what airplanes actually do to your skin

There’s no doubt that airplane travel is not ideal for the body – all of that sitting in small, cramped seats, avoiding your coughing, contagious neighbor, and losing sleep. While there’s no way to eliminate all of the negative effects of flying, we can provide tips on how to take care of your skin… pre, mid, and post-flight!

But first, let’s break down some facts about what exactly airplanes and flying can do to our skin.

planes dehydrate the skin..even more than you might think

Humidity in the air is helpful for maintaining healthy moisture levels. Unfortunately, the humidity levels in aircraft cabins tend to be VERY low - usually under 20%. To put that in perspective, most homes have an average humidity level of around 40%!

Low moisture levels aren’t great for skin for a few reasons. The skin is the body’s largest organ, and, like any other organ, it needs to be hydrated in order to perform and thrive. When the skin is dehydrated, it can become flaky, itchy, and red. Dry skin can also cause your skin to produce excess oil in an attempt to counteract the dryness, leading to clogged pores and inflammation.

low air pressure reduces oxygen flow

Low air pressure in airplanes can also be hazardous to the skin. Thanks to cabin pressure controllers, we don’t feel or see the actual pressure of the airplane’s cruising height (usually around 35,000 feet), but the pressure change can still have an impact on your skin.

Air pressure is lower at higher elevations, and as a result, your blood isn’t able to carry as much oxygen. Weaker oxygen flow throughout the body (also known as hypoxia) can cause the skin to appear dull and lackluster. Why?  Because circulation is the key to a healthy glow.

*Random side note: the reduced oxygen flow on airplanes also explains why you may have some fluid build up or swelling in your feet (and why your shoes feel tighter!).

so how can you keep your skin happy in the air?

exfoliate before traveling

Exfoliating the day before or the morning of your trip can help you keep your skin hydrated, even in the dry climate of a plane. Using gentle exfoliants, like our sea moss exfoliator, can help you remove dead cells from your skin’s surface, so that your skin is able to absorb products without interference. That way, your moisturizers can really sink into your skin and deliver their hydrating actives deeper.

massage and moisturize

Don’t forget to pack your moisturizers in your carry-on! Moisturizing mid-flight is super helpful if you’re working to counteract the skin-drying effects of flying in real time. Our top recommendation is our travel-friendly mymatcha all-over moisture stick, especially for the delicate skin around your eyes. Matcha is rich in chlorophyll, antioxidants, and polyphenols, which will help nourish and protect the skin in dry environments. The caffeine in matcha is also great for improving circulation. Try massaging the stick on any dull, dry areas of your face.

Another of our favorites for flying is our golden elixir, which absorbs quickly, leaving skin and hair nourished, hydrated, and rejuvenated. We also love to treat ourselves to a gentle facial massage during your flight; a little light massaging action can help offset the effects of the high altitude by improving blood flow to the skin.


Looking for even deeper hydration? Try using an essence, like our glow essence with sea grape caviar, before moisturizing. Essences help improve absorption of whatever products you use after, so your moisturizers will be able to sink in deeper and really do their jobs.

avoid the harsh UV rays

Unfortunately, plane windows can’t be counted on to block harmful UV rays! When flying, you’re obviously closer to the sun, meaning that the effects of UV rays will be much stronger. As a result, your skin will be more susceptible to oxidative stress.

As fun as it can be to daydream out the plane window, the best thing for your skin is to  keep the shade shut or avoid the window seat altogether. It’s also helpful to wear sunscreen during your flight – while it may seem strange to be wearing sunscreen in an “indoor” environment, your skin will thank you!

avoid alcohol and caffeine

We get it – sometimes, nothing sounds better than a blood mary to get you through a bumpy flight, or a cup of joe to relieve that travel-induced headache. But while alcohol and caffeine may feel like they’re taking the edge off, they can actually make your flight experience a bit rougher.

Alcohol and caffeine are both considered to be diuretics. Essentially, they cause the body to produce more urine, resulting in greater water loss. The lack of humidity on the plane is more than enough to dehydrate you and your skin, so it’s best to avoid diuretics that cause extra moisture loss. And of course, make sure to drink lots and lots of water!

reduce stress and practice calmness

Traveling can be stressful - there’s no way to completely avoid tight spaces, crowds, and delays, especially during the holidays. But there are steps you can take to help you decrease stress, which will help to boost your mood and with that, your complexion.

We swear by mid-flight meditation, especially if you feel irritated in tight spaces or by flying in general. There are so many great meditation apps out there, so plug in your headphones, close your eyes, and put your mind and body at ease through concentration and intention.

Not really the meditating type? Put together a playlist of relaxing music, podcasts, or audiobooks that will take your mind off the plane and into a more peaceful state. We also love to utilize the powerful effects of aromatherapy when flying. Essential oils such as lavender, ylang ylang, bergamot, and jasmine are great for stress relief and mood-boosting, and they’re easy to pack in your carry-on for a mid-flight pick me up.

we hope that these tips leave you and your skin a little happier and healthier during your holiday travels! let us know your skincare travel tricks below, or email us at info@cocokind.com with any questions!