Health & beauty

In flight beauty

Last updated 6th June 2017

Fact: flying isn’t good for your face. But don’t panic; we’ve got helpful tips to keep you looking fresh for the entire flight. 

Going to the bathroom on a long-haul flight can be a depressing experience. Not only is it cramped and smelly, but the fluorescent strip lighting over the mirrors seems to have been specifically designed to show every pore and wrinkle in glaring detail. This isn’t so bad on your outbound flight – you can tell yourself you’re just in need of a holiday and it’s nothing a couple of weeks away can’t fix. But when the same reflection stares back at you on your return flight, it can be rather deflating.

Unfortunately, flying simply isn’t good for your face. The air in a typical plane cabin has a humidity level of only 5 to 20 per cent – that’s drier than the Sahara. Throw in the fact that there’s also 5 per cent less oxygen and 25 per cent less air pressure than our bodies are used to, and it’s not surprising that you land looking puffy, tired and dry as a raisin.But before you give up on air travel and start researching destinations that are reachable by ferry, follow our tips on how to look fabulous from take-off to touchdown.

1/  In-flight refreshment

Don’t be tempted to combat cabin dryness with one of those ‘hydrating’ facial mists. When they evaporate from your skin, they encourage the moisture from within your skin to evaporate too, leaving it drier than it was in the first place. Instead, use a hyaluronicacid-based serum such as SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5, £59, or Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II, £58.65 (, which works brilliantly by day, too. Layer a good moisturiser on top to lock in hydration, and keep lips nourished with Jo Malone London’s Vitamin E Lip Conditioner, £19.95 ( – rich and protective, it reconditions dehydrated lips, and a hint of menthol cools and refreshes.

2/  Use SPF as soon as you take off

Most of us don’t think to bother with SPF until we’ve landed somewhere sunny, but you should be wearing it straight after take-off. When you’re 30,000ft above the earth, the UV rays are much stronger, and UVA, which is responsible for premature ageing, can pass through the plane’s windows. To protect your skin, wear a good broad-spectrum sunscreen such as This Works In Transit Skin Defence SPF30, £29, and don’t choose a window seat. If your kids are clamouring for a view of the clouds, make sure they’re protected with a high-factor sunscreen such as Garnier Resisto Kids Moisturising Lotion SPF50+, £12.30.

3/  Use mineral make-up for the flight

Flying in full make-up isn’t a good idea, but that doesn’t mean you have to brave the airport bare faced. A little mineral make-up such as Jane Iredale PurePressed Base, £41.95, or bareMinerals Original Foundation, £25, will protect skin from the environmental aggressors you face at altitude (minerals offer natural sun protection), plus they’ll help you feel a bit more human when you land.

4/  Protect yourself from bugs

The reason we often catch bugs on planes is that dry cabin air makes the bug-trapping mucus inside our noses evaporate. To minimise the risk of catching a cold, sprinkle a few drops of de Mamiel Altitude Oil, £25 (, onto a tissue or dab a drop under each nostril and breathe deeply. It contains antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic oils, specifically formulated to protect against germ-filled recycled air.

Arm rests and tray tables can carry lots of bugs too, so don’t forget some wipes, such as Wet Ones Be Gentle Sensitive Antibacterial Wipes, £1.15.

5/  Try to get some sleep…

If you’re flying long-haul and manage to get the kids to doze off (high five for that, by the way), take the chance to get some beauty sleep yourself. Don’t rely on synthetic airline eye masks, a Holistic Silk Lavender Eye Mask, £46, will make the whole in-flight experience feel a bit more luxe. It’s big enough to block glare from other people’s movies and the lavender inside will help hasten the zzzzs. If you’re a nervous flier, dab Neal’s Yard Remedies To Roll Travel, £6.25, onto your pulse points and take a few deep breaths – it will bring you far more peace than anything on the drinks trolley.

6/  Fight the bloating

If you’ve ever taken off your shoes on a flight, then struggled to get them back on before landing, you don’t need us to tell you flying makes you bloated. Reduced pressure in the cabin makes fluid leach from your veins into surrounding tissues, leaving you with puffy ankles. Try to walk up and down the aisle a few times, and when seatbelt signs are on, tap your feet or rotate your ankles to stop fluid collecting.

Once you get to your destination, apply Elemis Refreshing Gel, £30 (, or Origins Leg Lifts, £18.75 (, a magic potion that works like a pair of ‘stimulating stockings’ when massaged into tired legs.

Find more great tips about buying beauty products on holiday and how to look your best while skiing.