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How to Save Your Skin on the Plane

Keep your skin moisturized and fresh with these tips, tricks, and products.

It’s no secret that flying isn’t great for your skin—recycled cabin air can dry out your skin, lack of sleep can give you baggy eyes, and the stress of travel can lead to breakouts. If you don’t have an in-flight skincare routine, it’s time to establish one. The products you use during the flight should keep your skin clean, hydrated, and glowing. Here are our product suggestions for maintaining a healthy glow and looking fresh when you arrive at your destination.

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Skip the Makeup

Yes, you want to look good while traveling, but wearing a full-face of makeup for a long flight can be damaging to your skin. If you’re getting on the plane, especially for a long or overnight flight, keep your makeup look simple by using a BB cream. Try the Embryolisse Complexion Illuminating Veil BB Cream, which also has SPF 20. This French cult-favorite can be found at drugstores and makes for a great all-in-one product, but you can also browse a huge selection at Sephora to find something that works with your skin tone and texture. Use a tinted moisturizing lip balm like Glossier’s Balm Dotcom for a little color on your lips that won’t dry them out. Whatever you do, skip the eye makeup. Mascara will only flake off during a flight, making your under-eye area appear dark (and making you look more sleep-deprived than you already are).


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Disinfect Your Seat (and Your Hands)

Touching a grimy entertainment screen and then touching your face can lead to breakouts. Come equipped with anti-bacterial wipes for armrests, headrests, screens, seats, and tray tables—basically, anything your hands or face might end up touching throughout the flight. For a spray version, Dr. Bronner’s makes a travel-sized organic hand sanitizer you can use throughout the flight.

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Stay Moisturized

It’s important to keep your skin moisturized on the plane. The dry, recycled air is not your friend, especially if you’re on a long-haul flight.  With so many products out there, it can be hard to know what’s best for your skin. For all-natural hydration, stock up on coconut oil: Coco Luxe and Kapuluan both make a coconut oil that comes in a TSA-friendly squeeze tube. Keep in mind that coconut oil is solid when cold and liquid when warm, so the best temperature for it is around 77 degrees Fahrenheit, which is when it becomes a smooth paste-like substance.

For high-end options, look for moisturizers with hyaluronic acid, which can absorb 1000 times its weight in water. Celebrities swear by Dr. Barbara Sturm’s $300 Hyaluronic Serum, but Neutrogena’s daily Hydro Boost moisturizer is a good dupe, with the same active ingredient for a fraction of the price.

INSIDER TIPDon’t forget about your lips. Kiehl’s makes a super-goopy lip balm that will prevent chapped lips for hours.


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Try a Sleeping Mask

If you’re on a long-haul or overnight flight, add sleeping masks to your in-flight routine because there’s no reason you can’t give yourself a mini spa treatment to help pass the time. Sleeping masks are leave-on face masks that work while you sleep. Sleeping masks go on clear, so there’s no need to wash off the treatment. Laneige’s Water Sleeping Mask is affordable and comes in a TSA-friendly size, or you can try out Night Shift from Eight Saints, which is a pricier (but overwhelmingly popular) alternative. Korean skincare brand Belif’s Aqua Bomb Sleeping Mask might be the best bet, locking in hydration overnight with a delightful “pudding jelly” consistency and herbal ingredients.

INSIDER TIPRemember to drink plenty of water. Hydration happens from the inside-out, too.



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Don’t Forget About Your Eyes

If you’re short on sleep, you’ll want to pay extra attention to your eyes. It’s almost impossible to not appear tired after a long flight, but there are some steps you can take to minimize the effects of lack of sleep. Use Revive’s deluxe Eye Mask before bed to look refreshed in the morning. Once you land, the Eight Saints All In Eye Cream will help dull, dehydrated skin with brightening and de-puffing.

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Rejuvenate With a Spritz

If your skin is feeling dehydrated, bring along a facial mist. Try Mario Badescu’s Facial Spray: it’s affordable (only $7 for 4oz) and perfect for the plane. The light and fresh rose essence will instantly uplift your mood. If you’re feeling splurgy, Biologique Recherche’s L’Eauxygenante spray comes in a travel-sized version that will fit into any toiletry kit (although it doesn’t smell like roses).

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Use a Silk Sleeping Mask

If you plan on trying to get some sleep, you’ll need an eye mask on the plane. Some airlines provide an eye mask, but you’ll want to stay away from material that might be itchy or irritating on your skin, like wool. Instead, opt for silk eye masks. They can be found almost anywhere:  There are affordable options on Amazon, or you can channel Holly Golightly with Brooklinen’s Mulberry Silk Eyemask. The smooth fabric is gentle on the skin and the tight weave of the fibers helps hold moisture in.


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Cleanse and Refresh

It’s nearly impossible to wash your face in the cramped airplane bathrooms, where the water only comes out while you’re pressing a button. Plus, that water is not potable—probably not the best stuff to drench your face in. If you want to freshen up after a long flight, go with a micellar cleansing wipe from Acure. The wipes remove dirt and unclog pores without drying out the skin.

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Freshen Up When You Land

If your flight is landing in the morning and you have a full day of sightseeing (or god forbid, work) ahead, freshen up with a touch of makeup.  A swipe of mascara does wonders to make your eyes appear wide awake. Add a dab of cheek balm or blush to look well-rested and refreshed.


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