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The 7 Products That Save My Skin on Long-Haul Flights

A few ways to help counter dehydration and dullness.

A plane in flight is silhouetted against the 'super blue moon' over Cali, Colombia on January 31, 2018.
LUIS ROBAYO/Getty Images

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.

Bioderma micellar water.

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.

BUY: Bioderma Sinsibio H20 Micellar Water
$7, Amazon

SK-II facial treatment essence.

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.

BUY: SK-II Facial Treatment Essence 2.5 oz.
$60, Amazon

My Beauty masks.

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.

BUY: My Beauty Diary Mask
$20, Amazon

Drunk Elephant facial oil.

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!

BUY: Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil
$72, Amazon

Skyn Iceland eye gels.

About an hour before landing, I’ll throw on these eye patches from Skyn Iceland. These are my new favorites—they help hydrate and bring circulation to my under-eye bags, which are always worsened on long-haul flights. Using them close to when I’m about to get off the plane is important to me, as it allows me to feel more awake and alert when I’m touching down. It can be tricky to feel like a normal person when you get off of a plane—this helps me mentally prepare for my post-plane day.

BUY: Travel Size Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels
$23, Amazon

Lumion skin mist.

Seconds before I’m about to get off of the plane, I’ll give myself a spritz of this Oxygenating Spray from Lumion. I randomly got sent this product and didn’t think much about it. But when I ran out of my Tatcha Dewy Mist, I decided to give it a try and was really impressed with the results. This gives a really nice boost of hydration, and essentially just breathes life back into your skin. I also use this daily to hydrate my face before I apply makeup, dampen my beauty blender, or set my makeup. This mist has a tendency to spray a lot of liquid seemingly out of nowhere, so be mindful of that when using it in the middle seat. I like to lean over when I spray it, so I don’t splash my neighbors.

BUY: Lumion Oxygenating Skin Mist
$28, Amazon

Tata Harper lip treatment.

In general, I’m a bit of a Chap Stick fiend, but I go really in on my usage when I’m flying. I hate the feeling of dry, chapped lips, and this lip balm from Tata Harper, which I randomly tried, has become one of my favorite heavy-duty Chap Sticks.

BUY: Tata Harper Be True Lip Treatment
$32, Amazon