Is Dreaded Airplane Air Actually Bad For Your Skin?

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Airplane travel can be stressful. Not only do you have to worry about the mechanics of the actual plane and planning to make sure you get to your plane on time, but you also have to worry about the air. Sitting on an airplane means you will be in close proximity to a whole lot of people while in flight, and if the idea of breathing in each other's scents for a few hours isn't enough to scare you, you may be wondering what, exactly, is pumped out of the air ducts.

Many people worry that being on an airplane will make them sick due to the air. Luckily, this is not true. According to NBC News, the air on an airplane is relatively safe and is about the same as the air you would find being pumped out of a traditional office building. But while you can't blame the air for your post-travel cold, you may be wondering if you can blame it on your skin issues.

How airplane air affects your skin

Airplane air has gotten better in recent years. Notably, many airlines have installed HEPA filters to help keep the air on planes cleaner. Still, many people often find that their skin conditions worsen or even appear after a long flight. If you're worried about your next vacation because a long flight leaves your skin dry, blotchy, or broken out, you're not alone. Speaking to Byrdie, Sarina Elmaria, M.D., Ph.D. — a board-certified dermatologist, neuroscientist M.P.H., and co-founder of skincare brand ARAMORE — said airplane air can stress out our skin, and the changes in pressure, humidity, and temperature can wreak havoc. But this isn't to say that all of us will experience skin issues post-flight. If you are older or already have sensitive skin, you are more likely to be affected by airplane air.

Nevertheless, most of us will exit the airplane not looking our best. This is because the air can dry out our skin, regardless of how short or long the flight is. If you are preparing for a flight soon, consider adding a pre-flight skincare routine to your day-of to-do list to ensure you walk out of that plane with smooth, clear skin.

How to create a pre-flight skincare routine

If you have a trip planned and are worried about your skin post-flight, you don't have to fret too much. Elyse Love, M.D., F.A.A.D., a board-certified dermatologist, says most people can get away with a simple face mist to keep their skin hydrated (via Byrdie). But if you want to ensure your skin stays fresh, you may want to consider creating a pre-flight skincare routine.

Love recommends using two important ingredients before you step onto the plane: glycerin and hyaluronic acid. Glycerin is a great ingredient as it not only hydrates our skin but also protects it from outside irritants (via Best Products). And the best part? You can find glycerin in products you likely already own like Aquaphor. We also love this Youth to the People Superfood Cleanser, which also works as a great makeup remover. Add in some hyaluronic acid with Neutrogena Hydro Boost for your moisturizer or The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum — as well as your favorite SPF — and your pre-flight routine is set!