When you are on a long-haul flight, skincare may not be at the top of your list of concerns " but you should reconsider that.
Maybe you're stepping off the plane and going straight into a meeting, or perhaps you need to look fabulous the next day for a friend's wedding. But even if that's not the case, you should still be mindful of looking after your skin's health while in the air.
What to look out for
Dr Joseph Wong Kwok-ho, a specialist in family medicine in Hong Kong, with a diploma in practical dermatology, says your top priority while in the air is hydration.
During a flight, a good moisturiser should be applied every two to three hours. This will help prevent dryness. If you suffer from eczema, more frequent application will be neededDr Joseph Wong Kwok-ho, specialist in family medicine, Hong Kong
He says this has less to do with altitude and more to do with the fact that you are in an air-conditioned environment, which strips the air of humidity.
"During a flight, a good moisturiser should be applied every two to three hours," says Wong, who finds fliers often do not apply enough moisturiser while flying.
"This will help prevent dryness. If you suffer from eczema, more frequent application will be needed."
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If you are a frequent flier, or perhaps even a flight attendant, there is something else, apart from dehydration, that you need to think of: cosmic radiation.
"Being up in the air at high altitude, our skin is subjected to higher levels of cosmic radiation than at ground level, and cosmic radiation can cause accelerated skin ageing," Wong says.
However, he says the levels will be negligible unless you spend as many hours in the air as a pilot or flight attendant.
Whether you fly once a week or only occasionally, you should always be mindful of sun protection factor (SPF) " unless you are taking an overnight flight.
Being up in the air at high altitude, our skin is subjected to higher levels of cosmic radiation than at ground level, and cosmic radiation can cause accelerated skin ageingDr Joseph Wong Kwok-ho
Wong advises people to avoid a window seat, as the ultraviolet radiation, which damages your skin, is extremely high.
If you cannot, then you need to apply a sunscreen with at least SPF 30+ and PA+++, and reapply this on top of your moisturiser every time you rehydrate your skin.
If you are not flying during the day or you can keep your blinds down, you don't need the SPF and can just rely on reapplying a moisturiser every few hours.
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Now to debunk some myths
We have been told aeroplane cabins are full of germs and we are at risk of breaking out in bacterial skin infections if we are not hyper hygienic. That seems to be untrue.
"Without open wounds, skin is an excellent barrier against germs," Wong says.
He advises you to wash your hands before you apply any skincare products during the flight, but no other extra precautions are needed.
So don't feel as if you need to sanitise your hands (or face) with anything containing alcohol to ward off germs and bacteria; this will actually dry your skin out and is likely to cause irritation.
Also, nothing about being in the air " the altitude, cabin pressure, being squashed inside a metal tube with hundreds of strangers " alters the effectiveness or performance of your skincare products.
So pack a good moisturiser and SPF, and also a cleanser. You will feel much better stepping off a flight if you cleanse, moisturise and apply sunscreen, if necessary, just before descending at your destination.
If you have very dry skin, also consider packing a serum to apply before your moisturiser.
Finally, as tempting as it might be to indulge a little while in the air, avoiding alcohol will help your skin stay supple during your journey.
Don't want to pack your full-sized products? The chances are they might be more than 100 millilitres (0.35 fluid ounces) in size and won't be allowed in your hand-carry anyway.
Squeeze a bit of cleanser, moisturiser and SPF in a weekly medicine box that closes quite securely, or even a contact lens case. If you also fancy toner or make-up remover, you can soak some cotton pads in these products and also store them in those containers.
As hydrating as hyaluronic acid is, you may not want to apply products with this ingredient to your face on a flight.
Hyaluronic acid works by attracting moisture and locking it in, but in an air-conditioned environment with no humidity, where will that moisture come from?
That's right, from your skin, and you'll end up with oilier and more dehydrated skin.
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