Tis the season for airline travel.
I'll get to what happens to your skin and how to protect it during the flight but first things first, the conditions of the average airplane. Frankly, planes are nothing short of disgusting although a necessary evil. Simply put they are a breeding ground for bacteria. Around your seat you are prone to MRSA, E. coli, the common cold, flu, staph infections and these can last days and sometimes months on a surface. The dirtiest places on an airplane? The armrest, seat pocket, the air control button, tv screen, bathroom (every single square inch of it), airline blankets and pillows, seat belts, tray tables, window shades and the floor. Don't forget to carry hand sanitizer! When you do get settled into your seat sanitize your hands every time you touch a surface. I even carry alcohol wipes to sanitize my phone.
Now, what happens to your skin in flight? Bottom line is your skin gets dehydrated because there is little to no moisture in the air. Pimples anyone? Yup, likely because you touched one of the unsanitary surfaces on the plane and then your face. Don't be hard on yourself because everyone does that. Also, the air on planes is not humidified which leads to your skin producing more oil because it's so dry. Eating salty foods (oh those little bags of peanuts) and drinking alcohol contribute to dry skin an excess oil production.
So how do I protect my skin during a flight? I have no shame. I do the exact same thing every time before I get on a plane. I shower the night before and right before I leave for the airport. I wash my face first with an oil, Eminence Organics Stone Crop Cleansing Oil ($52), Dermalogica's Precleanse ($42) or Sephora Collection Supreme Cleansing Oil ($15) and then something with glycolic or salicylic acid. I like to prep my skin for the inevitable. Try Image Skincare's Ageless Cleanser (glycolic acid, $28) or Murad's Clarifying Cleanser (salicylic acid, $30). Next, I use a hydrating serum. My go to is Image Skincare's Anti-Oxidant Balancing Serum ($50) or Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse Ultimate Hydro Gel ($39). Then, I move to a mask. Yes, I wear a mask on the plane. I usually choose something that is clear so TSA doesn't give me a side eye. E.L.F Hydrating Gel Mask ($11.99), Dermalogica's Skin Hydrating Masque ($43), Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Mask Extreme Detoxifying Hydrator ($52) are some good options. I have this on before I even get to the airport. After I land and get settled into my hotel I get in the shower, wash my hands and remove my mask. I then wash my face with one of the above mentioned cleansers or Image Skincare's Vital C Cleanser ($28).
Second to last step is apply an oil. I like The Ordinary's Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil ($11.50), Coconut Oil ($12), Oil of Olay Regenerist Luminous Facial Oil ($26.99) or Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil ($40). I like to apply the oil in place of a moisturizer because I apply a heavy amount of oil to my skin. I rely so heavily on oils because I consider them food for the skin and because oil attracts oil. It's a magnet for congestion and excess oil. If I'm traveling I want to bring up any new congestion early and use a spot treatment quickly to reduce it. If I feel a pimple coming on I use Dermalogica's Daily Clarifying Mattifier ($49) on the affected area. I find it usually takes new travel induced pimples 1-2 days to completely go away. After day one I resume my usual morning and evening skincare routine including the spot treatment. This is what has always worked for me and the clients I have recommended this routine to.