In-Flight Skin Care to Fight Cabin Dehydration

I’ve been lucky enough to travel to many wonderful cities and countries in my life thus far. But one thing I cannot stand is the dry, recycled plane air that wreaks havoc on my skin.

If you’ve ever been in a plane before, you’ll know how horrible the air is. That’s because it’s brought in from outside the plane and at such altitudes (sometimes 30,000 feet) the air is freezing cold and unable to hold any moisture. The typical humidity inside an aircraft is 12 to 15% – or as low as 2% if you’re alone in business class, as a lot of moisture comes from other passengers’ recycled breaths (ew). This low humidity also has the other benefits of minimising the spread of bacteria and mould and keeping the electronics and structures of the airplane functioning happily. Unfortunately, our bodies work best at a humidity of 45-55%, meaning the cabin of a plane is way too dry for comfort.

Over time I’ve developed some tips and tricks for keeping myself as hydrated and happy as possible during long haul flights.

1. Fly makeup free

We’re going to be doing a routine or two in the span of the plane flight, so makeup will just be a pain to remove. Wear big sunglasses if you’re self conscious! But nobody really cares what you look like in an airport or on a plane – and if you don’t to draw attention to yourself, you’re not going to like #4!

2. Bring a no-rinse cleanser

Refer to my post on why I don’t use a regular cleanser to see why Garnier Micellar Water and microfibre cloths are my go-to cleansing options for every day. On a plane, however, they’re perfect because you won’t need to climb over your row-mates to go to the tiny plane bathroom and use potentially hazardous tap water on your face.

3. Douse yourself with face mist

My solution for increasing your personal humidity levels is to bring along a face mist to spray around and on yourself occasionally to keep yourself moist. I’ve heard and experienced good things from Lush Eau Roma Water and Avene Mineral Water. But nowadays I just like to take a watery lotion (usually Hada Labo Super) and mix it half-half with some water in a little travel spray bottle. Then I can just spray this on before I apply moisturiser and it lends a little extra hydration to my skin. Please note that strong smells can be upsetting or even dangerous to other passengers on the plane, so use fragrance-free or low fragrance products where possible.

4. Sheet mask session

These amazing inventions are pieces of thin cotton soaked into tons of skin care goodies, and usually ones that are full of humectants that will draw water from the deeper layers of your skin. They look absolutely terrifying, no lie, but it’s worth it for the relaxation and pampering factors, plus the skin benefits! Bonus points for scaring annoying children. I like to leave mine on until it starts to dry out then I whack on an occlusive to seal in all the goodness. I’m currently working my way through a box of My Beauty Diary Black Pearl masks and they’re awesome.

5. Never forget to apply an occlusive

Occlusives are essential if you want to stop the dry plane air from sucking your skin dry. Water wants to create a natural balance, and so if the air is drier than your skin, water will try to evaporate into the air. We can address this by using a strong occlusive layer as the final step in our in-flight skin care routine. This traps water in your skin, preventing the trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). I personally think the best and cheapest occlusive is Vaseline – it has been shown to reduce TEWL by 98% and is easy to find worldwide. If you really hate the feeling of vaseline, an oil like Squalane or Jojoba (my two favourites) is better than nothing. Heavy creams with shea butter or beeswax also work, but can be comedogenic so tread with caution. The most important thing is to never let your skin be without some rich occlusive layer, otherwise it will dry out really fast in the cabin air.

6. Drink water regularly

Not exactly a skin care tip, but the air will really dry out your whole body, especially your mucous membranes. Keep sipping on small amounts of water to limit the number of bathroom visits.

Basically, hydration is everything! You don’t need special expensive products or an exhaustive routine to stay looking fresh and feeling good if you stick to that rule. Slap on some moisturiser a few times and call it a day if you’re really minimalist. I just like to make my plane routines lush and lengthy because why not! I’ve got nothing better to do and skin care is something I enjoy.

I wish you luck on your next flight and hope you’re going somewhere amazing! See you again soon,

The Skin Careless