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How to look after your skin during a long-haul flight

How to protect your skin during long-haul travel

I love to fly, but if I had to choose a least favourite aspect of flying, especially long-haul, is that icky dirty feeling you have after flying that leaves me wanting to get to a shower pronto!

While aircraft manufacturers are creating new technology to improve the in-flight experience and airlines are finding new ways to combat jet lag, like improving food and pre-flight experience you can also do your part to help your body and skin look as good as it was when you left home with just a few little hacks.

What to pack to look after your skin during a long-haul flight

Drink lots of water

Flying dehydrates you — a lot. Airplanes tend to have a humidity level of around 10-20 per cent (that’s drier than the Sahara desert!) Even the Boeing Dreamliner 787 and Airbus A350, which have higher humidity levels, only hover around 25 per cent.

By far the easiest way to keep your skin hydrated during long-haul travel is to simply drink water! The Aerospace Medical Association recommends you drink 1 cup (that’s about 250mL or 8 ounces) for every hour you’re in the air. This is especially pertinent for long-haul flights; short flights (that is four-hours or less) are less likely to have the same effect.

Staying hydrated is not only good for your skin, eyes, and lips; drinking water also helps combat jetlag, so consider bringing a foldable water bottle with you to fill-up once you are past security. Cheers to no jetlag!

Try to get some shut eye

Sleep is super important, and crossing time zones can disrupt your circadian rhythm. To sleep better on a plane try these tips:

  • Make sure you are dressed comfortably – don’t wear clothing that is tight or restrictive.
  • Use earplugs or noise cancelling or isolating headphones to dim the roar of the engine (I’m a big fan of these noise cancelling headphones).
  • Consider a sleep mask if you are particularly sensitive to light.
  • If you have a nightly routine before bed, try to stick as close to it as you can.
  • Try aromatherapy. I am a massive fan of the This Works: Deep Sleep Pillow Spray and have been using it when I travel (and at home!) for the past four years. The aromatherapeutic blend of lavender, vetivert, and chamomile calm both mind and body, soothing you to sleep… and it smells really, really good!

Use a hydrating mask

Okay, before you look at me like I’m some mad women, I’m not asking you to rub black goop on your face mid-flight (I mean unless you want too…). Instead, consider taking a discreet mask that rubs in like moisturiser and doesn’t require any rinsing. I have successfully used both Sisley Paris Black Rose Cream Mask and Bioderma Hydrabio Mask (you can often pick this up as part of a pack with Bioderma’s Micellar Water for significantly cheaper than on its own!)

If you don’t mind wiping off/a quick rinse, consider Elemis Herbal Lavender Repair Mask. It’s virtually undetectable, perfect for sensitive skin, and you will be amazed at how hydrating it is on your skin.

I’m also a big fan of using a deep cleansing exfoliating mask the day before I fly. If you need something to exfoliate, I’m a big fan of Origins Original Skin Mask with Pink Rose Clay. This bad boy comes in travel sachet size (I found them at Singapore’s Changi Airport but I’ve been told you can get them at Sephora as well?!!)

Hydrating facial spray

A pretty common airplane beauty tip shared by airline cabin crew is to regularly spritz your face with an anti-oxidant rich facial spray. It’s a great way to revive tired de-hydrated skin and lock in moisture.

Truth be told, facial sprays are a fairly new item in my on-board make-up kit after persistently being told that they are one of the best things to pack when to look after my skin when flying long-haul.
I have been using the Dermalogica Ultra Calming Mist (the onboard travel size mist comes in the Dermalogica UltraCalming Skin Kit and at select stores) at the suggestion of a beautician and, honestly, I really noticed the difference in-flight during my last trip to Sri Lanka. My skin remained cool, there was little redness and, generally, my skin felt refreshed.

Rich cream moisturiser

Even with aircraft technology changing for the better when it comes to improved humidity while flying, that’s no excuse to not use a moisturiser to keep your skin hydrated and supple.

A rich night cream to lock in moisture and protect your skin from the dry, airconditioned cabin air. Right now, I’m using Darphin Hydraskin Rich. Infused with hydrating botanicals the ultra-rich cream restores natural hydration levels while relieveing dehydrated skin of tightness.

Another one of my favourite moisturisers which is a little lighter (in texture and for your pocket!) but still deeply hydrating is the Dermalogica UltraCalming Calm Water Gel. This water-based moisturiser not only hydrates but also creates a barrier on your skin to protect it from the harsh environment and helps ease skin redness caused by irritation; it’s honestly the perfect moisturiser for flying!

Regardless of whether you are a man or a woman or age, use a rich cream, moisturiser people!

Wear SPF

Did you know that UV exposure intensifies the higher you go? How about that plane windows don’t protect you from UVA rays? Those window seats aren’t looking so good now, are they? Be sun smart and protect your skin with a good quality SPF.

I like to save my heavier sunscreens for the beach and instead invest in a light-weight little number to wear under makeup. Currently, I love Dermalogica PowerBright TRx Pure Light SPF 50 because it doesn’t leave me looking dull and ashy.

If you want a bit of colour but also to protect your skin, consider the La Roche-Posay Anthelios Daily Mineral SPF 50 sunscreen. It’s super lightweight, non-chalky, and just a little bit of tint to keep you looking fresh after even the longest flight!

Lips

One of the first places you’ll notice dehydration is your lips. Pack a nourishing lip balm to deter the pain of chapped, cracked lips when I arrive at my destination.

Currently, I’ve been using and lusting over Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask since a beauty blogger friend recommended it to me. This ultra-rich lip mask is made using organic agave nectar. You only need a tiny amount to hydrate and add shine to your lips, so it lasts for ages! Bite also sell tinted versions if you feel you need a little something-something to zhoozh up your lips before landing.

If you are looking for something that’s a little more budget friendly, I’m also a big fan of Nivea’s Essential Care or Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Intensive Lip Repair Balm. Both are permanent staples on my work desk or as a back up in my carry-on.

If you already chapped lips, try Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips. Yes, it has a funny name but if you need to protect lips and get them healing then nothing will work better than this ultra-rich, hydrating balm (and if you are breastfeeding it will work just as well on your nipples as well!)

If you do wear make-up, go minimal

Let’s face it: after a long-haul flight, sometimes all you want is to feel a little more human.

After using a gentle facial wipe (I’m a fan of Johnson & Johnson Daily Essentials Refreshing Facial Cleansing Wipesthe pink packet!) Try to avoid sticking a lot of product on your face.

I like to put a light coat of BB or CC cream on. My current favourite is Clarin’s BB Skin Perfecting Cream with SPF 25 which is both super affordable and just feels really nice and light on your skin.

If you want to brighten up dark circles, try a highlighting concealer like Benefit’s Boi-ing Airbrush Concealer which is more moisturising than others on the market (I use this every day!). It makes me look a little perkier and will get me through until I arrive at the hotel for a shower… and maybe a nap!

These simple tricks will help you look polished but keep your skin feeling fresher for longer!

Don’t forget to pack right

Make sure you have all of your beauty essentials within arms reach when you travel by choosing the right toiletries bag! Everything you need in one convenient place. I like the clear plastic bags because it means TSA will easily be able to see what’s in the bag, and it’s much sturdier than trying to shove everything into one of those free sandwich bags you get at the airport.
I’m also a big fan of using one of these to pack any electrical cords or gadgets into for a similar reason.

I’m also a big fan of throwing a spare pair of undies in so your skin and body can feel a little fresher when arriving. Trust me on this one!

For more tips on how to pack the perfect carry-on bag, check out my Perfect Carry-on Essentials post for more tips.

Read next:

What to pack: carry-on essentials

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