the best!

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