What's the TSA Rule on Nail Polish

Artsy Nails: Here's How to Pack Your Polish on a Plane

If you and your child love doing each other's nails to while away spare time on vacation, you're in luck. You can bring everything you need to have great looking nails in your carry-on luggage. If you're trying to avoid checked baggage fees, you might have to do a little strategizing, however, to make sure you've got everything you need.

The TSA 3-1-1 Rule

The 3-1-1 rule limits how much liquid you can bring onboard a plane in your hand luggage. Liquids not only include things you can pour out, but anything that can be sprayed, spread or squeezed out. Hairspray, peanut butter and toothpaste all have to comply. Here's how the rule breaks down:

  • 3: Everything has to be in a 3.4-ounce (100 milliliter)  container or smaller. If you have an 8-ounce bottle of nail polish remover with only 3 ounces in it, TSA will take it away. 
  • 1: Gather all your little 3.4-ounce containers and put them in one clear quart-size plastic bag. that can be resealed. A disposable baggie of the right size works fine, but you must be able to close it: You can redistribute your liquids in your purse or make-up kit once you're past security.
  • 1: Each passenger gets only one bag's worth of liquids. Each child flying as a ticketed passenger can have a bag, so tuck a few extra bottles of polish in theirs if they have room left over. Be sure to put their bags in their own carry-on luggage. Mom can't carry everyone's, only her own. 

More Room for Nail Art

Getting all your nail polish bottles, paint pens and art gels in a quart-size bag can be a challenge if you're a nail art junkie who likes your nails to match your wardrobe. If you're trying to eliminate checked baggage fees and fly with just a carry-on, it will take some serious thinking to get every cosmetic liquid you need in that small plastic bag.

  • Consider buying basic products like deodorant and toothpaste when you arrive at your destination, especially if there's a Walmart or other inexpensive place nearby. 
  • Replace as many items as possible with dry substitutes. Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, face wash, sunscreen and insect repellent all come in bar or stick form. Ditch the liquid makeup for a stick version of your foundation. Laundry soap comes in dissolvable sheets. You can even get powdered peanut butter to mix with bottled water for the kids to snack on during the flight. 
  • Dip powder nail products can save space, as only the base coat and sealant are liquid; the colors are a TSA-friendly powder. The powder is more durable than nail polish, meaning one good application before you travel could keep your nails chip-free during your trip. 

Other Nail Equipment

Go ahead and tuck your manicure kit in your carry-on. Nail clippers and manicure scissors with blades less than 4-inch length from the fulcrum are okay to bring onboard.

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