7 weird things that happen to your skin when you fly

We’ve all had the feeling — you get off an airplane, you’re tired, and suddenly your skin looks like you never take care of it. But did you know that there are real changes happening to your skin on the plane that make it look and feel a little drab? We know how sensitive our skin can be, and we take special care to pick just the right makeup and products to keep it healthy. But with the hustle and bustle of travel, we don’t always take the same precautions. But drastically changing our environment — say by flying 30,000 feet in the air — might cause some serious changes to our skin. Here are some of the ways that plane travel affects your skin. And here’s how you can combat any damage.

1Humidity, or lack thereof, causes major dryness.


According to Allure, the average airplane has a humidity of about 20%. But our skin prefers humidity in the 40% to 70% range. So on an airplane, your skin will dry out, and that’s probably one of the most obvious experiences you’ve felt while flying. And it’s not just the humidity. According to Dr. Bruce E. Katz, M.D. and Director of JUVA Skin & Laser Center, the artificial pressure in a plane is no picnic for your complexion either.

He explained, "The pressurized environment of a plane is totally unnatural and completely sucks moisture out of the skin, leaving it looking dehydrated and dull."

That definitely explains the dull look we’ve noticed after a long flight. In order to combat in-air dryness, make sure to pack a travel-size moisturizer for the plane to keep your skin as hydrated as possible.

2The pressurized environment in-flight also affects blood flow and dims your perfect glow.

That beautiful post-gym glow or the glow your face gets after a brisk day outside is all thanks to extra blood flow to your face. But on a plane, that glow fades away. Up in the air, a plane creates artificial pressure to keep the environment safe, but it’s not mimicking the pressure at sea level. Instead, most planes are pressurized to the equivalent of 6,000 to 8,000 feet up in the mountains. That reduced pressure reduces blood flow to your skin, which also dulls your complexion. There’s no topical cure for high altitude, but keeping your skin hydrated can help maintain at least a little of that healthy look.

3Being stuck in your seat for too long can lead to post-flight puffiness.

On a plane, you’re stuck in a tight, uncomfortable seat, and there really aren’t a lot of options for getting exercise. According to Allure, that lack of movement in addition to some of the salty snacks you might be enjoying can cause you to retain water, and therefore look a little puffier. Make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and try to avoid unhealthy snacks and alcohol, which contribute to bloating. Also, if you can, take a few breaks to stand, walk up and down the aisle to get a little blood flow going.

4You can get sunburned.


Yeah, we were surprised, too. But it turns out that when you’re that high in the air, you’re also closer to the sun, which makes the effects of UV rays even more potent. And unfortunately, airplane windows aren’t built to block UV rays. In fact, according to a study, pilots are 25 times more likely to get skin cancer, because they spend so much time in the air. So even though you’re inside the plane, make sure to apply sunscreen, so you don’t get any sun damage.

5Your skin will get stressed out by travel, just like you will.


Flying makes a lot of us anxious, and those nerves can also affect your skin. You might be nervous to fly. You might be affected by the general stress of travel. Whatever it is, that stress can have other physical impacts. According to Skincare.com, stress can exacerbate any other skin condition that you might have. So when you’re on the airplane, try to relax to help minimize stress. Do some deep breathing, and maybe listen to soothing music.

6Your skin might actually get oilier.


Probably the most surprising thing about your skin’s reaction to dry air is that it doesn’t always get drier. When your skin dries out, sometimes it compensates by producing more oil, which gives your face that greasy sheen. This gives you another great reason to pack moisturizer to keep the oil and grease at bay. And if you want to keep your look fresh after you get off the plane, bring some blotting papers with you instead.

7You could break out in blemishes.

As we mentioned above, sometimes that dry airplane air can make your skin oilier. And when those oils build up, they can cause blemishes and breakouts. Another reason you might break out is because planes can harbor a lot of germs. To combat this, pack cleansing clothes in your carry-on to make sure your face stays clean and germ-free.

No matter how long your flight is, it’s always important to remember your skincare.

Because wherever your trip takes you, if you remember to protect your skin in-flight, we bet you’ll always look and feel fabulous.