TSA (Transport Security Administration) allows packing nail polish in your luggage but with certain packing restrictions.
They treat it as a liquid, which means that it’s limited to 3.4 oz (100 ml) containers or smaller when packed in hand baggage (carry-on or personal item). Most nail polishes are in smaller containers (between 0.25-0.5 oz), so you don’t need to repack them in smaller ones. But you must remember to pack them inside a 1-quart bag together with your other liquid and aerosol toiletries.
In checked bags, nail polish is treated as hazardous because it contains acetone. It’s allowed but in limited quantities. In total, each passenger can bring up to 70 oz (2 kg) of hazardous toiletries. This includes nail polish, nail polish remover, all aerosols, hand sanitizer, perfume, and other flammable toiletries.
There aren’t any quantity restrictions for nail polish in hand baggage. You can bring as many nail polishes as you want, as long as they all fit in your toiletry bag.
It doesn’t matter what bottle your nail polish is in. It can be made from glass, plastic, ceramic, or metal, and the packing restrictions for them are identical. It also doesn’t matter if the nail polish is opened or not.
Traveling With Nail Polish Internationally
In the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia, the rules for bringing nail polish on planes are identical to the US. They’re limited to 3.4 oz (100 ml) quantities in hand baggage and are treated as hazardous toiletry items in checked baggage.
The only country that doesn’t allow nail polish is China. It’s banned from hand baggage because it’s a flammable substance. Sometimes it may be allowed in checked bags, but not always. It depends on each security officer.
Packing Nail Polish in Your Luggage
Nail polish won’t explode when packed checked baggage because the cargo holds are pressurized and temperature regulated. But you should still pack it inside a Ziploc bag to prevent any spills in case it gets damaged during baggage handling. Try packing it somewhere in the middle of your bag and avoid packing it near the edges to prevent this from happening.
When packing in hand baggage, you should always remember to pack your bag of liquid toiletries somewhere on top of your bag. That’s because you’ll have to remove nail polish and other liquids from your bag when going through security. You’ll have to place your bag of toiletries in a separate bag for screening.
Don’t Apply Nail Polish During the Flight
Some airlines, like Virgin Atlantic, don’t allow using nail polish and nail polish remover during the flight. This process creates a strong smell that may disturb other passengers, so you should never use nail polish during the flight. Even if the airline doesn’t have any rules against it, the airline crew members most likely wouldn’t allow you to do it.
Rules for Bringing Other Nail Care Products and Tools
Nail polish remover, nail gel, nail thickener, nail glue, and other liquid nail products are treated the same as nail polish.
Nail dip powder is also allowed, but if the container is over 12 oz (350 ml) you should pack it inside checked baggage. Luckily, most nail dip powders are below this limit.
You can also bring nail clippers and nail files in hand and checked baggage. Only nail files with sharp, pointy edges are banned, and scissor-style nail clippers with a sharp edge longer than 2.34 inches (6 cm).
TSA treats nail polish remover wipes as a solid, so they don’t have any packing restrictions.
Summing Up – Traveling With Nail Polish
Even though nail polish is considered hazardous because it’s flammable, it’s allowed on planes. That’s because, in small quantities, it doesn’t cause any security risks. So feel free to pack nail polish in your hand or checked baggage.
But remember that it’s considered a liquid, so pack it in your toiletry bag with your other makeup items. You can pack roughly 10-15 nail polishes in your toiletry bag. If you’re planning on packing quantities over that, put them inside your checked bag.