Literally and figuratively, flying is a trip. You get up at some ungodly hour in the climate and time zone you’re adapted to, get some air pressurized cabin pumping out some kind of mechanically generated excuse for oxygen, which you inevitably find uncomfortable by the middle of the trip, rise to an unnaturally high altitude, eat processed food, and wake up at a different ungodly hour in a different climate and time zone. If you think this is rough on the mind, just think about your poor skin. The following is a breakdown of exactly what happens to your skin on a flight, and some ways to keep it, and yourself, calm and glowing.
One of the main reason’s our skin does not do well on airplanes is because of the dry air in the cabin. According to Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, instructor of dermatology at Mount Sinai, “Typically, skin is comfortable when the humidity level is between 40 to 70 percent. Most airplanes are at about 20%. That’s less than half of what we’re used to.” That drop in humidity equals dry red and flaky skin. While you may think a good moisturizer is the best solution, Elizabeth Tanzi, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at George Washingon says, “When there’s no water in the air, moisturizers don’t work as well since there is nothing to grab on to.” Her advice? Hyaluronic acid is a sugar molecule with the ability to bind to water. Use a small amount of serum containing hyaluronic acid followed by a moisturizer with ceramides. The ceramics will create a barrier to prevent moisture from escaping.
When skin dries out, it may try and overcompensate for the dryness by producing too much oil. Make sure to keep skin moist so your skin won’t have to fight the super dry air alone. Blotting papers are a great way to soak up excess oil if the skin does get greasy.
Most commercial aircraft become pressurized between 6,000 to 8,000 feet, comparable to what you might experience on the top of a mountain. Kanchanapoomi Levin warns that the increase in altitude means, “less blood flow to the skin, which may make for a dull appearance.”
Sitting still on an airplane for a long time eating salty foods can make the body retain extra water, which can result in bloating and puffiness. Tanzi advises trying to get a little exercise in after you land to get the fluid back in circulation.
You are closer to the sun, after all. According to Kanachanapoomi Levin, “UV rays are much more intense at higher altitudes, and with thinner air, there is less screening of harmful radiation.” If you’re flying during daylight hours, sunscreen in your carry-on is an absolute must.
Eyes, Nose, Lips, Cuticles
Perhaps one of the reasons airplane food is so notoriously bad has to do with the fact that the crew is counting on your impaired ability to taste properly on a flight. When mucous membranes dry out on a plane, side effects may include not only an impaired sense of taste, but dry lips, nosebleeds, and red itchy eyes. Make sure to keep some Vaseline closely for your nose and lips, and some moisturizing eye drops to keep your eyes refreshed.
How do you keep your skin from getting stressed during travel? Let us know what you do before during and after boarding.