Show me someone who actually enjoys flying and you'll have shown me a unicorn. Personally, more often than not, the entire flying process is atrocious. There's the mile-long security line, TSA rummaging through my things, the likelihood of having to do a surprise bag-check once I hand in my boarding pass, cramped seats—I could go on. And then, once you're in-flight, you could lose up to one and a half liters of water from the lowered cabin air pressure and humidity. Just kicking you when you're down, right?
But while we might not be able to control airport conditions or a less-than-cozy plane situation, we can control the fate of our skin (to some extent). And because we fly so often as beauty editors, we've found just the right hydrating skincare carry-on essentials (in addition to chugging bottles of water, of course) so we can step off the jet bridge glowing and ready to take on our new destinations.
Hallie Gould, Senior Editor
"I absolutely love this stuff. I use it to refresh makeup, prime, and highlight on normal days and for an extra dose of hydration on planes. All you need to do is warm a few drops between your fingertips and pat it on your skin. The formula includes seven plant oils, each with a high concentration of fatty acids, but it still feels super light—never greasy. It just melts into your skin in the most luxurious of ways."
"Kopari's balm offers a glossy, melty shine that isn't sticky in the slightest. It's a blend of coconut oil, vitamin E, and shea butter to keep dryness at bay (no matter the altitude). I reapply a few times during the flight and never experience that dry, chapped feeling the whole way through. Plus, it smells like vacation."
"This is a new product love of mine, and it's getting serious. I have a self-admitted spray-tan obsession, but my face always loses color before my body does (courtesy of my intricate skincare routine). This light, cooling, tropical-scented spritz remedies that. You can spray it on anywhere, anytime (no matter what you're wearing, as it's colorless), and the blend of natural tanning agents and hibiscus imparts a shockingly natural glow. I spray it on before takeoff and de-plane with a tan."
Faith Xue, Editorial Director
"I used this new mask on a recent trip to Paris and left the plane looking like I had just gotten the best beauty sleep of my life. I love that it's completely clear, so I didn't scare off the stewardess (until she got super close). It's also pleasantly cooling and sticks to your skin like, well, second skin (because we all know there's nothing worse than a sheet mask that slides off your face and gets in your eyes). My oily skin usually gets dehydrated on long flights and ends up overproducing oil as a result, thus making me look scary/shiny.
But this watermelon-based, amino acid– and hyaluronic acid–filled mask helped keep my skin hydrated and balanced so when I stepped off the plane, I was glowing. It's now one of my travel essentials."
Lindsey Metrus, Managing Editor
"I wish I could say I was shameless enough to wear a sheet mask on a plane (Faith is really on to something with the Glow Recipe mask, though…), but I'd rather not scare my seatmate when the quality of my flight is largely dependent upon how decent they are toward me. So when I want the effects of a mask without the Michael Myers effect (the fictional killer, not the Shrek actor), I reach for these gel packs. They're all the good stuff you get from a sheet mask minus the sheet, including aloe, algae, shea butter, and ceramides.
I'm always insanely glowy post-flight after patting one on."
"This is without a doubt one of the most hydrating lip balms I've ever used. I bought it on a whim one below-zero winter day when my lips were so chapped they were cracking, and within about one day, they were practically back to normal. I bring one with me every time I fly to bring parched plane lips back to life."
Victoria Hoff, Wellness Editor and Managing Editor for The/Thirty
"I've become a pro at sleeping on planes, but it's a lot tougher to do so when your seatmate's book light is burning a hole in your eyelids at 2 a.m. I only use Slip's Silk Eye Mask—it's so comfortable and doesn't mess with my hair. That paired with a very quiet Spotify playlist always puts me to sleep in minutes."
"I've seen people pull out sheet masks on flights before, but I try to be a little more inconspicuous about my midair skincare. The only requirements I really have are a one-liter water bottle and a kick-ass moisturizer since my skin gets so dry. I love this night cream from Grown Alchemist because it's intensely hydrating but also still feels considerably light."
Maya Allen, Assistant Editor
"Something about high altitudes dries my skin all the way out. No matter how moisturized my skin is from the start, every single time I fly, my pores feel extra tight and thirsty afterward. It wasn't until recently that I picked up this life hack to keep my skin from feeling severely dehydrated: taking the travel-size version of all my all-time favorite facial oil on flights. I seriously swear by this stuff. A soon as I massage it on, my skin instantly feels cloaked in moisture and looks noticeably brighter.
It is made from 100% pure marula fruit, so it's gentle enough to soothe my sensitive skin. It has a permanent spot in my bag whenever I need a quick re-up on hydration."
"I always look very tired after flights. This aloe-infused spray wakes me right up. It has a cooling effect, which is refreshing after a long flight. It also contains green tea, so every time I spritz this on it feels very luxurious and calming. After applying my marula oil, I spray this all over my face, neck, and décolleté area. It's the perfect combination that makes me actually look like I slept for eight hours. Its fresh scent is so heavenly it's even grabbed the attention of the person next to me on my flight.
I'm never letting this combination go."
Erin Jahns, Assistant Editor
"If I had to choose just one lip product to wear for the rest of my life, this would be it. It's the perfect tint for my dark pink lips, it plumps fine lines, it lends some hydration, and best of all it feels smooth and silky (versus sticky) post-application. If I ever forget to pack it in my carry-on, my consistently parched lips and I will probably have a meltdown."
"I have the same reaction to most face mists as a terrified 3-year-old has to a sprinkler (or a cat to a bath, you get the idea). Aka, I don't really like them. I want to like them, but if I'm being honest, they make me flinch, and I don't find them refreshing. Except for this cult favorite from Caudalie. Not only does it feel luxurious and fancy to bring with you while traveling, but it also preserves my complexion's moisture levels, which is a must. Plus, the mist is so fine, I barely notice the droplets as I'm spritzing."
"I'm usually pretty picky when it comes to hand cream purely because I'm convinced the majority of them don't work. Or at least, they don't seem to work on me and my perpetually dry and cracked skin. This one is TSA-approved, smells like rose, soaks in immediately, and actually leaves my hands silky soft."
Up next, check out the products Korean women always bring on planes.