How to care for your skin before, during and after a flight

  • A spritz of water can feel great. Apply a mist hourly to your face, neck and hands to give skin an extra gulp of hydration.

    A spritz of water can feel great. Apply a mist hourly to your face, neck and hands to give skin an extra gulp of hydration. Thinkstock photo

Updated 12/22/2017 8:48 AM

Everyone loves going on vacation, except for the actual traveling part. The arid environment of an airplane or bus can wreak havoc on the skin and leave it looking dehydrated, blotchy and fatigued.

We asked Elizabeth Tanzi, a dermatologist, to share her skin-saving travel secrets so your skin looks fresh and ready upon arrival.


Before takeoff

Start hydrating from the inside out

Before you board, pick up a one-liter bottle of mineral water or a potassium-rich cucumber or coconut water. Pack a durable, reusable water bottle for easy refills in the airport and on the plane.

Go au naturel

A clean, makeup-free face, or a minimally made-up face, is your best defense against oily skin and clogged pores. If makeup is necessary, mix a light moisturizer with your foundation to help keep skin hydrated.

Prep to protect

Use a gentle, creamy cleanser, such as Neutrogena's Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser or Donnell's Cream Wash, and a hydrating body lotion for your arms and legs, like Eucerin's Advanced Repair Lotion, to nourish skin and protect it from becoming parched in the dry cabin air.

Layer products according to your skin type

Tanzi recommends that travelers with combination or oily skin apply a sheer super-hydrating mask, like Neutrogena's Hydro Boost Water Gel. Individuals with dry skin should add an extra layer of protection -- a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid and shea butter, like Olyphan's Hyaluronic Acid Cream Moisturizer.

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Spray it

Nothing feels quite as refreshing as a spritz of water when your skin feels like a desert. Apply a mist hourly to your face, neck and hands to give skin the extra gulp of hydration it needs to fight redness and irritation. Tanzi's personal favorites are Avene's Thermal Spring Water and La Roche-Posay's Thermal Spring Water.

Snagged a window seat?

Don't forget sunscreen: A higher altitude means extra exposure to damaging ultraviolet rays, which can lead to sunburn, wrinkles and skin cancer. Tanzi advises avoiding creams that are zinc-, titanium- or mineral-based, as they tend to dry out the skin. She likes La Roche-Posay's Anthelios SX Daily SPF 15 Moisturizer.

Sleep is your friend

Skip the movie marathon and try to catch some extra Z's. Use a comfortable blackout mask, like Nidra's Deep Rest Sleep Mask, to signal to your neighbors that it's shut-eye time.

Upon arrival

Wake up your skin

Wash your face with a gentle, sweet-smelling facial scrub, like Avalon Organics Lavender Luminosity Exfoliating 4-ounce Enzyme Scrub, after disembarking for a quick and soothing pick-me-up.


Swipe off

Wipe away plane grime easily with a pre-moistened cloth, like one of Sephora's Express Cleansing Wipes.

Swipe on

Lather on a hydrating cream, like Aquaphor's nutrient-rich Healing Ointment, to refresh dry lips, nose and hands.

Avoid extra baggage

Beat puffy, bloodshot eyes and dark circles with saline drops and a cold compress, like Juvitus's cute, reusable Cucumber Printed Gel Eye Mask. You may be jet-lagged, but your skin doesn't have to show it.

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