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Dermatologists share their skincare essentials on board an airplane

It’s no secret that recirculated air on airplanes dries out your skin, but what if you can only bring a liter-sized bag of liquids? To help us figure out which skincare products to pack in our carry-on, HuffPost consulted with three board-certified dermatologists. Below, you’ll find their product recommendations under three categories: cleansing, moisturizing, and protecting.

Since cabin containers must be 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less, we recommend choosing travel sizes of your skin care products (if they exist) or transferring them to waterproof containers like these. Cadence magnetic capsules or LiquiSnugs Silicone Travel Bottles.


For long flights, cleansing your skin – especially if you’re wearing makeup – is a must. Dr. Whitney Bowe, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City. “If I’m traveling for work and doing my makeup, I’ll remove my makeup with micellar water and a reusable cloth,” she told HuffPost. “One of my favorite micellar waters is Bioderma Sensibio H2O because I find it very gentle and leaves my skin hydrated and soothed, not tight and dry. At home, she usually follows this step with a mild water-based cleanser (“to remove any surfactants from the skin”), but skips this step in-flight for convenience.

When it comes to makeup wipes, Bowe isn’t a fan. “They’re incredibly harsh on our skin barrier and, despite what they say, aren’t the best option for the planet,” she said. “Single-use products, whether they claim to be biodegradable or not, almost always end up in a landfill.”

If makeup remover wipes are a must-have for your on-the-go skincare routine, Papri Sarkara certified dermatologist based in Brookline, Massachusetts, likes those of Clean Skin Club. “They’re non-irritating and come in multiple sizes,” she said. “My favorites are the extra large ones, but they can be bulkier for the plane.” She uses them if she feels like she has too many layers of product on her face. “I can erase everything and start over.”


To keep her skin beautiful and hydrated, Janet Allenby, the founder of Allenby Cosmetic Dermatology in Delray Beach, Florida packs a travel bottle of Avène thermal water and sprays it all over her face and neck. “Avene Eau Thermale is a range of products from specific mountain springs in France that help restore and maintain the quality of the skin barrier needed to retain our skin’s natural moisture,” she explained. . “It has an excellent track record for helping people with severe eczema and skin barrier issues.”

Next, Allenby seals in this light water mist with topical hyaluronic acid; Alastin HA (Hyaluronic Acid) Immersion Serum if she stays awake or Avène Cicalfate+ Repairing Protective Cream if she sleeps on the plane. “Alastin’s Immerse HA Serum is one of many excellent topical hyaluronic acids available that immediately draws water into the skin and helps retain it,” she said. “I really like the feel and how it absorbs quickly without feeling sticky.”

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When choosing the moisturizer to go, Sarkar considers its final destination. If she is going somewhere warm, a light moisturizing lotion like Belif’s The True Cream Aqua Bomb is his go-to. “It never feels heavy and I love it under sunscreen or makeup because it doesn’t pill,” she said. “I hate feeling like I have things on my face and it’s great for that.”

Bowe uses a hydrating serum followed by a rich moisturizer to trap moisture in her skin. His current favorites are Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intense Hydration Serum and Glossier After Balm. “It’s vegan and fragrance-free, and feels rich without popping me,” she said. If her skin is particularly dry or inflamed, she applies a thin layer of La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Balm B5. “It’s a soothing and nourishing balm that helps keep moisture locked into the skin, protecting our skin barrier.”

For dry hands due to frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizer, Sarkar uses CeraVe Healing Ointment. “It’s a great barrier product,” she said. “It helps keep the moisture in my skin and never stings, burns or causes irritation. People sometimes think it’s makeup because it goes on like a lip gloss but it’s colorless. In a pinch, she used it as a makeshift highlighter and mascara.


When talking to dermatologists, sunscreen inevitably comes up, and it’s the same here. They recommend wearing sunscreen on the plane, and even reapplying some if you’re on a long flight (especially if you have a window seat).

“Some studies done years ago showed that pilots and cabin crew have much higher rates of melanoma than the average person“, said Sarkar. “The data is a bit old but it makes sense. There is much more UV radiation at 30,000 feet than on the ground!

Sarkar uses Isntree Hyaluronic Acid Aerated Sun Stick SPF 50+. “There’s no white plaster, it’s less than 3 ounces, it’s in stick form, so it never squirts or spills from the increased pressure of the booth, and it’s easy to apply without using your hands,” she said. “Even my kids don’t care.”

Bowe notes that sunscreen is “absolutely critical” during long flights. “I apply it either first thing in the morning on night flights or every two hours on day flights,” she said. “I generally prefer lightweight sunscreens because I usually layer them over a vitamin C serum and moisturizer, but if I’m on the fly I like to look for a richer, more nourishing option that acts as a moisturizer plus a sunscreen in one.” She listed the Kinship Self Reflect Sport SPF 60 as a solid option that is very rich and leaves her skin feeling super hydrated.

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