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My Preflight Beauty Routine That Ensures I Land With Clear Skin

Photo: Rio Viera-Newton

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2019, but we’re republishing it because it’s enabled for on-site shopping (and we figured many of us could use a refresher on how to prep your skin for air travel after many months of staying home). You can read more about our on-site shopping tool here.

If you’re prone to acne or eczema — or, in my case, both — you know how harsh flying can be on the skin. The dry air can lead to tightness and irritation, and the lack of moisture in the cabin can cause your skin to overproduce oil and generate breakouts. More than once I’ve touched down, looked in a mirror, and found a brewing cystic pimple on my chin and a scaly red patch on my cheek.

But canceling my travel plans in order to keep my skin flawless would be excessive, even for me. I used to attempt to prevent plane-induced skin issues by piling products onto my face in-flight: I’d tap on snail essence, do a sheet mask, oil my cuticles, and use a lip scrub to get rid of flakiness. Lately, I’ve been finding it’s all too much for me — especially if it’s an early or late flight and I just want to sit down and pass out. So I decided to quit in-flight treatments entirely and created an intensive preflight treatment; that way, I can get my skin ready before I head to the airport, feeling confident I’ve done everything in my power to prevent breakouts and eczema flare-ups, then put on my neck pillow and drift off to sleep. Below, my go-to four-step routine that protects my skin just as effectively as my in-flight spa did.

This is the serum to use before flights. Though it’s ultra-thick, my skin drinks it up immediately — after applying it, my face feels smooth and supple. This product includes vitamin E and linoleic acids, both of which are meant to heal and moisturize dry, damaged skin, and antioxidants, meant to protect skin from environmental stressors (like pollution, or, in this case, disgusting plane air). Basically, it locks in good things for your skin and protects it from the bad. Before my flight, I rub half a dropper of this in between my hands and press it all over my face, and when I step off the plane my skin still looks hydrated and nourished and doesn’t even have a touch of redness or inflammation.

Then I apply a sleeping pack for an extra boost of nourishment and to ensure my Dr. Loretta is locked in. Sleeping packs, if you don’t know, are like a combination of an evening moisturizer and a mask — they are ultra-hydrating and include potent brightening, healing, or anti-aging ingredients that you wouldn’t typically find in your evening moisturizer. This one from Cosrx, for instance, is rich and moisturizing and also uses honey (an anti-inflammatory) to combat any kind of redness, acne, or irritation. It’s the perfect treatment for combating and healing breakouts or any kind of skin irritation. This is not an everyday product (it’s an intensive!), but it’s really and truly perfect preflight.

My under-eyes get extremely puffy, dry, and itchy during and after my flight. It’s a horrible feeling. So before I leave the house, and once my sleeping pack properly absorbs, I really pack on eye cream to ensure that my under-eyes stay hydrated and soothed. I love my trusty Ensilia Eye Cream: It’s so soothing and hydrating (way more hydrating than my Drunk Elephant C Tango, for context, but just as brightening). It has collagen for plumping, shea butter for moisturizing, and niacinamide for brightening — so your eyes look awake, instead of like dry little slits, when you land.

This is the best lip treatment in the game, period. It’s insanely rich and moisturizing — way more than Laneige, in my opinion — and gets rid of (and prevents!) any flakiness, dryness, or tightness. I lather this on before flights so that my lips can soak it up during and are nice and plump when I land.

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My Preflight Beauty Routine That Ensures I Land Acne-Free