As if having to sleep in a space the size of a mailbox isn’t bad enough, the effects of flying can also take drastic toll on our skin. Cabin air pressure and very low humidity can suck the life out of the dermis, which is why we end up a looking a lot less fresh on landing compared to take off.
However, thankfully there is something we can do about it. Since you're seat-bound, we suggest using the airtime as facial time too (you can still crack on with that presentation or watch a film as you go).
Here are some of our in-flight facial favorites, plus some top skincare experts offer their advice to ensure you are glowing on touch-down.
1. Cabin Clean-up
After a potential early start/ a subway ride/ traffic jam/ delay in the departure lounge (there’s always something right?), nothing is quite as refreshing as giving your skin a thorough cleanse. We never recommend washing your face with rest room water (you never know how long it’s been sitting in a tank, potentially years?) but we would highly recommend you remove makeup and grime with Clever Cleansing Balm.
Created for people on the go, each product contains a unique complex - The OTG-7 - which defends skin from every in-flight environmental assault, whether that’s radiation exposure, dehydration or microbiome disruption. Each product is full-size but travel ready, multitasks and is packaged in lightweight, travel-friendly packaging. This deeply hydrating balm will remove all makeup while deeply nourishing the skin. Just massage in, remove with a soft cloth or tissue or spritz with Refresh & Revive Mist which can also be used as a skin rinse. Just spritz and wipe away.
2. Sky High Skin
If you're really serious about landing with a megawatt glow then you may want to think about exfoliating your skin, which will not only leave it silky smooth but will slough away dead skin cells so products can penetrate better. A grainy exfoliator in an airplane seat is a no-go, so we'd recommend traveling with a liquid exfoliator instead. The Zenii Salicylic Exfoliator contains 2% salicylic acid which can help to shed unhealthy skin cell build up, is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. In a 3.4 oz bottle, it’s safe to throw in your carry-on, too. Just apply to a cotton pad and sweep over skin, avoiding the eye area.
3. Mid-Air Masks
Humidity in the air cabin can be roughly a third of what it is on the ground, so it’s no surprise that flying can leave your skin looking positively parched. All skin types would benefit from a deep hydrating face mask such as the Sublime Revealing Mask from Evenswiss which not only strengthens the skin’s barrier but is rich in olus oil to lock in moisture and keep it there. Just apply to skin, put your seat back and relax.
4. Mile-High Hydration
Whatever products you pack, look out for ones that contain hyaluronic acid which holds up to 1000 times its weight in water. Teresa Tarmey is one of London’s most sought-after facialists and regularly perfects the pores of a wealth of celebrity clients from Kate Moss to Sienna Miller. She's a big fan of using hyaluronic acid to counteract the effects of flying.
To double up on in-flight hydration levels, we recommend using an HA-heavy serum under a moisturizer such as the Super Hydrating Elixir from 47 Skin. We would then suggest a nourishing moisturizer on top. Try the Hydrator in Chief from Pietro Simone which will maximize hydration levels while maintaining skin’s natural barrier, or 35 Thousand’s Really Radiant Cream, which can also be used to hydrate the delicate eye area.
5. The Plane De-Puff
Whether you're a fan of facial oils or not, now might be the time to use one to really reap the benefits. Anastasia Achilleos is one of the world’s most in-demand facialists, who constantly travels to plump celebrity’s skin from film sets to fashion shows. She says that facial oils should be non-negotiable during a flight. “We puff up, get sluggish circulation, and then there’s the dryness,” she says. “I apply face oils a lot (almost every hour) and I massage the circle around the eyes upwards and downwards with firm pressure, and massage my cheeks from the nose outwards toward the ears. I also spend time massaging my own shoulders.” Did you know that spot or acne-prone skin can use facial oils too? We recommend the Clear Skin Advanced Face Serum from Province Apothecary which blends rosehip and seabuckthorn oil and is rich in antioxidants.
5. Airborne Aromatherapy
For Anastasia, it’s extremely important that skincare products treat her senses as well as her skin. “I need to hit the ground running straight into work and usually there’s a time difference, so for me it’s all about wellness before I can take care of others,” she says. Anastasia therefore says she will use aromatherapy products and aroma rollers wherever she can weave them into her flight.
One product we find particularly calming for a flight is the Dream Eye Pillow and Pillow Drops from Kiss The Moon. It’s particularly handy if you are sensitive to essential oils since they don’t need to touch the skin. Just add a few drops of the chamomile, cedarwood, lavender and bergamot-infused oil onto the weighted eye mask to help you drift off.
7. Balmy Flights
Teresa Tarmey is never without a lip balm because she says, "My lips get dry but also my nostrils do! I know it’s quite gross to share but I put a tiny bit up my nose to stop the feeling of dryness.” For lips, we’re a fan of the Mineral Ally Hydra Lip Masque from Toujours Soleil, SPF 15, while our multitasking Clever Cleansing Balm can also be used to nourish parched areas such as cuticles, elbows, brows (or even nostrils! )
Finish your facial with hydration-infused skin perfectors. The All-In Day Serum hydrates and perfects the skin to leave it naturally plumped and flawless, while the Tulip Tint Lip and Cheek Balm from Bloomeffects, comes in three shades and brings a healthy flush to the most fatigued complexion.
Lasty, drink as much water as you can throughout the flight, and avoid excessive alcohol. Remember, the state of your skin is as much about what you consume as what you put on it.
Read more about our travel-friendly products here