I'm an Esthetician—These Are the Only Products You Need in Your In-Flight Skincare Routine

You want to maintain good skin while you travel—I’m an esthetician, I totally get it. But I also know that the few hours you spend in a germ-filled metal tube 30,000 feet above the earth isn’t the place for a 10-step skincare routine.

Granted, TikTok and Instagram are full of tutorials for lengthy in-flight skincare routines. However, providing you’ve sufficiently prepped your skin before your flight, there really is no need to commit to an extensive series of cleansing and moisturising steps while you’re in the air. Good news, your carry-on baggage just got a whole lot lighter.

In Flight Skincare Routine

(Image credit: @NNENNAECHEM)

While it’s true that planes are an incredibly dehydrating environment, the best thing you can do for your skin is pack in the moisture before you travel. Spend the 24 hours before your flight focussing on layering multiple hydrating products to ensure your skin is quenched with moisture—hyaluronic acid-based serums, moisturisers, and sheet masks are a great way to prep your skin ahead of a long day of travelling. Likewise, maintaining a focus on hydration once you’ve arrived at your destination will help your skin to quickly recover from any dehydration it may have experienced.

If you want to keep your skin healthy and hydrated while you travel, trust me when I say that less is more when it comes to your actual in-flight skincare routine. When I fly, you’ll find just five products in my TSA-approved toiletry bag—keep scrolling for my travel skincare essentials.

1. Hand Sanitiser

Of course, the obvious issue with in-flight skincare issue is hygiene. Tray tables, arm rests, seat pockets, and buttons are all likely to have germs living on them (not all planes are sanitised between flights), and germs can easily spread on planes via the ventilation systems, too. In addition, studies have shown that people are far more likely to catch colds on planes than they are in any other form of public transport. I don’t know about you, but that’s not the kind of environment I want to start massaging my face in.

All of the products below are pretty much hands-free, but if you are going to be touching your face (and even if you're not), liberal and frequent application of hand sanitiser is highly recommended.

2. SPF

If you only take one skincare product on your flight, let it be SPF. UV exposure (especially UVA) is much higher when we fly. In fact, at 30,000 feet, UV radiation is twice as strong as it is on the ground. My recommendation is always to apply a good layer of SPF50 before you fly, then use an SPF mist or stick applicator to top it up every two hours during your flight.

3. Hypochlorous Acid Spray

I like to think of hypochlorous acid as being like a hand sanitiser for your face. As an anti-microbial substance, it helps to kill bacteria, speed up healing, and repair damaged skin. It’s perfect for giving skin a quick cleansing refresh after working out, if you’re breakout-prone, or during a long-haul flight.

4. Lip Balm

Our lips are usually one of the first areas of our face to show and feel signs of dryness, so if you tend to experience dry lips during or after flying, a lip balm is an essential product to pack.

5. Eye Masks

As the skin near our eyes is thin and lacking in oil glands, it’s also especially prone to quickly showing signs of dryness and dehydration. When flying, skip the eye cream and opt for a hydrating eye mask instead. Gel-based ones will quickly and effectively infuse skin with moisture and will provide a welcome refreshment to tired eyes after a mid-flight nap.

Freelance Beauty Editor

Grace Day is a beauty editor and content creator. She has over 10 years of beauty-industry experience, spanning editorial, retail, and e-commerce, which gives her a unique understanding into how people shop for their beauty routines. While studying for a history degree (specialising in the history of beauty) and working as a beauty adviser in department stores, Grace started writing her own beauty blog in order to share the products she discovered while dealing with acne. After graduating, she moved to Beauty Bay as beauty editor and content manager. Grace is currently a beauty contributor to Who What Wear. She has also written for Hypebae and PopSugar and works as a brand consultant and copywriter.