Forget About an In-Flight Skin Routine.

Forget About an In-Flight Skin Routine.

It’s a popular thing on Youtube or Instagram or wherever, the in-flight skincare routine. We’ve watched many of them ourselves, watching as influencers board their flights, get comfortable in first or business class,  and pull out their “in-flight” routines, commencing on their multi-step routines, complete with masking and layering on products.

We’re going to confess something here, and it might not be the most popular opinion. These in-flight routines? They just don’t seem practical, especially for most of us non-influencer people. Most of us travel via economy, and there frankly isn’t enough room for our legs and bags, much less for an in-flight skincare routine. If we’re lucky, we’re in an aisle or by the window, but, wherever we’re seated, we’re basically crammed in next to someone, and it just doesn’t seem feasible to do any kind of skincare, much less a multi-step routine complete with masking and layering on products.

Does that mean our skin at a disadvantage because we can’t do an in-flight routine even if we wanted to?

The simple answer is no.

To take it a step further, we’re going to take an even more controversial angle here and actually advise against doing an in-flight routine. Our reasoning is simple: airplanes are filthy, and everything is recycled. The air is recycled. The water is recylced (and comes from a tank). You’re sitting in a closed space with roughly a hundred people, any number of whom might be sick, and people are coughing and sneezing and blowing their noses. No matter how polite people are, making the effort to sanitize their hands and not touch their germy hands to shared surfaces, we know that there are human limits to how well people can contain themselves.

So why would you even want to do an in-flight routine?

pre-flight routine textures

Instead, do a hydrating routine before your flight.

Do your routine before you board your flight. Ideally, you can do this in the privacy of your own space before you head to the airport, but you can easily do a sinkless routine at the airport. If you’re taking an evening flight and have been wearing makeup all day, remove your makeup. Use something like Koh Gen Do’s Cleansing Water Cloths to remove your makeup and clear impurities from your skin.

Even if you’re taking a daytime flight, if your flight is a few hours long, we recommend opting for a heavier moisturizer — and it’s important that you moisturize because you want to get all the benefits of the occlusives in moisturizers to seal in hydration. After cleansing, we recommend you tone to balance the pH level of your skin (May Coop’s Raw Sauce is fantastic — plus, it comes in a travel-friendly mini size!), following up with a super hydrating serum like the Miwaji Hyalu Serum Veil. Seal everything in with a moisturizer; we like the Peach & Lily Matcha Pudding Antioxidant Cream because it’s hydrating, leaves skin matte, and is packed with antioxidants to help fight free radical damage.

If you’re taking a long-haul flight, we recommend layering on the Miwaji Hyalu Serum Veil as a DIY face pack. Cleanse, apply your toner and essence, then apply three to four layers of the Hyalu Serum Veil. It will feel a little sticky, but the Hyalu Serum Veil is unique in that, yes, it is a serum, but it also creates a protective layer, helping keep moisture in your skin by forming a protective seal. This DIY face pack will help skin stay plump and hydrated during your long flight, so that, when you wash it off at your destination, your skin will look and feel bouncy, not dried out and dehydrated from your time on the plane.

And, yes, both the Matcha Pudding Antioxidant Cream and the Hyalu Serum Veil are under the TSA’s 3 oz. limit and, thus, travel-friendly.

Don’t use a mist during your flight. Or a sheet mask.

We all know the air on a plane is dry as a desert, so you might find it tempting. Spritzing on a facial mist or doing a sheet mask even while crammed in economy doesn’t seem that difficult, and it should be fine if you pick a mist or sheet masks that’s full of hydrating ingredients like humectants.

Here’s the thing — humectants ideally work by drawing moisture out of the environment, pulling it into skin, and binding it there. That works if there’s moisture in the environment for humectants to pull. When the environment, however, is dry as a desert (as on an airplane), humectants will actually to the opposite, pulling hydrating out of skin and into the environment.

That doesn’t mean you should always avoid humectants, though. It does mean you should consider your environment when thinking about skincare products because that’s one way of thinking about what your skin needs. It also means that humectants should be paired with occlusives that basically create a seal on top of skin so hydration stays in and doesn’t evaporate out as rapidly.

Which means that, sure, if you’re chasing your facial mist with a moisturizer, you can reduce the amount of hydration that will evaporate into the dry airplane air. That’s simply not practical, though, and it’s also just not great for skin to apply so many layers of moisturizer constantly.

Sheet masks work similarly, too — while the sheet mask is on your face, the sheet acts as a barrier, so hydration stays in your skin. However, once that sheet dries, reverse osmosis starts to happen, the dryness of the sheet mask pulling hydration out of skin. Also, when you remove the sheet, you remove the barrier, so hydration can start leaching into the environment, leaving skin feeling dry and dehydrated. You might think you can solve that problem by simply applying a moisturizer once you remove the mask, but, again, with everything hanging in the recycled air of an aircraft, do you really want to be massaging something into your skin?

post-flight routine

And, then, pamper your skin after your flight.

When you get to your destination, take time for yourself and your skin. Cleanse, do a mask, and layer on products that are soothing and hydrating. You don’t need to pack a whole different set of products, either; you can use the products you used in your pre-flight routine, just adding a few additional things to fill out your routine.

Take a hydrating cleanser with you, something that will gently cleanse away impurities while leaving your skin feeling hydrated, nourished, and balanced — we like the new Lagom Gel-to-Water Cleanser. If you have heavier makeup to remove, use the Koh Gen Do Cleansing Wipes to remove makeup first, then follow up with the Gel-to-Water Cleanser.

Do a gentle clay mask to pull impurities from your skin and give it a chance to relax after a long day of traveling and being exposed to all kinds of pollutants and stressors. We particularly like Femmue’s Gentle Green Relief Mask, which is a kaolin clay mask that won’t dry out and harden on your skin because it’s got glycerin, green tea, and allantoin to help soothe, detoxify, and hydrate skin.

After you’ve pampered your skin and washed off your clay mask, tone and apply essence in one step with the May Coop Raw Sauce — or, if you’d like, pack an additional toner so you can use the May Coop Raw Sauce as an essence. We like the Peach & Lily Good Acids Toner because it will balance the pH level of your skin and provide mild exfoliation with AHAs and BHAs. Follow that with a hydrating serum (you can use the Miwaji Hyalu Serum Veil again!), and seal everything in with a super hydrating overnight pack, like Mizon’s Good Night White Sleeping Mask. While you sleep, your skin can soak in all the goodness of the pack, which will help it look brighter and clearer and feel softer when you wake up in the morning. Of course, though, you can also seal everything in with the Peach & Lily Matcha Pudding Antioxidant Cream!

Shop The Story

Koh Gen Do, Cleansing Water Cloth
May Coop, Mini Raw Sauce
Miwaji, Hyalu Serum Veil
Peach & Lily, Matcha Pudding Antioxidant Cream
Lagom, Gel-to-Water Cleanser
Femmue, Gentle Green Relief Mask
Peach & Lily, Good Acids Pore Toner
Mizon, Good Night White Sleeping Mask Tube


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