4 Airplane Beauty Essentials for Every Traveler

Skin Care

by Jana Levin

Aeroplane Easyjet 3
Fly high – just don’t forget the sunscreen! (Photo credit: puddy_uk)

Along with this lovely summer weather comes summer travel plans, so I thought I’d
discuss how I keep my skin from getting sucked dry on airplanes—because I don’t know
about you, but my skin becomes near life-less on planes.

Why does your skin get so dry on airplanes anyways?

The simple answer is low humidity. Without much moisture in the air, your skin starts to get very thirsty. The Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA) conducted a study on the various effects that the air quality on planes has on one’s health. The study determined that out of all the damaging effects your skin is exposed to on airplanes, low humidity is the main culprit of skin dryness.

To combat the effects of the low humid planes, AsMa suggests drinking
water throughout the duration of the flight. [read more] (And it might be a good idea to
forgo any alcoholic beverages on flights, as alcohol is dehydrating).

However, if you’re like me, drowning yourself in water only equates to more bathroom trips (and an unhappy seat neighbor), with skin that is still suffering.

After I downed water bottle after water bottle during my 10 hour flight, my skin was still
sucked dry. Not to mention, my lips looked prune-like…not a cute look.

So here are some products we recommend at FutureDerm for a long flight:

1.)  Sunscreen.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer SPF 100 is a chemical sunscreen, transforming UV rays into different, non-damaging forms of energy.

At 30,000 feet, you’re 29,994.5 feet closer to the sun than usual.  (29,994 if you’re lucky enough to be supermodel-tall, but you get the idea).

It is estimated that every 1000 feet brings you 4% more UV exposure (AOA.org), meaning that you’re getting 120% more UV exposure when you’re in an airplane than when you’re on the ground.

Hence you absolutely need some sunscreen when you are flying.  Nicki goes so far as to apply a physical sunscreen (Vanicream SPF 60) over a chemical sunscreen (Neutrogena Ultra Sheer SPF 100).  While this makes her look a bit like a pasty white ghost when she is on the plane, she figures the physical sunscreen blocks out UV rays, while the chemical sunscreen filters out the remaining rays that manage to hit her skin by transforming them from UV light to a different, non-damaging form of energy.

2.)  A Spray Mist

I actually make my own spray mist from coconut water and argan oil.  I combine the coconut water and argan oil in a travel size spray bottle and spritz it on my face to avoid that dry, itchy feeling. Then I apply sunscreen over top.

On the other hand, Nicki doesn’t use a spritz until she gets off the plane.  She removes all makeup and sunscreen thoroughly, and then applies her Skinceuticals CE Ferulic and sunscreen as per usual.

Spritzing is a matter of personal preference – it will help your skin stay moist temporarily, but it’s not necessary like sunscreen is for the long flight!

3.)  A Lip Treatment with SPF

The lips have some of the thinnest skin on the face, making them highly susceptible to UV damage.  In fact, UV light is the main reason why women’s lips thin out as they get older – UV light stimulates matrix metalloproteinases, enzymes that degrade collagen, within cells.  Awful!

Some treatments we love at FutureDerm include:

4.)  Eye Soothers.

I love those romantic movie scenes where the man and woman come rushing together in the midst of a crowded airport – except in those scenes, the woman never has puffy or red eyes from the flight.  (Maybe she’s only taking a one-hour flight?)

If you tend to have dry eyes, the low humidity on the plane tends to exacerbate this, so try TSA-friendly eyedrops, like Blink Tears ($9.19, Amazon.com).  On the other hand, if puffiness tends to be a problem, we really like Neil’s Yard Remedies Toning White Tea Eye Gel ($42.99, Amazon.com).  The witch hazel soothes and aids inflammation (Skin Therapy Letter, 2000), while the alcohol ensures that the otherwise thick solution will be better absorbed by the skin.  Lastly, the serum contains white tea, a potent source of EGCG, which has been shown to oxidative stress as well as increase antioxidant enzymes after UV irradiation when applied topically (Carcinogenesis).

Happy travels!

About the author:  Jana Levin is a beauty-obsessed Public Relations major from Los Angeles.  She does not represent any of the brands mentioned. Jana is an expert in (mostly) chemical-free and safe-for-(extremely) sensitive-skin beauty products.  For more, please visit our About page.


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  • @Peter Keller – Not through the walls of an airplane, but certainly through the windows. Over 68% of UVA light passes through windows. Consider also that dermatologists routinely note that airline pilots and flight attendants show advanced signs of photoaging, and articles like this one: http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2005/0907-flying_and_radiation_risk.htm

  • peter keller

    Ladies, are you sure uv can pass through the walls of an airplane…i highly doubt it! the situation might be different when you sit all the time at the window, but then again there would be two windows of plastic, and there you can protect yourself with the shield.
    radioactive radiation is probably more of a problem…

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