If you’ve ever stepped foot on a plane, be it a quick flight to a nearby city or an hours-long red-eye, then you might already be familiar with the toll that travel can take on skin. While some kinds of travel have their own skincare drawbacks, like sun damage on road trips, few are as rough on skin as air travel. And we don’t just mean the plane.
The end-goal of a long flight — from, say, a beach-y location to a chilly, high-altitude destination — can also mess with your skin in more unexpected ways, too. That can complicate matters when you’re trying to get or maintain healthy, glowing skin, which makes a dedicated pre-, mid-, and post-flight routine all the more important. For extra skin insurance, we enlisted our expert to provide a few tips on how to prep before, during, and after a flight when you’re going from snow to sun — and back again.
Meet the Experts
Marisa Garshick, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
When you’re packing
Skin loves consistency, so this isn’t the time to try a brand-new exfoliant. “Remember to stick with a skincare routine, and if you know certain products work well for you, try to bring them on your trip to minimize disrupting your normal skincare routine,” says Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
However, it may be a good idea to make some tweaks if you know the climate in your destination is distinctly different from the one you’re leaving. “Changes in the environment can impact the skin, as colder temperatures can be harsh on the skin barrier and contribute to dryness, while hot and humid environments may contribute to clogged pores,” she says. So, if you’re heading to a dry or cold locale, consider packing a more hydrating, gentle cleanser or a richer moisturizer to keep skin comfortable. If you’ll be parked by the pool, on the other hand, consider subbing in foam- or gel-based cleansers and moisturizers, she says.
When you’re in transit
Before or just after you board, apply a fresh layer of moisturizer. “With air travel, the skin tends to become dry and people often forget to moisturize as much as they should,” says Dr. Garshick. “Airplanes are known for their low humidity and moisture levels in the air, which is why the skin can begin to feel dry.” Another thing to consider: Thoroughly washing your hands and face before applying moisturizer. Skipping this step can have the opposite effect on your skin as your fingers are likely brooding with bacteria (think: touching your seat, the screen, etc.) and your face can feel a little oilier or drier than usual.
When you land
No surprise here: Reach for your moisturizer. “It can help replenish any moisture loss,” says Dr. Garshick. She also recommends sticking with your routine, accounting for any adjustments based on where you’ve landed. “Taking a vacation from your skincare routine can have implications, causing certain skincare issues to arise — such as breakouts, dryness, and more,” she says. And, whether you’re there to ski or to surf, applying sunscreen is key, since sun damage can happen anywhere you go.
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