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Your Skin’s Best Travel Defense

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The next few months are the highest mileage months for most people, but it’s not just you that gets stressed out from constant travel—your skin does too. The pressurized cabin air is desert-dry, upping your chances of dullness, rough patches, or even breakouts. (Check out How to Get Rid of Acne with Face Mapping.)

But really, it’s science! As soon as the plane takes off, a little thing called osmosis kicks in, says Renée Rouleau, Dallas-based aesthetician and founder of Renée Rouleau Skincare. “When the air is dry and levels of moisture have dropped, it looks to replenish the moisture by pulling it from anything nearby—your skin included.” So of course, dry complexions get drier, but oily folks aren’t necessarily in the clear: “People with oily skin produce even more oil to overcompensate for the moisture loss,” she says. Luckily, saving face while you’re sky-high is a breeze with these skincare defenses.

Before You Take Off
“The main goal before flying is to actively hydrate the skin,” says Rouleau. The night before, exfoliate with a gentle facial scrub pre-hydrating mask: “Getting rid of the dead cells first is key, because it allows the moisturizing ingredients from the mask to really penetrate deeper in the skin,” she says. For oily types, try a water-based formula like the gel treatment Ole Henriksen Blue/Black Berry Enzyme Mask ($34; sephora.com). For dry skin, try a cream. We like the coffee-infused, organic Votre Vu Café Crème Masque ($36; votrevu.com). (For ways to fight cold weather-induced dryness, check out the 12 Beauty Products for Gorgeous Winter Skin.)

In-Flight
Save your skin from the Sahara air. “You’ll need to create a protective seal to keep moisture in,” Rouleau says. The solution: facial oil—no matter your skin type. “It helps penetrate the top two layers of the dermis, then provide that barrier to prevent evaporation.” In other words: oils will really inject hydration into your skin, and you’re going to need it. Our favorite is the Renée Rouleau Pro-Remedy Oil ($72.50; reneerouleau.com). Apply (and reapply!) every hour of plane travel to avoid moisture loss. If you’re oily, stick to two drops every 60 minutes; for dry, use up to four drops.

Two big no no’s when it comes to treating skin mid-air? Facial mists (water attracts water, so it’ll dry out the skin even more), and H2O-based products like gel lotions or masks. “Lots of people do cloth masks on planes, but—while they definitely hydrate the skin—most contain moisture-attracting ingredients, which can only make your skin more dehydrated,” she says. Play it safe with oils or oil-based beautifiers.

After You Land
You can take a breather post-flight—most of the hard work is done. Just be sure to continue moisturizing the skin, says Rouleau. Slather on a calming-hydrating combo mask like Coast to Coast Ultra Soothing White Clay Mask ($25; ulta.com), and drink lots of water to flush out any stress-induced toxins in the body. And be sure to check out the 6 Reasons Drinking Water Can Help Solve Any Problem!

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