The basics of a sound skincare routine have been etched into our collective consciousness: wash your face (even after a long night), wear sunscreen daily, exfoliate at least once a week, and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
But the fundamentals we know take on a different sense of urgency when we’re 30,000 feet in the air. Why? Airplanes are notoriously parched environments, pulling moisture from our skin in their pressurized, low humidity cabins and leaving our complexions dry and ashy upon arrival. (And who wants to start off their trip on the wrong, well, cheek?) Follow these plane travel skin care tips to avoid a jet-lagged look—and how to retain your natural glow—when you’re above Earth’s cloud cover:
1. Plan ahead
Knowing your skin’s health will be tested on-board is one half of solving the problem. Pack flight-friendly products you know won’t cause irritation, including a small amount of moisturizer you can use throughout your trip—particularly when your skin feels “tight.” On a red-eye—or a trip that exceeds six hours? Remove your makeup with a gentle makeup remover once on board. You may be bare-faced, but a) the other passengers won’t notice or care, and b) your skin will thank you later.
Flying is dehydrating on its own (hello, mid-flight headaches); just think of what it does to your body’s largest organ. On top of frequent applications of moisturizer, hydrate your skin from within. Drink plenty of water in the hours leading up to your flight, avoid that quintessential Bloody Mary before take-off (and mid-air), and sip mineral, sparkling or coconut water throughout your journey.
3. Eat your way radiant
Airports brim with temptations we might otherwise ignore—there’s just something about traveling that makes our dietary pledges fly out the window. Resist the urge to fill up on Cinnabons and French fries as you wait to board: sugar can cause glycolysis which dries out your skin and may lead to premature wrinkles; salt can further dehydrate your body and rob your skin of its natural moisture. Rather, reach for hydrating foods instead—such as that organic apple you packed when you were planning ahead—and politely pass on the complimentary bag of pretzels.
4. Mist away
Speaking of temptation: It may be inviting to splash your face with water when that low humidity begins to feel downright arid. Refrain from doing so—it too can be drying, especially when done without products—and mist your face instead. One to try? Alaffia Facial Mist. With coconut oil, reishi (a super-hydrating mushroom), and rose, it offers an extra layer of protection for your skin—and it feels wonderful.
5. Rest your eyes
Even on land, we’re well aware that a lack of sleep—to say nothing of stress—can take an enormous toll on our skin, magnifying those small lines and leaving hollows under our eyes. Given that your skin does the lion’s share of its repairs while you sleep, consider aiming for some shuteye on your flight—that movie can be relished at another, comfier time.
6. Keep your hands clean
Planes are nothing short of miraculous engineering but they’re also prime breeding grounds for dirt and bacteria. Keep a pack of sanitizing hand wipes in your carry-on and avoid touching your face. Doing so will help you prevent an outburst of acne and/or infection.
7. Apply that sunscreen
True—you won’t be outside, but that doesn’t mean you should forgo your daily application of sunscreen: Airplane windows can make you vulnerable to damaging rays—just think of how much closer you are to the sun—while sunscreen provides an occlusive “seal” to the skin to help it retain its moisture.
Running an ice cube under your eyes upon landing can help you dodge the puffiness that often arrives from the poor circulation that comes with flying. Post-chill, apply a soothing, under-eye cream to nix flakiness and redness—and to provide more of that “seal” of protection.
9. Get moving
No, we don’t recommend spending your flight pacing—or jogging down—the aisles while your fellow passengers are in just as much discomfort. But once you land, aim to get your blood pumping—walk briskly to baggage claim, choose to foot it to your destination if it’s in reasonable distance, or hang your head upside down from the privacy of a restroom or hotel room. Circulation alone will get you glowing again, reminding your body—and skin—that you’re back on terra firma.