How To Take Care Of Your Skin On A Plane

by Gio

how to take care of your skin on a plane tips

I’m sitting in the airport lounge, waiting to board my flight to Budapest.

It’s a short trip. Two hours and then I’ll be soaking up the sun at an outdoor spa, going for romantic moonlight walks by the Danube and snacking on chimney cake. I can’t wait.

But… my skin is dreading it. Because plane life isn’t easy on it. Even a two hours flight takes its toll. Dryness, sun damage, stress…. they’re just some of the bad things that happen to your skin on a plane.

I’m determined to avoid all them and arrive to my destination looking all fresh and glowy. You feel the same, don’t you?

If you’re curious to know how I do it, here are my secrets to take care of your skin on both short and long haul plane flights:

Step 1: Fight Dehydration

It’s no secret that flying dehydrates skin but… how the heck does that happen?

Here’s the short version: your skin’s happier when there’s lots of humidity around. Anything between 40 to 70% is ideal. But as the plane flies high into the sky, cabin pressure increases and humidity plummets down to 20% or less.

Without moisture, your skin dries out, shrivels up like an old prune and gets all red and flaky.

The Fix

Use a hyaluronic acid serum followed by moisturiser.

Hyaluronic acid is a moisture magnet. It’s incredibly good at holding onto water. So good it can bind up to 1000 times its weight in water! Just make sure you seal it in with a good moisturiser.

I do this before leaving for the airport and, once I’m on the flight, I reapply every 90 minutes. When I get off, my skin is so soft and smooth.

P.S. Yes, you can use a sheet mask with hyaluronic acid instead. I prefer the serum because it doesn’t make me look like a serial killer. 😉

P.P.S. Avoid mists. They’re refreshing but, with nothing to seal it in, the moisture evaporates out of your skin again. 🙁

Best Picks:

Related: What Are The Best Serums With Hyaluronic Acid?


Step 2: Prevent Oiliness

Do you find your skin goes in the totally opposite direction and gets a little oilier on flights?

Lack of humidity in the cabin is the culprit again. You see, your skin doesn’t like to be dry. If it loses too much moisture, it will sometimes try to counteract the dryness by pumping out more oil.

The Fix

Same as above. Use a hyaluronic acid serum followed by moisturiser. Great skin on a plane is all about hydration, hydration, hydration.

Step 3: Slather On Sunscreen

Can I tell you a secret? I hate sitting by the window. Sure, the view is nice but it’s too close to the sun for my taste.

UV rays are more intense at higher altitudes. Add the thinner air that can’t screen harmful radiation as well and you’ve got a recipe for sunburns and wrinkles. Oh, and a higher chances of skin cancer. No thank you!

The Fix

Wear sunscreen. I know you’re doing it every day anyway, RIGHT?

Putting it on before a fight and reapplying every couple of hours on long haul flights (especially if you get the dreaded window seat) is a must.

Best Picks:

  • Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 ($34.00): available at Sephora.
  • Elta MD UV Pure Broad Spectrum SPF 47 ($25.00): available at Dermstore, SkincareRX and Walmart.
  • Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ WetForce For Sensitive Skin And Children ($42.00): available at Neiman MarcusNordstrom and Sephora

Related: Do You Really Need To Reapply Sunscreen Every 2 Hours?


Step 4: Beat Travel Stress

Travel stress is real. I love travelling but just the thought of packing three suitcases, going to the airport and making it to security are enough to trigger an anxiety attack.

What if I lose the plane? What if security stops me? What if they lose my luggage? What if, what if, what if….? There are a gazillion things that can go wrong.

All this stress increases the levels of your stress hormones, which can lead to flareups of psoriasis, eczema and acne. Now I’m lucky I don’t have to deal with the first two, but acne is very much a risk for me. One I’d rather avoid.

The Fix

Keep it simple. This isn’t the time to try new products or overwhelm your skin with essences, serums, mists and who knows what else.

Stick to a basic skincare routine: a gentle cleanser, hyaluronic acid serum, moisturiser and sunscreen. You don’t need anything else.

It may also be a good idea to meditate, especially during particularly stressful moments, like before security. I know it doesn’t seem like a skincare tip but I swear it helps!

Related: How To Meditate Your Way To Clear Skin

The Bottom Line

Plane life will try to wreak havoc on your skin in every possible way. Don’t let it. Put your sunscreen on, moisturise, and keep your skincare routine simple and you’ll get to your destination looking fresh and flawless.

How do you take care of your skin on a plane? Share your tips in the comments below.

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JD July 23, 2018 - 3:01 pm

Keeping it simple is definitely how I do it. I personally do not like to remove make-up and applying skin care products during a long haul flight, especially since I sit in coach/economy where there is not enough space to do them without bothering my neighbor. I’ve sat beside a woman who removed her make-up at the beginning of the flight and then did her makeup before we landed – the problem was her elbow kept hitting me, her containers kept falling out of the backseat tray, and her mist ended up on my face (I had to tell her not to use mist with scent or perfume because some people can be allergic to it). Before leaving home, I double the amount of hydrating lotion I use on my face. I also use a tinted moisturizer or a tinted moisturizing sunscreen so that it’s easier to re-apply. I do not use foundation and use lesser make-up overall. I also drink a lot of water during the flight.

Gio July 28, 2018 - 6:32 pm

JD, that’s so rude! I agree, keeping it simple and preparing well before a flight, especially if you don’t have the chance to retouch your skincare, is key.

Claire August 2, 2018 - 2:35 am

Hi Gio, may I know how do you reapply your hyaluronic acid and moisturizer on top of your sunscreen and makeup during your flight?

Gio August 5, 2018 - 9:39 am

Claire, I don’t wear makeup on long haul flights so I just apply my skincare as normal on top of sunscreen.

Claire August 11, 2018 - 2:01 am

I have been falling on this myth that anything skincare products applied after sunscreen will not be absorb by the skin as sunscreen (both chemical & physical) creates a protection preventing them from entering! That was what my demologist told me, sign. I’m so glad that I have found your blog, gave me more confidence on how to use my products properly. I will definitely reapply The ordinary HA and Argon Oil whenever my face is dehydrated! Oh, do I need to reapply my sunscreen after doing so? How about the normal days, are we supposed to reapply our sunscreen every 2-3 hours regardless of indoor/outdoor?

Gio August 16, 2018 - 1:03 pm

Claire, I would reapply sunscreen every two hours or so on a plane just because you’re so close to the sun up there. For everyday, it really depends on how much time you spend in the sun or near windows. UV rays degrade UV filters, making them ineffective after a while. The more time you spend in the sooner, the quicker the degradation process happens. So if it’s summer and you’re spending quite a bit of time outdoors/working near windows, reapply. If it’s winter, you can barely see the sun and don’t venture outdoors, there’s no need to. Experts must tell you to reapply every 2 hours but the truth is you have to exercise your own judgment.


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