Airplane air is notoriously drying, so if you want a solid moisturizer recommendation an excellent place to start is by asking a flight attendant. In the name of finding a moisturizer that could keep my skin hydrated all winter (including on holiday season flights), I interviewed six flight attendants who all work on long-haul international flights about their go-to beauty products — the creams, face mists, and masks they use to keep their skin hydrated while they're criss-crossing the international dateline. (Also, the hair masks and oils that prevent dryness-induced frizz and dullness, for good measure.)
In case you're wondering just how drying airplane air is: "As an experiment, I sliced up an apple and put it in the galley kitchen for an entire flight from Frankfurt to Los Angeles — after 10 hours it was completely shriveled up, like dried fruit," says Susanne D'Aloia, a flight attendant at Lufthansa. "And that's just an apple. I don't want to think about what long flights do to skin."
So when your job requires weekly red eyes, you learn a thing or two about dealing with airplane air — and you buy enough cream to open your own Duty Free. Without further ado, these are the beauty products that long-haul flight attendants rely on.
The One-Pot Wonder
"I always have a little tub of Nivea Creme on board — I use it on my face, my arms, my legs, everywhere that gets so, so dry. On the really long flights, which can be 15 hours, I do a quick spray of Nuxe Brume Hydratante Fraîcheur facial mist over my foundation so it doesn't start looking crackly." —Debbie Stoveell, Air France
The All-Over Moisturizing Routine
"Environ Intensive Super Moisturiser is great for hydrating the face, and before heading to bed after a long flight I apply Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate. Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse is a multiple function dry oil for body, face, and hair. It's non-greasy and the smell is so good.
I use it mostly after a flight after showering to hydrate my body and my hair. My hair tends to be dry and fizzy after a flight, and this oil gives it a nice gloss again. Hand creams from Rituals don't get greasy or wash off easily, and they smell great, too. " —Diana Keiman, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
The Jet Lag Eraser
"I go through face masks quickly — I use one prior to every flight, and again at the hotel after landing — so I love buying new ones to try from all over the world. Shiseido's [Benefiance] eye masks somehow make me look rested and not at all jet lagged. I also use eye drops all through a flight, and I don't even have contacts — but airplanes really dry out your eyes, so I do it preventatively.” —D'Aloia
The Oil Skin Savior
“First, my skin dries. Then that can lead to grease, because my skin starts to overcompensate. To avoid this, I make sure I hydrate. Sheet face masks like Tatcha’s Luminous Dewy Skin Sheet Mask are perfect for me when I'm working — they only take 15 minutes to rehydrate my skin, and they're so easy to put on while in-flight. And Mario Badescu’s rose water spray keeps my face moist and refreshed." —Lauren Guilfoyle, Emirates
The Sensitive Skin Moisturizer
"Clinique Moisture Surge makes my sensitive skin soft, and I love that it's not so smelly. Our uniform rules tell us we have to wear lipstick, so I [prep my lips] with Louis Widmer, a famous organic Swiss balm that my mom passed down to me." —Karin Meier, Swiss Air
The Fresh as a Daisy (and Rose) Routine
"Facial mists and moisturizers with rose water, like Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream, give my skin a boost, and — because we have to wear makeup — a tiny dab of Vaseline or Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream brings my lipstick back to life on long-haul flights and keeps my lips hydrated. We have to wear our hair up, too, and Bumble and bumble hairspray and L'Oréal Elnett last, even on red eyes." —Ombi Farr, Virgin Atlantic
More products that soothe dry skin:
- The 18 Best Moisturizers for Dry Skin All Year Round
- The Best Body Lotions and Body Butters to Soothe Your Skin This Winter
- Makeup Artists Share the Best Foundations for Dry Skin
Now, see how skin care has evolved within the last 100 years: