Air travel has made it possible for us to explore far-flung corners of the world with relative ease. However, the convenience of modern aviation can come with an unexpected cost: our skin health. The conditions inside an airplane can impact our skin in several ways, causing dryness, dullness, and other skin issues. Understanding these impacts can help us prepare effectively and maintain our skin's health even when we travel.
To begin with, it's important to note that airplane cabins have incredibly low humidity levels—often less than 20%. This is significantly lower than what most of us are used to, and our skin definitely feels the difference. The lack of moisture in the cabin air can strip hydration from the outer layer of our skin, leading to dryness and flakiness. This is particularly concerning for people with already dry or sensitive skin, as it can exacerbate these conditions.
Furthermore, the low humidity can make oily skin produce more oil to compensate for the dryness, potentially leading to breakouts. To combat this, moisturizing thoroughly before, during, and after the flight can help keep your skin hydrated. Look for hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides in your skincare products.
Pressurized cabin air also impacts our skin. The high altitude can decrease blood flow, leaving our skin looking dull and lifeless. A decrease in circulation can slow down the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the skin cells, impeding the natural rejuvenation process. To counteract this, try to move around as much as you can during the flight to stimulate blood flow.
The recirculated cabin air also traps pollutants and toxins, which can clog your pores, leading to breakouts and inflammation. A thorough cleanse before and after the flight can help remove these toxins from your skin. Opting for non-comedogenic skincare and makeup products can also prevent clogged pores.
Radiation exposure is another concern during flights. Although airplanes are designed to protect against most of the sun's harmful rays, you're still exposed to some degree of UV radiation, especially on long-haul flights. UV exposure at high altitudes can be more intense than at ground level and can contribute to premature aging and skin cancer risk. Applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, even when you're inside the plane, is a good precautionary measure.
Jet lag can also have an impact on your skin. Disruptions to our circadian rhythm can affect skin cell function, leading to increased dryness and a dull complexion. Keeping your skincare routine consistent can help mitigate these effects.
In-flight meals and beverages, while convenient, often contain high amounts of salt and sugar, which can dehydrate the skin and exacerbate puffiness. Packing healthy snacks like nuts and fruits and drinking plenty of water can help you avoid these issues.
It's important to remember that skincare doesn't end when the plane lands. Post-flight skincare is just as crucial as in-flight skincare. Upon reaching your destination, cleanse your skin thoroughly, apply a hydrating mask or a deeply nourishing moisturizer, and make sure to get plenty of rest.
Lastly, the effect of travel on the skin is not just about what happens in the air. Changes in climate and water quality at your destination can also impact your skin. Bringing travel-sized versions of your regular skincare products can ensure that your skin has consistent care, and researching the climate of your destination beforehand can help you prepare effectively.
In conclusion, air travel can indeed take a toll on your skin, but being aware of these impacts can help you take steps to minimize them. Hydrating thoroughly, maintaining your skincare routine, eating healthily, and protecting against UV radiation can help keep your skin looking its best, no matter where your travels take you. After all, exploring the world should be enriching for both your mind and your body.