How To Enjoy Your Next Long Flight

Catbird Cat Eye Mask
Catbird Cat Eye Mask
Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes
Dr Bronner Organic Lavender Hand Sanitizer
Bliss ‘Triple Oxygen’ Instant Energizing Eye Mask
Bliss ‘Triple Oxygen’ Instant Energizing Eye Mask
Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentrè
Cle de Peau Beaute Concealer
Tarte Cheek Stain
Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara Black
Colgate Wisp Peppermint Mini Toothbrushes
Arm & Hammer Essentials Deodorant in Fresh
Jo Malone 'English Pear & Freesia' Cologne
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream
Caudalie Beauty Elixir
Chanel Hand Cream

You want to know how to enjoy your next flight? I’ll let you in on a little secret: fly private. But if you, like me, have only experienced the joys of private jets through episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, there are a few tricks to help make your next several hours crammed uncomfortably close to a complete stranger a little bit better.

Step One: Get a good seat

You have three shots at this. First, when booking your flight, do your best to pick a choice seat. Think aisle, window, emergency exit, or the first row of the plane—basically any seat that is not in the middle of the middle of a 747 right next to the bathroom (trust me, I’ve been there). If you’re not happy with your first available selection, try seeing what’s open when you check in online. And if you’re still pulling the short stick, ask the agents at the airport. See if they have any free upgrades! It never hurts to ask…

Step Two: Prepare your carry-on

It’s hard to keep track of what is now allowed in your one personal and one carry-on item, but basically it boils down to no weapons (or anything that could be interpreted as such), nothing flammable (but lighters are ok?), and no liquid in a container larger than 3.4 ounces (placed in a one quart plastic bag with other liquids for easy x-ray access). Be sure to pack the basics—and not too much more. A good book, your computer, phone, chargers, your wallet (and passport if necessary), a pen, headphones, and, of course, lots of beauty supplies to help you look your freshest upon arrival.

Step Three: Get settled

Stow your carry-on and get what you need for your seat. If you’re on a longer flight in which sleep is desired, this would be an ideal time to pop that sleep aid. I’m partial to melatonin. Ambien freaks me out and both Benadryl and NyQuil make me feel like I’ve been on a bender far past their supposed time frame. I find that even half a pill does the trick for me. Since you have very limited control of the light in your general area, consider an eye mask. And if you’re going to look silly, why not make the most of it and get a fun one? (I wore mine backwards...oops.)

Step Four: Sleep as much as possible

The less time you’re awake to realize how terrible and boring commercial flying is, the better. I’d recommend setting an alarm so that you have ample time for steps five through eight. And going through customs and/or baggage claim half asleep seems like a recipe for misery.

Step Five: Hydrate

Hours of circulated air = dehydration. Grab a cup of water, hydrate your body, and then begin to hydrate your skin. Full disclosure, you might look a bit like a crazy person, but unless one of the Backstreet Boys is sitting next to you, who cares, right? Begin with a cleansing wipe to get off any grime that may have developed during your slumber. If you’re a germaphobe, a nice spray of disinfectant is your first step to get your hands face-ready. Then reach for your Bliss Eye Masks to depuff and “energize” your under-eyes. Lastly, go for a rich moisturizer like Embryolisse to seal in total hydration.

Step Six: Makeup!

I’m not one to sport a full face most days anyway, but when applying either in a tiny plane seat or crammed in the plane bathroom, I stick to what’s necessary to help me look the freshest (i.e. under-eye concealer, blush, and mascara).

Step Seven: The optional extra mile

If you took a redeye, you likely missed two brushings. If you can’t quite wrap your head around a full toothbrush and toothpaste excursion, then Colgate Wisps will get your mouth back into in-person-talking shape. Plus, an Altoid or two never hurt. If you think you're smelling a bit ripe elsewhere, a quick swab of deodorant and perfume will mask your stench. Remember though, this is a temporary fix—not in lieu of a shower! That is Step One upon hotel arrival.

Step Seven: Refresh

You’re almost done. You’re a few minutes from stowing your tray tables and putting your seat in its upright position. Since your teeth are sparkly and clean, it’s now time to moisturize your lips. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream is a personal favorite to ensure a long-lasting, pillow soft pout. A quick spritz of Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir will take you from fresh to radiant. And because you’re done touching your face, your hands are now open for hydration.

Step Eight: Get Off That Plane!

And enjoy your vacation, business trip, return home, whatever.

—Elizabeth Brockway

Photos by Elizabeth Brockway.

Oh, and P.S. follow the rules (especially when they’re presented in such a delightful manner):

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • ITGEunice

    You look soo cool in the eye mask pic. Hair like a magical unicorn.

    • ITGElizabeth

      you're magical :)

  • ITGElizabeth

    I've always wanted to try drinking on a plane-- it just seems so glamorous and "adult"-- but I always end up getting to nervous and choosing water instead. #Hardcore

    • Beth Jackson

      For short trips (any distance where jet lag isn't a concern), there's nothing better than a G&T. But yeah, not the best idea when I consider the extension in jet lag recovery time, which was really marked.

    • Jane T.

      It's only glamourous until they hand you a mini bottle and a soda can...

  • ITGElizabeth

    Embryolisse is just the best, isn't?

    • therealblonde

      I always bring a tube too - and use it as hand cream (sanitizing gels are drying!) and hair cream too.

    • overanalyzer

      You're so pretty, btw :)

      • ITGElizabeth

        omggggg. thank you! :)

  • Misgina

    In the bathroom: Dry Shampoo, preferably the non-aerasol kind. Plus, a quick swipe of facial wipes on underarms, neck, and underboob does a great deodorizing job. My preferred sleep aid on long flights is dramamine, which is magical and also great for turbulence.

    • ITGElizabeth

      The under-boob swipe. Such a good call.

  • Vivian Darkbloom

    These are great suggestions! I want to try that Bliss mask the next time I fly. You mentioned headphones, but I think they should be emphasized. Headphones that cover your entire ear, so that you can use them to block out sound, as well as listen to music or whatever, and that are comfortable enough to sleep in. Also, layers. One thing I hate is the feeling of the fabric of the seat touching my skin, so I always wear a cardigan or jacket (because it may be hot when I get off the plane) and leggings or something else that covers my entire leg. And, finally, I always wear shoes that are easy to take off and put back on. Usually heels if I'm bringing them, since they take up more space if you pack them in your luggage.

    • ITGElizabeth

      Yes! All great points. I tend to wear a scarf because it's an easy additional layer and always make sure to have clean (if not cute) socks on

    • Class Versus Sass

      Layers yes, flights are artic

  • charmystique

    I find applying a coat of Laneige's Water Sleeping Pack on my face before a flight does wonders in keeping my skin bouncy and hydrated.

    • ITGElizabeth

      I'll have to try this out!

  • Karla Orbegozo

    Help! Anyone know if there are Embryolisse retailers in Québec, or anywhere in Canada? I've been hearing beautiful things about their lait-crème but I don't know where to go :(

    • Alaska

      Net a porter!!!

      • ITGElizabeth

        Yes-- definitely Net-A-Porter. And if they're out, I would check Amazon (they have everything you could ever need plus 12 weird recommendations of things you never knew existed)

        • Karla Orbegozo

          .....okay so I just discovered net-a-porter and the amazing brands they carry because of y'all.
          *cries and hugs her credit card.*

    • Élora

      I was at Urban Outfitters the other day in the Quartier Dix30 and they had Embryolisse! Pleasant surprise. And they probably have it at the Montréal downtown store too. (Don't know if you're in the Mtl area?)

      • Karla Orbegozo

        Yeah I saw it at the Urban Outfitters downtown but it's always the mask and some other thing. I have never seen the lait-crème in their stores. Thanks though :)

  • haints

    What diameter is your septum chain from Colby? I'm kind of feeling like mine isn't long and/or visible enough, and I'm thinking about going back for the longer one. I like the way yours looks!

    • ITGElizabeth

      I forgot to put mine on today so will have to check when I get home but will report back stat!

  • pilbobaggins

    Christ those Bliss eye masks are spenny, does anyone know a good alternative?

    • Class Versus Sass

      they are worth every penny, but you can try the garnier under eye swipe thing for $8.00

  • Athena

    I use the website seatguru to see what seats are good on different planes. They also point out which seats are bad seats and so on! So it’s worth a quick look!

    • ITGElizabeth

      What a great tip. I'm definitely going to do this from now on!

  • Carm

    Excellent tips Elizabeth. I always forget to bring melatonin for long flights. It will def be on packing list. I second Clarins Flash balm and the Caudalie elixir.

  • overanalyzer

    The best flight I ever had (LA to Sydney) was one where I took a valium, had a glass of red wine, and woke up with one hour left before landing.

    • Alyssa Gapske

      That sounds amazing.

    • Beth Jackson

      Perfect! My worst flight(s) was Auckland to London via San Francisco and Frankfurt, with at least 4 G&T's and a few zopiclones, sitting next to my husband who had announced 1 month previously that he had wanted to separate. Took me a few days to recover from that trip enough to leave the house.

  • katekiko

    This is less cosmetic than it is just health related but you have to make sure to move around too! On a recent flight from Lima to LAX I got MAJOR cankles thanks to my tight jeans and my being asleep for the entire what, 9 hour flight? So I would say loose, comfy, cute clothes (brandy melville is a go-to), a ton of water, like at least a liter for 4+ hour flights, and la roche posay's thermal water for the face are your best bets. So refreshing!

  • Bella

    I actually love flying. I don't seemt to need any special gadgets, masks, beauty products or whatnot in order to survive and look normal LOL. I am usually so excited about where I'm going. Booking a good seat, making sure your carry on contains enough to keep you busy, drinking enough water and stretching occasionally makes it an enjoyable time during which you can simply relax.

    • ITGElizabeth

      I tend to get so stressed about travel-- not necessarily a fear of flying, but just an anxiety about making sure everything goes off without a hitch-- that I forget how amazing it is to fly! I love sitting by the window if possible and can seriously spend the entire flight looking out the window and watching the world below me (sorry for the intense cheeseball sentence there at the end...)

  • a

    I'm from NZ and live in London so I've flown this route a bit as well. Another tip I would add is go with an airline that has easily accessible showers at the transit airport. I flew with Singapore airlines recently, and the shower at Singapore airport was the best money I've spent in a long time. It made the trip so much better.

  • Katherine Li Johnson

    I think it would be great for you guys to do a piece on supplements/beauty products for frequent flyers! Ie. Chlorophyll and SKII masks :)

  • Class Versus Sass

    love this

  • Clever Girl Reviews

    I really can't wear makeup of any sort on a flight. My eyes often water so even eye makeup is out. Towlettes are great though! I'll use them every where for a little pick me up. I also need eye drops. For a chic exit, I will don my biggest Armani glasses, a huge scarf, a ballet bun, and a tinted lip product!

  • pamb

    Was it from ITG that I watched a mesmerizing video of a woman and her multiple step program for preparing her face for a long haul flight? Amazing, but not realistic. I wipe my face and feet, pull out a travel size bottle of baby oil and slather my feet and put on slip resistant fuzzy socks. Apply lip balm and hand cream and I'm done.

  • JennyWren

    One good tip is never to fly in an underwired bra. It's just a bad idea! If you must wear yoga pants or similar (and I generally do) wearing a denim shirt or jacket on top is a great way to stop your outfit from looking too sloppy.

    Also, even though they make you look daft, flight aids are a good thing. I could never sleep through a flight until I got one of those inflatable neck-rest things.

  • inubiyamarsha

    I spray my face every hour with organic rose water, wipe hands with baby wipes from Rossman, no heavy eating except fruits, drink gazillion litres of water and have a tiny bottle of Tom's mouth wash to swish and finally clean with almond oil, tea tree oil mix.

  • Gabriella

    Does anyone have any tips on how to prevent the blockage and aches of the ear that come whenever I fly? I seem to be the only one amongst my friends that suffers from this, and it lasts for days on end. Its gotten to a point where I don't want to fly anymore.

    • ITGElizabeth

      Yes! It really is terrible. For me, it tends to happen more when I'm congested and really kicks in on take off and landing when the altitude is changing rapidly. If I'm worried it's going to happen, I ask the flight attendants to place a wet paper towel in a cup and heat it up (just microwave for 30 seconds or so) and then I hold the cup with the paper towel against my ear and that helps with the pressurization. You looks silly and seem a bit crazy asking the flight attendants, but it really helps. The do it pretty frequently for little kids.

    • Ginger

      Earplanes ear plugs and pseudo-ephedrine tablets

    • Guest

      My sister, dad, and I all have this problem when we fly. Especially if we're congested. Taking a Sudafed right before takeoff usually helps (and about 30 min before landing if it's a long enough flight). If it's more serious or if you already feel congested before flying, then absolutely use Afrin nose spray (don't double up on Afrin and Sudafed as I accidentally did once - you will feel like you took speed and are about to have a heart attack all at once, which is literally hell when you're on an airplane). You can buy it at any drugstore and they make a non-drip version that I like best. Also, as someone else pointed out, make sure to keep the pressure in your eardrums equalized by plugging your nose and blowing hard (if one ear gives you more trouble than the other you can tilt your head so that ear is facing up as you do this). You'll feel your eardrum "inflate," which means that the passage is clear. Doing this during descent helps a lot and I find if I don't do this my ears stay "plugged" for at least a day. If it's a persistent problem and it's worth it to you, you can have a doctor insert little tubes in your eardrum that allows the pressure to equalize.

  • Heather P.

    Great post! I'm planning to take some long flights in the next few months, and can use all the help I can get!

  • Kalliope

    Water's great, electrolytes are much better.

  • Cloud Nine

    Lovely post but everyone please please please don't take a sleeping pill on long haul flights. I am a student of aviation so I know, if you take a sleeping pill on the flights it can cause death! This is no joke, your blood vessels shrink on flights due to the pressure and temperature and taking a pill would loosen your muscles which means you won't be moving for a few hours and that could lead to blood clots and if they travel to your heart or lungs then serious things could happen, just as a warning, not trying to scare anybody.


Melatonex Melatonin with Vitamin B6 Tablets
Catbird Cat Eye Mask
Neutrogena Makeup Remover
Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes
Dr. Bronner
Dr Bronner Organic Lavender Hand Sanitizer
Bliss ‘Triple Oxygen’ Instant Energizing Eye Mask
Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentrè
Cle de Peau Beaute
Cle de Peau Beaute Concealer
Tarte Cheek Stain
Too Faced
Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara Black
Colgate Wisp Peppermint Mini Toothbrushes
Arm & Hammer
Arm & Hammer Essentials Deodorant in Fresh
Jo Malone London
Jo Malone 'English Pear & Freesia' Cologne (1 oz.)
Elizabeth Arden
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream
Caudalie Beauty Elixir
Chanel – Precision Body Excellence Nourishing and Rejuvenating Hand Cream