Airplane Air and Its Effect on the Skin

Even if you’ve only taken one flight in your life, chances are you’ve suffered the effects of “Airplane Air,” the germ-heavy, arid brew of recirculated air in the cabin of the plane. Itchy eyes, clogged sinuses and dry skin are all symptoms of this monster, and no wonder: there’s less than 25% humidity on a plane, compared to the 35% in most houses. But you can keep the situation under control with some simple steps the next time you board. After all, aren’t security lines, hefty ticket prices and noxious seat neighbors stress enough?

1. Take along your own water bottle and drink frequently during the flight. Although how much depends on your flight time, most experts recommend you drink at least 2 full cups more than you normally do. Your skin is going to lose a lot of moisture in the arid atmosphere and it’s important to keep it hydrated from the inside out.

2. Stay away from caffeinated beverages. Although that crying baby isn’t going to make it any easier, stay away from alcoholic drinks, too. They dehydrate you and can leave you with a killer hangover at 8,000 feet.

3. Head to the restroom every hour or so to splash some lukewarm water on your face. Aside from the obvious benefit of re-hydrating pores, moving around increases blood circulation in your legs and cuts down on swollen feet.

4. Pack some moisturizer in your carry-on and use it whenever your skin starts feeling tight. If your skin is normally oily, the dryness might actually trigger more oil production, so try wiping your face down occasionally or spraying on some toner.

5. Nasal passageways are easily dried out by airplane air, so take along an over-the-counter nose spray to diminish congestion.

6. Reduce tightness around your eyes by rubbing in a hydrating, nutrient-rich cream and using eye drops to diminish their bloodshot appearance.

7. Try to get as much sleep as you can on the plane. Although you might not want to mess with your normal sleep pattern, the more rest you get, the better you’ll feel when you disembark. Invest in an eye mask, ear plugs and a travel pillow to insure smooth sailing the whole flight through.

8. After you arrive at your destination, take a warm shower or bath as soon as possible. It won’t completely replenish the moisture you’ve lost on the plane, but it will help to restore your skin’s natural moisture levels.