Beauty Secrets From Flight Attendants

For many frequent fliers, an "in-flight beauty routine" can be summed up as this: Change into sweatpants, drink a lot of water and maybe do a sheet mask (when everyone else is sleeping). For the flight crew at Cathay Pacific Airways, which operates daily nonstop flights from major North American cities to Hong Kong, looking polished at 30,000 feet for 16-plus hours on end is just another part of the job. So needless to say, when they're doling beauty advice and product recommendations, we're taking notes. Below, six long-haul flight attendants reveal the secret to always looking great, what they avoid in the air and the products that never fail them.

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Joyce Chang
I've been with Cathay Pacific for four years and I fly from San Francisco to Hong Kong, which is a 14-hour, 30-minute flight. 


Before I work a flight, I always do a full skin care routine, starting with a sheet mask—any hydration mask will do. Then I use Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II for my face and La Mer the Eye Concentrate as eye cream. I always follow with a very rich moisturizer—right now I’m in love with Crème De La Mer, which keeps my foundation from caking. After that is sunscreen: Shiseido’s Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion. Even though we always operate a night fight, it’s very important to apply sunscreen because the UVA rays are very strong at 30,000 feet.

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One thing I would like to point out is that a good moisturizing lip balm and lipstick are key because no one wants to see dry chapped lips. I use Jo Malone Vitamin E Lip Conditioner and YSL’s Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stain. The YSL lip stain is very lightweight and long-wearing, which is exceptionally good for work. I don’t need to worry about touching up all the time.

Before I style my hair, I always use Big Sexy Hair Powder Play Volumizing and Texturizing Powder. The dry powder comes in very handy when comes to styling. I can totally skip teasing my hair and still give my hair a nice volume, as well as keep my hair oil-free even for such a long flight.

One thing I always pick up in Hong Kong is KissMe mascara and eyeliner. It’s a Japanese cosmetics brand  and the only eyeliner and mascara that I use regularly for work, as it water-, oil- and smudge-proof for hours on end. 

Tess Cabalar
I've been with Cathay Pacific for 28 years and I fly from San Francisco to Hong Kong.


Before the flight, I use L'Oréal Revitalift Anti-Aging + Firming Aqua Milky Toner followed by a vitamin C serum. For years I have been religious about moisturizing my face and had been using L'Oréal Revitalift Eye Cream, as well as their Day and Night cream. 

During my days off, I treat my hair once a week with coconut oil. I microwave a tablespoon of coconut oil for one minute and massage it into my hair, leaving it on for at least 20 minutes, then I take a shower. The coconut oil keeps my hair supple and healthy. It also makes the color look more vibrant. 

For makeup, I use L'Oréal 24 hr. Foundation Infallible Pro-Matte, which stays longer than the other foundations I have tried. I usually use NYX Highlight and Contour Palette to sculpt my cheekbones. For blush, I use NARS Orgasm, and for eye shadow, I use the Urban Decay Naked Palette. You can never go wrong with a red lipstick and I use The Red Rouge Cream Lipstick from Sephora. I swear by it. This lipstick never lets me down on the ground or in the sky. As the air in the aircraft is dry, I use Maybelline Baby Lips to keep my lips moisturized.

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Eyeliner makes your eyes pop and I use L'Oréal Infallible Lacquer Liner in Black. Use a light hand when applying this gel. Maybelline Pumped-Up Colossal Volum' Express mascara makes my lashes look thicker and longer. Apply it to your lashes like you are writing a letter Z to separate the lashes and prevent clamps.

In flight, whenever we are given more that three hours rest, I make sure I clean my face before I go to sleep and moisturize my face and lips. I also drink plenty of water. For my hands, I make my own hand salve (Vaseline petroleum jelly with a few drops of eucalyptus oil and lavender), which really helps with dry hands.

I always start my day with green tea or earl grey tea. When I'm done with the tea bags, I leave them in the fridge or galley chiller for at least 25 minutes and then place them over my eyes to quickly reduce dark circles and puffiness. This is an amazingly inexpensive and natural way to help your tired eyes, especially after a long flight.

Connie Ting
I've been with Cathay Pacific for eight years and I fly from Los Angeles to Hong Kong.


I always start my pre-flight routine with Origins Drink Up 10 Minutes Mask. I swear by Laura Mercier Foundation Primer, which helps control the oil and keep my skin hydrated at the same time.

I also love Osis+ by Schwarzkopf Dust It mattifying powder to create and maintain the volume of my hair.

To touch up in flight, I use Aesop Immediate Moisture Hydrosol facial spray (available in our First Class cabins) to hydrate my skin from time to time. I'll use facial tissue to absorb the excessive oil before applying the spray. I also love the travel-size Vaseline Rosy Lips from Watsons in Hong Kong. It’s a rose tinted lip treatment with a rose and red berry scent.

Virginia Liang
I’m based in New York and fly the 16-hour New York to Hong Kong route. 


I have combination skin and after I wash my face, I'll put on Sofina whitening toner, followed by Laneige Water Bank Serum. For eyes, I really recommend Kiehl’s Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Eye Cream. The last step of my skin care is Dior Hydra-Life Pro-Youth Comfort Cream. It's very hydrating without any stickiness.

For makeup, I really recommend a primer from a Japanese brand called LB Lady Bird. It has SPF50/PA++++, which I believe to be an excellent product to protect your skin against radiation while helping to correct skin tone. There is another important product that I can't go to work without putting on, which is Urban Decay Eye Primer Potion. It allows eye makeup to last up to 24 hours without any smudging. For eyes, Dior Eye Shadow is one of my favorite eye makeup products. It's very pigmented. I've tried so many brands of lipsticks before and recently I found that the Elvin+Elvis Liquid Rouge is pretty hydrating and long-lasting.

During a flight, I always keep some Q-tips, Melvita Rose Mist, concealer, and some samples of eye cream or lotion in my makeup bag in order to freshen up.

Cynthia Tsang
I’m based in Vancouver and fly the Vancouver to Hong Kong route.


My pre-flight must is pretty simple—coconut oil—but it really works throughout the entire long-haul flight. Even when I’m back to my hotel after a 15-hour flight and travel time, my body still feels hydrated if I applied coconut oil.

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During the flight, I drink a ton of water and bring fruit to snack on. We have crew rest during long-haul flights, and I always try to sleep during this time. I also use a rose mist to keep my skin hydrated during the flight.

Many crew members love a vibrant lipstick to match our uniforms. I swear by anything by Bite Beauty, which stays on for the entire flight. 

Just as important to my beauty routine is what I do after I land. Masks are key. I either use a sheet mask or Laneige Water Sleeping Mask to help rejuvenate my skin so I wake up feeling fresh and moisturized the next day. 

Janet Cheung
 I’ve been with Cathay Pacific for 10 years and I fly from Toronto to Hong Kong and back again approximately three times each month.


I rely on Estèe Lauder serum to keep my skin moisturized for a 15-hour flight and help it retain its elasticity. Before I get on the plane, I also try to do a hair treatment mask at home, which keeps my hair shiny and smelling great. I always use MAC products because they’re long-wearing and provide complete coverage. MAC also has the best lipstick and doesn’t dry my lips, even in the air.

Over the years, I’ve discovered at the lower cabin pressure can affect my digestion, so I try not to eat too much in flight and I drink a lot of water to prevent bloat and keep hydrated. 


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