Can I Bring Hair Gel on a Plane?

By Jodi Thornton O'Connell

Travel in style: How can I bring hair gel on a plane?

Can I Bring Hair Gel on a Plane?

Whether you're flying to a business meeting or a week at the beach, you'll naturally want to bring hair products to keep your locks in line. No matter what styling product you prefer – cream, mousse, serum, paste, wax or just plain gel – you need to know a few things before you pack your pomade.

Hair gel and the TSA liquids rule

Even though gel isn't exactly a liquid, it falls under TSA's liquids rule. The rule applies to anything you can pour out, squeeze out or spray out. Since hair gels and most other styling products don't come in solid form, you'll want to give your hair products top priority when packing for your trip.

In your carry-on

Taking a trip with a only a carry-on can save you an hour or more at each end of your flight; you won't have to deal with checking and claiming baggage. TSA's 3-1-1 rule limits the amount of non-solids you can take in a carry-on bag or personal item. Here's how the rule stacks up:

  • 3: Each non-solid you take on the plane has to be in a container that holds 3.4 ounces or less. The limit applies to the size of the container, not to the amount of product. So if you've used half of your 6-ounce jar of hair gel, you still can't bring it on the plane in its original container. Instead, transfer it to a container that is 3.4 ounces or smaller. If you feel you need more product, fill a second or third container too.

  • 1: All those little bottles have to fit inside a 1-quart, clear plastic bag with a zipper top. 
  • 1: You're limited to one quart-size bag in your carry-on, even if you're bringing a personal item as well.

In your checked luggage

If you're checking a bag, you'll likely be able to pack your full-sized products if you want. But TSA rules might cramp your style if you like to get the biggest sizes. Hair gel and other non-solid toiletry items in your bag are limited to no more than 17 ounces. Check the label: Some hair gels come in 18 ounce or larger sizes.

You're also limited on the total amount of non-solid toiletry items you can bring in checked luggage. Hair gel, hair spray, and other liquid or semi-liquid items must total less than 68 fluid ounces. That's just four 17-ounce containers if you like living large.

Packing hair gel and other liquids

When you pack products in your checked baggage, you're not required to put anything inside a plastic bag. However, it's not a bad idea to have your hair gel and other toiletries inside either a bag or another leak-proof container. Should changing air pressure in the baggage hold cause them to ooze out, it will keep them from ruining your wardrobe. If you perk up your pompadour with finishing spray or other aerosol, TSA requires you to cover the nozzle with a cap to stop accidental release as your luggage shifts.

Solving a packing predicament

Need more room in your 3-1-1 bag or suitcase to bring all the hair product you need? See which toiletries and cosmetics you can replace with solid substitutes. Solid shampoo and conditioner bars with nourishing ingredients such as argan oil, coconut oil, nori and Irish moss pamper your tresses without counting as a liquid. Moisturizer bars soothe away dryness since they turn creamy as you swipe them over your skin. You'll even find solid sunscreens, bug balms and laundry sheets to save on space.

About the Author

Indulging her passion for vacation vagary through the written word on a full-time basis since 2010, travel funster Jodi Thornton-O'Connell guides readers to the unexpected, quirky, and awe-inspiring.