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TSA Travel Tips: Hair Products and Pat-Downs - What to Know and What to Expect

Tuesday, October 09, 2018
Hair Pat-down

“I’ve never had a bad hair day,” said no one ever! Whether you style your hair curly or straight, wear weave or extensions, or wear your hair up or down, everyone has had those days where your hair will not fall into place as you hoped. Imagine traveling through the security checkpoint on your best hair day of any season, and having to go through additional screening of your hair. It can’t be my hair that caused the alarm? Could it?  Here are few tips and tricks you should know before you head out to the airport.

Know TSA’s Liquids Rule

We all have those “can’t leave home without them” necessities to include our go-to hair products. The good news is you CAN carry them on, but with a few stipulations. Liquids, including, gels, creams and aerosols are allowed in your carry-on bag, but only if they adhere to TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule. Whether you buy the travel size or save a few coins and place what you already have in a reusable travel size container, each container must be 3.4 ounces or less, stored in a 1-quart size bag, and 1 zip-top bag is allowed per person. You’ll have to place your liquids bag in a bin for screening, so for your convenience pack them in a place that’s easy to get to.

Hair products in 3-1-1 baggie

You can skip that step entirely by packing your liquids in your checked bag. Since there are no limits on the size or amount of liquids in your checked bag, your favorite full size shampoo and conditioner can fly, but let’s be honest, who wants to risk any messy spillage?

Remember these tips before you fly

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind before you arrive at the airport. Hair accessories such as bobby pins, metal clips, ties, wraps, and even bows may cause an alarm. This may also include clip-on extensions, wigs, toppers, and certain hair styles such as braids or a hair bun. To avoid any potential delays, it’s best to keep it simple while going through security. You can always style your hair to your liking after you’ve gone through screening and right before you board your flight.

What to expect during screening

You may be screened by a walk-through metal detector, an advanced imaging technology machine and/or a pat-down. If by chance your head region sets off an alarm during screening, then you will get a pat-down conducted by an officer of the same gender as your present yourself. Before the start of a pat-down, the officer will walk you through the process, which includes an officer using their hands to conduct a physical inspection of your hair to ensure that no prohibited items are being concealed. Reminder, communication is key!

  • DO be sure to tell the TSA officer of any sensitivities or concerns you may have before the inspection.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask the officer to use a new pair of gloves.
  • DO remember that you can always request to speak with a supervisor or request a private screening accompanied by a companion of your choice.

Have additional questions or concerns? We have a team ready to answer your questions @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on ET on weekends. You may also email the TSA Contact Center or call (866) 289-9673. Representatives are available 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET weekdays, 8 a.m. to 10 pm. ET, weekends are 9 to 7p.m. ET.

For any additional questions on what you can bring through the security checkpoint, see TSA.gov and use the What can I bring? feature.

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