Air travel is a popular mode of transportation, but many people dread the effects of airplane air on their skin.
The dry, pressurized cabin environment can cause skin dehydration, irritation, and premature aging. However, is airplane air as bad for your skin as people think? In this article, we’ll delve into the science behind airplane air and its effects on the skin, and provide expert tips from dermatologists on how to protect your skin during air travel.
What Can Happen to Your Skin During a Flight?
The air inside an airplane cabin is typically dry, with humidity levels ranging from 10-20%. According to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, this dryness can cause the skin to lose moisture, leading to dryness, flaking, and even cracking. The lack of moisture can also weaken the skin’s barrier function, making it more prone to irritation and infection.
UV radiation exposure is another factor that can contribute to skin damage during air travel. While airplane windows are designed to block most UVB rays, they may not block UVA rays, which can penetrate deeper into the skin and cause damage. Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City, recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and wearing protective clothing, such as a hat and sunglasses, during a flight.
Aside from dehydration and UV exposure, air travel can exacerbate existing skin conditions, such as acne and rosacea. The stress of travel, changes in diet and sleep patterns, and exposure to new environments can all trigger a flare-up. As such, it is crucial to take proactive steps to protect your skin before and after a flight.
What Skin Types Are Prone to Post-Flight Skin Issues?
While airplane air can affect anyone’s skin, some people may be more susceptible to post-flight skin issues. According to Dr. Zeichner, people with dry skin types are at a higher risk of experiencing dehydration and flakiness during a flight. Meanwhile, individuals with oily or acne-prone skin may experience more breakouts due to the accumulation of sweat, oil, and bacteria on the skin’s surface during a flight.
People with sensitive skin are also more prone to skin irritation and inflammation, especially when exposed to a new environment with different allergens and irritants. Therefore, it is essential to understand your skin type and potential skin concerns before taking steps to build an air travel skincare routine.
Do You Need a Pre-Flight Skincare Routine?
Having a pre-flight skincare routine can help prepare your skin for the dry, pressurized cabin environment. Dr. Garshick recommends using a hydrating serum with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin to draw moisture to the skin and lock it in. She also advises using a gentle cleanser to remove any makeup or impurities and prevent pore clogging.
Dr. Zeichner recommends applying a moisturizer with occlusive ingredients like petrolatum or dimethicone to create a barrier that prevents moisture loss during a flight. He also suggests applying a lip balm to protect your lips from dehydration.
How to Build Your Own Air Travel Skincare Routine
To protect your skin during air travel, you can follow a skincare routine that addresses potential skin concerns before and after your flight.
- Cleanse your face with a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser to remove any makeup or impurities that could clog your pores.
- Apply a hydrating serum with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin to draw moisture to the skin and lock it in.
- Apply a moisturizer with occlusive ingredients like petrolatum or dimethicone to create a barrier that prevents moisture loss during the flight.
- Apply a lip balm to protect your lips from dehydration.
- Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher if you plan to sit by the window.
- Avoid touching your face to prevent the spread of bacteria and oil.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Use a facial mist to refresh and hydrate your skin throughout the flight.
- Cleanse your face to remove any buildup of sweat, oil, and bacteria.
- Apply a moisturizer to rehydrate your skin.
- Use a gentle exfoliating scrub or mask to remove dead skin cells and improve skin texture.
- Apply a sheet mask or a sleeping mask to deeply hydrate your skin and replenish lost moisture.
- Apply a depuffing eye cream to reduce any puffiness and dark circles.
The Final Takeaway
Air travel can take a toll on your skin, but with the right skincare routine, you can minimize its negative effects. Preparing your skin before a flight and taking proactive steps to protect it during and after the flight can help prevent skin dehydration, irritation, and breakouts. Remember to drink plenty of water, avoid touching your face, and use broad-spectrum sunscreen and protective clothing to shield your skin from UV radiation. By building a personalized air travel skincare routine, you can arrive at your destination with healthy, glowing skin.