On a recent trip to beautiful Toronto, Canada, my husband and I battled everything from a rental car breakdown in the middle of a lightning storm to trying to find an open restaurant on Easter Sunday. And then, there was the little matter of my red, dry, irritated skin. I wish I had remembered the havoc that air travel can wield on our skin. With an ounce of prevention, all of my problems could have been averted.
We all know the scene: lots of sitting around in the plane's desert-dry, re-circulated air, reading bad magazines, watching so-so flicks; lots of restless naps, carried forth within the echo of unhappy infant screams and dry-air aggravated coughs and sneezes. Had I thought less about the persnickety task of organizing my carry-on toiletries and more about the logistics of sitting in this skin-adverse environment for 6 plus hours, my skin might have not suffered a set-back.
The key to preventing skin problems while flying is to plan ahead. This means avoiding less-than-gentle skin products for a day or two prior to your flight. On the day of travel, wear the richest moisturizer that your specific skin type can handle, followed by the most moisturizing, high SPF sunscreen that you can tolerate. All of this is accomplished most easily by donning the minimal amount of makeup possible (particularly foundation, powder and blush). You might wish to wear your hair back, so you can more readily pamper and protect your skin.
The next goal is to keep your skin's moisture level constant throughout the course of your flight. Again, this is easier without a lot of extra goop on the face, but it is possible, even with the inclusion of makeup. Every hour, simply tap more moisturizer along dry areas of your face--under the eyes and along the cheekbones, in particular. Using this tapping motion will lessen the risk of upsetting makeup or removing sun block. The application of extra moisturizer also has the benefit of bringing a glow back to plane-parched skin. If extra lotion doesn't do the trick, try adding a layer of mist spray to your skin. This product is often available in carry-on size through various skin product retailers.
If possible, keep the window shade nearest to you closed. This, along with sunscreen and sunglasses will reduce high- altitude sun exposure. Most neighboring travelers will be only too happy to close their window shade, if asked. In fact, flight attendants often issue a general request to close shades for the benefit of those watching the featured film. Note that the plane's dry air is likely to dry your eyes, as well. Lubricating eye drops can help with this.
Finally, drink as much water as possible. I understand the desire to avoid standing in line for the plane's tiny bathroom, but the better hydrated you stay internally, the better hydrated your skin will be. Similarly, avoid dehydrating beverages like alcohol and caffeinated coffee, tea, and soft drinks. If you really want to get into the nitty-gritty, bring your own healthy, carry-on snacks: nuts, fruit and instant oatmeal are all easier on the skin than cookies and pretzels.
Sunscreen, moisturizer, spray mist, lubricating eye drops, sunglasses, and healthy snacks, will all take up surprisingly little space in your purse or carry-on. It makes sense to keep your skin essentials together, in one easily reachable plastic bag, to make this modest degree of travel-oriented TLC as convenient as possible.
Traveling can be a challenge on many levels, but with forethought and preparation, most skin problems can be limited or avoided. Now, rental car problems, that's another matter.
All the best, Adriane