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The Jetsetters Guide to Skincare Before, During, and After a Flight
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The Jetsetters Guide to Skincare Before, During, and After a Flight

Air travel can wreak havoc on your skin. Here’s some tips for before, during, and after your flight so you can avoid the biggest skin concern culprits: dryness, congestion, puffiness, and dullness.

Calling all jetsetters! A major complaint many of us have when we fly is the impact it has on our skin. You can feel the plane’s recycled air wreaking havoc, and by the time you land, your skin feels dull, clogged, and completely parched. All you want to do is break open your toiletries bag and do damage control. 

When you want to feel your best on vacation, unhappy skin can definitely put a dent in your travel plans. But there’s plenty you can do so that when you touch down somewhere new and exciting, your skin is healthy, radiant, and ready for the next step of your journey.

Here’s some tips on how you can care for your skin before, during, and after your flight to avoid the biggest skin concern culprits: dryness, congestion, puffiness, and dullness.

How Flying Impacts Your Skin

If you’ve flown before, you already know what your skin is in for. Let’s go over some of the major impacts flying can have on your skin.

Dryness/Dullness: Your dry skin comes from dehydration. The reason flying is so dehydrating is because about half the air in the cabin is pulled in from outside the plane–and at such high altitudes, the air is almost completely devoid of moisture. You’ll likely experience transepidermal water loss and a weakened skin barrier as a result.

Oiliness/Congestion: To make up for the dehydration happening, your skin will start producing more sebum to try and counteract the dryness, but all it does is leave your skin feeling greasy. The dry skin cells in combination with increased sebum can also cause the development of acne.

Puffiness: The changes in altitude and pressure can affect your circulation and lymphatic drainage system, leaving multiple areas of your body–including your face–swollen or puffy. That’s why compression socks are so popular on plane rides!

UV Damage: In the air, you’re closer to the sun, which increases the amount of UV radiation you’re exposed to. While you might not (but still can) get an outright sunburn on your flight, it’s possible for the UV radiation to leave your skin barrier sensitized and weakened, making all the other skin concerns on this list worse.

Skincare Tips for Before Your Flight

In the days leading up to your flight, it might be the time to switch to gentler, moisturizing products rather than products that contain sensitizing ingredients like acid exfoliants, retinols, and other ingredients that can strip the skin barrier. Having moisturized skin and a strong skin barrier going into your flight will help prevent the transepidermal water loss (aka TEWL, which is when the water in your skin evaporates out of it) many people experience in the air.

The night before, double cleanse to remove any makeup, sunscreen, and debris from your face so there is nothing clogging your pores. It’s also important to get a good night’s sleep, as lack of sleep can contribute to that post-flight puffy look.

In terms of day-of products that can help prep your skin, an oil serum that will support your skin barrier is perfect to make sure all the hydration in your skin stays there throughout your flight. Our Jade Moon Superfood Serum will comfort and soothe your skin barrier with moisture replenishing lipids. A good moisturizer will also prepare the skin for the incoming loss of moisture. One with occlusive ingredients is the way to go, like Berry Rich Face + Eye Cream which has cocoa butter or Putty which has colloidal oatmeal.

If you’re flying during the day, also apply an SPF before you board to avoid the increased UV radiation that can damage your skin. Avoid putting on makeup before your flight, as it can make dryness and oiliness worse.

And of course, throughout your pre-flight experience, remember to drink lots of water! Skincare products can help you from the outside in, but you also have to hydrate from the inside out. Doing a couple of stretches before you board will also help get the blood flowing to help with swelling.

In summary:

  • Stop using actives a few days before
  • Double cleanse the night before
  • Prep the skin barrier with an oil serum
  • Apply an occlusive moisturizer
  • Apply your first layer of SPF for daytime flights
  • Skip makeup the day of your flight
  • Drink water and stretch

In-Flight Skincare Tips

Two basic tips for once you’re actually on the plane are: don’t touch your face without washing or sanitizing your hands first, and if you’re going to be leaning your face against your seat, wipe it down with a disinfecting wipe first. The reason for this? Airplanes are notoriously filled with bacteria. The recycled air everyone is breathing sends germs all around the plane, making it better safe than sorry when it comes to cleanliness.

In the air, if you have skincare products with you, a facial mist can be very helpful for shorter flights, especially since you don’t actually have to touch your face to apply them, and they give a burst of hydration back to the skin. Face Food is a great option, since it also soothes and shields irritated skin. If you’ve got your SPF with you on your longer, daytime flight, make sure to reapply every 2 hours or so.

During your flight, you might start feeling like your skin is too dirty to apply any products to–which is totally fair! But if you know your skin really needs some in-flight support, an anti-pollution serum filled with antioxidants like our Supermoon Serum can help purify the skin and give it an extra boost to fight off free radicals. You can also put on a moisturizer with humectant ingredients, as it will draw the small amounts of moisture in the air into your skin, rather than the opposite you experience with TEWL. A good option would be our primer + illuminator, Face Glow, since it has 3 humectant ingredients: glycerin, green tea, and cinnamon bark extract. Putty and Berry Rich, mentioned before, also have humectant ingredients.

We’ll end this section with two suggestions that will have you saying “Duh!”: stretch and drink water throughout your flight! It’s easy and so worth it to counteract the dryness and puffiness your skin will experience.

In summary:

  • Don’t touch your face to anything (even your own hands) unless you know it’s clean
  • Apply a facial mist for hands-free hydration
  • Fight off free radicals with an anti-pollution serum
  • Apply a humectant moisturizer
  • Reapply SPF every 2 hours (if you’re on a daytime flight)
  • Drink water and stretch

Post-Flight Skincare Tips

We’re here to tell you that yes, you should give into that post-flight urge to wash the ickiness off your skin. After a flight, your skin is probably feeling congested, dry, and puffy. Your best first course of action should be to cleanse your face with lukewarm water and an exfoliator like a bamboo sponge or a washcloth. Avoid hot water, as it will further strip your skin and damage your barrier (which you can boost with more Jade Moon).

If you’ve got acne prone skin and are really feeling the congestion, a cleanser that exfoliates without stripping the skin like Face Foam is perfect . Follow it up with a moisturizer that will clarify and replenish the skin. We recommend Phyto Clear–the herbs in this cream clarify skin and unclog pores, and squalane (a humectant) draws moisture into the skin.

If your skin is feeling extra dry after your flight: moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! We’ve already given a few great occlusive and humectant products that will replenish and rehydrate your thirsty skin. 

Your entire body might need some love too. Grab a body lotion and rub it in wherever there's dryness. The gentle massaging of your skin as you do so can also help with any swelling from the flight. If your face is puffy, you can also try some facial yoga to stimulate your circulation. A good stretch and even more water also helps.

In summary:

  • Cleanse skin with lukewarm water
  • Gently exfoliate away congestion
  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
  • Do some facial yoga to relieve puffiness

Keep It Simple

We know we’ve recommended a ton of products in this article, but we’re not trying to say that you need them all. Packing a suitcase, getting to the airport on time, and making sure you’re prepared for your flight is a lot of work, and it helps when there’s at least one part of the journey that can be simple. 

You know your skin best, and will understand what it craves before, during, and after a flight. We’ve shared plenty of ideas for the types of products you might need, but building your own entourage of products personalized to you (our Skin Quiz can help) is the best way to make sure you don’t lose your glow en route to your destination.

We can’t wait to see what gets included in your carry on ✈️🧳

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