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Skincare Travel Tips: What Happens to Skin When Traveling?

Travel can come along with a host of skin changes, such as increased dryness and sensitivity. These tips and skincare essentials can help ensure your skin has a comfortable journey.

12 Jul 2023

Article Overview

  • Traveling can have a negative impact on the skin due to factors such as changes in climate, exposure to dry airplane cabin air, and increased exposure to UV radiation.
  • While traveling, skin can become dehydrated and dull during travel, leading to dryness, flakiness, and a lack of radiance.
  • Hydrating serums, such as those containing hyaluronic acid, can replenish moisture and improve skin hydration levels, keeping the skin plump and hydrated while traveling.
  • Antioxidant serums, like C E Ferulic, can provide protection against environmental damage and oxidative stress, helping to maintain the skin's health and radiance during travel.
  • By incorporating targeted skincare products into your travel skincare routine, skin is left hydrated, radiant, and protected.

Between UV rays, environmental aggressors, deadlines, and never-ending to-do lists, the skin encounters its fair share of stress on a daily basis. When you add travel into the mix, it’s important to anticipate your skin’s needs and be prepared for the impact that changes in circadian rhythm, climate, and even the water you use to wash your face can have on the skin’s appearance and comfort. Another often-overlooked cause of travel-related skin issues is hotel detergents (so you may want to pack a pillowcase and face towel)—and all of these factors combined increase the potential for dryness, dullness, sensitivity, and irritation (especially if you don’t stick to your regular routine of skincare while traveling).

In addition to jet lag and different climate conditions, air travel itself can have a tremendous impact on the skin as well. Airplane cabins are depressurized and notoriously dry, which can accelerate moisture loss from the skin. The skin requires water, and when moisture levels fall below their usual 10-30% it doesn’t function as well.

For some, in-flight conditions can lead to dehydration, skin dullness, enhanced sensitivity, and even breakouts. The good news is airlines have recognized the effects low cabin humidity can have on passengers and employees alike, and have started outfitting aircraft with humidifiers to add moisture to the air.

The importance of in-flight skincare

No one enjoys a long-haul or red-eye flight, but with the proper skincare measures you can arrive at your destination looking rested and refreshed—while minimizing the toll air travel may take on the skin.

If you don’t want to unpack your full travel skincare routine, use a separate pouch for your in-flight skincare essentials. Since the main objective of in-flight skincare is maintaining hydration with moisturizer, you may want to include a cleanser so you can remove your makeup after take-off. Low humidity within the cabin means a medium- to heavyweight moisturizer is in order. A face mist can also be helpful for rehydrating and refreshing the skin periodically during your flight—and if you’re feeling bold, a sheet mask is a convenient way to treat your skin to extra moisture. (Read on for our specific SkinCeuticals product suggestions.)

If you’re flying during the day, it’s wise to include sunscreen as part of your in-flight skincare routine because UVA rays that contribute to visible signs of aging can penetrate glass. Additional in-flight skincare “extras” include lip balm and hand cream as well.

Travel skincare routine basics

It can be challenging to stick to your usual skincare routine while traveling, but there’s no reason to leave your skincare staples at home. In fact, all the SkinCeuticals products you may need for your trip are TSA-approved so you can pack them in your carry-on bag. Here, the products we suggest not leaving home without.

A topical vitamin C antioxidant: Protection against environmental free radicals is essential no matter your destination. SkinCeuticals offers a variety of advanced, proven-effective daily vitamin C serums to meet the needs of different skin types while addressing various skin concerns.

Hydrating B5 Gel: This serum is the ideal skincare travel companion because it features hydrating hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 to help reinforce the skin barrier and keep moisture within the skin. Appropriate for all skin types, it can act as a base layer for your in-flight skincare routine, or be used on its own as a moisturizer if you’re traveling to hot or humid climates.

Phyto Corrective Gel: Be prepared for any travel-related irritation or sensitivity with this hydrating and soothing serum. Formulated with hyaluronic acid, calming cucumber, olive leaf, and thyme extracts; eucalyptus essential oil to leave skin feeling purified and refreshed, and mulberry to minimize the appearance of discoloration, it can also be used as a stand-alone moisturizer.

Emollience: This gentle, nutrient-rich moisturizer features algae extracts, a restorative blend grape seed, rose hip, and macadamia nut oils; and a combination of lavender, rosemary, and peppermint essential oils for a soothing, cooling sensation. Ideal for any travel skincare routine (and at home), it helps balance hydration without aggravating sensitive skin.

Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2: A travel skincare routine essential both in the air and on the ground, this advanced anti-aging moisturizer contains the optimal ratio of the ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids that are found naturally in the skin. Designed to help restore the skin’s barrier and support its natural self-repair, this hydrating cream leaves skin looking smooth, firm, and radiant.

Broad-spectrum sunscreen: Effective sun protection should be the last step of any skincare routine, whether at home or in a far-flung locale. Just remember to reapply often if spending an extended period of time outdoors in any climate, and especially at high altitudes.

Hydrating B5 Masque: This intensely hydrating treatment mask for the face, neck, and chest (as well as rough spots like the hands, elbows, knees, and feet) doesn’t require rinsing so it can be used as part of your in-flight skincare routine.

Biocellulose Restorative Masque: Ideal for travel thanks to its perfectly portable single-use packaging, this soothing, comforting, water-packed mask is suitable for all skin types of sensitive or stressed skin.

Phyto Corrective Essence Mist: Formulated with hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and a blend of cucumber, thyme, olive leaf, and rosemary extracts, you’ll want this hydrating, barrier-strengthening, redness-reducing mist within reach from wheels-up through arrival—and any time your skin needs a boost.

Extra skincare tips for traveling

You have your travel skincare routine set and your bags are all packed. These easy extra steps can help ensure your skin has a smooth, comfortable journey.

  • The day before your departure, start drinking extra water and filling up on skin-friendly antioxidant-rich plant-based foods.
  • Get a jump-start on your in-flight skincare before you even leave the house by exfoliating and applying your moisturizer.
  • Consider packing your TSA-approved travel skincare routine in your carry-on bag so you have one less thing to worry about in case your luggage gets lost.
  • Skip the alcohol and caffeine when flying to help prevent further dehydrating your skin and body.

For help building the ideal travel skincare routine and in-flight skincare products, use our online Routine Finder, visit one of our SkinCeuticals SkinLab locations, or schedule an appointment with a SkinCeuticals Skincare Professional for a one-on-one consultation.

Next: Understanding why your skin looks dull

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