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10 Beauty Tips for Surviving the Long Haul Flight 

(… and HOPEFULLY emerging on the other side of the planet looking fab)

For those of us toughing it out in Economy class for upwards of 20 hours, the worst thing is arriving on the other side of the world in the middle of the day looking as bad as you feel.

Here are a few ways to mitigate the “damage”.

1. NO to thick makeup.

I’ve heard of women who sit there for 20 hours with a full face of makeup. Now, why would you want to do that if you wouldn’t wear your foundation for 24 hours straight in real life? Not only would you be unable to moisturize your face in-flight, but your makeup would be horribly cakey by the time you arrive.

2. YES to moisture on the inside.

Drink lots of water and avoid too much caffeine, soda, alcohol. You lose a lot of moisture in the air, AND you also “expand” due to the air pressure change, so the last thing you want is to arrive bloated and sluggish from too much alcohol or sodium.

3. YES to moisture on the outside.

The cold dry cabin air can wreak havoc on normal-to-dry skins. The whole trick to looking fresh and beautiful at the end is to make sure you prevent moisture loss BEFORE your skin gets to the point where repair is needed.

Something that contains ceramide oils does the trick for me. In fact, they’re often better than thicker, heavier, more expensive creams (La Mer, I’m looking at you). (Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Capsules are an old favorites of mine. They’re lightweight, non-greasy, hygienic and come in sealed doses that won’t violate any air security regulations.

4. NO to contact lenses.

Even if I wear them onto the plane, I remove them on long flights and pop on my glasses. You don’t want to doze off and wake up with the things fused to your eyeballs from the dryness. NOT fun to try and peel them off.

5. YES to lightweight, comfortable clothes that are long-sleeved and cover your entire leg.

It can get cold up there, so unless you’re the kind that walks out into 10 degree Celsius weather in a T-shirt, you will be freezing. Most airlines provide comforters for warmth, but wearing a long-sleeved T or jersey and tights or stretchy pants can really help retain heat AND also keep your skin from drying out too much.

6. YES to dry shampoo.

I don’t know about you but while my skin dries up, my hair gets limp and greasy after 24 hours.  That’s where dry shampoo works wonders. It’s not exactly going to make you feel clean, but at least you won’t feel as gross.

7. YES to socks.

If you don’t fancy wearing your shoes for 20 hours and want to remove them, at least bring a pair of clean socks and wear those so your feet stay clean, AND you don’t unintentionally stink up the cabin.

8. NO to inflight-shopping.

I’m a fan of Duty Free stores, but not so much the push carts on the plane. It might be tempting to get an “exclusive” Dior or Chanel clutch compact with 4 shadows, 2 blushers, 1 highlighter, 1 mini-mascara, 1 eyeliner and 2 lipstick shades, but all these jumbo packs of travel-sized or full-sized items weren’t tailored for anyone in particular, and are just a waste of money because you’ll only like some of the items in there. Have fun flipping through the catalogue, but do your actual shopping after you land, when you can swatch, smear, smell and test properly.

9. YES to sleep.

What with stopovers, turbulence, announcements and wailing babies in the cabin, you’ll need all the rest you can get. Things that help include an inflatable neck-rest pillow, ear plugs, eye shades, and for the desperate, sleeping pills or melatonin.

10. YES to fasting.

This is just food for thought. A recent study found that fasting for about 16 hours prior to touch down, and then breaking your fast by having “breakfast” at an hour that corresponds to your destination tricks your body into resetting its circadian cycle and allows you to minimize or completely skip the jetlag. (e.g. If you are landing at 12pm in New York, start your first meal 3-4 hours before that, as if you were having “breakfast” in New York.) I usually end up sleeping through most of the flight so I don’t even consciously fast. But if you have blood sugar issues, don’t risk your health and sanity; eat when you need to.

My Routine:

  • Get to seat, store any carry-on that you need, with the exception of a small “beauty pouch”.
  • Go to lavatory, cleanse face with mild cleanser (or remove makeup if needed) and slap on ceramide oil and plenty of moisturizer. Remove lenses, put on glasses.
  • Go back to seat, get comfortable and start moisturizing all other exposed parts of my body. (I keep a tube of moisturizer in the back pocket of the seat in front, beside the inflight magazines, and reapply liberally every couple of hours.) The trick is not to wait until it gets dry and flaky.
  • Look through ALL the magazines.
  • Catch a show or two.
  • Eat a light meal if I’m hungry when it’s served.
  • Zzz
  • Wake to eat and freshen up
  • Wash face, moisturize once again, and then apply minimal makeup (Face & Body Foundation by MAC, Studiofinish concealer, mascara, lip balm).
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