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Can You Take Nail Polish on a Plane? (2024 TSA Rules)

Can you take nail polish on a plane? 

It’s a common question that nail aficionados ask when traveling. As frequent travelers and beauty enthusiasts, we know how important it is to keep your nails looking fabulous even when you’re on the go. 

Navigating the rules of air travel with your favorite nail polishes can be as tricky as a French manicure, and TSA has strict regulations on which liquids you can and cannot take in your carry-on and checked baggage. 

To make your travel preparation easier, we’re breaking down the 2023 TSA (Transportation Security Administration) rules for flying with nail polish so you can jet off on your travels with peace of mind and perfect nails. 

Let’s jump in!

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A few bottles of nail polish arranged on a light pink background for can you take nail polish on a plane?
Can you take nail polish on a plane? Yes!

Can You Bring Nail Polish on a Plane?

The short answer: Yes! According to the TSA, nail polish is allowed in both your carry-on baggage and checked bags, with some restrictions. 

Nail polish is considered a liquid and, as a result, must follow TSA’s 3-1-1 rule.  

This means that: 

  • Each bottle of nail polish you bring cannot exceed 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) in your carry-on bag.
  • Anything over the 3.4-ounce limit must be placed in checked luggage and is subject to inspection at the security checkpoint. 
  • You’re limited to one quart-sized clear plastic bag for all your carry-on liquids (including liquid cosmetics), aerosols, and gels, so make sure your bottles of nail polish fit accordingly. 

It doesn’t matter what kind of container your nail polish is in — glass, metal, plastic, etc., and it also doesn’t matter whether the bottle has been opened or not for both carry-on bags and checked luggage.

Keep in mind that the final decision rests on TSA agents at the security checkpoint, so always make sure to bring only what you’re allowed and be prepared for additional screening. 

But if you follow the 3-1-1 formal policy for liquids, aerosols, and gels and have any container larger than 3.4 ounces packed in your checked baggage, you should be able to fly with nail polish without any problems. 

A screenshot from TSA's website discussing whether or not if nail polish is allowed on flights.
TSA’s website discusses in detail the packing procedures for nail polish.

Carry-On Guidelines 

When traveling with nail polish in a carry-on bag/personal item, it must be in a container that holds 3.4 ounces (or 100 ml of liquid) or less. 

You’ll also need to ensure it’s properly sealed and in a plastic quart-sized bag with all your other liquids and gels.  

If you’re traveling with more than one bottle, ensure each one is within the 3.4-ounce rule, and they all fit into the quart-sized transparent resealable bag. 

If you want to bring a bottle of polish that’s more than 3.4 ounces, you need to pack it in your checked bag or distribute it into multiple containers that are 3.4 ounces or smaller each and place them in the quart-sized bag. 

The bottom line is that as long the bottle is less than 3.4 ounces and it fits in your toiletry bag, you can bring as much nail polish as you want in your hand luggage. 

Wondering what else you can bring on a plane? Check out these posts for more information on what you can and can’t bring when flying:

Checked Bag Guidelines 

Nail polish is considered a hazardous material when it comes to checked bags because it’s a flammable liquid. 

It’s still allowed in checked-in baggage, but you need to be mindful of the following FAA regulations and restrictions and official policy:

“The FAA limits the total amount of restricted medicinal and toiletry articles in checked baggage. The total aggregate quantity per person cannot exceed 2 kg (70 ounces) or 2 L (68 fluid ounces). The capacity of each container must not exceed 0.5 kg (18 ounces) or 500 ml (17 fluid ounces).”

As long as you adhere to the above TSA guidelines for packing nail polish in your checked baggage, your polishes will make it safely to their destination.  

Red and pink bottles of nail polish on a marble surface for can you bring nail polish on a plane.

Can You Take Nail Polish on a Plane For International Travel?

Yes, you can take nail polish on a plane for most international travel as long as you adhere to the above TSA’s 3-1-1 liquid rule. 

Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom have similar regulations to the United States, but it’s important to note that some countries have restrictions on bringing nail polish into their borders. 

For example, you can’t bring nail polish to China in your carry-on luggage and checked luggage because it’s considered flammable and hazardous.  

Always double-check the regulations of your destination country before traveling to avoid any issues at customs or airport security checkpoints. 

Can You Take Nail Polish on a Plane Regardless of Airline?

All airlines in the USA abide by the TSA’s rules when it comes to bringing liquid items, aerosols, and gels on a plane. 

Regardless of whether you’re flying with Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Spirit, Delta, Virgin America, or any other airline, you’re totally fine to bring nail polish in both your carry-on bag and checked luggage as long as it follows TSA rules.

Colorful bottles of nail polish laid against a turqouise background for can you take nail varnish on a plane.

How to Properly Pack Nail Polish for Air Travel

Now that you know the basics of what TSA allows and doesn’t allow when flying with nail polish, let’s look at how to pack your polishes so they can fly safely. 

The best way of packing them depends on whether you’re packing them in a checked bag or a carry-on. 

Packing Nail Polish for Carry-On Bags 

We recommend that you pack liquids and nail polish in this clear TSA Approved 3-1-1 travel toiletry bag because it’s more sturdy than a plastic 1-quart bag.

Then, place each bottle of nail polish you’re bringing in an individual small Ziploc bag and put them in the travel toiletry bag.

This will not only make it easier to get through security, but it also prevents your nail polishes from breaking or spilling and contaminating your other toiletries in case anything happens during the flight. 

Place your toiletry bag on top of your items in your hand baggage so you don’t have to dig around and can easily access it at the security checkpoint if need be.

 Buy your clear TSA Approved 3-1-1 travel toiletry bag here! 

Packing Nail Polish for Checked Bags

If you’re checking nail polish in your luggage, the best way to pack it is to wrap each bottle securely with bubble wrap and place them into a nail polish carrier case within your checked baggage. 

These nail polish carrier cases are amazing because they’re designed to keep your bottles safe and secure, and you can store other nail products like nail files, clippers, and polish removers in them as well. 

This will also help prevent your essential items from getting damaged if the bottle breaks during transit. 

 Buy your nail polish organizer/carrier case here! 

Will Nail Polish Bottles Explode on a Plane?

While it’s technically possible for nail polish to explode on a plane, it is highly unlikely.

There is a small chance of bottles leaking or breaking on flights if your checked luggage is mishandled, so pack them securely according to the above guidelines to avoid any issues. 

Pastel colored nail polish bottles laid against a multi-pastel colored wall.

Can You Use Nail Polish on a Plane?

Although most airlines don’t have strict rules against the use of nail polish on a flight, it’s not recommended, and a flight attendant and cabin crew will most likely ask you to put it away if you try using it on the plane. 

The fumes from the nail polish may cause discomfort to other passengers, and you might cause accidental spills or stains on the seats or tray tables due to turbulence.

Can You Bring Nail Polish Remover on a Plane?

Yes, you can bring nail polish remover in both your carry-on bag and checked bag.

For carry-on bags, just make sure you adhere to the 3-1-1 TSA requirements (3.4 ounces or less per container, one quart-sized bag, one bag per passenger) and keep your nail polish remover in a secure plastic container within the quart-sized bag.  

For checked luggage, ensure the bottle is no more than 17 fluid ounces and the total aggregate quantity of your toiletry articles is less than 2 kg or 2 L. 

A manicure kit consisting of nail polish, nail buffs, a nail brush, and more laid on a white wooden background.

What Other Nail Care Items Can You Bring on a Plane?

Any liquid nail item such as nail polish remover, nail glue, nail gel, nail thickener, and products along those lines are permitted, but you must pack them the same way you pack nail polish. 

Dip powder and nail polish remover wipes are also permitted onboard, but if your dip powder container is more than 12 ounces (350 ml), you should pack it in your checked bag. 

Nail art products like rhinestones, nail stickers, and decals are also allowed in your carry-on bags and checked baggage.

You can also bring nail clippers, nail files, cuticle pushers, tweezers, and nail brushes that come in a manicure kit in both carry-on bags and checked bags.

Keep in mind that nail scissors and nail files with pointy ends and sharp edges are considered sharp objects and a potential weapon and have to be placed in your checked baggage. 

Can You Take Nail Polish on a Plane FAQs

Can you bring nail varnish on a plane?

Nail polish and nail varnish are the same thing, so yes, you can bring nail varnish on a plane in both your carry-on bag and checked luggage as long as they follow TSA guidelines. 

Can you take nail lacquer on a plane?

The difference between nail polish and nail lacquer is that nail lacquer is usually a little thicker than regular nail polish, and it’s more durable and chip-resistant.

Yes, you can take nail lacquer on a plane as long as you follow the same TSA guidelines as regular nail polish. 

How many nail polishes can you bring on a plane?

For carry-on bags, you can bring as many nail polishes as you want as long as they follow the TSA 3-1-1 rule and are placed in a quart-sized clear bag. 

For checked luggage, there is no specific limit on the amount of nail polish you can bring since these items fall under the “toiletries” category. 

Just make sure that the total aggregate quantity of all your toiletry items does not exceed 2 kg or 2 L. 

Will TSA confiscate nail polish?

A TSA officer will not confiscate your nail polish as long as it follows the liquid rules and guidelines. 

If you’re bringing a bottle of nail polish that does not follow TSA regulations, then they may ask you to remove the bottle from your bag or check it in. 

Should you not take nail polish on a plane?

You should not take nail polish on a plane if it does not follow TSA regulations. But as long as you follow the guidelines and adhere to the size restrictions, then it is perfectly safe to take nail polish on a plane and you won’t run into any issues with TSA officials. 

How do you travel with nail polish?

The best way to travel with nail polish is to place each bottle of nail polish in an individual small Ziploc bag and then put them all in a clear quart-size bag for carry-on bags.

For checked luggage, wrap each bottle securely with bubble wrap and place them into a nail polish carrier case. 

This will help keep your other items safe and secure if any bottles break or spill during transit. 

A woman holding multiple bottles of nail polish in her hands.

Summary of Can You Take Nail Polish on a Plane

So, can you take nail polish on a plane? Yes, just make sure you follow the TSA regulations. 

You can bring nail polish in both your carry-on items and checked luggage, but follow the above guidelines when packing them to ensure a safe and smooth journey.   

Other items like nail files, clippers, and polish remover are also allowed on planes, but be sure to check the TSA guidelines for each item if you’re unsure.

Lastly, it’s best not to use nail polish on a plane to avoid inconveniencing fellow passengers. 

The key to hassle-free travel with nail polish is abiding by the TSA rules and regulations when packing your items. 

Happy travels and happy manicures! 

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