How to Care for Your Skin During Long-Haul Flights

Woman waiting in an airport for her flight.

As much as we love traveling, there’s simply no denying that it wreaks havoc on your skin (and your immune system, if we’re being honest). I for one can admit that I almost always emerge from flights feeling puffy, dehydrated, and with an extra passenger in tow – in the form of an angry red blemish. Until I discovered the life changing magic of an in-flight skincare routine, that is. Because high altitudes, recycled air, and no sleep is a lot to put your skin through, here’s how we take care of our skin during long-haul flights.


Woman using cotton pad to cleanse face.
Photo by Julia Zavalishina on Shutterstock

We quote here because we’re definitely not suggesting you wash your face in the plane bathroom. Instead, opt for a rinse-free cleansing situation with a face cleansing wipe, or micellar soaked cotton round. Even if you’re not wearing makeup during your flight (no judgment, but why would you?), this initial cleanse will give you a fresh and primed base for the skincare that’s to come.


Woman applying toner to her face using cotton pad for skin care.
Photo by ShotPrime Studio on Shutterstock

Given the stale, dry air that circulates on planes, we don’t mean “tone” in the astringent sense of the word. It’s likely that the dry cabin air has stripped your skin enough already, so following your cleansing wipe with a nourishing, hydrating toner is the way to go. We love rosewater for this because of its anti-inflammatory properties that instantly soothe and quench parched skin. The calming scent helps unwind mid-flight too. Toners with antibacterial ingredients like Tea Tree Oil or Willow Bark Extract are great options too, for keeping pesky pimples from sprouting mid-air.


Woman holding a sheet mask out infront of her for skin care.
Photo by BLACKDAY on Shutterstock

While you probably don’t have to guess where we stand when it comes to sheet-masking on flights, we need to reiterate how invaluable they are during flights. Not only do they literally form a barrier protecting your skin from whatever airborne bacteria may be fluttering around, they coat skin in a soft, nutrient filled essence that keeps you hydrated, soft, and supple throughout the duration of your flight. If sheet masks aren’t for you (we understand), “sleeping masks” or leave on masks are great options because most of them are undetectable on skin once applied, and pack major benefits.


Woman applying moisturizer to her face for skin care.
Photo by Josep Suria on Shutterstock

It sounds excessive, but yes we are suggesting you follow your moisturizing mask with a moisturizer. Once you’ve gotten your 20-30 minute nap in with your mask, wipe it off with those cleansing wipes we mentioned earlier and go in with your moisturizer of choice. Friendly reminder: remember to be sanitizing hands before and after each step – the steps of this routine would all be in vain if airplane germs still found a way to set up camp on your skin.


Woman on a flight by the window seat while traveling.
Photo by tsarevv on Shutterstock

Those myth busting articles you read are 100% true – you should be wearing SPF during your flight, window seat or not. Think about it: 30,000 feet high, you are (comparatively) way closer to the sun’s rays than down below, meaning the sunshine coming through the windows is more intense than you may realize. Play it safe and wear top off your in-flight routine with a generous application of your daily sunscreen.

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