How To Avoid The Dreaded Post-Flight Breakout


Labor Day Weekend is fast approaching and you've got a lot on your plate. To-do lists are helpful in situations like this, so I took the liberty of writing one out for you:

  1. Get ahead on that work thing you've been avoiding so you don't accidentally drop your phone into the pool obsessively checking your email.
  2. Slowly start increasing your rosé stamina.
  3. Write down everything you knew about airplane skincare on a piece of paper and light it on fire as a symbolic gesture honoring what you are about to learn on the rest of this page.

Let me explain: Most airplane beauty stories are a frenzy of sheet masks and 3 oz. bottles of mist. That approach is...fine. I've never seen anyone mask on a plane, but if you're committed to doing it, that's your business. Go in good health. While I may not ascribe to the showier side of in-flight skincare, that certainly doesn't mean you shouldn't come prepared to treat your face before takeoff. Why else would the new Delta planes give you a whole caboodle filled with Malin+Goetz products if not to suggest that it is mandatory to use them? Seriously, the Delta first class kits sound sick.

All of this is to say that moisturization while traveling is paramount, but it's not the end of the story. Turns out, you need a small arsenal of targeted products to combat the laundry list of terrible things that can happen to your skin while flying. Luckily all those things are very portable. Read on if you'd like to arrive at your final destination without worrying about zits this time.

The air is the enemy

Everyone knows plane air is dry—the humidity gets down to about 20% (for comparison, the average humidity in New York hovers around the 60s). But what you might not know is that the lack of moisture in the air could lead to you feeling greasier by the end of the flight—not drier. This is because dry air is also greedy: It zaps everything and anything of its water content, including your skin. (It also might render your travel-sized mist irrelevant. Sorry 'bout it.) To compensate, your skin may produce more oil in the span of a few hours.

But that oil is also the enemy

Mainly because it carries bacteria with it—bacteria that can cause you to break out. Those little white cocktail napkins make great blotters in case of emergency. Or bring your own. I'm partial to the Tatcha papers because they're super fancy.

Preventative measures are your friends

Remember that oil I just talked about? So, it's bad on its own, but it's doubly bad when it gets trapped under any dead flakes on your skin's surface. This is the real culprit of any onset vacation breakouts you may have experienced. But there's any easy way to combat this: peel pads! Before you fly! Take a moment pre-boarding (or at least before takeoff) and chemically exfoliate those dead skin cells away. Gently though, because you don't want any residual redness. Dr. Dennis Gross makes a good, portable two-step option. For a complete sensory experience for you and your seatmate, there's Skyn Iceland's Nordic Skin Peel pads that clear your complexion and your sinuses. And the Cane+Austin Miracle Pads are insane—just make sure your skin can handle the unprecedented 30% glycolic.

Prepare to get deep

After the glycolic, I like to follow up with a serum—once you've peeled, it's easier to deliver ingredients deeply into the dermis. While I'd usually recommend Nelsons Acne Gel for this (homeopathic, I know, but I'm still buying it), flying calls for a hyaluronic acid of some sort. Immunocologie makes a travel set and their Hyaluronic Acid Serum is simple and to the point, but still very effective! Wipe the excess on the back of your hands so you can look young forever.

OK, now you can mask if you want

Now that you've properly prepped your skin. Feels good, right? This step is preferable with a mask that you don't have to, or want to, wash off. So basically any heavy-ish moisturizer will do the trick. The Rose Stem Cell Mask in the Peter Thomas Roth Mask Sampler Kit is tiny and perfect. Spring for all five and you're set for the rest of your trip, too.

—Emily Ferber

Photo via Gigi Hadid's Instagram.

Team Glossier compiled a checklist for everything you should bring on your next flight—peep it over here.