How to Stay Looking Fresh When Traveling Internationally

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As an American living in Britain, a certain amount of international travel is compulsory for me, if I’m to see my family on a regular basis.  I deal with my guilt about the carbon footprint of international fights by buying carbon offset credits and trying to create as little waste along the journey as I can.  

One of the challenges of international travel is that it can leave you looking tired, dehydrated, and generally ragged.  I don’t care who you are, flying through the night is hard on your body, your immune system, and your skin.  But with a little preparation, you can help mitigate the bedraggling effects of trans-Atlantic travel. 

Hydrate. 

Then hydrate some more.  Finally, hydrate.  Fill up your reusable water bottle before you get on the plane, and drink slowly throughout your flight.  You may need to bring two bottles if your flight is particularly long.  Skip coffee, soft-drinks, and caffeinated beverages when the flight attendant comes by.  If you need something more exciting than plain water, opt for seltzer.  Ask for the whole can, skip the cup, and take the can with you when you go, to recycle at your next opportunity.  Party on. 

Opt for healthy snacks. 

The snacks on offer on airplanes are typically not the healthiest fare.  Peanuts loaded with salt, refined pretzels, and cookies aren’t doing your skin any favors.  Grab some fresh fruit and nuts before the flight.  If you can plan ahead and bring zero waste healthy snacks from home, so much the better.  Bulk nuts and fresh or dried fruit are my favorites. 

Moisturize. 

I don’t know why airplanes seem to zap your skin of all its moisture, but they do.  I moisturize on the plane for anything longer than a 2 hour flight.  Right now I'm loving Yay For Earth Sensitive Skin Face Lotion

Take off makeup before a long flight. 

If you’re flying overnight, your best bet for not looking like you were dragged behind the plane the whole way is to remove your makeup before you get on the plane.  Stash a small eyedropper bottle of almond or olive oil in your carry-on for the job.  Slather on some moisturizer and allow your skin to be resting and recovering while you’re winging your way over the ocean.  

Bring face oil.

On international flights, I like to apply some of my favorite face oil after I wake up, before landing.  It gives my skin a little dose of moisture to tide me over until I can splash my face with water in the terminal.  Right now I’m loving Herbfarmacy’s Rose & Mallow Facial Oil

Have a salad on your layover. 

It can be hard to find healthy food in airports, but if you can find a sit-down restaurant where you can have a zero waste salad, do it.  Leafy greens are great for restoring your skin, and are much better for you than the sodium-laden meals offered on long flights, or the fast food that can sometimes tempt us in airport terminals.  In-flight meals, aside from lacking much nutrition to speak of, are inherently wasteful, since most everything is packaged in single-use plastic.  Try to fill up on healthy stuff before you take off, or bring it with you in your own containers (yes, you can go through airport security with food!). 

Skip the booze. 

I know, I know, I love the ritual of a pre-flight glass of wine as much as the next person.  But traveling is rough on your skin even without alcohol.  Getting drunk before you get on a plane isn’t going to help your cause.  Same goes for in-flight.  If you must treat yourself to some free wine on the plane, just make sure you’re drinking plenty of water along with it, and if possible try to avoid using a single use plastic cup. 

Minimize the caffeine. 

Get green tea instead of coffee on your layover (in your own reusable cup, of course!).  I love grabbing a cup of coffee between flights and chilling out with my book.  But too much coffee, especially on a travel day, tends to make me look even more ragged.  It leaves me dehydrated and zapped once the caffeine wears off.  Green tea has antioxidants and a whole load of good stuff for you, and much less caffeine.  It’s a little pick me up without the downsides.  Plus your breath will be much nicer. 

Don’t forget your lips. 

Your lips can get dried out on flights too!  Don’t forget a natural lip balm in your carry-on, and reapply any time you start to feel dry.  I love Los Poblanos Lavender Lip Salve

Try to get some sleep. 

Bring a neck pillow and try to catch some z’s, especially on overnight flights.  If you’ve followed my advice and skipped the coffee and booze, this will be much easier.  Watch a relaxing movie or listen to a podcaster with a gentle voice, and drift off as you float on to your destination. 

Take your supplements. 

Before you doze off, pop a probiotic and some Vitamin D.  Both are going to help protect your skin against any number of weird things that may ravage it while you’re on an airplane. 

Brush your teeth.

Load your bamboo toothbrush with toothpaste and pack it in your carry-on.  You’ll feel much more awake and human if you can give your teeth a good scrub.  Just don’t use the water in the plane lavatory - it’s notoriously disgusting!  Wait until you get to your destination and hit the terminal bathroom sink, or use water from your reusable bottle. 

Quickly freshen up. 

If you want to apply makeup, make it quick and minimal in the bathroom at your destination.  I love RMS Lip2Cheek on my apples and my pout for an instant pickup, some Elate Brow Balm and a sweep of RMS Mascara to make my eyes look more awake.  Your skin will already be moisturized and dewy, so you won’t need much!  


How do you stay fresh on a long flight?  Would love to hear your ideas!

How to Stay Looking Fresh When Traveling Internationally