Can You Bring Hairspray on a Plane? [Answered]

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When it comes to packing for a vacation, one thing that most people agree is necessary to bring is a nice outfit in case of a formal dinner.

Even if you don’t plan on going anywhere fancy, it’s almost bad luck to not at least be prepared to.

The expectation of looking your best also extends to hair. For many people, hairspray is part of that ensemble.

So, with the restrictions on aerosols, is it possible to take your hairspray on a plane to far-off destinations? The Transportation Security Administration, TSA, has some rules.

Photo showing a hand holding a black spray bottle

TSA Hairspray Rules

When it comes to your favorite hairspray, can you fly with it? Yes, in limited quantities. Basically, travel-sized hairsprays.

Bringing hairspray on a plane:

  • Hand luggage requires the hairspray to be in a container that is 3.4oz.
  • Checked baggage is allowed up to 70oz.
  • Canisters must have caps that disable use during transport.

What other materials are included in this rule?

Photo showing travel item, a check image and text overlays

Hairspray is a liquid that falls under the medicinal and toiletry TSA and FAA guidelines. The sizing and cap requirement also applies to liquid toiletries such as:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Nail polish
  • Perfume
  • Cologne
  • Shaving cream (check the requirements for razors here)
  • Suntan lotion
  • Hair mousse
  • Hair texturizer
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Inhalers
  • Medicine

Fun fact, because peanut butter is spreadable, it is considered a liquid. However, it doesn’t touch your body, so it doesn’t qualify under the same category.

If there is a liquid or any other item for that matter that you’re curious about, check out the TSA website.

You can look up very specific items to find out if they are a problem. The last thing you want to discover is you brought an item you can’t travel with.

Why is aerosol hairspray allowed only in 3.4 ounces?

Image of a flame and lit candle with top part of a spray on left side

The main reason you can’t bring a tall can of hairspray in your carry-on bag has to do with safety.

Aerosols are flammable, hazardous materials which automatically makes them a risky product for air travel.

As a liquid, hairspray is subject to the 3-1-1 rule from the TSA. That rule is set for all the liquids you may bring on board. Here’s what that means:

  • 3 – each liquid item must be in a container holding no larger than 3.4 ounces
  • 1 – only 1 container of each type of liquid
  • 1 – all liquid items must be placed in a quart-sized bag

The 3-1-1 rule applies to each passenger. What that really means is to be mindful of how much hairspray you’re using to make it last.

Of course, unless you purchase a new can. If you do, however, make sure to buy the 3.4oz or 100ml bottles.

A larger bottle, even if less than 3.4 ounces are left, will not be permitted in your suitcase or hand luggage.

Aerosol vs Non-aerosol Hairspray

At this juncture, you may be thinking, “I like hairspray but I do not want to get into a kerfuffle over it.” That’s understandable.

The last thing anyone wants while vacationing is a representative pulling you out of line at a TSA security checkpoint due to hairspray.

Then, having to watch them throw what might be a new bottle away. No thanks.

Considering other options? With one long-running joke about hairspray, being that it was putting a hole in the atmosphere, perhaps now is a good time to look into non-aerosol hairspray.


Photo of a woman holding her hair and holding a spray on the other hand pointing to her head

The decade was full of big hair, teased bangs, and lots of sprays to hold it up. The 80s may be synonymous with hairspray, but it surely wasn’t where it began.

The hair-holding substance was invented in the 1920s. It wasn’t used in the US until two decades later when aerosol cans were developed.

It would take another two decades until every bathroom had a can.

The high up-dos of the 60s were held up thanks to hairspray coming from an aerosol can. What made the 80s stand out, even more, is that men started getting in on the action as well.

The benefit of using an aerosol on your hair is that it comes out in larger quantities. This gives the wearer greater coverage.

Hairspray from a can is also supposed to work better for multiple hair types.

One thing you don’t want to do is put a lot of hairspray on within an enclosed space. Of course, you need a mirror, so a bathroom just makes sense.

However, if you can’t leave the door open, be sure to crack a window.

Remember, aerosol cans contain flammable liquids, so that means there are a lot of chemicals floating in the air. You don’t want to see hairspray explode.

The more it’s in your lungs, the more you might go into a coughing fit.

In fact, if you do this in large amounts over time, you can develop what is referred to as “hairspray lung” where you can suffocate, have heart irregularities, and even die.

Of course, it would be supreme overkill to end up in a situation like that, but it’s best to know the possibilities so you can avoid them.


Photo of a woman in her back holding a bottle with liquid inside

The further we got into the 90s, the more people started becoming better aware of the products they were using.

Being concerned about the ozone layer was a large part of why hairspray users started veering towards other options.

Chlorofluorocarbons, CFCs, are left out of non-aerosol hairspray. That’s one of the chemicals linked to damaging the atmosphere.

To be fair, hairspray hasn’t had CFCs in it for a while, but that might have more to do with no one wanting that kind of chemical in their hair products.

Non-aerosol hairspray can be used for all hair types but seems to set best with curly hair and lasts longer.

The way it comes out of the spray bottle, as opposed to a can spout, is more controlled. Having a pump hairspray stream can be more workable than a rain cloud.

Is non-aerosol safer than aerosol hairspray?

At the end of the day, neither product will damage your hair. Both aerosol cans and non-aerosol plastic bottles can be recycled. Both are treated the same when it comes to the 3-1-1 TSA rule.

Aerosol hairspray uses a propellant to turn the liquid into a gas that settles on hair.

Non-aerosol hairspray uses a pump system to turn the liquid into a mist.

Due to the ways in which the spray is forced out of the can, aerosol would pose more of a threat than non-aerosol.

However, both hairsprays have ingredients such as alcohol and still should be used with caution.

In addition to airing out a room during and after use, continue to stay away from anything flammable, even after the hairspray has dried.

Other Hair Styling Products For Travel

Photo of items for hair use.

Okay, you probably have a solid understanding of what’s acceptable during your next flight when it comes to hairspray. What about other things you might want to use on holiday?

Here’s a list of items and info about how the TSA rules apply:

Hair Gel

This might be a tad confusing because it’s not exactly a liquid. Does it still fall under the same restrictions? Think of peanut butter. If it spreads, it is a liquid.

Curling Iron

These are allowed in both hand luggage and checked bags unless they call for batteries or need some type of fuel to work.

Hair Straightener

Like with the curling iron, it’s a yes for all categories, with or without a cord if you follow the special instructions.

The one exception is a cordless flat iron, which cannot be part of your checked bags due to the heating element.

Taking Aerosols Items For Travel

Photo of several images that are on spray forms

What about other aerosols? Here’s a list of items you might want to take on a plane that falls into the same category.

Bear Spray

If you’re going to a place in the wilderness, you’re going to need to leave that bear spray at home. It isn’t allowed with your carry-on baggage or in checked luggage.

Pepper Spray or Self-Defense Spray

This one is especially popular with female solo travelers. Well, even women traveling together or in groups have pepper spray.

Heck, some women keep pepper spray in their purses or cars as they are just out doing normal errands.

You can pack one can of pepper spray that is 4oz in your checked bag.

Hopefully, you won’t feel the need to pull out any while walking through the airport, since they aren’t allowed in carry-on luggage.

Tear Gas

The world has all kinds of danger lurking around corners. As much as we don’t want to get in bad situations, you never know. However, this gas is strictly prohibited.

In addition, any self-defense spray containing more than two percent of the gas will not be allowed on the plane.

Cooking Spray

There are no amounts of spray to cook with that you’re able to pack in your luggage or in your backpack.

Just accept this as a sign from the universe that you’re supposed to enjoy your time and calories don’t count on vacation.

Spray Paint

Going to start a riot or make art on trains? You’ll have to wait until you arrive at the destination to pick up some spray paint. No paint cans can be brought in hand luggage or checked bags.


Image of an upper part of a spray can with text overlay that reads Can You Bring Hairspray on a Plane?