Long haul flights are my bread and butter as I rarely fly once I’m in the desired continent strictly because I prefer sea or land travel. It’s one of the best ways to see a place because all sorts of people commute these ways whereas not everybody can fly and people are the best part of travel, in my humble opinion. This does not make long haul flights any easier though. There is something particularly unattractive about being stuck in a metal tube for 8+ hours that can even make the most adventure, travel happy a little agitated. So in my journeys I’ve cultivated a pretty solid list of skincare tips to make travel bearable and easy without looking like you’re opening a spa in your seat.
Let’s pretend that you get onto the plane with a bit of makeup. As you know makeup is already pretty bad for your skin even if it is the most fun thing to play around with ever. The air in the plane is 75% circulated and so it’s not exactly idyllic to wear makeup the entire time plus, who are you really trying to impress as a commuter? FA’s have seen it all and really don’t mind if you look like the bride of Frankenstein’s monster throughout the flight because their priority is your safety.
Once the plane is in the air it’s a good time to get to the bathroom to start your skincare plans because no one would really have used the toilet much yet so you’re in the clear from smells, luckily. As with any skincare routine you want to cleans first but with the water from the tap being more disgusting than you could ever imagine it’s not smart to start with dirty water. Instead make up wipes are the simplest way to go. Compact, easy and in small doses they won’t make you break out just be sure not to do use make up wipes every day or you’ll have issues. Simple Skin Care wipes are my personal favorite because they are good for sensitive and combination skin.
Alternately you can bring cotton wipes and micellar water cleansers, just be sure that they fit the TSA regulations in your containers. To use pour a little onto a cotton wipe and begin removing foundation, eye make up, or just sweat and grime for a clean face. I like La Roche-Posay’s Micellar Water Ultra because it’s not extremely perfumed and leaves my face feeling refreshed and genuinely clean while at times some make up wipes can leave me feeling a little dirty, mostly if it has been a long day culminating in a long haul flight.
Another basic skincare step made complicated by travel can appear to just be something you can miss if you’re in the air but that’s not the case and it’s really not as complex as one might think. Using a travel container with a spray-head I fill it up with my toner and tea tree oil. The toner I use is Dr. Andrew Weil’s Origins Mega Mushroom Skin Relief because as someone with sensitive and reactive skin I found that this was the perfect combination. However, if this changes I’ll be sure to update you. To add in tea tree oil, which can be picked up from practically any pharmacy, it’s best to use a 10:1 ratio. This is all pre-mixed of course. So I spray it on my face and pat dry carefully before moving on as this not only helps further cleansing but it hydrates the skin as well.
Serums are a tricky one though because there are so many on the market that it can feel a little uncertain as to what to use. Still it’s important to use one especially on planes because dry skin is such a problem in flight and can really affect your travel photos later as your skin is trying to correct the balance. After I use toner I put serum directly to my skin with clean hands and gently pat into my skin. I currently use Mario Badescu’s Herbal Hydrating Serum which I’m liking thus far specifically for flights. I find on a normal circumstance it’s a bit too much for my temperamental skin but it’s just perfect for the dry air on planes.
Giving a moment for my skin to soak in the serum I take this time to put my hair up, brush my teeth, whatever you like to do really. Then I put on a heavy duty moisturizer because beauty guru and really ridiculously handsome model Derek Zoolander once said “moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty.” I have several moisturizers I really like and do depend on all at different price points. Kiehl’s Pure Vitality Skin Renewing Cream ($60), L’Occitane’s Shea Butter Comforting Cream ($30) and Lush’s Celestial ($14) all do the trick for me depending on the day and how my skin is behaving. Lately I’ve been reaching for L’Occitane most often because I love that not only does it moisturize my skin it helps sooth my redness at the same time.
While many like to use long hauls as a time to do sheet masks I actually wait until three to four hours before landing to do one because that way I should have gotten a little sleep by that point and it’s not good for your skin to leave one on too long. So around that time be sure to cleanse with a make up wipe, tone then use the mask of your choice. I’ve yet to find one I’m fond of but maybe when I go to Korea I’ll be wow-ed. If you have any sheet mask suggestions feel free to suggest them in the comments and I’ll try them out for size!
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I put on my face before a flight?
Some of the health consequences can be mitigated by taking vitamins, drinking water, and washing your hands frequently, but what about external damage? Dry cabin air can wreak havoc on your skin, stripping it of moisture and severely affecting its protective barrier, leaving you significantly less hydrated and significantly more broken when you step off the plane. When it comes to in-flight skin care, sheet masks are a no-brainer, and this one from Avène is one of the most hydrating on the market. It works to lock in moisture even in the driest conditions because it contains the brand’s skin-soothing thermal spring water.
Dr. Loretta Intense Replenishing Serum can be used before flights. Despite its thickness, it absorbs quickly into my skin, leaving my face soft and supple. This product contains vitamin E and linoleic acids to heal and moisturise dry, damaged skin, as well as antioxidants to protect the skin from environmental stressors (like pollution or, in this case, the foul air on the plane). It basically keeps good things for your skin and keeps bad things out. I rub half a dropper of this between my hands and press it all over my face before my flight, and when I get off the plane, my skin still looks hydrated and nourished, with no sign of redness or inflammation.
Why does my skin break out after flying?
Your skin must adapt from colder to warmer temperatures, depending on which direction your wanderlust takes you. When you transition from hot and humid to cold, your dry skin suffers. You may have rough patches, and if you have eczema or psoriasis, you may have a flare-up. Dry skin is caused by dry air, which causes your glands to produce oil at full capacity. This oil becomes trapped beneath the skin’s dry top layer, resulting in blackheads, inflammation, and, eventually, flare-ups. Sometimes flight restrictions prevent us from bringing full-size products, while other times we just want to relax and skip the twice-daily skincare routine. While this is understandable, a significant change in your skincare routine may result in a minor imbalance. That’s why returning home with a pimple or two isn’t out of the ordinary.
When travelling, it can be difficult to find healthy, hydrating foods, so plan ahead and bring moisture-rich fruits and vegetables to snack on, such as watermelon, cucumbers, and peppers. Bring a reusable water bottle and some coconut water to stay hydrated. Keep your skin hydrated by drinking plenty of water. After cleansing, apply Moisture Boost Serum to lock in moisture and give your skin a youthful appearance.
Should you get a facial before a flight?
If maintaining your skin’s radiance is most important, scheduling a full facial is the best insurance. Schedule it a few days before your trip to oxygenate and cleanse your skin. To avoid unwanted breakouts in your vacation photos, schedule a facial (or do it yourself) a month before your trip. Facials can sometimes force the skin to purge all the bad stuff, which can result in a pimple or two after the treatment. Four weeks is plenty of time to heal.
Even if you’re enjoying a high-end service, such as a massage or facial, be prepared to simplify because time is of the essence when travelling. I had the rehydrating facial ($75 for 30 minutes), which is a very short treatment but long enough to reap the benefits.