What Happens to Your Skin When You Fly?

Trying to relax while flying over the country can be tough when you know several hours of pressurized air and low humidity in the plane’s cabin will parch your skin and turn your eyes itchy and red. The forced inactivity of your long-haul flight will put you at risk for water retention that shows up as a puffy face. And coming closer to the sun will bathe you in more intense UV rays than you ever encountered on any beach.

Stop worrying and prepare a skin care regimen before you take flight. Plan on drinking water before and during the trip to stay hydrated. Stick to your almost normal skin care, especially on long-haul flights. Remove makeup midflight with a gentle facial wipe and follow up with your usual routine. Take along the products that will moisturize your face and protect your eyes, lips and cuticles. Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen.

Dry cabin air wrecks skin.

Most airplane cabins deliver less than half the humidity that makes our skin comfortable. Instead of our accustomed 40 percent to 70 percent humidity, we fly in 20 percent humidity. The impact of seriously dry air can result in dry, flaky, red skin. Or, your skin may overcompensate for the dryness by pumping out too much oil, and you end up with a shiny forehead or zits.

Commercial aircraft tend to be pressurized to an altitude between 6,000 to 8,000 feet, which is the equivalent altitude you might feel standing on top of a mountain. Higher altitudes mean less blood flow to the skin and may make for a dull appearance.

Moisturize, hydrate, and compensate.

Keep drinking water throughout your flight and give your moisturizer a boost. Your moisturizer likely won’t give the results you’d normally expect because lack of humidity in the cabin air gives it nothing to adhere to. Before using your moisturizer, apply a serum that contains hyaluronic acid, which does a great job of binding to water. Reapply both serum and moisturizer every 60 minutes to 90 minutes.

If the flight is long enough, try a moisturizing face mask to counter the effects of pressurized cabin air. Look for a face mask that isn’t messy or complicated and disappears without bothersome cleanup.

Forget about the facial mist. Spritzing doesn’t hydrate your skin. The water spray evaporates and leaves your skin drier.

Protect against intense UV rays.

Flying at high altitudes puts you physically closer to the sun and exposes you to much more intense UV rays even though you are enclosed in the airplane’s cabin. Protect against sun damage and the risk of skin cancer by applying sunscreen if the window shades are up.

Nosebleed, anyone?

Dry airplane air dries out mucus membranes that can cause dry lips, itchy red eyes and nosebleeds. Take along Vaseline or Aquaphor for your lips and nose and moisturizing eyedrops for scratchy eyes. Use the drops every two hours to relieve irritation.

Walk around to reduce post-flight puffiness.

Staying seated and inactive during a long flight causes water retention that shows up in a puffy face upon landing. Get up and walk to reduce the effects of inactivity. Limit eating the in-flight snacks that are loaded with salt to cut down on the bloat.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Skip to content