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If you are anything like us, you may have, in previous plane rides, slathered, spritzed, and smoothed on masks and products, feeling like a both a bit of a fool, and also like a boss in charge of her skincare future.

Well, according to our skincare hero, aesthetician Renee Rouleau, we’ve been doing it all wrong. All that masking, all that slathering, all that spritzing: nope, not needed, not doing much, and even could be harming your skin.

And no one is exempt from travel woes: “Dry skins will get drier, yet oily skins will actually get oilier,” says Rouleau. “This is due to increased oil production to compensate for the dehydration.” There are some simple tips that will prevent excessive dryness, acne, and skin damage though, just in time for holiday traveling.


“I don’t do anything on an airplane,” says Rouleau. “People are like, ‘I wash my face, and I use a wipe, and I sheet mask’ but all you want is for the skin to be protected. (And all of those routines seem like a hassle!) All I do before getting on an airplane is apply on my sunscreen and oil on beforehand. The oil is your bodyguard that’s going to prevent moisture evaporation.”

Korean 7 Skin Method

The Korean method of patting on your toner seven times in a row hit mainstream beauty blogs and sites earlier this year. The concept is to put as much moisture into your skin as possible, and Rouleau is a big fan of the routine, especially pre-travel.

“Before I fly though, I do the layering technique with an essence. I have my Moisture Infusion Toner ($42.50). I did it this morning as a matter of fact, because I’m flying back to Austin tonight. I did my cleanser, I wiped with my toner once. Then I put the toner in my hand, and I put it on like a serum. I did six layers of that. Your skin does have a point where it can absorb so much. Then I went into my serum, my sunscreen, and my makeup.”


Where the real damage occurs on a flight is UV light in an airplane. “You’re 30,000 feet closer to the sun, and you’ve got reflective clouds. When I travel, I book the window seat because the etiquette is whoever sits next to the window has control of the shade. So shut the shade: Your main goal during the day is sun protection, period.”


As Rouleau mentioned, the oil is your bodyguard (imagine your skin is Whitney Houston and the oil is Kevin Costner). Pat a few drops on top of your sunscreen to seal in your natural moisture. We like Pro Remedy Oil ($68.50), but Rouleau cautions to be careful, because oil can eat up sunscreen, so use it sparingly.


“Oil is a breeding ground for bacteria, and the increased oil may exacerbate breakouts.” Rouleau suggests to use oil-blotting papers (we love Too Cool For School’s handy version ($8)) to reduce oil and acne-causing bacteria. This is especially useful for long or international flights.

Don’t Mist

Avoid misting your skin with a hydrating spray during flight. (I know, we’ve sworn by it for years, too!) Why? “Since the air is so dry, it looks for water wherever it can get it, and since water attracts water, when you spray the skin it takes the water from the layers in the skin and gets evaporated into the dry air. The result is even tighter, drier skin. If you want to treat your skin in-flight, it’s best to apply another layer of moisturizer or skin oil onto your face every hour of the flight to help the skin retain its moisture.”


But what matters most in this process is the aftermath. The real magic happens as soon as you hop off the plane.

“In flight, you’re just trying to hang on for dear life,” says Rouleau. “But once you’re back on land, you can easily correct what happened on flight. If you are going to put time and energy, do it post flight, not on it.”


Your number one priority when you hop off a flight is to cleanse and exfoliate (even if it’s morning or midday). “If I don’t wash my skin the minute I get off the plane, it’s a breeding ground for bacteria.”

“Since the air causes the skin to dehydrate, it creates surface dead skin cell buildup, which, if not removed post-flight by using an exfoliating product, can cause oil and bacteria to be trapped under the skin, resulting in an increase of breakouts a day or two after flying.” Rouleau suggests using a light chemical exfoliant, something with gentle acids in it, like Triple Berry Smoothing Peel ($86.50). This is both gentle but effective. Mizon Apple Smoothie Peeling Gel ($12) is also a great, similar option.


After exfoliating, you want to treat and hydrate skin. Rouleau’s epically brilliant Rapid Response Detox Mask ($60.50) is great because it’s a gel, so it’s hydrating, but it has antibacterial ingredients to remove all surface bacteria. And it also contains salicylic acid, so it penetrates into the pores to ward off post-flight breakouts, while also calming and de-puffing. “It resets the skin.”

Finish off with a toner, moisturizer (and sunscreen if it’s still daylight outside), and voila, your skin is back to its glowing self.

Read More About Utilizing Your Skincare:

Why You Should Include Vitamin C In Your Skincare Regime The Best Beauty Hacks Our Editors Swear By Your Definitive Guide to Facial Oils

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