What Happens to Your Skin on an Airplane

How Your Skin Reacts In a High Altitude Airplane Cabin

You made it.

You got through security hassle-free, you remembered all essential documents, and now you're sat in the stuffy airplane cabin ready to take off.

You feel the rumble of the jet engine in your bones as the plane pulls onto the runway and starts to speed up.

You feel that bizarre sense of weightlessness as the plane takes to the sky and you watch the land beneath you morph from life-sized to bite-sized in a matter of minutes.

You settle back in your seat in the hopes of getting some shut-eye, but you can't get to sleep because your skin is crawling. You're literally uncomfortable in your own skin.

What actually happens to your skin when you fly and what can you do about it? Read on, good sir, and we'll explain everything.

High and Dry in the Airplane Cabin

One of the biggest issues we face when we fly is how dry our skin gets. The average plane altitude "sweet spot" tends to be between 35,000 and 42,000 feet.

This strikes the perfect balance between having minimal air resistance and sufficient oxygen levels to power the engines. On a personal level, however, this altitude wreaks havoc on our skin.

The humidity "sweet spot" for our skin is around 40% - 70%. However, the average humidity in an airplane cabin is usually around 20%.

The result? Dry and itchy skin.

How do you combat this, you ask? Make sure you moisturize regularly throughout the flight, especially if it's a long one. Avoid any type of moisturizing mist, as these just immediately dissipate without doing your skin a bit of good.

And, while I know it's hard to resist (especially if you're already in holiday mode), try to keep the alcoholic and caffeinated drinks to a minimum if you can. Both alcohol and caffeine only serve to dehydrate you.

Keeping yourself from getting dehydrated will save your skin and help prevent any headaches.

Shine On

We all know what an exhausting experience air travel can be. This stress, combined with the altitude and lack of humidity, can not only dull your mood but also your natural glow.

In addition to the dreaded blotchiness caused by the lack of moisture in the recycled cabin air, the high altitude means you have less blood flow to your skin. It's the perfect storm for your poor skin.

Restore your glow by getting up and moving around as much as space and the seatbelt will allow to increase blood flow.

Treat your face to a nice hydrating mask so you get off the plane feeling like sunshine instead of a dull, blotchy mess.

Feeling More Like Puff Daddy Than P. Diddy

The high altitude, inactivity, and salty snacks all combine to leave you feeling bloated and puffy.

At high altitudes, your body can't eliminate toxins the same way it usually does and the gases in your body expand due to the lowered oxygen levels. As a result, you end up feeling like a water balloon about to burst.

Plus, fluid and blood build up in the skin under your eyes, leaving them puffy and irritated and making you look even more tired than you feel.

But don't panic! There are few things you can do to avoid or reduce this seemingly inevitable discomfort.

Try to avoid eating foods that are difficult to digest the day before you travel, and definitely avoid them on the flight. Skip the salty snacks that dehydrate you and have little to no nutritional benefit.

Instead, opt for foods that are high in fiber and easy for your body to digest. It's also a good idea to get plenty of exercise before and after your flight. It doesn't have to be an intense sweat session, just a light walk will do.

This will help to increase the flow of blood and excess fluid which will, in turn, reduce puffy skin and restore that natural glow. Never mind the fact that it will help get your intestines in the mood to digest. Bye-bye, bloating!


As if dry, puffy skin wasn't enough, the stress of traveling and the lack of moisture can lead to some nasty breakouts.

The pressure of trying to remember everything from passports and chargers to what to wear if the weather changes drastically can cause your skin to produce excess oil, which leads to more breakouts.

Then, once you're up in the air, your skin goes into overdrive and produces even more oil to compensate for the lack of moisture.

Keep the stress of traveling to a minimum by staying organized. Plan well in advance of your journey, and keep all of your important documents (passports, flight information, boarding passes, etc.) somewhere safe and easily accessible.

Be sure to pack plenty of moisturizers (remember to respect the security restrictions for your carry-on) in your toiletry bag and put it somewhere where you can easily get to it during the flight.

The more hydrated you can keep your skin, the less it will feel the need to overcompensate with your body's natural oils.

I'm going to say it again because it's so important: keep drinking water. Stay hydrated and your skin will thank you.

Leaving On a Jet Plane

Air travel can be extremely harsh on a person's mind and body. You're stuck in a cramped airplane cabin with stale air that is literally drier than the Sahara Desert.

The food tastes weird, your head aches, and your skin feels like it might peel off your body at any given moment.

But if you follow these tips, you'll be well on your way to a much more pleasant flight and you'll have the healthy, happy skin to prove it!

Take a look around our site for more products that will make your skin sing.

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