I’ve had my fair share of long haul flights and trust me; it sounds far more glamorous than it actually is. I’m always traveling for work and, rather ironically, our skin endures the most punishment whilst up in the air. Fortunately, with a little meticulous preparation, we no longer need to automatically write off all those hours spent sky-high. It’s simple, once you know – and are able to arm yourself against - everything travel is planning to throw at you (hint: a perfect storm of everything your skin loathes). As they say, the best defence is a good offense.
The issue: Dry, recycled cabin air. Consider this: skin is most comfortable within a humidity range of 40-70%. The typical airplane cabin sits at around 20% – yes, less than HALF of what your skin recognises as the sweet spot. This astounding lack of humidity translates poorly throughout your skin resulting, in a substantial dip in hydration levels and manifesting as dry, flaky, red skin.
The solution: Combat dehydrated skin with plentiful water consumption and frequent, liberal application of hydrating products like hyaluronic acid (which prides itself on it’s amazing water binding abilities). I love an in-flight hydrating mask for this very reason and of course, a rich night cream or balm is perfect before sleeping on a long haul flight to seal in moisture. Where possible, a facial the day prior to a long-haul flight never goes astray.
The issue: Dull, devitalised skin and bloating (cute!). Ever been on a long haul flight and feel like your skin looks a little…lacklustre? I hate to be frank, but that’s because it does. You can point your finger directly at cabin altitude for this one. High altitude results in a strenuous amount of cabin pressure, which limits blood flow to the skin. This may leave you feeling a little…puffy all over, face included, as water retention kicks in due to minimal physical activity.
The solution: Rectify with a brightening facial mask and a refreshing face mist. These will keep skin super moist and dewy. I love an in-flight jade roll too, to stimulate blood flow and bring your face back to life. Get up and walk around the aisles as much as you can to boost circulation as frequently as possible. Avoid alcohol (I know, I know), coffee and salty airplane food. If you’re prone to swelling generally, apply body oil that encourages circulation (I use Dr Haushka Revitalising Arm and Leg Tonic, or Sisley’s White Ginger Contouring Oil for legs.) Compression stocking are a must too – Wolford and Falke make lovely, normal looking ones.
The issue: Physical proximity to the sun. UV exposure is still damaging while you’re up in the air. In fact, you’re physically closer to the sun while flying (especially if you are in a window seat – sadly, the window shades do NOT protect from UVA/UVB exposure). Being so close to the sun, combined with thin air and high altitudes ensures sun exposure is much more intense than when on land (and don’t get me started on how harsh sun exposure when on land is).
The solution: Wear a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen while flying during the day! Re-apply frequently and liberally while the sun is out. If you are next to a window shade, close it (if the person next to you kicks up a fuss, show them this article and politely explain that the effects of the sun are more damaging in the sky than back on land and if that doesn’t work, put your headphones in and ignore them).
Your In-Flight Skincare Routine
Remove all of your make-up as soon as you board the plane (ideally with an oil cleanser, or micellear water, to nourish while cleansing).
Spritz a facial mist frequently throughout the flight. This will maintain hydration and revitalise skin. I probably take this a little too far…
Apply an antioxidant serum to protect skin from nasty free radical damage.
Treat skin to a nourishing facial oil all over your neck, décolletage, eyes and lips to keep skin supple and moist.
I always do a facemask in-flight. You might get a few strange looks, but you will be having the last laugh when you step off the plane with radiant skin! But, if you prefer to be more discreet, apply a sleeping mask that rubs in like a moisturiser and doesn’t require any rinsing.
Apply a rich cream or balm before sleeping to lock in moisture and protect your skin from the harsh air conditioning and cabin air.
As for in-flight accessories, opt for a Slip Silk Eyemask (avoid the cotton ones provided by airlines like the plague, as they tug at skin and lead to fine wrinkles).