Why you should never do your skincare on a plane (and what to do instead)

Nail your travel routine


By Redzhanna Jazmin

Why you should never do your skincare on a plane (and what to do instead)

Flying can absolutely wreck your skin, but doing an in-flight skincare routine is not the answer—here’s why (and what you should do instead).

Headed off on a winter holiday escapade? Dreamy! However, before you jet-set to the beach or hit the slopes, you may want to rethink your skincare routine.

Travelling can take its toll on your skin—especially if it involves a long-haul flight. As such, we’ve devised the ideal travel-friendly TLC routine for you to adopt on your journeys, as well as delving into why you shouldn’t do your skincare on the plane. Find the full story ahead!


Why should you skip your in-flight skincare routine?

skincare for long haul flights
Photo by William Bayreuther on Unsplash

If you’ve been doom-scrolling on beauty TikTok, you’ve probably seen a trend of in-flight skincare routines going around. The trend sees countless skincare fanatics posting video after video of their 10-step plane routines, but what they may not know is that it could be worse for their skin. Why? Well, let’s break it down:

In case you haven’t noticed, aircraft environments are filled with air that is void of moisture. Because the air is so dry, moisture is pulled out from anywhere and everywhere—and your skin is a prime target. At this point, the urge to slather on hydration is understandable, but here’s where it gets complicated.

Most beauty products tend to have humectants like glycerin, butylene glycol or hyaluronic acid in their formulations. These ingredients work by attracting water from the environment, holding up to a thousand times their own weight in water.

In normal circumstances, they pull water from the air into the outermost layer of your skin, giving your skin that juicy feeling of delicious hydration. However, because aeroplanes are so dry, humectants actually have the opposite effect, pulling out moisture out from your skin into the air instead and leaving you feeling drier than before. Essentially, once you’ve boarded your flight, it’s too late.

It should also be said—planes are dirty. The last thing you want to do is introduce plane germs and recycled air into your moisturisers and creams, right? Ick!


So, how do you keep your skin happy when flying?


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The solution is simple. Do your skincare before and after your flight, and focus on moisturising rather than hydrating (yes, there’s a difference!).


Your pre-flight skincare routine


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This is your opportunity to load up on as much hydration and moisture as you can before takeoff. You’ll want to be thorough and a little overzealous.

READ: 8 Best toners for every skin type—from classics to recent favourites

  1. Start with a toner or essence This makes for the perfect hydrating base for the rest of your routine—add at least three layers to prep your skin for the rest of your routine.
  2. Layer up with a serum Did you think we were done with hydration? Think again. Top off your essence with yet another layer of hydrating goodness to give your skin its best chance at survival.
  3. Go in with a rich moisturiser The thicker the better! You want to maximise the amount of moisture-holding emollients in the formulation to really hold all of that pre-applied hydrating goodness in.
  4. Seal it all in with a face oil Face oils are a particularly important step in the pre-flight skincare routine as they prevent any hydration from evaporating. You only need a few drops for your whole face!


Your in-flight skincare routine

Okay, so we know we said to avoid skincare on the plane, but there is an exception. If you’re in for a significantly longer haul and your skin is really suffering, there are a few skincare steps you can take mid-flight.

  1. Disinfect your hands thoroughly using antibacterial wipes You do not want to put your dirty plane hands on your face—unless, of course, you’re hoping to break out all over.
  2. Apply another layer of a rich moisturiser Again, you’ll want to avoid hydrating humectants and instead focus on keeping any hydration locked in. A rich, thick moisturiser is perfect for this task.
  3. Keep topping up the face oil as you go Just like your moisturiser, a face oil will help to further moisturise and nourish your skin to prevent excess dryness.
  4. Top up your lip balm regularly An absolute must-have on the flight, you’ll want to reapply your lip care at least every two hours to prevent painful chapping.


Your post-flight skincare routine

how to keep skin hydrated on plane
Photo by Kalos Skincare on Unsplash

Once you touch down at your destination, you’ll want to give your skin some extra TLC as soon as possible.

  1. Cleanse your skin thoroughly Must we reiterate that planes are filthy? Really, you’ll want to hop in the shower and give yourself a thorough cleanse from top to toe, but if you can’t for some reason, prioritise cleansing your face.
  2. Incorporate an exfoliating step Whether you’re using an AHA cleanser or an exfoliating serum, you’ll want to remove any dry flakes to prep your skin for the rest of your routine.
  3. Layer up on the face masks Did we mention that planes are dry? Indeed, post-flight, restoring hydration to your skin should be your very first priority, and there’s no better way to do it than to use a supercharged face mask.READ: 12 Best hydrating face masks for parched skin
  4. Follow up with your normal skincare routine Now that your skin’s hydration levels have been restored, it’s time to go in with your go-to routine. Then, you’re off to the races!


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