Traveling is an exciting time, but it can be stressful on your skin. The combination of travel stress and exposing the skin to the low humidity levels of the plane could result in dryness and breakouts. High altitudes can cause sun damage to the skin from the sun's rays. Make sure you have prepared your skin and packed the necessary products for a jet-set glow. Get airplane skincare advice for your next flight adventure.
Flying could affect the skin with dryness, breakouts, and sun damage.
Essential carry-on skincare products include cleanser, facial mist, moisturizer, sunscreen, and lip balm.
Before flying, layer the skin with hydrating products to conserve enough moisturization.
After a flight, focus on cleansing and replenishing the skin’s lost moisture.
Flying effects on skin
Arriving early at the airport and getting past security aren’t the only concerns you should keep on your list. According to the World Health Organization, there is less than 20 percent humidity on the plane.
At home, the humidity levels are over 30 percent. Understanding how flying affects your skin can help you take the appropriate measures to keep your skin hydrated and protected even after a long flight.
Dehydrated skin occurs when skin lacks water content resulting in a dry and flaky complexion. When the humidity levels are low, you can experience dry skin. In a small study, researchers evaluated the changes in hydration on participants’ skin during long flights. The results reveal that the aircraft cabin environment can cause a rapid decrease in hydration on the skin’s barrier.
Dry skin can cause itching, tightness, and a dull appearance. Your body may retain water. It can be from eating salty snacks or dehydration, causing you to experience a “puffy” face.
The rays from the sun are intense when you are at a higher altitude. Researchers reviewed studies to determine the risks of melanoma for pilots and cabin crew, according to a JAMA Dermatology study.
Researchers determined that pilots and aircrew have twice the incidence of melanoma than the general population. Furthermore, occupants flying for an hour at 30,000 feet are receiving the same amount of UVB radiation as 20 minutes in a tanning bed.
Traveling could increase stress hormones. Although stress cannot directly cause acne, one study from Jama Dermatology suggests emotional stress from external sources may significantly influence acne.
Apart from stress, the cabin environment is not always the cleanest. It is an area where many people go, and with its recycled air, there is a higher exposure to bacteria and other germs.
Skincare products to take
Taking care of your skin while traveling can be a challenge. Before packing a whole skincare routine in your carry-on bag, learn what skincare products are essential to take on board with you:
- Cleanser. Micellar water or makeup wipes are products that you can use to cleanse your skin and remove makeup without needing to use water.
- Facial mist. Face mists offer a quick hydration boost. Look for humectant ingredients to retain moisture, like hyaluronic acid or glycerin.
- Moisturizer. Use a hydrating cream that traps moisture and has shea butter or cocoa butter for smoothness.
- Sunscreen. Whether traveling during the day or sitting next to a window seat, you should always carry sunscreen to reapply every 2-3 hours.
- Lip balm. Remember to include a lip balm or lip moisturizer to manage chapped lips.
Skin care tips while traveling
Below are travel skincare tips on what to do before taking off, during your flight, and when you arrive at your destination.
Before taking off
The evening before your flight, take advantage of the opportunity to indulge in some self-care. You can use the skin-flooding routine, layering the skin with hydrating products.
After using a gentle cleanser, include hydrating toners and serums before completing your skin routine with a moisturizer. If you prepare your skin in the morning, apply sunscreen.
Consider going makeup-free, even when the flight consists of long hours. The oil and dead skin cells could clog the pores. If you must go with makeup, then go for a minimal look. Substitute a foundation with tinted sunscreen.
Additionally, reduce the intake of alcohol, caffeine-based drinks, or snacks at the airport as they can further dehydrate the skin. Instead, focus on hydrating your body with drinking water.
During the flight
If you have a short flight, it is best to wait until after your flight to re-moisturize. However, if you have a long flight ahead, use this quick airplane skincare routine:
- Use your micellar water or disposable makeup wipes to cleanse your skin.
- Follow with using your humectant-based facial spray.
- Lock in hydration with a daytime moisturizer or nighttime moisturizer.
- Finish your routine by applying your lip balm.
- Close the window shade if you're next to a window seat, and reapply sunscreen every two hours.
Work on removing bacteria from the flight and restoring moisture to the skin. You can go for a lukewarm shower. Hot showers should be avoided because they can strip your skin's natural oils and make it even drier.
If you are short on time, make sure to cleanse your skin. Afterwards, use a ten-minute hydrating sheet mask to replenish your skin’s lost moisture. If you’re off to bed, seal with a night cream. If you’re heading out, reapply sunscreen.
A skincare routine while traveling can be complex. With travel stress, the low humidity of the plane, and UVB radiation, your skin could be susceptible to dry skin, breakouts, and even sun damage. While a whole skincare routine is excessive on the air, you can manage these issues with hydrating products and tips before, during, and after your flight.
How do I manage acne breakouts when traveling?
Before flying, finish your regular skincare routine, including any dermatologist-recommended treatments. If you have oily skin, pack salicylic acid-containing face cleansers and use them after landing. On the plane, you can wear pimple patches.
How do I manage “puffy face” when traveling?
Limit snacking on salty foods. These items have a lot of sodium, leading to water retention, which can give you the look of a puffy face. After your flight, use a roller to help contour the face or under-eye masks to minimize puffiness. Additionally, you can use a depuffing sheet mask.
Can drinking water help to prevent my skin from drying out?
Drinking water alone cannot guarantee that your skin will not dry out. However, it can help to keep yourself hydrated. Drinking alcohol and caffeine beverages has diuretic effects. Limit your consumption of these beverages if you have a long flight ahead.
- WHO. Air travel advice.
- Skin Research and Technology. Skin surface hydration decreases rapidly during long distance flights.
- JAMA Dermatology. The risk of melanoma in airline pilots and cabin crew.
- JAMA Dermatology. The response of skin disease to stress.
- Biomedical Engineering & Biotechnology. Impact of high-altitude ultraviolet radiation on functionability of flight crew.