Important: The mask I'm wearing in the featured image for this post is a Snapchat filter - I wouldn't ever mask in-flight, and if you come across a purple and sparkly mask like this IRL, you know you're look at an irritating bonzana of fragrance - run for the hills! (But it does make for a cute filter!)
Also important: this piece was written in 2019, prior to COVID-19.
During this stretch of Christmas blurring into New Years, you've likely traveled domestically and/or internationally by plane. I've always found in-flight skincare routines to be some of the most fascinating - especially for international travel where, despite any differences in legroom and proximity to the cockpit, we are all bound by the fluid restrictions.
Without careful planning we can inevitably find ourselves cramming random skincare items into a zip-lock bag, and wincing when we realise that our usual lip-balm is in fact not in our carry-on but nestled in our checked suitcase many metres below us, and that the gloss-balm-hybrid doesn't even touch the sides when it comes to our dehydrated cabin-feverish lips.
With this being said, reflecting on my most common international flight (SYD - LAX), I've put together my in-flight arsenal that ticks all the boxes (without taking up 70% of your carry-on space) to help you with your flights 2020 and beyond:
Lip Balm: I've tried a lot - really - and two stand out for in-flight use. Keep layering a lip balm stick for those times when you're eating, drinking or chatting to your seat-buddy - Hurraw! makes a range of stick balms in all flavours & colours, and it's the perfect base (try Black Cherry to double-up as a lip tint for your travels). When you're about to go to sleep, you need to bring out the big guns and Bite Beauty's newly reformulated vegan agave range boasts a really thick, glossy Agave+ Nighttime Lip Therapy. It's heavy duty and really shiny but will stay on for several hours - it's not a lightweight jar though, so decant some (contact lens cases work well!) and apply at least 3 times during the flight.
Obviously, drinking lots of water will help overall hydration - but no matter what, don't lick your lips even if you're desperate!
Cleanser: Even if you adore your foaming or gel cleansers, I encourage you to try a slightly more dry-skinned approach for in-flight. Generally speaking, I want to get onto a plane as close to freshly-showered as possible - I'm talking washed & damp hair, clean teeth, glasses on. This means a cleansed and hydrated face, and no makeup and a zinc-based sunscreen (zinc will help soothe skin irritated by the cabin conditions, so it's a win-win).
Even so, I'll still refresh my skin halfway through the flight with a quick cleanse. I have bought several of The Ordinary's Squalene Cleanser - it's a travel-friendly size, a balm-to-oil style consistency and it leaves skin gently but well cleansed. It will also gently nudge away any skin flakes etc and feels soothing to massage in - this also is really unlikely to leak out everywhere like a liquid cleanser might.
Mist Hydration/Toner/: It feels nice to mist your face in-flight, and that might be reason enough to bring one on, but it's something to also layer underneath your moisturiser and to assist with any hyaluronic serums or water-drawing ingredients in your skincare. I really love NIOD's Superoxide Dismutate Saccharide Mist, and I've used the whole product - I next have my eye on Youth To The People's Adaptogen Soothe + Hydrate Activated Mist. Definitely decant, and spray frequently!
Moisturiser/Serum: I always think, don't stray too far from your skin type and regular routine in-flight. If you have oily skin, you will still produce oil in-flight - I never use sheet masks and wouldn't whack one on just because I'm in flight, nor would I slap on a thick, balmy moisturiser suddenly. These things are often responsible for breaking us out, so you're better off with a less-is-more approach.
I like a few drops of The Ordinary's Marine Hyaluronicspressed onto misted skin, and if I could bring it in-flight without worrying, it would be one or two drops of my new favourite CBD oil (their Age Adapting Facial Serum) by Flora + Bast.
Actives & Treatments: This is more of a word of warning rather than a how-to - unless you're very accustomed to a certain treatment in any conditions (and have used them in-flight before), avoid your benzoyl peroxide treatments, exfoliants or other actives - your skin will be fine for the flight duration even for the longest-haul trips, and you risk a more adverse reaction in such dry conditions.
Post-Flight: When I land, I really want to shower and climb into bed for an hour or two - some people like to take a walk around the city, but even if you do this, try and give yourself a short break to refresh your skin. Along with a 60-second cleanse, I like to do the following.
Exfoliate: Now is the time to whip out your BHA, AHA or lactic acid and apply a light layer - and if you love manual exfoliation, a gentle scrub or wash-cloth will help move any build up.
Hydrate: Again, it's serum time for me - maybe one or two layers with some time for absorption in-between.
Light Therapy: I now have a portable light device I can travel with, so I'll unpack this and put it on either the blue or red light setting (or do a round of each) for 30-minutes. This to me is kind of my insurance against any skin inflammation that might be brewing post-flight, and it's really nice to treat my skin without a physical product on it.
Sleep: If you have the time and can allow yourself an hour or so to nap, or even just to rest in a dim room - this will help to bring you back to life after a long flight. I rarely sleep on flights, so if you're looking at a body-clock arrival of 1am into LAX, you'll really be hitting that peak drowsy period. Oh, and definitely a series of large glasses of water before and after sleep.
What products fly with you?