From waiting in airline check-in and security lines to the journey to and from the airport, the flying experience can feel overly burdensome. Not to mention the plane ride itself, especially if it’s one of those long-haul flights. It’s no just our emotions that are being affected—our skin can suffer as well. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air in the pressurized cabins of planes is often below 20% humidity. This is due to recycled air, which is low in humidity and tends to suck moisture out of the skin, leaving it dry, cracked and dehydrated. Anyone who has traveled for any amount of time on an airplane has probably experienced that dry, tight feeling in the face and hands.

Fortunately, there are several tried-and-true methods to counteract the effects of low humidity on your skin when you’re airborne. By following these 5 tricks and tips, your skin will feel hydrated and refreshed so you’re ready to start your adventure as soon as you land.


1.Exfoliate the night before.

Exfoliation should be a weekly ritual in your skin care routine, so don’t forget to do it the night before your travel day as you’re packing last-minute essentials. It’s important to clear away those dead skin cells so your skin can accept moisture. Be careful not to over-exfoliate – a gentle exfoliation is enough, as you don’t want to irritate or damage your skin. Also keep in mind the rest of your body can suffer from dryness, so do some dry brushing to shed away dead skin cells everywhere else. After exfoliating, make sure to deeply replenish your skin with moisture – treat yourself to a hydrating mask and nourishing body cream, and relax!

2. Use a serum packed with antioxidants.

Your skin should always receive the nutritive care it needs so it’s protected against external stressors like air travel. Serums are made up of small molecules that can deeply penetrate the skin and deliver a high concentration of active ingredients. They’re a great way to provide nutrition and moisture, as well as repair your skin after damage from harmful elements such as free radicals. Incorporate a serum full of antioxidants into your regular routine to protect against environmental damage and premature signs of aging caused by free radicals from UVA/UVB radiation. We love SkinCeutical’s Phloretin CF Gel, a daily topical vitamin C serum that helps diminish the appearance of discoloration, refine skin texture, and improve skin tone. After the serum, apply a face lotion or cream to create a barrier on the skin’s surface to keep all that good stuff in.

3.Don’t wear makeup.

The dryer your skin gets, the higher the risk of your makeup looking patchy and dry. On top of that, a layer of makeup will trap grease, dirt and dead skin cells in your pores, blocking their ability to breathe. Give your skin a break and go makeup-free for the flight. No one ever looks amazing on a flight, so try to get over any insecurities you have about being sans-makeup in public. Can’t bear the thought of navigating the airport process without some cover-up on? Bring along some makeup wipes to whip out once you find your seat.

Be sure not to forget sunscreen! Since you’re about six miles closer to the ozone layer while airborne, the sun’s rays are simply more powerful. Whether or not you’re in a window seat, don’t skimp on SPF. You’ll want to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection, at a minimum of SPF 30. Go ahead and grab a tinted sunscreen to give your skin a little extra glow.

4. Prepare in-flight skin care.

While you don’t need to haul your entire skin care regimen with you in your carry-on, take some basic nourishing and hydrating products. Serums are a fantastic choice as they’re usually under 100mL in size and, like I said, they’re full of nourishing ingredients and antioxidants. Go ahead and pack hand cream, facial moisturizer, hydrating mist, and lip balm in your carry-on bag as well (just be sure they’re under 3.4 ounces so you can get through security). Regularly spritzing your face with an antioxidant rich facial spray during the hours leading up to your arrival is a great way to revive dull and tired skin. We love Jane Iredale’s Lemongrass Love Hydration Spray for an instant pick-me-up that helps alleviate the feeling of jet lag and stress.

5. Drink up.

Water, that is. Avoid alcohol and caffeine while traveling as these can dry out your system and inevitably your largest organ, your skin. Dehydrated skin can appear puffy or swollen, so combat this by making sure you’re getting enough H2O. Take a reusable water bottle and sip frequently or say “yes” to a glass every time the cabin crew circulate, and don’t be afraid to ask for more! Not only does regular intake of water keep your skin hydrated, your system flushed, and help with the effects of jet lag, it also gives you an opportunity to stretch your legs and get your blood flowing during bathroom breaks. Hydration should be your priority—your skin will thank you for it.