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Your skin, hair, and breath will thank you. (As will your seat companion.)

By Susan Brickell
October 30, 2018

One of the most stressful things about holiday travel is the getting there. A cramped plane is not the most comfortable environment, as the cabin often feels like it's been sucked dry of moisture, leaving you with dragon breath, parched skin, and lackluster hair upon landing. Oof.

“Travel, especially flying on planes, draws a lot of moisture out of skin because of the lower-than-ideal humidity levels, [which are] often as low as 20%,” says New York-based dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD. While there's certainly no avoiding these conditions when you're on a plane, there are a few methods (and lifesaving products) you can employ to get you through your flight. 

To prepare for air travel, Dr. Nazarian recommends hydrating skin from the inside (drink plenty of water) and outside by washing with a very mild cleanser the week before flying. She also suggests avoiding exfoliating brushes or harsh treatments like chemical peels that may weaken the skin barrier. On the day of your flight, be sure to apply sunscreen, since ultraviolet rays are much more intense at high altitudes, she says. Products that contain hyaluronic acid draw in moisture and are most effective within the first few hours of usage, she adds that you should lather creams and masks on after boarding your flight.

Not only is altitude rough on skin, but it can also cause bad breath. At 30,000 feet, the air is very cold and can’t hold much moisture, which is not ideal for the oral cavity. "Since dry mouth is a major cause of bad breath, a low-humidity cabin can contribute to dehydration and therefore cause halitosis,” says Gigi Meinecke, DMD, a Maryland-based dentist with the Academy of General Dentistry. She suggests skipping caffeinated beverages, since caffeine worsens dehydration. (Yes, that means passing on the coffee and tea, since they also enable stinky breath.) “I stick with plain water, which cleans the tongue—a major source of volatile sulfur compounds, a known cause of bad breath—and keeps you hydrated and producing enough saliva,” adds Dr. Meinecke.

Because flying can take a serious (and unwelcome) toll on your skin, hair, and body, we’ve created a sanity-saving kit that you can use to squeeze in some much needed self-care while traveling. Bonus: all products are carry-on friendly. 

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