(Photo: Getty Images)
Flying takes a serious toll on one’s beauty — disheveled hair, dry skin, puffy eyes. So, how is it that flight attendants always look so pretty and pulled together? No matter how many flights they work or how long the hauls are, their hair appears perfectly coiffed, their skin glows, and their makeup is glam and smudge-free.
“When we become flight attendants, we all have a day commonly referred to as ‘Barbie boot camp,’” says Emily Witkop, who has flown with Southwest Airlines for 18 years. “Basically, it is the day we learn what makeup to wear and how to take care of our skin. Let’s face it, flying dries you out, and the lights in the cabin are not flattering for anyone.” Yahoo Travel got the scoop and some great tips from some stunning stews. Here are their best secrets.
Red lips make everything look better. Rock red lips — it helps passengers 10 rows back to see you. “I embrace it wholeheartedly,” says Witkop. Not only does it make teeth look whiter, but also it’s a great contrast to most skin tones, and of course, it makes a statement. “The color has just enough professionalism where passengers who might try to challenge me about checking bags hand them over with little complaint,” says Witkop.
Deep condition your hair preflight. Think recycled air is bad for your skin? Well, it’s just as harsh on your hair. The lack of moisture in the cabin causes water levels in the hair to evaporate, which makes the hair look frizzy and dull. To keep hair soft, FAs are sticklers about packing their own hair products, especially conditioner. “I use the shower cap from my hotel rooms for deep conditioning treatments,” says Witkop. “I slap on some conditioner, put the shower cap on, watch my favorite TV show for an hour or so, and then rinse it out. Then my hair is good to go.”
Exfoliate regularly — anytime, anywhere. Passengers can be a bit particular about the hands that deliver their sodas and peanuts. Travelers have been known to fire off complaint letters about flight attendants who had chapped or cracked hands. And can you blame them? It’s a little gross. So Nick Stracener, an American Airlines FA and aspiring model, has a trick to keep his exfoliated. “My secret tip is called the sugar scrub, and it gets hands soft and smooth,” he says. “First, squeeze some lemon into your palm, then add about five sugar packets, and scrub your hands together.” Stracener usually scrubs up for a few minutes after the service portion of the flight is over. When finished, he rinses his hands with club soda or water. “It makes your hands feel amazing!”
(Photo: Getty Images)
Keep inflammation at bay. Cabin pressure can cause a host of ugly issues, the main one being swelling. Puffy eyes. Swollen ankles. Fat fingers. “Inflammation is a big deal when flying,” says Ondrej Zouhar, who has been with Southwest Airlines for eight years. He found an Ayurvedic fix — the spice turmeric. “It works like ibuprofen to help prevent swelling,” he says. It comes in pill form, as oil, or you can cook with ground turmeric root. “I think it even helps with my lower back pain by minimizing the inflammation,” he says.
Do a DIY deep-moisturizing hand treatment. A spa day is a rarity for busy flight attendants. So, in order to look and feel good, many get inventive. “My friend Shirley taught me a fun trick where we put lotion on our hands before putting on the rubber gloves to pick up trash,” says Witkop. Much like a wrap treatment, the gloves help trap the body’s heat and open the pores, allowing the lotion to absorb faster and deeper into the skin. Anyone can use this trick at home when cleaning with rubber gloves, or just throw them on while hanging around the house.
(Photo: The Body Shop)
Spray some vitamin C. Flight attendants often rely on long-wear makeup to keep them looking pretty for hours on end, but it can dry out the skin. To combat that, “I use the vitamin C Energizing Face Spritz from The Body Shop before applying foundation,” says Lauren Varga, who has been flying with American Airlines for 10 months. “I also use it throughout the day when I’m flying. You can spray it on top of your makeup to help set it or to refresh when it starts getting cakey or showing lines.” Vitamin C has myriad benefits for your skin. “After I use it, I walk through the cabin, and people say, ‘You have a glow about you — you must love your job.’ And I think, ‘It’s a cool job but that’s not why I’m glowing.’”
Condition your lips. The key to looking good is always in the prep work. This is especially true for flight attendants. “Long-wear lipsticks are drying, so the one thing I won’t skip is a lip conditioner,” says Varga, who was a makeup artist for M.A.C Cosmetics prior to becoming a flight attendant. While she uses M.A.C Lip Conditioner, Varga says that similar petroleum-based conditioners from Aquaphor and Vaseline are just as good. “At night, I take a shower then immediately put on my lip conditioner. And I sleep with it on,” she says. “Then, first thing in the morning, I reapply it so that by the time I get to the shuttle and am about to put on my lipstick, my lips are hydrated and soft.”
Use sunblock even when inside a plane. Flight attendants are exposed to higher levels of radiation (UV rays) simply because they are positioned closer to the sun for long periods of time when flying. In order to prevent getting sun damage or skin cancer, they are encouraged to increase their use of topical and oral antioxidants and also to wear a daily SPF. “I use sunblock religiously,” says Daria V. Wright, a regional flight attendant with United Express and a makeup artist. She wasn’t always a stickler about sunscreen until she saw an image of a truck driver and the effect sun exposure had on him. “The difference between his left arm [which was always out the window in the sun] and his right arm was amazing. Now, I use Neutrogena SPF 50, and I apply it over my ears, my neck — I put it everywhere.”
Balance your body chemistry. A common beauty battle for flight attendants is a problematic complexion — think dry skin and acne. While recycled air is the main culprit, stress from hectic schedules and poor nutrition don’t help. To combat this, Zouhar started taking a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar every three to four days. Just mix it in a glass of water, he says. The apple cider vinegar helps the body eliminate toxins from your system. “It balanced my pH levels, and my skin got better,” says Zouhar.
Prevent beauty mishaps before they happen. There is nothing more trashy-looking than chipped nails, so most airlines require flight attendants to have fresh manis when working. However, opening 50 cans of soda will test even the strongest gel tips. Glossy, polished nails “make you look pulled together and professional. It leaves a good impression,” says Wright. “So, I use hotel cards, room keys, to pop a can. I learned this trick from another flight attendant, who told me it was the way to prevent chipping my nails.”