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Some more thoughts on skincare in airplanes

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While looking for ways to tweak my airplane routine in prep for my trip to New York, I was surprised at the number of people google told me about who don’t do anything for their skin before getting on a plane. I’m definitely not a barbie girl, still pretty low-maintenance, but just hopping on the plane I don’t get, it can really mess up your skin for a couple of weeks.  For those of you who have met me, y’all I’m definitely not a person who cares about looks and clothes, but for me, skincare and light makeup is about overall maintenance and how we present, regardless of weight or “fashion” issues. 

Anyway my usual routine goes a little like this:

1. Overall Hydration: you should start this a few days before you get on the plane. Drinking five liters of water on the plane is just going to make you pee a lot and do very little for your skin. I up my water around three days before- that is what will make the difference for your skin, not loading up on the plane.  This also means cutting out the salt and the alcohol (for those who do that) a few days before.  The night before I also do a mask and shovel on the night cream and usually have some coconut water for the magnesium. 

2. Sunscreen: A lot of blogs say you should sunscreen while you are on the plane. While it is true that you can catch UV in the plane, sunscreen is bad for your skin- it clogs pores and doesn’t let your skin breathe.  As anal retentive as I am about sunscreen (every day of every month of every year), I never wear it on planes. It just isn’t worth the irritation and big pores from having 12-18 hours of it sitting on top of your skin in a compromised environment.

3. Cleansing in the plane: I don’t want to know where the plane water comes from.  So I am not a big fan of using that water on my face, and I don’t think wipes do the type of cleansing you need in that environment.  So what I do is take my shower and wash my face as close to leaving as possible, then slather on what I would use as a night treatment, regardless of it being a day or a night flight. Then I don’t touch my face, except to put on more eye cream, until I get to the lounge (why yes that is how i roll). I think wipes are good to have on you if you are dealing with delays or accidents, but I don’t think they should be your main cleaning situation because they won’t go as deep as you need for 12 hours of plane funk on your face.

4. Makeup on the plane: I don’t, not at all. Like sunscreen, some products are bad for your skin in certain environments. And don’t give me the crap about mineral makeup if you don’t want to hear the story about the woman who used Bare Minerals and never washed her face ever again, because it was “natural.” This is where wipes have an admitted benefit- if you absolutely must be somewhere when you get off the plane and don’t have a lounge, then by all means wipe off your night cream and throw on some TM and mascara before landing. I’ve also found that in business class people are more worried about getting their sleep on or finishing that presentation they need, so no one is going to be looking at you. 

5. Lip balm etc: you want the richest, heaviest, thickest lip balm you can find. Personally, straight up lanolin is your best bet, but plain shea butter or cocoa butter can work too. Then throw something on top of it like vaseline to seal it.  I generally use a cuticle cream on airplanes too, because the hand sanitizers rip my skin like my mofo. 

6. What do I carry for the plane:  because i do my skincare and hydration before, those items get packed and ziploc bag gets what I take for when I land.  Before getting on the plane, I use  my beloved nuxe oil on my entire body, including face and hair, then touch up my face with  clarins flash balm and the “matching” eye balm. For when I land, I wash my face at the first clean bathroom without a dubious water source with whatever is on hand (this trip will probs be Shiseido Perfect Whip in the tube), then moisturize with whatever LRP moisturizer I am using lately (right now Rosaliac) or some DDML.  The two or three days around flying are not the time to do harsh scrubs or retinols or any moisturizer with “weird” ingredients- wait until day two or so after landing when your skin has adjusted to your new climate.  Keep loading up on eye cream for a couple of days as well.

And please, unless you want to hear the NSFL Bare Minerals Lady story, wash your face before you get on the plane. 

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Author: Nicole Cunningham

American Expat and convert to Islam living and working between Lausanne and Zurich, Switzerland.

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