While movies often depict flying as a lavish and sexy mode of transport, it does come with its own caveats. Air travel takes a huge toll on the body; dry air, motion sickness, and jet lag make up just the tip of the iceberg when you are thousands of miles up in the sky for extended periods of time.
Cabin air is a mixture of recycled and frigid exterior air, which is only capable of holding 10% of moisture in high altitudes as compared to the ground. That is why our nasal passages, eyes and buccal membranes often feel scratchy and painful when we are in prolonged contact with cabin air. Transepidermal water loss or TEWL is accelerated, causing our dermis to become dehydrated and the skin’s oil-water balance to be out of whack. This leads to uncomfortably tight skin that’s dull, flaky, sensitised and prone to breakouts.
Then there’s also an issue on the questionable water quality in planes. Potable water used in your coffees and teas are found to contain traces of bacteria, insect eggs, and contaminants according to a Business Insider report. To be safe than sorry, it is always good to bring or request for bottled water to avoid coming in contact with the unhygienic tap water on the aircraft.
Luckily, there are products designed to keep us hydrated and sanitary even when the conditions are against us. Here are some that you should definitely pack in your carry on Dopp kit the next time you fly.
Take the day off (your face)
Immediately after boarding and settling down, you want to go straight into cleansing your hands and your face. How are we going to do so without water? Presoaked cleansing towelettes like First Aid Beauty’s Gentle Cleansing Wipes are sensitive skin-friendly and can sweep away any grime, sweat, and oils. Use it liberally over your face, hands and even on spots such as the seat handles, touchscreens, remotes, and tray tables.
Quench thirsty skin
Your routine should focus on balancing, calming and soothing redness and irritation while replenishing moisture back into the skin. The best way to do that is to add back the hydration lost by TEWL with a hyaluronic acid serum. While the water-drawing molecule is able to draw water into the skin under normal conditions, the low humidity of cabin air makes hyaluronic acid a double-edged sword as it now expedites the movement of water out of the skin. In this case, a thicker serum might be better for the job. Leegeehaam’s Hyla B5 Ampoule has a unique jelly-like texture, allowing its ingredients such as 5-Hyaluronic complex, panthenol, and niacinamide to adhere to the skin longer without drying up rapidly. The ampoule also comes packed with botanical extracts such as centella asiatica to calm redness and saccharomyces ferment filtrate to boost cell turnover rate so that you’ll look fresh even if you didn’t catch a wink.
A good sheet
If you are just plain lazy, or if the multiple steps of layering serums and essences prove to be too much of a hassle, streamline your grooming routine with a sheet mask. Slap it on for as long as you like but make sure to take the sheet off once it starts to dry. Don’t throw away the packaging. Make use of the leftover essence; slather it on your neck, your elbows and anywhere that’s exposed.
If wearing a sheet mask on flight is too conspicuous for you, go for a sleeping pack. You can leave it on for as long as you like, or ask the attendant for a warm towel to wipe off once you’re done. Look out for ingredients such as snail mucin (which is great for its restorative and rejuvenating properties) and panthenol or vitamin B5 (which helps soothe any redness and flare-ups).
Barred from leaving
Immediately after masking, go in with an occlusive moisturiser—facial oil, balm or cream—to lock in all your hard work. Kiehl’s reformulation of the Ultra Facial Cream is your best bet in combatting the dry and frigid environment. The new and improved face cream retains its highly moisturising properties with the same key ingredients—glacial glycoproteins and olive-derived squalane—and does away with potential sensitisers such as parabens, carbamides, and T.E.A (or triethanolamine) so that it’s even more gentler on the dermis. As the last step of your routine, warm up the cream in your hands and pat it into the skin lightly to seal in the hydration.
If your skin starts feeling tight mid-flight, go in with a travel-sized facial mist for a quick and easy boost. Opt for a bi-phase mist that is an emulsion of water and oil as it will prevent water from evaporating quickly from the skin. FrankSkincare’s Calming Mist is made up entirely of organic French chamomile hydrosols; obtained as a byproduct from steam distillation of the herb. The hydrosol is packed with both water-soluble micro essential oil molecules and plant components, which gives the mist a calming and relaxing scent while coating the skin with a hydrating barrier that’s anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal.
Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen
You need to be wearing your SPF when you are flying in the air. Without any cloud cover, you’ll be exposed to a whole lot of cancer-inducing UV rays, especially if you are unfortunate to get the window seat. Make P:rem’s Blue Ray Sun Gel is a beast when it comes to sun protection, offering a broad spectrum of SPF50 and PA ++++ without turning your face into an oil slick, or a pasty shade of white.
Don’t forget the lips
Skin around the mouth is structurally different from your face, usually much thinner and more vulnerable to environmental changes. A thick lip balm such as Drunk Elephant’s can prevent flaky and cracking lips. Unlike your run-of-the-mill petrolatum-based chapsticks, the luxuriously buttery coconut oil-based lip salve not only protects but also nourishes, hydrates and softens the lips with a blend of avocado, mongongo, cranberry and marula oils. Antioxidants such as vitamin C and sea fern algae extracts help prevent oxidative stress caused external environment and photo-aging.