Traveling to a new destination is exciting, but the skin-drying side effect of airplane cabin air is much less glamorous. Emerge from the plane with a moisturized, radiant complexion by following these expert travel skin care tips. Plus, we’re sharing a few skin care and makeup must-haves for your carry-on bag that will pass the TSA test.
Airplane skin care tips for glowing, hydrated skin.
Why does our skin get dry on an airplane? The air at 30,000 feet is cold and can’t hold moisture very well. In fact, the air in the cabin is also low in humidity, about 10% less than the levels in a typical American home. Similar to how skin reacts in the drier, colder months, lower humidity levels in the air can zap moisture from your skin, leaving it feeling a little flakier than normal. We checked in with board-certified dermatologist, LovelySkin CEO and frequent flier Dr. Joel Schlessinger, to get his take:
"If you travel by airplane a few times a year or if you take a short flight, the dry air probably won’t make a huge difference in your skin’s moisture levels. However, if you travel frequently for business or routinely take longer flights around the world, you will want to take precautions for fending off dry skin in-flight. Something else travelers don’t usually think about is that sun exposure is amplified at higher altitudes and in thinner air. If you love sitting in the window seat, either close the shade or make sure you’ve applied sunscreen. Pack a sunscreen brush like the Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50 in your carry-on and simply brush on as needed!"
To avoid having to toss your highly coveted makeup, skin care and sunscreen into the trash at security, be sure you know the TSA liquids rule when carrying on your beauty must-haves. You’re allowed to bring a quart-sized, clear bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag. Each travel-sized product should be 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less. But don’t worry, you can keep calm and “carry on” with some of our favorite travel-sized sun care and makeup must-haves that abide by these rules.
Tip 1: Remove makeup before you get on the plane.
Traveling in full glam can feel luxurious, but if it’s a post-flight glow you’re after, definitely ditch the makeup. Heavy foundation can lead to breakouts and contribute to flaky skin in the dry, thin air in an airplane. The overly dry air at 30,000 feet can also cause your skin to overcompensate and produce more oil. This can cause greasy foreheads, cheeks, noses and chins. Choose a makeup remover that soaks up excess oil and tones the skin.
Product to Try: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Towelettes
Sometimes you just don’t have the time (or the energy) for a complete cleansing regimen at the airport. Stashing a package of makeup removing wipes is an easy way to remove makeup right before a long flight. These no-rinse towelettes remove excess oil, impurities and microscopic pollution that can clog pores and lead to breakouts. They renew the skin with lipo hydroxy acids, which are a derivative of salicylic acid, but offer a gentler exfoliation. Thermal Spring Water nourishes skin with a high concentration of selenium and soothes irritation immediately with mineral-rich micro droplets.
Tip 2: Refresh your complexion and infuse it with antioxidants.
Antioxidants do so much for your skin, but can be especially helpful when you are combatting less than ideal humidity conditions. After you’ve removed your makeup, help your skin hold on to moisture by spritzing your face with an antioxidant-packed hydrating facial mist. It will infuse your skin with protective vitamins, plump skin cells and help your skin absorb moisturizer or additional treatments more effectively. The bottom line: it’s glow inducing!
Product to Try: Caudalie Beauty Elixir - Travel Size
This travel-sized multitasking facial mist is the perfect carry-on companion to give skin a dose of hydration whenever you’re feeling a little flaky mid-flight. It’s formulated with rose oil to soothe inflammation and prepares your skin for additional treatments. Antioxidant-packed grape extract also adds moisture and protects against free radical damage.
Pro Tip: As much as you’d like to relax with a glass of wine on the plane, it won’t do your skin any favors. Long periods of inactivity while sitting on a long flight paired with salty snacks, caffeine or alcohol can cause a serious case of puffiness once you step off the plane. Instead, drink as much water as you can in flight, at least 8 ounces for every hour you are in the air. Your skin (and your body) will thank you!
Tip 3: Apply a hydrating mask while in the air.
You’ve just reached cruising altitude so now is the time to infuse the skin with the hydrating ingredients it craves in lower than normal humidity levels. Choose a no-rinse mask treatment or sheet mask that contains ingredients like hyaluronic acid or panthenol (also known as vitamin B5). Hyaluronic acid will bind moisture to the skin and vitamin B5 has anti-inflammatory properties to help stimulate the epidermis’ healing process. If you prefer a moisturizer to a mask treatment, choose one with a thick, creamy consistency that contains emollient ingredients like ceramides or shea butter to help seal in skin’s natural moisture.
Product to Try: SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel Masque
This weekly hydrating gel mask treatment is the perfect antidote to moisture-zapped skin. It contains hydrating ingredients to replenish lost moisture from a parched complexion and it’s uniquely formulated to reestablish skin’s water balance, leaving it soft, supple and ready to glow. Slather it on and let it sit on your skin for 10-15 minutes, massaging in any excess.
Pro Tip: Taking the red eye? Minimize puffiness from lack of sleep by using a facial roller like ANDA Facial Roller after you apply your hydrating mask. Just be sure to roll upward and outward towards the lymph nodes to help facilitate lymphatic drainage while giving the skin a lifted appearance.
Product to Try: patchology On the Fly Kit
If you’re brave enough to rock a sheet mask outside of the comfort of your own home, this sheet mask kit is perfect for the plane. It contains one hydrating and brightening face mask, plus a set of five-minute moisturizing eye and lip gels. Simply pick your favorites, apply, and when you’re done, plop it in the flight attendant’s trash as they make rounds.
Product to Try:Intraceuticals Opulence Travel Essentials
If you wouldn’t dare ditch your tried and true, serious skin care regimen, pack a travel-sized kit. Most skin care brands offer a TSA-approved travel skin care version of their regimens made to target specific conditions like acne, hyperpigmentation or overall anti-aging. The kit contains a four-piece regimen to address dehydrated skin and uneven skin tone. Each bottle contains less than 3.4 oz of product, making it a perfect companion for airplane travel.
Tip 4: Don’t forget to moisturize your lips.
An airplane flight is not the time to wow everyone with your most glam matte lipstick look. Dry air contributes to chapped or cracked lips, so protect your pucker with a generous application of nourishing lip balm.
Product to Try: FixMySkin 1% Hydrocortisone Healing Lip Balm – Unflavored
This healing lip formula contains nourishing ingredients like shea butter and meadowfoam seed oil to immediately soften lips and 1% hydrocortisone to heal irritation and chapped lip skin. Simply apply no more than four times throughout the flight. The best part? It’s formulated to withstand melting in high temperatures, so it won’t contribute to a messy mishap in your travel bag if you're traveling to warmer destinations!
Tip 5: Replace your look with TSA-friendly makeup products.
If you’re rushing to a meeting or want to arrive in style, you can replace your makeup look a few minutes before you begin the descent into your destination city. The only problem? Some of your tried and true makeup products are too large to make it past security. Keep your heavy-duty makeup at home or in your checked luggage and instead, pack travel-sized versions of your makeup must-haves in your carry-on for easy application on the plane.
Product to Try: theBalm Travel-Size Classics
Complete with a TSA-approved clear bag, this five-piece set includes a pint-sized versions of theBalm’s most loved formulas, including a primer, mascara, bronzer, highlighter and a shadow/blush combo. Each formula contains skin-nourishing ingredients to create the look you like and can feel good about.
Product to Try: Sigma Beauty Mr. Bunny Travel Kit
While you can bring your full-sized brushes on the plane with no problems, they may not fit in your carry-on. Since you have to pick and choose your essentials and overhead bin space seems to be scarce, you may need to downsize and pack travel-sized brushes. Featuring seven classic mini makeup brushes for every travel occasion, this set comes in its own convenient travel cup. Each brush is made with antimicrobial bristles to keep blemish-inducing bacteria off your skin and out of your pores.
Preparing for a summer vacay? Read more on our blog for additional travel skin care tips and essential travel products.