That feeling when you step off a plane—having finally touched down in that much-dreamed-about holiday destination—can’t be beaten. The only problem is, besides that warm breeze and feeling the sun on your face, air travel also has some less pleasant associations, like dryness and puffiness. When “flight face” strikes, it pays to know how to deal with it (or better yet, prevent it happening in the first place).
“During a flight, cabin humidity is often less than 10 per cent, while our skin typically feels comfortable with 50 per cent humidity,” explains Professor Michael Detman, co-founder and chief scientific office of Iräye, of why we often get puffy on flights. “This leads to a compensatory effort of our skin to retain water. To add to that the increased altitude and low air pressure mean that the lymphatic system is not able to properly transfer the fluid, which increases retention.” Meanwhile the low humidity of the air means that moisture evaporates from the skin, leading to increased dehydration.
Keen to avoid starting your summer holiday with a case of flight face? Below, three experts share their tips.
Prep your skin before you fly
“The flight-ready skincare routine I always recommend my patients is a hydrating face mask the night before, along with a hydrating overnight cream, too,” says plastic surgeon Dr Ashwin Soni, a practitioner at GetHarley. “On the morning of the flight, apply an under-eye treatment, vitamin C serum and hydration-boosting moisturiser.” The more hydration you can deliver to skin, the better, so seek out a hyaluronic acid serum and seal it in with a lipid-based moisturiser, advises aesthetic doctor Dr Sophie Shotter. “A lot of the skin’s dehydration throughout the flight is due to transepidermal water loss, so applying a richer cream before boarding will help lock moisture in.”
It’s boring and, yes, you’ve probably heard it before but pre-, during and post-flight, ensure you drink plenty of water to improve hydration from the inside out, recommends Dr Shotter. “Try to avoid alcohol as this will dehydrate your skin, too.”
Don’t be afraid to go into full pamper mode on the flight
Many of us get shy about applying our skincare when we’re actually on the flight, but all experts confirm that it’s the secret to warding off a case of flight face. “I recommend spritzing a hydrating mist intermittently during the flight—I love the Insitut Esthederm Eau Cellulaire when I travel as it comes in a smaller size,” says Dr Shotter. “It will keep you hydrated.”
She is also a fan of applying a sheet mask, particularly when flying long haul. “Sheet masks boost skin’s hydration levels more than a topical product would.” Your lips are also an important place to keep hydrated, so keep a lip balm to hand.
Boost lymphatic function
To boost lymphatic drainage and prevent fluid retention and puffiness in both face and body, make sure to move around regularly on your flight.
Be careful what you eat
It’s out with salty nuts, crisps and even on-board meals, because salty foods increase water retention, thus increasing puffiness—says Professor Detmar. Swap salty nuts for roasted ones, eat lots of water-rich fruit and vegetables, and prioritise protein and good fats pre-flight.
This story originally appeared on British Vogue.