Preparing an in-flight beauty kit is crucial to ensuring that your skin isn’t a mess by the time you arrive at your final destination. Dehydration, breakouts, redness, and inflammation are common skin woes that result from spending several hours in arid, recycled cabin air. Frequent flyers like Naomi Campbell have honed their in-flight rituals with an entire cleaning process — complete with disposable gloves and disinfectant Dettol wipes — followed by an arsenal of hydrating skincare and masks. “I do not care what people think of me,” the supermodel says in her now-viral video.“It’s my health and it makes me feel better.” And indeed we agree — for your skin and overall wellbeing, turn your long-haul (or short-haul) flight into a mini spa treatment to nourish and protect your complexion. Ahead, we’ve laid out a detailed in-flight skincare routine and the best travel beauty products to stash in your carry-on.
It’s crucial to cleanse your skin before you take off. The recycled air in the cabin will dry out any moisture left on your face, meaning that makeup and debris from the day could be absorbed into your skin. Make sure your hands are clean before touching your face: use a hand sanitizer if you can’t access running water. Facial wipes and micellar cleansing pads are ideal for their no-rinse ease and gentle exfoliation, while cleansing creams and balms are good for a thorough, non-drying wash.
The key to combatting airplane skin is staying hydrated. On most commercial flights, cabin air is exceptionally dry with an average of 20% humidity (Hong Kong has an average 70-85% humidity on the ground), which means you’ll have to hydrate from the inside out by drinking lots of water and doubling-up on skincare to penetrate different cell layers. Start with a hydrating serum like Hyaluronic Acid, which has an ability to hold on to 1,000 times its weight in water, and then layer with a rich moisturizer or facial oil to ensure the hydration is locked in rather than evaporated into the air. Your skin will do well with thicker, antioxidant-rich formulas that act like a barrier against environmental elements.
If you’re going to commit to using a mask in-flight, make sure to choose the right one. Clay masks are irrelevant when your skin is already thirsty. Some sheet masks with watery serums can evaporate too quickly, resulting in dehydrating your skin rather than quenching it, while others may slide down your face or be too messy. Cream or gel hydrating masks are straightforward and ideal for their thicker texture, which can be left on longer for full absorption. We encourage masking throughout the flight, but the prime time is an hour or so before landing to quench fatigued skin and give your complexion a glow.
Long-haul means topping up on hydration mid-flight. Keep facial mist, lip balm, hand creams — and all multi-tasking balms — nearby to refresh and keep the dryness at bay.
Relax and Rest
Some of the best flights are ones spent catching up on beauty sleep — but cramped seats and noisy neighbours can make it difficult to relax. Dab some essential oil under your nose or on your pulse points to calm and soothe your senses, and pop on an eye mask for some well-deserved shut-eye.
Changes in air pressure, staying seated for hours, and eating sodium-heavy airplane food can leave you puffy and bloated. Soothe inflamed skin and water retention with a cooling eye mask and boost lymphatic fluid draining with a jade roller. Use a circulation-boosting body lotion to fight swollen legs and consider taking probiotics or supplements to de-bloat.