What You Need to Know About Wearing a Hairpiece Through Airport Security

The holiday season - a time to be with family and friends. Now, how you get to those family and friends is another story. That’s why it’s no wonder that one of the busiest times of year to travel is Thanksgiving to New Years. 

Going through airport security, with or without a hairpiece, is never pleasant. It’s “did I pack too many liquids?” meets “how quickly can I take off my shoes without flinging them across the room?” meets “will today be the not-so-lucky day I get randomly searched?” Who doesn’t love that? 

I first learned of the horror that can be going through an airport body scanner with a hairpiece in 2010. I had just started wearing hairpieces, and it was a whole new world. My first hairpiece was attached to my own hair with a combination of sewing and metal clips. The clips were detected by the scanner. I was completely humiliated as I told the woman I had “something in my hair.” I barely discussed my hair loss with family and friends. Now, I felt like I was being forced to share my deepest, darkest secret with a stranger. 

When you’re wearing a hairpiece, it can feel like you’re entering a whole new dimension of discomfort in the airport security line. 

From one hairpiece and wig-wearing gal to another, I’m here to tell you - do not worry! I’m going to tell you what you need to know before going through security. 

What to Expect from Start to Finish

  1. You will not be interrogated by airport security for wearing a wig or hairpiece. They certainly won’t make you take it off. 

  2. If your wig or hair piece has a metal comb or clip in it, the body scanner will detect that you have metal in your hair. This is only for the full-body scanners, not the older metal detectors. 

  3. When metal is detected, they will ask you if you have anything in or on your hair. They may pat down your hair in the area where the metal clip or comb is. This pat down will not be hard enough to hurt, but will be enough for them to feel that what’s on your head is no more than a clip or comb. 

  4. If your wig or hairpiece does not have any metal attached to it, nothing will be set off on the scanner.

After that, you’ll be good to go!


Staying Confident in Line

Hair loss can be an unbelievably vulnerable and isolating experience. When you’re being isolated in an already vulnerable situation, like an airport security line, the experience can that much more emotionally draining.

It’s important to know that you are not alone when it comes to being patted down for a hairpiece. All your fellow wig and hairpiece-wearing friends, including me, have been in your shoes. 

We even have some non-hair loss friends who have gone through our same struggle. It wasn’t until I became a hairstylist that I realized just how many people wear metal in their hair on a daily basis. Wigs and extensions for everybody have become very popular in the past few years. Moreover, people also wear barrettes or clips in their hair just because they like the hair accessories. They all get the same treatment as we do - their hair is patted down on their way through security. 

The best thing you can do for yourself before going through airport security is be informed about what’s to come. Knowing how your hairpiece might be detected by the scanner means that you are in control. You have the agency to plan how you will respond to the situation. If you have a trusted friend or family, you can even try role playing the scene beforehand. 

Above all, you deserve to feel confident walking through airport security. Your hairpiece (and your hair loss) is nothing to be ashamed of. Know that many of us have been in your shoes, and are sending our support and love as you make your way through security!