Skincare mid-air: how to stay radiant when travelling.

Ready to soar through the clouds to some exotic location, halfway around the world? We all are. If only we could skip the time in transit. The listless dawdling in airport lounges and duty-free shops. The wriggling about on airplane seats. The hours of screen-gazing inactivity, broken only by rounds of cabin food. The jetlag. The lack of sleep. The dehydration and the dull, dry skin.

Travelling in style is an art and keeping a radiant complexion a challenge (even if your boss freehandedly books you into business class). The endless twilight between night and day throws even the most basic beauty routine out of whack. And when you hop off the jet plane, the weather might be unusually humid, hot or hazy. 

So, here’s your handy guide on how to look after your skin while travelling. It covers the best tips for keeping your face healthy and glowing (hint: it starts before you hop on the plane). We also explain how to cope with cabin pressure and air-conditioning during the flight, as well as tropical heat and city smog at your final destination.

Love your skin. It has to put up with a lot.

No question, there are better things in life than breathing pressurised cabin air. But if we want to see the world, we don’t have much choice.

The common jumbo jet travels at altitudes (between 31,000 and 39,000 feet), which is higher than Mount Everest (at 29,000 feet). As you know, humans cannot breathe independently in these spheres, so engineers have come up with an elaborate solution. They divert hot compressed air from the plane’s engine and, once cooled, redirect it into the cabin.

Cabin air is a trap for pollutants and bugs. Undetectable by the naked eye, microorganisms surround us wherever we go, and the tiniest particles swirl around. Some stem from air fresheners or the stewardess’ hairspray. Others are microscopically small debris from engine fumes or cigarette smoke, laced with toxins and chemicals. Urban dust alone contains 224 toxic chemicals, from polyaromatic hydrocarbons to pesticides and heavy metals.  

Sky-high air pollution: not pretty.

Scientists today rate air pollution as similarly hazardous for our health – and our skin’s health – as the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light. The World Health Organisation estimates seven million people worldwide die prematurely every year due to heart or lung disease linked to air pollution.

While not fatal, bad air also damages to our skin and makes us look older than we are. Particles the size of bacteria enter our pores and stress deeper layers of our skin, causing wrinkles, acne and dark brown spots on our forehead: not pretty.

Luckily, on a plane filters controlling the airflow on commercial planes typically sift out 99 per cent of contaminants from cabin air, but there are still airborne pollutants that emerge directly from the environment.

The 10 best tips for healthy skin before and during air travel.

Think ahead to stay healthy (and sane) when travelling by air. Here are 10 ideas to turn your travel into a breeze and leave your skin glowing.

  1. Get good rest in the days before your flight. Pamper yourself with a nourishing skin mask the evening before your departure.

  2. Check the weather conditions at your destination and prepare accordingly. To protect your skin against harsh sunlight, pack broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat. If travelling into the snow, you may need a thicker mineral-based sunblock to protect your skin against premature ageing.

  3. Pack your favourite beauty products – anti-pollution products are great for flights – in your hand luggage. Lather up on moisturisers and facial sprays before boarding and keep them at hand for a mid-air top-up.

  4. Drink plenty of water. It will work wonders for your energy reserves and your complexion after landing. Electrolyte water is even better. If you don’t have an electrolytic drink at hand, you can achieve the same effect by adding a pinch of Himalayan pink salt to the water the stewardess serves you. Salted nuts also do the trick. There’s nothing wrong with a glass of champagne, but avoid drinking alcohol when flying at high altitude. It saps moisture out of your body and dehydrates your skin, making it look wrinkly, pasty and stressed.

  5. Say ‘no’ to pre-packaged airline food if you want to do your skin a favour. Scientists found fasting has a rejuvenating effect. The reason: your body, temporarily freed from digesting food, can focus all its energy on healing and renewal. If skipping all tin-foiled meals sounds too extreme, you could order the fruit, vegan or raw food option prior to your flight to ensure an ample supply of vitamin-rich foods in their most natural form.

  6. Pack your own natural nibbles to give your skin an on-board energy boost. Carrots, which are rich in vitamin A, can improve your skin tone. Almonds and dried apricots contain vitamin E, a natural antioxidant shielding your skin cells against invisible airborne attackers.

  7. Get up from your seat regularly and walk up and down the aisle to increase your blood flow. Studies show moderate exercise can rejuvenate your skin.

  8. Engage your mind. A good movie or good read can lift your spirits. When you feel refreshed and inspired, you will naturally look more radiant.

  9. Give your skin a good cleanse before landing to wash off dirt. Add moisturiser to replenish your skin, which will likely be dry from the plane’s air-conditioning.

  10. Avoid sleeping pills. They contain fast-acting sedatives that don’t just knock you out, but also dehydrate your skin further.

10 places to visit for clean air…

Breathe deeply. You can’t always choose your travel destination. But if you can, make sure it’s worthy of the oxygen you inhale. These are the countries that frequently make it into the top 10 destinations with the cleanest air.

  1. Finland
  2. Iceland
  3. Sweden
  4. Denmark
  5. Slovenia
  6. Spain
  7. Portugal
  8. Estonia
  9. Malta
  10. France

10 places to visit (or not) for polluted air…

If you plan on visiting the following places, make sure you’re doubly well prepared. Don’t forget to pack your anti-pollution gel and mist and try to leave the hustle of the city as soon as you can. Cleanse your skin thoroughly twice a day to remove any pore-clogging pollutants. These countries host cities with the worst particulate matter concentration (the stuff that makes up pollution):

  1. India
  2. Cameroon
  3. Pakistan
  4. Uganda
  5. Bangladesh
  6. China
  7. Qatar
  8. Mongolia
  9. Kuwait
  10. Saudi Arabia 

After landing – remain in the zone.

No matter how tired you may be feeling (and looking) after arrival, try to remain within the time zone of your destination. This will help restore your body clock. Your complexion will thank you.

The ordeal of the flight may be behind you, but your skin still craves moisture. If you can, jump straight into the water. Or have a shower if there is neither ocean nor pool nearby. Remember to keep topping up on water and nourishing skincare and don’t forget to apply sunscreen. Add an extra layer of protection with anti-pollution skincare by Arné if you happen to stay in smog-prone cities like Delhi or Beijing. You could even give yourself the celebrity treatment and visit an IV vitamin bar to infuse your blood with a high dose of beautifying nutrients (fascinated? Read more in our blog about intravenous vitamin therapy).   

How to protect your skin against urban pollution.

Your skin is your body’s largest organ and it has natural superpowers: it insulates the body against heat, cold, damaging sunlight, bacteria and harmful chemicals. It converts vitamin D into calcium for strong bones and acts like a huge nerve-packed sensor that connects the brain with the outside world.

Unfortunately, our skin is not fool-proof. It’s powerless in combating the ultra-fine particles, toxins and chemicals that fill the air in densely populated cities.

Leading researchers have begun to explore the link between skin damage and air pollution. Their work has inspired a growing range of modern anti-pollution skincare, including Arné, whose job is to keep airborne toxins away from the pores, as well as nourish and protect the skin.

Arné products are rich in vitamins. They also contain antioxidants – the skin’s natural defence force against airborne attackers. And the best thing: anti-pollution skincare works on all your travels, anywhere in the world.

The worst pollutants for your skin are the ones you can’t see. Learn more about air pollution and why you should care.

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