not a professional. just crazy.

The 6 Products That Save My Skin on Long-haul Flights

My in-flight happy place. Photo: Rio Viera-Newton

Like most people, I hate flying. But unlike most, it’s not the altitude or the fear of crashing that makes me spiral. You probably know where I’m going here: The thing I hate most is the negative effect it has on my skin. Planes make me feel incredibly dry and tight, and of course, there’s always the inevitable post-flying breakout. Cabin pressure and a massive reduction in humidity levels basically suck everything nice in your (my) skin out of it — causing extreme dehydration and general dullness.

For years, I suffered silently, filing this among the millions of other “it is what it is” travel unpleasantries. It was only when I watched a woman, middle seat in coach, delicately apply a face mask mid-flight that I thought to myself: Why am I not as fearless as this woman? A lot of times, when people find out that I have an excessive in-flight beauty routine, they’ll ask if I ever feel embarrassed or awkward pampering myself between strangers on planes. The answer is no. And anyway, I’ve never received a complaint from my neighbors about my tendency to turn my seat into a full mini-spa. Also, with the exception of spraying myself with a mist (we’ll get to that later), most of my beauty steps are fairly noninvasive. The routine is all about pumping hydration into the skin, and if you’re blemish-prone, moisturizing in a way that preventatively tends to spots. Here are the small-enough-to-get-through-security products I actually refuse to fly without.

When I’m flying, I sub in this Bioderma Micellar Water as a cleanser. I drop a few drops onto a cotton pad and wipe away at my face and neck — this basically allows me to take the initial airplane and airport grime off of my face. It’s also really hydrating and soothing, creating a nice, clean base.

Right after I clean my face with the Bioderma, I pat in (important) a few drops of my SK-II essence all around my face. You guys know I can’t live without my SK-II essence — I got a miniature one from their travel set that has become an in-flight staple for me. This provides my skin with the perfect layer of moisture and soothing to combat the super-dry plane. If this product is (understandably) too expensive, substitute it for the Cosrx Snail Mucin Serum.

I don’t tend to follow my traditional evening or night routine when I’m on a flight, so I avoid my straight blemish or vitamin-C serums and focus more on soothing and hydrating. I typically do that with snail and aloe-vera masks — both of which work wonders for deep hydrating, healing, and calming anything angry (including acne). Be shameless with this — usually, people are too polite to stare, and also you’d be surprised by how many people are familiar with sheet masks. Typical sheet masks will tell you to keep them on for about 15 to 20 minutes, but when I’m on flights, I keep them on for about 45 minutes — my skin needs all the hydration it can get! When I take this mask off, I’ll pat any of the excess treatment into my skin.

When my skin starts to feel a little dry again post-masking, I take two to three drops of this on my palm and pat it into my face. A friend of mine recently raved about this product to me, and I’m so happy I finally decided to give it a try. I’ve incorporated this oil into my everyday routine, but it’s extra incredible on flights. This oil is incredibly nourishing and hydrating, and I’ve personally seen it work wonders on any blemishes or generally irritated skin. I also love how glowy this leaves my skin looking. A new Holy Grail of mine!