Travel Beauty Tips: Staying Fresh During a Long Flight

By Alisa Kerr
December 15, 2015
Health & Beauty

For most of us, looking in the mirror at the end of a long-haul flight isn’t much fun. Dry, dull skin, frizzy hair and tired eyes are no way to start your holiday. So here are some tips to have you looking and feeling your best when you reach your destination, no matter how long the journey.

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Preparation is key, and it certainly pays to be organized with your beauty kit before you head to the airport. No one wants to lug around a heavy bag of beauty products, and of course you don’t want your favorite products tossed in the bin at security because they don’t meet regulations. So when flying, any sample sachets of product are perfect as they are small, light and are not going to leak. Next time you buy any beauty products at the department store ask for samples, and save them for when you fly (especially face moisturizers, eye creams and hand cream). If you don’t have sample products, Muji has a fantastic range of travel pots and containers (starting at about ¥100) that you can fill with your favorite products at home. Muji also has a fantastic clear makeup bag that makes the trip through security a breeze.

Tend to Your Tresses

To get started, the first thing to do is get your hair off your face and out of the way. Before sweeping hair up into a high ponytail or bun, run through some hydrating hair product to combat dryness and static. If your hair is fine, concentrate on the length and ends to avoid being too greasy when you arrive at your destination. I like John Masters Organic Lavender and Avocado Intensive Conditioner (¥3,996), which has a gorgeous fresh scent and leaves my hair shiny and soft, but not lank and greasy. This step could be done at home before leave for the airport to save time. You can use a normal hair tie, but keep in mind you will have a kink in your hair when you arrive. So if you are planning on wearing your hair down when you disembark, use hair pins to secure into a top knot, which will form soft waves during the flight.

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Remove Makeup and Cleanse

If you have makeup on, it’s now time to remove it and cleanse the skin. Cleansing wipes are great for travelling as they are so convenient—you don’t have to use the bathroom for water and there is no risk of leaks and spills. However, they can be quite rough on dry, mature and sensitive skin types, as they are usually quite dry and require a bit of effort (read rubbing and pulling the skin) to remove makeup. A much easier and gentler option is to use a cleansing water like Bioderma Sensibio (¥1,200 for 100 milliliters) or Koh Gen Do’s Cleansing Spa Water (¥3,024 for 300 milliliters). Either buy smaller bottles (100 milliliters or less), or just decant from your big bottle at home into a convenient travel bottle (like the ones from Muji). Once on board, simply soak cotton pads with product and gently swipe across the skin. Repeat until the cotton pads have no traces of makeup on them.

Soothe with a Facial Spray

After makeup removal and cleansing, follow with a generous spritz of a hydrating and soothing spray. Caudalie Eau de Beauté Beauty Elixir (¥5,620 for 100 milliliters) is a favorite among beauty industry insiders, as it gently soothes and firms the skin and is loaded with essential oils. Another great option is a generous spritz of Avene or La Roche-Posay thermal water to help soothe and add extra moisture to the skin’s surface. Both of these brands have convenient travel-sized products that are readily available in drugstores.

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Step Up Hydration with a Mask

Now it’s time to provide your skin with some extra hydration and protect it from the notoriously dry aircraft air. Normally, you would apply moisturizer at this point, but on an airplane your skin needs more moisture than usual, so to ensure your skin looks its best when you arrive, apply a hydrating face mask. If you use a clear face mask such as Dermalogica’s Skin Hydrating Masque (¥5,112) or Koh Gen Do Oriental Plants Night Moisture Mask (¥6,480), you won’t be scaring your children, husband or fellow passengers while your skin reaps the benefits of the extra hydrating formula. Apply a thin layer of the mask all over the face just as you would your normal moisturizer, and wait until it sinks into the skin. Then apply another slightly thicker layer of mask all over the face. You won’t look like you are wearing a mask, your skin will just appear a little shinier than usual.

Give the Delicate Eye Area Some Extra Attention

For most women over 30, the eye area tends to be the first to show fine lines and wrinkles, and the dry cabin environment definitely exaggerates their appearance. So it’s important to have a decent hydrating eye cream to apply during the flight, like SK II’s Stempower Eye Cream (¥10,400). Gently pat all around the eye area, and try to reapply whenever you have the chance throughout the flight, as the eye area will be the first to show signs of surface dehydration.

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Protect Your Pout

A rich, protective lip balm is essential on any flight to keep chapped lips at bay. Reapply liberally, especially before going to sleep or after eating and drinking. My favorite at the moment is Nivea’s Creme Care Lip Balm (¥540), which creates a lovely smooth protective layer on the lips, but is not sticky.

Smooth on Some Hand Cream

The same goes for a moisturizing hand cream. Look for one that is absorbed quickly and has a fresh scent for an instant pick-me-up throughout the flight. Many Japanese drugstores sell convenient mini sizes of hand creams that are perfect for travelling.

Prevent Tired, Bloodshot Eyes

If you wear contact lenses you probably already know it’s best to swap them for your glasses on the flight. Eyes can become bloodshot and uncomfortably dry on long-haul flights, so it’s best to pack some soothing and hydrating eye drops and apply throughout the journey.

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Drink Lots of Water, Sleep and Reapply!

Sleep is definitely the best way to pass the time on any flight, and your skin will also benefit from any shut-eye. When you get a chance or remember, try to reapply eye cream, hand cream and lip balm based on how your skin is faring during the flight. Even though you are applying skin products to the skin to create a protective barrier against the recycled cabin air, you still need to drink plenty of water to make sure you feel your best when you arrive for your holiday. Take along some of your favorite herbal tea bags to make things more interesting and ensure you’re drinking enough fluids.

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Refresh Your Skin

Now it’s almost time to land and (hopefully) you have gotten some sleep. If you have time, go to the bathroom and brush your teeth, apply deodorant and if you like, splash your face with water and gently pat dry with a tissue. If you are at your seat, swipe some cleansing water across your face to remove any excess mask and spritz again with your face spray. Apply moisturizer and eye cream.

Apply Minimal Makeup

Once your face is moisturized, apply a light tinted moisturiser (with SPF) like NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer (¥4,800). Then apply a creamy concealer like NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer (¥3,200) under the eyes, around the nose and chin to hide dark circles, balance out the skin tone, and cover any redness. Define the eyes with a few swipes of your favorite mascara. Finally, add a bit of color with a multipurpose cheek and lip tint. I love the new Visee Lip and Cheek Cream (¥1,000) in RD-6, a gorgeous berry shade that when applied lightly achieves a healthy flush to the lips and cheeks that is often needed at the end of a long flight.

Bon voyage!


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