9 Skin Care Tips for Airplane Travel
The summer months are a great time to get away from your everyday routine and explore far-flung places that you’ve been dreaming about all year. But long flights in high-pressured, arid airline cabins can do a real number on our facial and body skin.
To keep your skin looking its best, here are the nine easiest strategies to employ before, during and after your next flight.
1. Apply a moisturizing mask the night before.
The skin looks best when the humidity is between 40 to 70 percent, but airplane cabins are kept at 20 percent. That’s less than half of what we are used to. As a result, we often land at our dream destination with dry, flaky, or red skin.
Start with a good base of moisture by applying a mask the night before your flight. Choose one with olive oil, honey, aloe and/or jojoba oil as these are extra nourishing and pack on the hydration.
2. Minimize inflight makeup.
When airline travel is six hours or more, oil and dead skin cells tend to clog pores and turn into blemishes. If you feel compelled to wear make-up in and out of the airport, use a make-up remover wipe once you get settled in your airline seat to remove all your make-up. Keep your skin make-up free during your flight. Then, before you land, reapply make-up.
3. Use Hyaluronic Acid & Skip the Facial Mist.
Drinking lots of water inflight is only half of a strategy because your skin needs something to grab the moisture and keep it in the skin. Your best bet is Hyaluronic Acid—a sugar molecule found naturally in the skin. Because Hyaluronic Acid has the ability to bind to water, many beauty products now contain Hyaluronic Acid. By using a quarter-size dollop of your Hyaluronic Acid serum of choice followed by a pump of moisturizer, this combination will create a barrier to keep moisture in. Just make sure to reapply every 60 to 90 minutes. This combo will also minimize that après flight greasy look: the face’s way to overcompensate for dry cabin air.
Also, skip the facial mist. As the water from these mists evaporate from your skin, it can just make dryness worse. So do yourself a favor and keep it simple: have the hyaluronic acid + moisturizer combo handy in your inflight carry-on.
4. Moisturize Nose, Lips and Eyes.
During airline travel, your mucus membranes dry out. The number one reason why you are more susceptible to airborne cough, colds and flu’s on a plane is because your dry mucus membranes are unable trap foreign materials and unwanted disease-causing pathogens which is what prevents them from accessing your lungs and other vital organs.
This impacts your taste buds, your propensity for nosebleeds, dry lips, and itchy red eyes. To minimize dryness and related illness, carry some Vaseline or Aquaphor for your lips and nose along with moisturizing eye drops. Be sure to reapply whenever needed.
5. Keep Moving.
Commercial aircrafts tend to be pressurized between 6,000 to 8,000 feet which is the equivalent of standing on top of a mountain. The higher the altitude, the less blood flow to the skin, which may make your skin look very dull. Inactivity as well as too much salt intake (thanks to airport snacks) during a long flight causes water retention, which shows up as facial puffiness and body bloat.
To minimize these effects, stay away from salted foods and get up every hour or so to walk around the airplane to keep your blood moving. Once you land, go for a brisk walk or get some form of exercise. Exercise will mobilize the extra fluid and reduce puffiness and bloat.
6. Drink Water.
While complimentary alcohol and coffee seem like a nice luxury, you’ll feel and look better if you refrain while flying. Caffeine and alcohol dehydrates your skin from the inside while dry cabin air dries from the outside, a double whammy! So drink lots and lots of water during your flight. If you need a bit of flavor, squeeze a little lemon in your water. And if you really must have a caffeine boost, drink green tea because it is 100 times more potent than Vitamin C as an antioxidant to fight free radicals.
7. Use Sunscreen Inflight.
Even though you are not “outside”, being physically closer to the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and sun-related damage, especially if you’re in a window seat. UV rays are much more intense at higher altitudes and with thinner air, there is less screening of harmful radiation. If you’re flying during the day (and don’t want to close the airplane window shade), use a broad spectrum UVA/UVB SPF30 sunscreen to minimize any harmful effects of sun on your beautiful face and décolletage.
8. Wear 100% Cotton Clothing.
Loose-fitting, cotton clothes are better to wear during long flights than rayon or nylon because they breathe and allow air to circulate. Synthetic fibers may be more comfy and durable, but durability typically means water resistant. In essence, it repels rather than absorbs water, which means your natural sweat and oil will be pooling-up in all the wrong places. Additionally, many new synthetic blends offer moisture wicking. But since you are not active and sweating a lot while sitting on a plane, this fabric just wicks away the moisture that your skin is trying to hold on to during airplane travel.
9. Gently exfoliate and moisturize post-flight.
After landing, wash your face or use disposable pads to wipe skin clean of pollutants, then reapply a light, hyaluronic acid moisturizer to damp skin to help hold the water in. If your skin has become dry, gently exfoliate to get rid of dead cells, then moisturize.
About the Author
Olivia is board certified in Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, and Western Biomedicine. She received her Diplomate in Oriental Medicine (Dipl.OM) from the National Certification Commission of Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) and is a licensed Illinois acupuncturist. After completing a rigorous, three-year academic program (which included 2,115 didactic hours and 1,200 clinical hours), Olivia earned a Master of Science in Oriental Medicine (MSOM) from National University of Health Sciences. She graduated Summa Cum Laude and was awarded the Joseph Janse Outstanding Graduate Award. While in school, she completed a two-year clinical internship at the National University Whole Health Center, as well as a one-year internship in the National University Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Acupuncture Clinic. Olivia also completed a one-year residency at The John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County’s Acupuncture Pain Clinic.
Olivia is always seeking additional education to bring to her patients. She is certified in Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture as well as Constitutional Facial Acupuncture. She is currently working on a diploma in TCM Dermatology. When she is not in the office or in the classroom, Olivia serves on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and is also one of two Illinois delegates to the American Society of Acupuncturists. In her free time, you can find her enjoying photography, gourmet cooking, international travel, spending time in nature, and entertaining her family and friends.