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Shouldnt Wear Makeup on the Plane

Some people doll up when they travel, perhaps hoping they’ll meet Mr. Right. Others skulk around in their PJs, opting for comfort. What’s the verdict regarding whether or not to wear makeup for or during the flight?

“Pros” of Makeup on Flights

The humidity is low in airplane cabins – often lower than twenty percent, so you might find your skin feeling dry.

Wearing moisturizing products on the skin, like BB creams, oil- or cream-based cosmetics, etc. can actually protect the skin from dryness, preventing or minimizing itchy, red, flaky skin (which of course can lead to skin flare-ups and breakouts) on trips longer than a few hours.

bb cream
jane iredale Glow Time Full Coverage Mineral BB Cream

Ultraviolet and infrared radiation are actually more damaging when you are at flying altitude (and in thinner air), so your skin can benefit from primers, foundations, and balms with SPF content.

“Cons” of Makeup on Flights

Dry air, stronger UV and infrared radiation, stress (since air travel is stressful for many people), and pores clogged from heavy foundation and eye make-up, encourage breakouts of acne. Moreover, the wrong kinds of makeup can dry out your skin even more, leading to dull, flaky skin and contributing to wrinkles. The more damage your skin experiences, the more free radicals and the faster the aging of the skin.

dry skin

Cosmetics without the antioxidants to help combat the free radicals may end up hindering much more than helping.

What Should I Do?

Go for a minimalist, natural look. Your full makeup routine might not survive a flight unscathed anyway; it may be smudged, faded, etc. and require touching up. The less product, the more your skin can “breathe.”

If you can’t do without any make-up, make sure you use oil- or cream-based cosmetics that do not clog pores and provide light coverage (like tinted BB creams, cheek/lip stains). Go for a tinted moisturizer instead of powder-based foundation, and skip the highly pigmented items (like concealer, mascara), which can be drying.

Use moisturizing products, like those containing hyaluronic acid (which draws moisture from the air to the skin), algae extract, watermelon extract, honey, kahai oil, and shea butter.

moisturizer with watermelon extract
Osmotics Cosmeceuticals Anti Radical Age Defense Moisture Veil, 1.7 Fl Oz

Avoid products containing silicates (substances that fill in lines like cement), cross polymers (that “seal in” pigment), and synthetic products that work by forming a film on your skin. Remember that “long lasting” and “waterproof” cosmetics are the exact opposite of what your skin wants and need in dry air.

Apply moisturizer and sunscreen (bonus if one product is both!), to provide a protective barrier for skin against moisture loss and UV and infrared radiation. Do this step first if you are going to be using other make-up products as well.

Janet Tran

The author Janet Tran

Janet is a freelance writer who's extremely passionate about dogs, Disneyland, travel and delicious food!

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