Prepare for take-off with these in-flight beauty hacks from a dermatologist

It’s no secret that the air in an aeroplane can wreak havoc on our skin. At 35,000ft, humidity levels drop, drawing moisture away from the skin, leaving us feeling (and looking) less than fresh by the time we reach the arrivals hall.

“The low humidity levels in an aeroplane can cause dehydration, leading to dryness and a dull appearance,” confirms Dr Magnus Lynch, Harley Street consultant dermatologist and surgeon. What’s more, “changes in atmospheric pressure, as well as exposure to ultraviolet radiation through plane windows, can stress the skin.”

Due to said dryness, our skin can produce more sebum to compensate, which may lead to clogged pores and congestion. The good news is that, according to Dr Lynch, there are several ways to boost hydration and protect skin in-flight so that you land looking refreshed. Here’s how…

1. Prep skin before flying

Before travelling, it’s important to load up the skin with hydrating moisturisers, serums and masks. These products can help strengthen and support the skin’s barrier so that it’s ready to take on that plane air.

“A regular routine of cleansing and moisturising, as well as drinking plenty of water, in the days running up to the flight can help ensure your skin is well-hydrated and in optimal condition before you travel,” says Dr Lynch.

When humidity is low, water evaporates from the skin, leaving it thirsty”

2. Give yourself an in-flight facial

Once on-board, drench the skin in barrier-boosting products. This step is especially key for drier skin types, as low humidity and recycled air can worsen skin dryness. “When humidity is low, water evaporates from the skin, leaving it thirsty,” explains Dr Lynch.

His advice? “Apply a hydrating facial mist, followed by a moisturiser or a sheet mask, to help maintain the skin’s moisture levels during the flight.” He also recommends never misting without moisturising – as a mist that’s formulated with humectants (such as hyaluronic acid) will simply evaporate and leave skin drier than before. Always trap the moisture afterwards with a cream.

When shopping for serums, moisturisers and mists, Dr Lynch recommends “looking for ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, which is a powerful hydrator, and ceramides that reinforce the skin barrier,” as well as brightening and protective vitamins C and E to help give dull skin a well-rested glow.

3. Stay hydrated

Hydrating skincare is one piece of the on-board puzzle. Another is drinking plenty of water. According to the Aerospace Medical Association, we should drink eight ounces (about 0.25 litres) of water for every hour that we’re in the sky. So, make sure you always have a bottle to hand.

You might also want to avoid drinking too much alcohol and caffeine, Dr Lynch adds, as both can dehydrate you – and they can make jet lag worse, too.

4. Boost lymphatic flow

Before you press play on your next podcast, take a few minutes to get up and move around the plane before treating your skin to a little massage.

Due to high altitude and air pressure, our lymph flow can slow down in-flight – leading to swelling and puffiness. Apply a facial oil or silky serum before gently massaging it in with sweeping and tapping motions. This, alongside moving, can help stimulate those lymph nodes.

5. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen

As Dr Lynch mentioned before, ultraviolet radiation can still reach us through aeroplane windows. To help shield skin from UV rays, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF30 or above) prior to flying. And if you’re travelling somewhere hot, top up just before you land to help build up your defences for some holiday sun.

Travel-friendly minis to take with you on-board
Try: Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser

• Size: 50ml

• Suitable for all skin types

• Removes make-up

• Cruelty-free

• Cloth included

If you’re catching an early flight, pack this hot cloth cleanser from Liz Earle and wash your face once you’re aboard (or at the airport). Creamy, gentle and hydrating, the award-winning formula is brimming with moisturising cocoa butter and soothing chamomile.

Try: Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Supercharged Gel Eye Cream

• Size: 5ml

• Lightweight gel texture

• Non-comedogenic

• Ophthalmologist-tested

The skin around our eyes is thinner and more delicate than that on the rest of our face – which is why it’s especially prone to dryness up in the sky. To boost moisture and help reduce puffiness, apply this water-gel eye cream that’s laced with hydrating hyaluronic acid.

Try: Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Nourishing Lip Balm SPF20

• Size: 15ml

• SPF20

• Broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection

• Portable squeeze tube

• Moisturises lips

• Non-sticky

Dr Lynch also recommends adding a lip balm to your carry-on bag. This one, from Elizabeth Arden, has a silky, lightweight texture that melts into lips, delivering a burst of moisture that will help keep them soft and supple for the duration of the flight.

Try: Avène Thermal Spring Water Spray for Sensitive Skin

• Size: 50ml

• Suitable for sensitive skin

• Calms and soothes

• Refreshing feel

A refreshing pick-me-up, this light water mist from Avène instantly soothes skin with its hydrating formula that contains the brand’s iconic thermal spring water. Spritz onto cleansed skin before applying a moisturiser.

Try: IT Cosmetics Confidence In A Gel Lotion Travel Size

• Size: 15ml

• Oil-free

• Lightweight

• Gel-like texture

• Moisturises and soothes skin

Lock in moisture with this oil-free face moisturiser from IT Cosmetics that’s blended with skin-loving ceramides, glycerin and cactus flower extract. After use, skin feels smoother and looks healthier.

Try: Revolution Skin X Sali Hughes – Face Blanket Facial Oil

• Size: 30ml

• Silicone-free

• Vegan-friendly

• Cruelty-free

If your skin’s especially dry, reach for this golden elixir containing squalane and a blend of safflower seed, apricot kernel, olive, strawberry seed, sweet almond, avocado and jojoba seed oils. Massage two to three drops into clean skin to get your blood flowing and help dial down puffiness. 

Try: Fenty Skin Mini Hydra Reset Instant Recovery Glycerin Hand Mask

• Size: 30ml

• Hand mask

• Contains plant extracts and glycerin

• Leave-on product

• Vegan-friendly

Low humidity can leave hands feeling dry. Restore moisture with Fenty Skin’s Hand Mask. Loaded with glycerin, fruit oils and plant extracts, the nourishing formula leaves hands feeling super soft, hydrated and smelling of tropical fruits. Divine!

Try: Soltan Age Defence Advanced 8hr Protect Facial Sun Care SPF30

• Size: 50ml

• SPF30

• 5-star UVA rating

• Water-resistant

• Vegan-friendly

Skincare meets suncare in this high-factor sunscreen with a maximum 5-star UVA rating. Non-greasy, fast-absorbing and enriched with hyaluronic acid, it helps protect and hydrate in one fell swoop.