Zits on a Plane! How Do You Make Them Stop?


Even your skin gets stressed on the plane. (Photo: Image Source/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

I am a grown woman well into my 30s. Yet every time I get off a plane, I look like that pizza-faced kid in the old Stridex commercials. What gives? I have a diligent skin care routine. I don’t pig out on chocolate on the plane.

Looking for answers, I turned to Dr. Simon Ourian, Beverly Hills dermatologist to the stars, whose clients never seem to get all red and pimply on their coast-to-coast flights.

"Many of my clients, and not just the celebrities, travel regularly either for business or to exotic vacation destinations. All of them have the same question: How can I fly without breaking out and land with my skin looking as good as it did when I took off?" Ourian said to me. Here are five things you can do.

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1. Stay calm and carry on


Chilling out can actually help you prevent breakouts. (Photo: Izabela Habur/E+/Getty Images)

The most important thing, Ourian said, is to minimize stress, both physical and emotional, and proactively deal with the stresses you cannot avoid. For many people, the act of flying itself is stressful. For others, stress may stem from the anticipation of an important business meeting waiting when they land. For all fliers, even the calm ones, an airplane is a stressful physical environment.

Stress can cause blood to rush into the vessels in the face, which can have a negative impact on skin. Staying calm is the first step in keeping your skin looking its best.

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2. Stay hydrated inside and out


Stay away from the booze cart on the plane. (Photo: Sean Locke/Stocksy)

"The air on planes is very, very dry; humidity can be as low as 1 percent. This dry air impacts each skin type differently. The lack of moisture will exacerbate anyone’s skin issues," Ourian said. "Dry skin will get drier, and oily skin and combination skin will get oilier and shinier. Dry skin may become inflamed and flaky, leaving deposits of dead skin cells that can trap bacteria and oil, leading to postflight breakouts. Oily skin is like a petri dish for bacteria, the precursor to postflight breakouts."

Once on a long flight, the goal is to keep the skin hydrated and in balance. Ourian recommends his own flawless serum. It helps retain water in the corneous layer of the skin and provides the skin’s surface with a protective barrier from outside irritants. Avoid alcohol and drink lots of water! Bring as much of your own water as possible so that you’re not relying on the flight crew to keep you hydrated.

3. Choose your seat wisely


Stay away from the window. (Photo: Alija/E+/Getty Images)

Request an aisle seat to avoid incidental exposure to UV rays through the windows. If you need to sit next to a window, add a sunblock (SPF 30+) to your preflight regimen to avoid irritating your skin.

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4. Prepare yourself 

A proper preflight skin care regimen is essential to preventing breakouts. Ideally, you wouldn’t wear any makeup on the flight. If that’s not possible, use as little makeup as you can. Prior to the flight, cleanse your face and apply a moisturizer and eye cream. Ourian recommends his own eye crème. I also use the La Roche-Posay oil-free clarifying moisturizer and intensive rehydrating moisturizer and occasionally the Korres Wild Rose 24-Hour moisturizing cream.

5. Say no to the cheese box

When it comes to breakouts, dairy is your secret enemy. Since skin is more prone to breaking out on a plane, even a small amount of dairy can trigger an allergic reaction in the face, according to Ourian.

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