Jet-Set Glow: Your Ultimate Long Flight Skincare Routine

Plane window view with clouds

Air travel has literally shrunk the world. Long-haul flights have become an essential part of modern life, whether you're on a business trip, jet-setting for a vacation, or visiting loved ones across the globe. These lengthy flights, though, can be pretty taxing on your skin. Dry airplane air, low humidity and altitude changes can all leave your skin looking lackluster, flaky and dehydrated. However, with the right measures, you can keep your skin glowing even after a long and turbulent flight. In this article, we'll look at the issues your skin encounters on long trips and give you a step-by-step approach to creating the ideal skincare routine.

The Challenges of Long-Haul Flights on Your Skin

Before we delve into the details of your long

flight skincare

routine, it's important to understand the specific challenges your skin faces while soaring at 30,000 miles. The main culprits include:
  1. Dry Cabin Air

    Inside an airplane cabin, humidity levels are notoriously low, hovering around 20%[1]. In comparison, a comfortable indoor humidity level for humans is between 30 and 50%[1]. Low humidity can cause your skin to lose a lot of moisture, leaving it parched and prone to irritation. Not to mention the fact that 40% of airplane air is recycled and contains germs[3].

  2. Reduced Oxygen Levels

    At cruising altitudes, the skin receives fewer oxygen molecules than what it is accustomed to. Commercial airplanes are pressurized to maintain a cabin altitude equivalent to 6,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level, resulting in lower oxygen levels (compared to sea level)[3]. This pressurization is necessary for passenger comfort and safety during flight to prevent discomfort, altitude sickness, and other health issues[3]. This drop in oxygen levels can make your skin appear dull and fatigued.

  3. Exposure to UV Radiation

    Even if it isn't immediately obvious, flying exposes your skin to damaging UV radiation, especially if you have a window seat. Did you know that UV radiation levels are twice as strong at flying height than on ground level?[4]. Besides sun rays being much more intense at high altitudes, the atmosphere offers less protection against them and this could lead to skin damage as well as premature aging.

  4. Limited Access to Skincare Products

    The size of your carry-on and the limits on liquids and gels limit your in-flight beauty regimen. This makes maintaining a skincare routine while traveling difficult. Now that you understand the obstacles your skin encounters on long-haul flights, let's look at what you can do to keep it fresh and radiant before/during/after the ride.

Step-by-step Long

Flight Skincare Routine

  1. Pre-Flight Skincare Routine

    Rosafa face serum next to the toothbrush in a travel bag

    Your in-flight skincare routine begins before you even board the plane. Proper preparation can make a significant difference in how your skin fares during the flight.

    1. Hydration

      Start by ensuring you're well-hydrated. Drink plenty of water in the days leading up to your flight to help your skin retain moisture during the journey. Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol, as they can dehydrate your body and skin.

    2. Cleansing

      Cleanse your face with a gentle, mildly acidic cleanser. This will remove any makeup or impurities and prep your skin to better accept treatment-based options. If necessary, finalize the cleansing process with an alcohol-free toner suitable for your skin type.

    3. Moisture is key

      To finish your skincare routine effectively, it is important to incorporate a sequence of nourishing products such as essence (optional), serum, and moisturizer. These products should feature active ingredients such as ceramides, glycerin, niacinamide, and squalane because they create a protective barrier against the dry cabin air. If you have a particularly dry skin type, consider incorporating a few drops of facial oil into your skincare routine. Simply apply these drops on top of your moisturizer by gently pressing them onto your skin. This method can provide extra nourishment for your skin.

    4. Eye Cream

      The delicate skin around your eyes is especially vulnerable during flights. Apply an eye cream that targets puffiness and dark circles with a taping motion (using the ring finger) to keep your eyes looking refreshed.

    5. Sunscreen

      Apply a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ broad spectrum sunscreen. UV radiation can penetrate airplane windows, so protecting your skin from harmful rays is crucial.

    6. Lip Balm

      Don't forget your lips! Apply a moisturizing lip balm to prevent chapped lips, which are a common occurrence on long flights.

  2. In-Flight Skincare Routine

    Lady with a face mask drinking coffee on a plane

    The only touch-ups that we recommend doing during a long flight are reapplying your mineral-based sunscreen every 2 hours and, if needed, the lip balm (liberally). Considering the presence of microorganisms and the dry air, it is advisable to reserve your specialized skincare products, often referred to as "rescue formulas," for use in both your pre-flight and post-flight skincare routines.

    To maintain a refreshed appearance upon reaching your destination, consider wearing an eye mask and utilizing earplugs. These practical measures effectively shield you from both light and noise disruptions, ensuring a more comfortable and restful travel experience.

  3. Post-Flight Skincare


    long flight skincare

    routine doesn't end when the plane touches down. Follow these steps upon arrival at your destination:
    1. Thorough Cleanse

      Once you're in your hotel room or accommodations, double cleanse your face to remove any impurities that may have accumulated during the flight.

    2. Skin Exfoliation

      When seeking effective exfoliation products, consider those that incorporate enzymes (papain and bromelain), gemstones (amethyst and tourmaline), or mild acids (lactic and gluconolacto- ne). These ingredients can help improve the texture and appearance of your skin by removing dead cells and promoting a healthier complexion.

    3. Masks

      They can be a valuable addition to your skincare routine after long flights. They provide your skin with a concentrated infusion of ingredients while helping to maintain optimal moisture levels. To make the most of this skincare ritual, consider selecting a hydrating mask and allowing it to work its magic for approximately 15-20 minutes, all the while enhancing your relaxation with eye patches. If your skin feels particularly parched, you can use a sleep mask instead. Two-three days after your flight, you can repeat this step.

    4. Replenish the lost oils

      Lock in moisture and soothe any post-flight dryness with a suitable serum, eye cream, and moisturizer. Finish with a layer of sunscreen if your arrival time was during the day.

    5. Relax and Rehydrate

      Take a relaxing bath or shower to unwind from your journey. Do not forget to pamper your body with a nourishing moisturizer.

How to Bring Skincare on the Plane

When preparing your

travel skincare essentials

, it's crucial to adhere to TSA guidelines for a smooth and hassle-free airport experience. Here are some key points to keep in mind[5]:
  • Liquid Cosmetics: Items like eyeliner, serums, moisturizer, perfume, and nail polish must be packed in resealable containers of 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less. These containers should be placed individually inside a clear, plastic, resealable 1-quart-sized bag, following the 3-1-1 rule. This means each container should be no larger than 3.4 ounces, and all of them should fit comfortably in a single quart-sized bag.
  • Non-Liquid Cosmetics: Solid cosmetics such as balms, lipsticks, and powders are not subject to these liquid restrictions and can be packed without size limitations.
  • Toiletries: If your toiletries are in liquid form, the 3.4-ounce limitation mentioned earlier applies. However, if your toiletries are in solid form (e.g., bar soap or solid deodorant), they are exempt from these restrictions.
As you can see, taking with you

travel-size skincare containers

is the perfect solution to stay compliant with TSA and have access to your beauty must-haves.

Additional Tips for Long Flight Skincare

In addition to the steps outlined above, here are some extra tips to ensure your skin remains in top condition during and after long flights:

  1. Stay Hydrated

    We can't emphasize this enough. Drink plenty of water throughout the flight, and during your stay, to keep your body and skin hydrated. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they can dry you up from the inside-out.

  2. Practice intermittent fasting

    A long flight is the perfect occasion to rest your digestive system. Intermittent fasting during a flight can reduce the risk of jet lag and digestive discomfort by syncing meal times with destination time zones. It may help maintain skin hydration and minimize bloating, promoting a fresher appearance upon arrival. Fasting can also support overall well-being by improving energy levels and promoting better sleep during the flight. If fasting is not an option for you, try eating light foods such as fruits and salads.

  3. Avoid Makeup

    Skip makeup during your flight. If you must wear a bit of color, opt for a light-weight BB cream or a tinted sunscreen. Otherwise, let your skin take a break.

  4. Dress Comfortably

    Wear loose-fitting, breathable clothing to minimize irritation to your skin. Avoid tight waistbands, restrictive collars, and heavy fabrics.

  5. Use a Travel Pillow

    Resting your head against the seat headrest can transfer oils and dirt from your hair to your face. Use a travel pillow to create a barrier between your face and the seat.

  6. Keep moving

    Stretch your legs and walk along the aisle regularly to activate your circulation.

  7. Regularly Apply Hand Cream

    Your hands can also suffer from dryness during a flight. Apply a nourishing hand cream to keep them soft and hydrated.


A long flight doesn't have to mean sacrificing your skin's health and appearance. By preparing your skin before the flight, and following a post-flight skincare regimen, you'll combat the challenges of dry cabin air, low oxygen levels, and UV exposure. So, whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, remember to pamper your skin, and you'll step off the plane feeling rejuvenated and ready to explore your destination. Safe travels! To learn more about how to take the best care of your skin, make sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn for all the latest skincare tips and tricks.

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[1]Air travel advice (

[2]Do Airplanes Recycle Air? Do Airplanes Bring in Fresh Air? - Aero Corner

[3]How is the Oxygen Level Maintained in an Airplane? - Aero Corner

[4]That Sunlight Pouring In Through Your Flight Window Can Be Harmful. Here's Why (

[5]TSA Rules for Cosmetics in Carry-On Luggage | All Getaways

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