As a beauty editor, a good amount of my job involves travel. Whether it’s going to the northernmost part of Finland to learn about the skin-saving benefits of mushrooms or just across the coast to L.A. to celebrate a fine-fragrance launch, I’ve gotten used to having my carry-on half packed (or rather, never fully unpacked) and always at the ready. This also means that I’ve got my in-flight beauty routine down to a science. My skin type is combination veering on oily and can be best described as fussy and unpredictable. Some days I’ll go weeks with glowing, balanced skin, and sometimes the smallest thing—like eating too much cheese at dinner—can cause me to wake up with dull-looking texture and surprise spots (sad). Needless to say, long flights are not my friend. If I skip my in-flight beauty routine, I’ll arrive at my destination with a T-zone that resembles an oil slick (the airplane air dries out my skin and forces it to overproduce oil). It’s not a pretty sight, so to combat that, I’ve relied on a few key products to keep my hydration levels up during my flight and my skin looking bouncy and fresh when I land. From an invisible sheet mask to makeup-melting wipes, here are the 10 in-flight beauty products I never travel without.
Before I even begin my skincare regimen or move my hands anywhere near the vicinity of my face, I use a hand sanitizer (two words: airplane germs). I like this version from Jao. The chic blue packaging makes me feel extra fancy, and it's also packed with chamomile extract and a bunch of essential oils so my hands don't feel dry after using.
I brought this watermelon-scented mask with me on a recent trip to Paris and could not believe how good my skin looked after landing (it's also the mask I'm wearing in the photo above). The texture of this mask is like a translucent jelly, which makes it way less conspicuous to use than most sheet masks. I loved how pleasantly cooling and refreshing it felt immediately upon using. Ingredient-wise, it's made with soothing watermelon extract, hydrating amino acids, hyaluronic acid, brightening licorice root extract, and more to help your skin stay hydrated in the stuffy airplane air. Plus, it smells like a watermelon popsicle. I'm counting this as a transatlantic in-flight beauty staple.
I never fly with foundation on. Yes, this probably decreases my chances of attracting my future husband if he ever sits next to me on a flight, but I'm willing to make that sacrifice for the good of my skin (and if the day ever comes, hopefully, my sparkling personality will win him over). However, I still like to start with a super-clean slate before I begin my in-flight skincare regimen, so I rely on these gentle makeup wipes from Bliss to remove any leftover makeup or debris. They're made with all of the good stuff—like chamomile, marshmallow extract, and aloe to soothe—and none of the bad stuff (e.g. alcohols or drying sulfates), so my skin feels soft and clean after a few swipes.
Though I like to keep my in-flight skincare regimen streamlined and focused on hydration, I try to layer in a serum for an added boost on longer flights. I received a tiny vial of this cult-favorite serum in one of Ole's travel kits and have included it in my travel toiletry bag ever since. The vitamin C brightens, but I also love that the formula sinks in instantly and doesn't pill up when you layer a moisturizer over it. Plus, the orangesicle scent puts me in a good mood and makes me feel more like I'm in a spa and less like I'm wedged in between a crying baby and a too-talkative seatmate.
This mask is an OG in my travel beauty rotation, and you'll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands for me to give it up. It's specifically designed to give major hydration to dull, dry skin, which makes it perfect to use during long-haul flights. You're supposed to apply a thick layer to your skin, then tissue any excess off after a few minutes, but I like to apply and then let it sink in completely without removing it at all. It's made with a bunch of soothing botanical ingredients like white lily, rose, and iris, and the gel-like texture feels like a tall glass of water for your skin without being sticky at all. I reapply it generously on longer flights, and my skin soaks it all up. Yes, I know it's pricey, but if you're a frequent traveler looking for something to make your skin look amazing post-flight, it might just be worth it (just read the reviews if you don't believe me!).
Whamisa is one of my favorite K-beauty brands. All of the products are made with mostly natural, eco-certified ingredients that have been fermented, so they're more potent and effective. This face mist is my go-to as an in-flight pick-me-up. It's free of fragrances, but the olive-, green tea–, and aloe extract–filled formula has a subtle scent.
I always pack my favorite silk eye mask from Slip for red-eye flights. The silky fabric feels like little clouds over my eyes, and I swear it helps with puffiness, too.
The last 30 minutes before landing, I employ some key makeup products to give my skin a boost. They have to be easy to apply and use considering I'll most likely be applying in my seat without a mirror. Lately, I've been obsessed with this light-reflecting bronzing primer from Australian makeup brand Luma. Not only is it made with natural ingredients, but it also gives me a perfectly sun-kissed look that makes it seem like I've just gotten back from a beach day. Plus, unlike a lot of other primers, it doesn't leave me looking greasy by midday.
My lips tend to look colorless when they're dry, which is why I'm never without my trusty Dior Lip Glow in general, but especially when I'm traveling. My go-to shade is coral, which gives a peachy-pink tint to my lips while also hydrating them. One swipe and I no longer look like I've just arrived from the underworld.
If I've carried out every step of my in-flight regimen, hopefully, my skin is in its best possible state (considering the part where it's been subjected to hours of recycled air) by the time I land. Depending on if I'm seeing someone I hope to impress, I'll end my regimen with a light, tinted-moisturizer-type product just to help smooth things out. I'm currently into Benefit's new foundation, which blurs out my pores and hides my blackheads when I apply a light layer in my T-zone area. Plus, the bottle itself is small and plastic (and cute!), which makes it easy to travel with.