How to Care for your Skin on a Long Haul Flight

Follow these top tips to prepare your skin for flying, and revive post-flight complexions.

It’s no secret that long-haul flights aren’t much fun, but it’s easy to forget that our skin needs looking after pre, during and also post-flight to ensure we aren’t left with a holiday photo album full of tired, dull and dehydrated skin.

Emma Hobson, Education Manager Australasia for the International Dermal Institute shares her top tips for preparing your skin for flying, both pre-flight and on board, as well as the best way to revive dehydrated post-flight complexions.

Prep for Success

I know for myself, one of the ways to save my skin from the detrimental effects of flying is good preparation before I set off. This means when possible, I visit a skin therapist for a Vitamin A and Lactic Acid exfoliating treatment in conjunction with a hydrating serum and a moisture rich masque. In addition to that, essential home care includes applying a hydrating serum each morning, followed by a good spritz of hydrating toner. Finally, I’ll seal it all in with a moisture rich moisturiser.

For night time, I’ll do a microfoliation before applying a vitamin concentrate, a vitamin eye cream, a super charged moisturiser and also - very importantly - a lip complex, as the lips take a real bashing on a long flight.

In the week before the flight, a couple of applications of a thermal exfoliant followed by a multivitamin masque and a hydrating eye masque are a great addition to your routine. I try to use a good hair treatment pack to protect my hair as well.

Top tip: When shopping for on-board toiletries, everything has to be 100ml or less so I try to purchase key products that are designed especially to protect your skin against harsh environments.


On a short flight you can get away with wearing make-up, but on long haul your skin needs to be make-up free. Remember the average moisture hydration level in plane is only 10% and the way to save the skin is to keep the moisture levels as high as possible.

Ideally, just before you get on your flight you need to prep your skin (with the products mentioned below) but if you like to wear your make-up until seated, then a good cleansing option would be to slip out a travel size makeup wipe or cleanser and remove all traces of make-up including eyes and lipstick.

If you are flying out of Sydney you can pop to  the free hydration station of Dermalogica’s and use their complementary products to clean, refresh and protect your skin before a long haul flight.

After removing your makeup at the beginning of the flight, you have clean skin on which you can build your layers of protection for the face and eye area:

Layer one: Apply either a hydrating spritz toner, choose one which contains an Anti-Ozonate Complex as it is designed to protect and reduce sensitivity and/or a hydrating booster (the key ingredient to look for is Hyaluronic Acid as it can hold 1,000 times its own weight in moisture). Dermalogica have a great Skin Hydrating Booster which is perfect for flying.

Layer two: Spread an even layer of a lipid based multivitamin complex over skin. This concentrated dose of Vitamin A, C, and E will defend the skin against environmental stress (Try Dermalogica Multivitamin Power Serum). Or if you have a very dry or an impaired barrier function, spread a layer of therapeutic balm which is designed to protect the skin from climate changes.

Layer three: Apply a silicone based moisturising gel that will form a protective barrier over the skin surface (including the eye area) helping prevent moisture loss.

The eyes: If you suffer from sensitive, puffy eyes or skin irritation around the eye are when travelling, you can now find eye serums specifically designed to combat this. Try Dermalogica’s new Ultrasmoothing Eye Serum which works directly to soothe the irritation and inflammation around the eyes which often troubles people.

The lips: Apply a long lasting therapeutic balm or reparative lip treatment every few hours especially after eating or drinking.

The hands: It's not only your facial skin that dries out like a raisin, so do your hands and your nails. Apply and reapply a hydrating vitamin therapy hand cream throughout the flight. If you have brittle nails, you can use some of the vitamin complex capsule you used for your face to protect the nails from splitting.

The teeth: I am not sure how many people realise that the teeth can often become more sensitive after a long flight as they also suffer from moisture loss. My dentist recommends using toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth for a few days prior and a week or two post-flight. Also be cautious of eating very hot and cold foods for a few days.

The temples and back of the neck: There are some great essential oil blends that are fabulous on the psyche as well as purifying the air (useful when you are breathing in everyone else’s germs for 20 hours). Blends may include Sandalwood, Eucalyptus, Juniper, Neroli, Lavender and Camomile which can be applied on the back of the neck or on the temples.

Throughout your flight, to freshen the skin and supplement the moisture you can spritz with a fine mist of hydrating toner, such as this one from Dermalogica.

 3) Post Flight

Even though exhausted, try to apply a multivitamin recovery masque (even for 10 minutes), as the healing and soothing properties will help restore the skin. Once removed, apply a hydrating booster, your hydrating spritz, vitamin eye cream and your super-charged moisturiser.

Whist you’re away don’t give your skin care routine a holiday by omitting it, remember it won’t be long before you have to hop back on the plane and fly home - and no one enjoys looking like a raisin!

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