The people who think the holidays are a time to relax should email me immediately so they can tell me what I'm doing wrong. Getting off that plane in Ohio, for me, feels what I imagine it must be like for some Hunger Games victor to return to his home district. Relief! But also constantly on guard. With all the diplomacy required of you once you land, your time spent airborne might be your last few hours of solitude. Cherish them.
Also of note come travel season: being inside of an airplane turns your skin into paper. We've had many a Top Shelf cite the all-important in-flight mask, but have you actually ever seen anybody doing a mask on a flight? I haven't—but maybe that's because I fly coach. (It's easier to imagine applying a full face of product if you're Jennifer Aniston flying Emirates.) Pulling off a quick mask in JetBlue economy seating is no small task, but worth it if you're up for the challenge. Holiday stress awaits; may as well get some necessary skincare out of the way while you can.
First, what not to bring: Clay masks on the plane are nonstarters. This is not the time to deep clean, but a time to hydrate and protect. Creamy moisture masks, or even heavy-duty moisturizers applied liberally—like Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream—are the only correct answers here. However, as any frequent flyer knows, traveling with liquids can get dicey (and no one wants to see their La Mer get tossed out in security) which is why single-serving mask pods are great for on the plane. Nügg makes an assortment— this one has chamomile and shea butter, which are good for calming down skin. The Moisturizing Moon Mask pods are another solid choice, especially because you can rub the excess into your face instead of rinsing. More glow, less work. Whichever pods you go for, if you remember to bring two, they're easy to share with the person next to you. The last time I offered a skincare product to my seatmate, a woman named Pam (!) graciously accepted, but always use context clues to suss out this type of situation. Pam ordered some white wine before we reached cruising altitude, so I figured she was game from the start.
But beyond handy, miniature-sized packaging, there's also the option of going for something that's full size, but more targeted, like a set of eye gels. I look for ones with hydrating glycerin, like Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels. Also nice: a cooling rollerball pen, like First Aid Beauty's Detox Eye Roller, which is the most discreet option of all and is especially useful when you need to look perky after several hours of ricocheting through the air in a metal tube.
As far as sheet masks on planes go, it's a matter of pros and cons. Pro: They're TSA approved and easy to pack! Con: You may terrify other passengers. If you're shameless, self-assured or in possession of a window seat, BioRepublic's Aloe Rescue Revitalizing Mask is both face and cost-effective, leaving skin plumped-up and soft.
If you're one of the lucky ones that can fall asleep on a plane, Slip's Silk Sleeping Mask is perfection. Not only does it feel like, well, silk, but it's easy on the eyes in every way that high-quality silk can soothe and relax your exhausted skin. Plus, it also preserves all that moisture you just put in in your face rather than sucking it out, as lower-caliber masks are wont to do. Don't undo all your hard work—let the alcohol at the holiday party do that.
Photo via Chrissy Teigen's Instagram.