It doesn’t matter if your skin is super oily or dry as a desert, a day of travel wreaks havoc on your face. While you can’t completely prevent this from happening, there are steps you can take to mitigate the damage. As a West Coast transplant with tons of family and friends back east, I’m practically a pro at safeguarding my skin through a full day of flying. Here are a few of the things I do to prevent total annihilation of my skin, from the day before to the night after.
The Day Before:
This is going to come up a lot, but: water water water! Being well-hydrated is arguably the number one most important skincare rule in the universe. Drink lots of water. It’s basically like moisturizing your whole body, from the inside out. If you hate drinking water, or you just forget to do it, and all the things you know about drinking water aren’t enough – just think of your skin! Water helps keep your skin looking youthful and plump, and reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Please note, water alone cannot cure or prevent the natural signs of aging, but it may help slow down the process and look less obvious. The usual recommendation is eight glasses per day, but I prefer to just use a big water bottle or mason jar. If you’ve got quart-sized mason jars at home, try to drink two or three every day – but especially when preparing for travel.
This next bit of advice is decidedly less fun, but it makes a world of difference when traveling. Starting the day before, stay away from alcohol. Keep caffeine, dairy, and refined sugars to a minimum. All of these can wreak havoc on your skin, and compounded with the stress of flying… not a good combination. The changing temperatures, high altitude, and cabin pressurization already dry out your skin, don’t add fuel to the fire.
In preparing my skin for inevitable damage, I really like to treat it as best I can the night before with a mask that both exfoliates and soothes at the same time. Removing dead skin cells and adding moisture back into the skin are never a bad thing, and I find it especially calming before the dryness to come. If you’re curious which masks I like to reach for, I talked about a few in my skincare routine just a few weeks ago!
While we’re on the subject of pampering yourself the night before a day of travel: shower. This one might seem silly, but I think it’s important. After a full day of travel (at least eight hours every time we fly from Oregon to PA), the first thing I want to do is shower. If you take good care of your hair, you know that washing too often can dry it out – already an issue we’re battling in-flight. For that reason, I prefer to shower and wash my hair the day before than the morning of. At least that way if I shower as soon as I land, I didn’t end up washing my hair twice in one day. (Not showering at all the day before is also a fine option, I just always feel really gross after a long flight and would rather start off as fresh as possible).
Last but not least: moisturize. Probably a no-brainer for most of you reading this, but if you have a particularly luxurious moisturizer or facial oil stashed away for special occasions, now is the time to use it. I go hard before a flight and generally apply a facial oil, moisturizer, and an even thicker creamy oil from Josie Maran (about 20 minutes after the first two).
The Day of:
No real surprises here – lots of the same business from last night, starting with water. Make sure to drink plenty throughout the day to keep your body and skin well-hydrated. The high elevation and cabin pressure can really exacerbate dehydration so make sure you’re starting from a good point.
Just like the night before, I cannot stress the importance of a good moisturizer or facial oil the morning of and before heading out the door. I’ve tried a few different concoctions, but I think the most long-lasting is to add several drops of my facial oil into my moisturizer and apply all over my face and down my neck. I really love the Tarte Maracuja Oil anyway, but I am particularly fond of its antibacterial properties for a day in busy airports, public restrooms, and cramped airplanes. If this is the kind of long day of travel like I’ve been talking about, I would really recommend skipping makeup and focusing on skincare instead. However, if you absolutely feel compelled to paint your face for the flight, stick to things like mascara and filling in your brows – products that won’t really interfere with your skincare.
Like most of the things mentioned here, this is something I never did until I started getting into makeup about two years ago, but packing skincare in your carry on is something you will never regret. If my flight is six hours or less and I add a facial oil into my morning moisturizer, I can usually get away without having to do this on the plane. However, for overnight or long-haul flights (and long layovers too), a thick moisturizer or hydrating mask will be your best friend. I must have reapplied my moisturizer 2-3 times during my 12 hour flight to Israel last year and it absolutely saved my skin during one of the most intense trips of my life.
Finally, food. I’m not going to go into explicit detail about making good choices here, you can check out my other blog for that, but if you’re eating out before getting on the plane, stick to the healthiest options you can. Foods high in salt and/or sugar can make you feel bloated and thirsty, two things that are already going to happen in-flight; plus they can lead to breakouts – not anything you need help with in a multiple-airports kind of day.
In flight is not so different from the morning of, but a few extra bits are pertinent. First, water! Are you sick of this yet? A good rule of thumb is to drink eight ounces of water for each hour of flight time. This can be hard to manage with just the beverage tray, so I always bring a water bottle on the plane with me (you can bring in an empty one of your own and fill it after security, or buy one in the airport if you prefer). My goal is usually to drink three fills of my 22oz water bottle for an eight hour travel day – even if two of those hours are a layover.
On the topic of liquid intake, ditch the mini bottles of booze if you can. Alcohol, like caffeine, is a diuretic – which means it encourages the production of more urine, leaving you extra dehydrated. If you absolutely need a drink on the flight, have at it, but remember to offset it with at least the same amount of water.
As for the skincare you brought with you, reapply whenever you want (assuming you can wash your hands first), and don’t forget your lips! The Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask was a lifesaver flying from winter in Oregon to Florida sunshine, but any thick balm will do. I’d recommend avoiding anything with peppermint as it can actually dry your lips out even more.
One more thing, and you’re not going to like it. Just like the airport, resist the snacks! With the exception of nuts, the snacks offered in-flight are packed with fat, salt, and sugar. Absolutely delicious, but also the perfect concoction to exacerbate dehydration, bloating, and thirst. Try to come prepared with homemade snacks or make smart choices at the airport. You will never regret a piece of fruit.
Once I get to my final destination after flying, the first thing I want to do is scrub myself clean. Resist the urge for harsh products and opt for an oil-based cleanser instead. Cleansers made with oil are far better at breaking down dirt and makeup, but still leave your skin feeling soft and nourished – two things you’ll really want right about now. I talk about two of my favorites here.
If you have dry skin naturally and it’s feeling particularly parched, you may want to splash out on an overnight mask instead of your usual bedtime routine. I really like the GlamGlow ThirstyMud mask which can be used either as a wash off treatment or overnight. Apply after cleansing and let the luxury sink in (try to fall asleep on your back if you can).
And finally, I couldn’t really end this without one last reminder to drink more water. This is something you should be doing every day, both for your overall health and the benefit to your skin (if the rest isn’t motivation enough), but it’s particularly important for the time frame leading up to and following a long flight. Investing in a glass or insulated water bottle was really helpful for me to be more mindful of water intake.
Stay healthy, stay hydrated, and have a great trip! Don’t forget sunscreen, no matter where you are – and that includes an SPF lip balm too.