15 best in-flight skincare products for high-altitude hydration
Flights can be a nightmare for your skin. But fear not, we’ve tested the best products on the market to leave you looking even better than before you stepped on the plane
First thing’s first, the plane is not your skin’s friend. Trapped in a metal box in the sky, with recycled air, a range of bodies too close for comfort and questionable grub does not a beauty queen make. Lack of moisture and germs-a-plenty can send your skin into meltdown.
Before you even step foot on the plane, you have to deal with that plastic bag at the airport they make you put your carry-on products in, which can be a nightmare. You’ve got to be tough; stringently rummaging through your cupboards knowing you’re possibly going to have to leave some of your favourite skincare behind. That makes it sound like you’re Kate Winslet in Titanic, but you get the idea.
It’s important to remember that how you look after your skin during the flight will be a pretty good indicator of how it’s going to behave for the rest of your trip.
For instance, if you’re prone to dehydration, that cabin air is gonna suck your skin dry, which is not a good look for sashaying down the steps of the aircraft. We wouldn’t recommend a last-minute skincare splurge at the airport either, your face and wallet will not be happy on arrival.
Unfortunately, not all 15 of these items are going to fit snugly into your aforementioned sad sandwich bag. What you can do though is curate a list from this top notch pick’n’mix for your specific concerns, to ensure you step off the jet looking more like Jackie O than Jackie Stallone.
We wanted to test a range of items to keep you fresh from peepers to paws, which have been sent on long-haul flights and one-hour wonders.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Deviant cleansing concentrate: £29, Deviant
If you’re on a longer flight, or simply want to crack that crust a bit deeper, you want a cleanser that’s not going to strip you dry and that’s free of nasties. Say hello to Deviant. This green jelly-balm cleanser has an impressive blend of antioxidants; blueberry, cucumber as well as broccoli and hemp-seed oil are thrown into the mix. It’s a treat for balancing skin and wiping out congestion while helping retain natural moisture. It emulsifies wonderfully; better than a lot of balm cleansers we’ve tried which means minimal effort for maximum impact. Skin is left comfortable and refreshed. Each jar is individually hand stamped with a wax seal, making every one unique. No fragrances or essential oils, this ticks every box if you’re on a mission to minimalism without compromising on luxury.
Omorovicza peachy micellar cleansers: £35, Cult Beauty
These power-packed discs are a terrific partner on a short flight, when you don’t fancy cramming into the tin can toilet to freshen up. Sopping in a signature micellar solution, they clean you up in a snap. One side of the discs has bobbles on to gently exfoliate, then flip over and swipe across the face to mop up any excess. Fused with olive oil extracts, they leave the skin soft and surprisingly much brighter than we expected. In even better news, these don’t count as a liquid (we tested) so they can sit in your hand luggage without being frisked. The perfect pick-me-up.
Seed to Skin the Alche’Mist super active serum spray: £145, Liberty
Mists are really having their moment this summer. There are so many that claim to hydrate and set your make-up while turning back the clock. Not all do, but this gem from Seed to Skin may be the one to change the game. What makes it different is the brand’s “advanced molecular delivery system”. The Alche’Mist is a powerhouse of our favourite moisture boosters: glycerin, niacinamide with a whopping amount of hyaluronic acid. These have all been bound together cleverly, with the hyaluronic acid in particular housing a low density molecular weight to ensure maximum penetration into the skin. The brand even supplies you with a fold-out pamphlet explaining where each ingredient sits on the skin once applied. The smaller the molecule, the deeper it can go is basically what you need to know. The mix also has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal aids, which are most certainly welcome on an aircraft. In essence, this is an awesome hydrator and refresher all in one. Keep spritzing throughout the flight to arrive cocktail-ready.
Dermalogica skin hydrating masque: £39, Look Fantastic
When people think of masks on a plane, the go-to is the sheet mask. While this is indeed a great quick fix, we found some people aren’t a fan of sitting in public looking like Hannibal Lecter’s beauty therapist. A great alternative is this luxe gel mask from Dermalogica. Super-hydrating with a bunch of lovely antioxidants, pop this on for 15 minutes and you’re good to go. We suggest not rinsing it off either so the beneficial ingredients can work their magic. Even more so, use as a nighttime moisturiser if you’re on the red-eye, to wake up as fresh as when you went to sleep. Panthenol helps repair while a cucumber hit helps with any inflammation. Vitamins C and E are always welcome to help batter free radicals. A multitasking win-win.
Dr Roebuck’s true blue ultimate hydrating serum: £46, Space NK
Australians are undoubtedly the chaps that take the biggest beating when it comes to environmental skin damage, so this Aussie-founded brand for “babes round the world” can surely be trusted. This gel serum is the bomb for thirsty skin. A potent blend of hyaluronic acid, CoQ10 and aloe vera makes a magical trio; gliding onto the skin for a plumping and smoothing refresh. This is a great moisture hit before a heavier moisturiser or oil. In the immortal words of the Queen of Pop: “True blue baby, I love you”; Madonna may have been glaring into her crystal ball and seeing Dr Roebuck.
Irene Forte aloe vera face cream: £89, Irene Forte
If you’re going to recommend a moisturiser to take on a plane, you want to be salivating at the ingredients list. Not only is it fantastically juicy, it’s protein powered to give you an extra oomph. The eponymous organic empire that is Irene Forte houses this moisturiser; brimming with aloe vera juice, avocado oil, olive oil and shea butter. It’s a mega moisture-boost that helps soften and nourish skin from hard done-by conditions and gives a sense of calm as you apply.
Sunday Riley C.E.O glow: From £34, Cult Beauty
Sunday Riley’s oils are, in our opinion, the heroes of the range. This is their newest addition and is pitch perfect if you’re wanting a lot of gain for minimal effort. What makes this special is that the vitamin C comes in an oil format, which doesn’t just sit on top of skin but gets to deeper levels – brightening the skin while protecting it from free radicals. The turmeric adds a radiance boost and is friendly with a bunch of other antioxidants such as ginger root extract and raspberry seed oil to add anti-ageing benefits. This is ace if you’re time-precious as it works fast to give you an envious lustre even if you feel like your passport photo looks.
Dr. Dennis Gross hyaluronic marine dew it right eye cream: £58, Cult Beauty
The eyes are the windows to looking knackered, let’s face it. So you want a super-charged multitasker on board. Dr Dennis Gross’ has this multilayered product to help wake you up. Caffeine helps tighten, while green caviar and hyaluronic acid softens fine lines. Sarsaparilla root works in synergy to de-puff and perk up those peepers. We popped this on a few short flights with early starts and came off pretty pleased with ourselves. It did a great job of keeping its promises and is lightweight enough to also wear all through summer. A super option as it’s much more lightweight than some of the moisture-driven eye creams on the market.
Foreo Iris portable sonic eye massager: £100.95, Amazon
If you’re on the more adventurous side, and don’t mind looking like you’ve got something from Ann Summers massaging your face, then look no further. Iris is Foreo’s eyemaster, housing its patented pulsation technology to help your products get more bang for their buck. It vibrates above and below the brow bone to promote circulation for firmer, well-rested eyes. The Iris emulates fingertip massage which has been shown to encourage the elimination of toxins and lymphatic drainage. It also has two modes to suit your concerns.
Our tester gave this a good go both in and out of the air and it’s become a staple in their routine. While we all shy away from touching our eyes too much, living in constant fear we might add a line or two, this is gentle enough to prove otherwise. The silicone doesn’t harbour bacteria and the muscles are woken up and exercised in the most gentle way possible.
Coola mineral face SPF 30 rosilliance BB+ cream: £52, Cult Beauty
There’s nothing better than leaving a gloomy concrete jungle and stepping off a jet into a balmy oasis. However, there’s nothing worse than having your face sans SPF so that sun can slap you sassily. This BB cream from Coola is just the ticket for not just shielding you from the sunshine but also making you look well rested post-arrival, especially if you don’t have time or space to do a full face of slap.
It’s an organic (yes) mineral (yes!) SPF for starters, so that’s taken care of. What makes this an even bigger triumph is that it’s a sumptuous no make-up make-up to boot. It glides on easily and leaves no ashy residue which can be common with sunscreens. It also has cucumber and sunflower seed extracts to soften and protect skin. It makes you look effortlessly even, ironically for once by making no effort whatsoever. A big, big win.
Byredo suede rinse-free hand wash: £25, Space NK
While it’s great to be armed with a bunch of savvy skin solutions, it’s pointless slathering them on with dirty paws. Byredo’s suede hand rinse is an on-the-go wash when you’re not close to a water source, leaving them super-clean but equally hydrated. It’s practical and non sticky with an alcohol-based formula to attack any bacteria looming in the vicinity. Sweet pear and bergamot are the top of the scent with plum and amber sitting at the deep end. A small amount goes a long way and doesn’t leave any residue, meaning you can head straight into your routine face for landing.
Soleil Toujours hydra volume lip mask: £16, Harrods
Considering your mouth does most of the day’s work, it’s the most common thing to forget to take care of. Extra-dry cabins considered, this is our favourite to keep lips in luxury. Formulated with a mineral, broad-spectrum sunscreen, this mask from Soleil Toujours has hyaluronic spheres to volumise and and shield from nasties. It’s non-tacky and comes in six neutral shades to add an extra flourish to the finish. Coconut oil and jojoba seed oil are big players in the mix for softer, supple smiles. A tip from us is to slather it on and sleep in it; waking up to a proper pukka pout.
De Mamiel altitude oil: £30, Net-a-Porter
This might be a bit of a rogue option but hear us out. Instead of shoving a cocktail of herbal or otherwise remedies down your neck to try and find a sense of calm before you jet off, you might want to try this from De Mamiel for a more holistic approach. Either waft under the nose when needed or dot under your nostrils to experience a multitude of feelings that mix to balance your brain under pressure. Lavender calms while eucalyptus clears the head and fragonia supports the immune system. We gave this to a musician who is currently on tour who hates flying. When asked her thoughts she said: “Great! I fell asleep.” We’d consider that a positive.
Darphin hydraskin hydrating cooling stick: £25, Space NK
If you don’t want to mess about doing a full face or merely want a quick refresh, the new stick from Darphin is your new best friend. This aqua blue, gorgeously cooling roll-on soothes skin with its moisture bursting, water based botanicals. Pomegranate and frozen water algae hydrate and freshen even the most misbehaving of complexions. It also works well as summer primer for make-up application, sealing in a soothing and calming treatment before the heat hits hard. It’s a super-quick fix and small enough to go unnoticed. Get this for an on-the-go de-puff chillfest.
Patchology on the fly kit: £18, Patchology
Not only does this incredibly charming package sing to every area of the face, it also classes as a non-liquid so you can stuff it in the smallest of bags without worry. In here we’ve got a specified eye mask, one for the lips and two whole face masks; these bestsellers are humectant heavy, delivering intense moisture to the skin without waste so all you need to do is lie there and think of... whatever you fancy. A great all-rounder for a tidy £18. Summer loving, having a patch.
The verdict: In-flight skincare products
Deviant gets our seal of approval for its clean list of ingredients and skin-balancing goodness. Dermalogica is perfect on board as it’s a mask and heavy duty moisturiser all in one, while Sunday Riley is also great to add to the trio for glow boosting even with a bumpy landing.
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