20 October 2016Last updated

Beauty | Grooming

In-flight glamour

Taking to the skies doesn’t just wreak havoc on your sleep cycle; it also messes up your hair and skin. Louise Emma Clarke talks to experts and lists 10 essential beauty tips for arriving at your destination in style

By Louise Emma Clarke
27 Jun 2016 | 12:19 pm
  • Source:Supplied Image 1 of 3
  • If you want to moisturise but don’t fancy scaring your fellow passengers, apply a clear gel-formula mask.

    Source:iStock Image 2 of 3
  • Your lips feel the dryness first during a long haul, a sign that humidity has dropped, so apply lip balm regularly.

    Source:Getty Images Image 3 of 3

Summer is here – and whether we are missing family or seeking a break from the heat, it has been reported that flight bookings among UAE residents are up 10 per cent this summer on previous years. That’s a lot of air miles, along with a high percentage of us starting to think about cramming our entire summer wardrobes into one suitcase and wondering how we can possibly keep our hand luggage under the weight limit.

But among the cramming and planning, we mustn’t forget our skin and hair. ‘For some women flying is a total nightmare, while others breeze off a plane like they just walked out of a beauty salon,’ says top international make-up artist and beauty blogger Annie Levy ( ‘But with a little bit of prep we can all step off a plane looking like an international jet-setter.’

Why bother with the extra care? Rebecca Treston, founder and manager of Rebecca Treston Aesthetics, Euromed Clinic Dubai, says, ‘Pressurised cabins have low levels of humidity and are very dry places to be for any length of time. Research suggests that for humans to be comfortable, humidity should be at between 30 and 64 per cent – but in an aircraft, it can drop to 2 per cent and the natural moisture in your skin quickly evaporates. This means your face, hands and other extremities will start to feel dry and look dull and parched.

‘What’s more, if you get stressed while travelling your skin can suffer even more. Stress produces the hormone cortisol, which impacts the skin’s ability to function as a barrier and contributes to redness, blotchiness and breakouts.’

And it isn’t just our skin. Hair is also prone to becoming drier in texture and unmanageable with static during a long-haul. But short of investing in a first-class ticket and bringing along a team of make-up artists and hair stylists on board to help us spruce up pre-landing (we can dream, at least), what should we be doing to step off a flight looking like an A-Lister? With the help of a panel of experts, we’ve compiled 10 essential beauty tips for staying fresh until the plane touches down on exotic shores.


1 Exfoliate It isn’t an obvious addition to your pre-flight checklist, but top make-up artist Ruby Hammer says exfoliating skin before you head to the airport is a must for avoiding dehydration.

‘I always try to exfoliate my face and body at home so the products I use in-flight have a chance to sink in and are not sitting on the surface of my skin,’ she says.


Pick a gentle scrub so as not to irritate your skin before check-in. Urban Veda Purifying Exfoliating Facial Polish (Dh95, is ideal, combining natural pumice with neem and essential oils.

2 Moisturise ‘The humidity inside a plane cabin is lower than in most deserts,’ says Boots No7 Skincare Advisor Samantha Greaves. ‘This can result in dehydration, sensitivity and tired, dull skin.’ The solution? Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!


Apply an intensive moisturiser liberally the morning of your flight and top off just before take-off. Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream Ultra-Rich (Dh670, is a great choice, with a rich base of amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins and seaweed.

3 Minimise make-up ‘We all know flying with a full face of make-up is terrible for our skin, but there’s no chance of me leaving the house and wandering around an airport barefaced in this lifetime,’ admits make-up artist Annie Levy. ‘Replace your base with a light BB or CC cream to wear to the airport. This way if you do leave it on throughout the flight, you’re not being too awful to your skin.’


Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream Hydrating Colour Corrector (Dh175, counters nationwide) promises to correct redness and dullness in your skin, while offering an extra boost in hydration as you hit the skies.

4 Don’t forget your hair ‘When we fly, our hair like our skin is subjected to cabin pressure and air-conditioning, which can suck the moisture out,’ says Ian Rotman of HOB Salons in the UK. ‘Meanwhile, our body temperature varies when we sleep and the combination of the two creates an alien environment for hair.’


Make your hair as much a priority as your skin by applying a leave-in conditioner from roots to tips before you fly, such as Philip B Lovin’ Leave In Conditioner (Dh130, The non-greasy formula will infuse your locks with moisture without any mess.


Before take off, tie your hair back into a loose plait at the nape of your neck (for comfortable travelling with no neck kinks) or pull it into a scarf to keep it protected from static until the seatbelt lights switch off at the other end. We love the simple, soft styles of Zara scarfs (Dh49, stores nationwide).


5 Drink water ‘The single most important thing to do is to drink water, because long-haul flights are the ultimate dehydrators,’ says nutritional therapist Petronella Ravenshear ( ‘Book yourself an aisle seat and begin hydrating before you fly with a litre of water. Aim for at least half a litre every hour on board. Drinking masses of water has the added advantage of necessitating regular trips to the washroom – moving about makes deep-vein thrombosis less likely.’

6 Apply a mask Applying a face mask as soon as you board is a great way to infuse your skin with moisture as you sit back and enjoy the in-flight entertainment.

‘I totally don’t care if someone looks at me funny on the plane,’ admits top make-up artist Gucci Westman. ‘I just go for the sheet mask because I feel like my skin freaks out completely on the plane – especially on long flights.’


If applying a sheet mask is a bit out of your comfort zone (and we’re with you on that one), pick a clear, gel formula mask that won’t be so obvious to your fellow travellers. Eisenberg Melt-In Repairing Mask (Dh550, Paris Gallery) is perfect for this, and at just 75ml (a little goes a very long way with this wonder product), you won’t 
even need to decant it into small, travel-sized bottles.

7 Spray your face ‘A refreshing and hydrating spray is a brilliant product to have on a plane,’ says make-up artist Annie Levy. ‘I spray it liberally throughout the fight to refresh and hydrate skin. You can decant these into small spray bottles.’


Dermalogica Antioxidant HydraMist (Dh189, is the perfect product for the job, combining hydrating, nourishing and anti-ageing ingredients to keep your skin supple and moisturised throughout. Decant it into a purse-sized clear spray bottle, such as those sold by Muji, from Dh20 at stores nationwide.

8 Slather on lip balm Make sure your lips are pampered on long-hauls, as they are often the first area to show signs of dehydration. ‘Lips always feel dry first,’ says New York-based dermatologist Ellen Marmur ( ‘This is a sign the humidity has dropped and it’s time for more moisture.”


L’Occitane Shea Butter Lip Balm Stick (Dh49, stores nationwide) is super-hydrating and flight-friendly with its solid formula. Apply frequently and generously to keep your pout soft until you arrive at your destination.

9 Bring down puffiness ‘About 30 minutes before landing, I cleanse my face with a face wipe and apply eye masks,’ reveals celebrity make-up artist Melanie Inglessis. ‘They keep the under-eye area hydrated and reduce puffiness and dark circles. Five minutes before landing, I take the eye patches off, spray my skin, and I’m ready to go!’


Elemis Pro-Collagen Hydra Gel Masks (Dh387, are perfect, with a clear, gel appearance that won’t alarm your other passengers, but with the power to infuse skin with a blend of intensely hydrating plankton extract, hyaluronic acid, and ocean water to bring down puffiness.


10 Use a serum And what about when you’ve touched down and reached your destination? Post-flight skin demands extra attention, so ensuring your skincare routine replaces all the moisture skin has lost on that flight is essential to recapture that glow.

So how do we do it? ‘Replace your usual moisturiser with a lightweight serum every evening,’ advises Rebecca Treston at Euromed Clinic Dubai. ‘This will quickly replace moisture lost.’


Clarins Hydra Quench Intensive Serum (Dh290, counters nationwide) acts at all levels of the skin to restore skin’s natural hydration. Expect soft, comfortable skin that feels perfectly balanced with moisture, even after you’ve put it through its paces at 40,000 feet.

By Louise Emma Clarke

By Louise Emma Clarke