It’s challenging keeping your hair in-line during a vacation.
First of all, if you’re traveling only with a carry-on, you have limited space, so there’s not much room for hair styling tools and products.
And in addition to tight space, you have to follow the TSA rules. If you go unprepared, the security could confiscate some of your items, which would make your trip much harder than it needs to be.
But don’t worry, because here we’ll explain which tools and products are allowed by the TSA: hairdryers, curling irons, hair straighteners, cordless butane curling irons and hair straighteners, hot rollers, hot-air brushes, hairspray, hair gel, combs/brushes, and bobby pins. We’ll also tell you whether your tools will work in Europe and internationally, and which hair styling tools are the best for traveling.
Can You Bring a Hairdryer on a Plane?
According to the TSA, you can bring hairdryers in your hand luggage as well as checked luggage. You can bring any brand or any model, and you can bring unlimited quantities because there aren’t any limitations.
Really, TSA limits only hazardous items which can ignite, combust, or could be used as weapons. Although when plugged to the grid, hairdryers could become unsafe, when they aren’t plugged in, nothing can happen — just a bunch of plastics, wires, and electronic components, which are perfectly safe for everyone.
When packing a hairdryer, you should also remember that probably you’ll be using it at the last minute, right before your check-out. Most likely, you’ll have to put it in your luggage while it’s still hot. So bring a spare towel, or make sure that you have a large hoodie or something to wrap it in, so that it doesn’t damage other items.
Should You Really Pack a Hairdryer For Your Vacation?
Even if you’re allowed to bring a hairdryer on a plane, it’s not always the best choice to do that.
Here’s a rule of thumb that we would recommend you follow. If you’re staying in good, expensive hotels, don’t bring a hairdryer. Ninety-nine percent of the times they’ll have good hairdryers available for their guests.
But if you’re staying in hostels, apartments, or cheaper hotels, you should consider bringing your own hairdryers. On my last vacation, we booked a last-minute cheap hostel in Barcelona, Spain, which was pretty expensive anyway because we booked so late. There were hairdryers in the bathroom, but they were so bad I literally had to dry my hair for 20 minutes.
Can You Use Your Hairdryer on a Plane?
Nope, you can’t.
We found quite a few people who were asking that on Google, and we were kind of surprised that anyone would even think to do that. I mean, can you even take a shower on a plane?
Anyway, don’t use your hairdryer on a plane, even if there are sockets available. In addition to annoying others, you’ll also alert the crew members, and you could get detained.
Best Travel Hairdryer (from our own research): Conair 1600 Watt Compact Hair Dryer on Amazon
Can You Bring a Curling Iron on a Plane?
According to the TSA, you can bring curling irons with cord both in checked luggage and in hand luggage. There are no restrictions, so you can bring any brand and any type, as long as it has a cord.
We’ll talk about cordless, butane-powered curling irons down below.
Just like hairdryers, remember that you might have to pack your curling iron inside your luggage while it’s still hot, so bring an extra towel to wrap it up.
If you have an event during your trip and you need to get your locks done, you really don’t have any other options but to bring a curling iron with you. Hotels don’t have these available at the bathrooms, as opposed to hairdryers.
If your current curling iron is extra-bulky, make sure to check out our recommendation for the best curling iron for travel. In fact, it’s a curling iron combined with a hair straightener, which would save you a lot of space when you need both.
Best Travel Curling Iron (from our own research): AmoVee Mini Curling Iron/Hair Straightener
Can You Bring a Hair Straightener (Flat Iron) on a Plane?
According to the TSA, you’re allowed to bring hair straighteners with cords in checked luggage and hand luggage. There aren’t any additional terms, so you can bring any type and any brand, as long as it has a cord.
We’ll talk about butane-powered cordless hair straighteners in the next section.
P.S. Make sure to also read the last section in this post, to make sure that your hair straighter, hairdryer, and curling iron will actually work in other countries because often they won’t.
Best Travel Hair Straightener (from our own research): AmoVee Mini Curling Iron/Hair Straightener
Can You Bring Cordless Butane Curling Irons and Cordless Butane Hair Straighteners on a Plane?
According to the TSA, Butane-powered and gas-powered curling irons and hair straighteners are allowed in hand luggage but are prohibited in checked luggage. Butane and Gas are both highly flammable, which is why there are additional restrictions for bringing butane-powered tools in your hand luggage.
Each passenger can bring only one butane or gas-powered tool, so you can’t pack butane curling iron and butane hair straightener in the same suitcase. Also, no additional cartridges are allowed, so be sure to keep all of your refills at home.
Additionally, your butane-powered hair styling tools have to be safely packed, so that they don’t accidentally turn on. TSA states that a safety cover must be fitted over the heating element, which means that it should be put inside the box it came in, or inside a heat-resistant pouch.
Here’s the full statement from TSA:
Cordless curling irons containing a gas cartridge and butane fueled curling irons are allowed in carry-on bags only.
A safety cover must be securely fitted over the heating element. The device must be protected from accidental activation.
Gas refills (spare cartridges) are not allowed in either checked or carry-on bags.
What About other Hair Styling Products?
Electric Hair Rollers (Hot Rollers)
Electric hair rollers, other called hot rollers, are allowed on planes in hand luggage and in checked luggage, as long as they come with a cord and are powered by electricity. No additional limits are set into place, so you can bring as many as you want, any type, and any brand.
TSA doesn’t specifically mention hot rollers in their prohibited items list, so as long as they aren’t powered by butane, gas, or lithium batteries, you can bring them on board.
Electric Hot-Air Brushes
Hot-air brushes that are powered by electricity and have a cord are allowed on planes in hand luggage and checked luggage. They’re not specifically mentioned by the TSA, however, as long as they aren’t cordless, they’re allowed on planes.
Butane or gas-powered cordless hot-air brushes have the same limits as other butane-powered tools. For more info, check the section above about butane-powered tools.
According to the TSA, hairspray is allowed in hand baggage, but must be in containers smaller than 3.4 oz (100 ml) and has to be stored together with your other toiletries in a transparent quart-sized zip-lock bag.
Hairspray in checked baggage can’t exceed 68 oz (2 l) in total, and each container can’t exceed 18 oz (530 ml) in size.
According to the TSA, Hair gel is allowed both in checked baggage and hand baggage. If stored in hand luggage, hair gel must follow the TSA 3-1-1 rule (3.4 oz bottles, 1 quart-sized bag, 1 bag for each passenger.)
Combs and Brushes
Generally, you can bring combs and brushes, as long as they don’t have a sharp end and are made out of plastics.
For instance, rat tail combs, often have a sharp end that’s made out of metal. TSA would most likely confiscate those, so if you’re bringing a rat tail comb, make sure that it’s all plastic.
According to the TSA, bobby pins are perfectly fine in checked luggage and hand luggage.
That said, you should remember to remove them from your hair during security because they might cause the alarm to go off when you’re going through.
Will Your Hairdryer, Curling Iron, and Hair Straightener Work in Europe And Other Countries?
Whenever you’re traveling with electronics internationally, you should double-check that they’ll work there. There are two factors that you should check.
First of all, you should make sure that your hairdryer, curling iron, and hair straightener all have the same voltage as your destination. While the U.S. runs on a 110-voltage grid, the EU has a 220-voltage one. Plugging a 110V device in 220V socket will make it fry in seconds. You should make sure that all of your devices are dual-voltage. What this means, is that you should find a place on your device (usually at the back or on the cord) where in small letters there’s all the voltage info written. Make sure that it says something like 100-240V or 110V-220V, which means that it’s dual-voltage.
And the second factor that you should check is what outlets your destination country has. Sockets are different across the whole world, and even in Europe, there are at least three different socket types, so make sure to bring the appropriate adapter. Thewirecutter’s rated the EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter as the best travel adapter in 2019. This adapter works everywhere in the world and is pretty cheap, so it’s a smart thing to invest in if you’re traveling internationally.
In a few words, you don’t have to worry about bringing regular hairdryers, curling irons, hair straighteners, and other tools that are powered by electricity and have a cord.
The problems start once you start using butane and gas-powered tools, which have quite a few limitations. You should also avoid bringing any rat-tail style combs with sharp metal ends. And if you’re bringing hairspray, make sure to read the TSA limitations first, and follow the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule for packing liquids.
Before leaving, remember to double-check that your electronics are double-voltage, and to bring appropriate travel adapters when traveling internationally.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
We get questions about bringing stuff on planes all the time. So we’ve written a lot of other guides, where we answer the most commonly asked questions.
You can check them out over here: