Five Skin-Care No-Nos While Flying

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There is no doubt about it—traveling on an airplane takes a toll on our skin. We know this because when the plane touches back down on the tarmac, or even the day after, our skin rebels against us. So why is this such a tortured time for our face? San Diego dermatologist Susan Stuart, MD, says, "Our skin dries out from airplane flights because the air is very dry. The outer skin layers may fail to shed away, clogging the skin pores and trapping bacteria in the skin, which can lead to breakouts. If your skin is oily, dry air may cause the skin to produce even more oil as a response, also plugging skin pores, trapping bacteria and causing skin outbreaks."

While it then seems obvious to keep our skin well moisturized during and after the flight, the experts say there are a few other things we must be mindful of when traveling.

Don't Drink Alcohol on the Plane
Unless you want a very “un-happy hour” after your flight, your skin will thank you for not throwing one back. "Alcohol is very dehydrating. While it may help to relax you if you're nervous about flying, the affect of alcohol will be dry skin," says New York dermatologist Rebecca Baxt, MD. So stick to water and read a magazine (NewBeauty anyone?) to relax.

Don't Use A Hydrating Mist
A lot of women think a facial mist is their best skin accessory on a flight, but actually the opposite is true. "Avoid misters as the water from them tends to dry out skin even further," says Dr. Stuart. Instead keep your face hydrated with a moisturizer that contains SPF 30. "And avoid sitting in a window seat to reduce ultraviolet exposure," she says.

Skip the Salty Snacks
Airport food in general is not very skin-friendly. "While peanuts and pretzels may look delicious, salt can cause swelling," warns Dr. Baxt. Instead, plan ahead and pack some snacks like fruits and vegetables. Carrots and apples are both filled with water and will help keep your skin and body hydrated.

Take Off Your Makeup
We know you want to land in style, but you will be doing your skin a grand favor if you keep it clean while in the air. "Airplane air is dry and can exacerbate your makeup's drying-out effects on your skin, which can lead to breakouts and your pores becoming clogged on the flight," says Dr. Baxt.

Don't Neglect Your Eyes
Jet lag always shows through your skin, but mostly in the eyes. To keep them from getting puffy, pack an eye cream that contains caffeine. Dr. Baxt says you can also “carry green tea bags with you on the plane." Then "a half hour before landing, ask the flight attendant for hot water and soak a few minutes. Add ice to cool down the bags, and apply cool green tea bags to your eyelids before landing. The green tea has antioxidants and anti-inflammatories to decrease puffiness so you'll look your best when you land," she says.

Before your next flight, take a peek at what our experts pack when they travel.