The best travel-tested skin-care tips, according to flight crews

by Сашка

Dryness, acne, oiliness: Here’s how to solve airplane skin issues, before, during and after a flight

Travel days can take a tremendous toll on your body. There’s the stress, the bloating and the bad sleep the night before. Don’t forget the thin, cramped seats.

Skin care may fall to the bottom of our list of concerns, even though it takes just as much of a hit. Airplane cabins are extremely dehydrating, thanks to the low-humidity, recirculated air — and they can wreak havoc on your skin. Flight attendants and pilots know these issues better than anyone and deal with them on a daily basis.

“Passengers come in the galley asking us, ‘What can we do?’” says Baltimore-based flight attendant Elizabeth Simpson, 30.

These days, Simpson has tips ready for passengers, but when she first started her career, “my skin was a mess,” she says. It took trial and error to nail down a routine that works — a common path for those who work in the air. This is why Ashlee Loree, who has been a flight attendant for nine years, also recommends asking veteran flight crew members for their wisdom.

“They know the deal,” she says. “That’s how I learned.”

We took Loree’s advice and spoke to five flight attendants — and a pilot — to get their best advice for keeping your skin on track during travel.

Fight dehydration

The No. 1 takeaway: Drink water. Lots of it. Loree, 33, says a good visual for what that does to her body is seeing the water bottles on her drink cart shrivel up at cruising altitude. “I always try to encourage drinking more water, especially to the new hires,” she says.

Chiropractor-turned-flight attendant Courtney Acree, 40, fully hydrates the night before she travels, drinking as much as she can and adding supplements to her water that include electrolytes, like Liquid I.V.

“I like to start out really hydrated, because on the plane, we get really busy and can’t be constantly drinking water,” Acree says.

Simpson says there’s an unspoken rule among her Southwest Airlines colleagues to drink two 12-ounce waters for every hour of flight time.

Don’t get stuck buying overpriced water at the airport, and pack your own bottle. After losing one too many name-brand bottles, Simpson has switched to a collapsible reusable silicone water bottle that shrinks to the size of a pill bottle and attaches to her luggage.

Make moisturizer and sunscreen non-negotiables

Hydrating skin from within is huge, but surface-level maintenance helps, too. Carole Hopson, a pilot for United Airlines, is a longtime fan of Aquaphor for her face and body. Lately, she’s also been using cocoa butter she picked up on a layover in the Dominican Republic.

Loree alternates between the CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream and Korean products, such as a moisture barrier cream from Pyunkang Yul and a Cosrx snail mucin (yes, the secretion of snails) moisturizer.

Every flight crew member we spoke with said to skip face makeup during your flight (or limit to just tinted moisturizer) and to always wear sunscreen no matter the season or destination — even on the plane. Airplane windows block some, but not all, UV rays.

To pare down on products — particularly when going through destinations where carry-on liquid limitations are strict — most opt for moisturizers with SPF included.

They also pack moisturizing sheet masks to wear during or after travel — but not on the job, of course. “When I’m a passenger, I’m the total freak wearing a mask,” says Chicago-based flight attendant Heather Holding. “Don’t be afraid of weird looks.”

Add a face mist

For an instant dose of freshness, flight attendants pack facial mists and sprays.

“It’s fun. We all spritz each other in the back of the plane,” says Holding, 33. “It wakes you up, it’s great moisture, it feels nice and luxurious.”

Read also:
You asked: Do I have to pay an international parking ticket?

Missy Dunn, 45, a licensed aesthetician turned flight attendant who’s training to become a pilot, swears by travel-size ones from Evian that have a “super, super fine mist, so it’s not going to mess up my hair or makeup if I’m wearing any,” she says. But there are many options on the market that promise different benefits.

“Some people use a Tower 28 one because it’s an antibacterial. Some people use facial sprays with SPF in them,” Holding says. “I would just go with whatever your facial type is, what your needs are.”

Save salty snacks, alcohol and caffeine for later

Alcohol can take the edge off your travel day, but it’s also immensely dehydrating. Dunn has noticed the impact when she’s had alcohol as a passenger, both in her energy level and her skin.

“It’ll make you feel a little sluggish, and I do notice my skin’s a lot drier,” she says. “I see the fine lines a little more. There’s an overall dullness. You feel different, you look different.”

Other ingredients, such as caffeine, sugar, salt and fat, can take a toll on your skin when you have them in large amounts. If you do dabble, “make sure you drink a glass of water with it,” Acree says.

Double-cleanse when you land

Once you’re out of the fray, give your skin a thorough cleaning. Multiple flight attendants recommend a double cleanse, washing your face twice to make sure you get rid of all the built-up grime and oil. For the first round, use an oil-based cleanser or Simpson’s recommended micellar water, then a gentle water-based cleanser. Most turn to options that are affordable and easy to find at drugstores in travel-friendly sizes, such as CeraVe, Neutrogena and La Roche-Posay. Did you forget your cleanser at home? No problem. Hopson sometimes just uses the hotel soap.

Clean your neck pillow

A new ick of Simpson’s is seeing travelers tossing their neck pillows straight onto the security X-ray conveyor belt or TSA bin, then cradling their faces with them after boarding.

“I’m like, ‘Don’t you know how many dirty luggage wheels and dirty shoes have touched that thing?’” she says.

Those pillows hit spots prone to breakouts, such as your chin, so you want to keep them clean. Simpson recommends keeping neck pillows and other items that will be touching your skin clean by stuffing them inside your coat or using a protective covering. Don’t forget to wash them before or after your travel day.

Remember wellness basics

A not-so-secret tip: A healthy lifestyle can do wonders for your skin, Hopson says, so don’t skip on prioritizing exercise, a balanced diet and good sleep while traveling. On layovers, she hits the hotel stairwell for cardio and strength training. She keeps her phone on the other side of the room at bedtime to prevent distraction.

“They’re all common sense,” Hopson says. “However, having said that, it requires real discipline.”

More travel tips

Vacation planning: Start with a strategy to maximize days off by taking PTO around holidays. Experts recommend taking multiple short trips for peak happiness. Want to take an ambitious trip? Here are 12 destinations to try this year — without crowds.

Cheap flights: Follow our best advice for scoring low airfare, including setting flight price alerts and subscribing to deal newsletters. If you’re set on an expensive getaway, here’s a plan to save up without straining your credit limit.

Airport chaos: We’ve got advice for every scenario, from canceled flights to lost luggage. Stuck at the rental car counter? These tips can speed up the process. And following these 52 rules of flying should make the experience better for everyone.

Expert advice: Our By The Way Concierge solves readers’ dilemmas, including whether it’s okay to ditch a partner at security, or what happens if you get caught flying with weed. Submit your question here. Or you could look to the gurus: Lonely Planet and Rick Steves.

Related Posts