Skip to content

Ask a Glow Pro: How Do I Take Care of My Skin In-Flight?

Chances are you’ve rolled off a long-distance flight looking dry, puffy, and less than fresh-faced at least once (OK, maybe every single time) before. So we’re kicking off a new Q&A series called “Ask a Glow Pro” with all our juicy tips on arriving at your destination in style—and with serious glow. All it takes to get it right? A few in-flight essentials, some TSA-friendly tips, and a skin mantra of “mask, mist, repeat”. Let’s get this party started!

Q: Should I Wash My Face Before I Board?

A: For the love of glow, yes! The only way to set your skin up for success on a travel day (or any day for that matter) is to start with a clean, makeup-free base. That means double cleansing (with micellar water or oil first, then a gentle cleanser) before you board to avoid harsh recycled plane water, which can leave skin stripped and irritated. If you can’t swing by the ladies room pre-flight, come prepared, says our co-founder Sarah Lee. “I soak a few cotton pads in a hydrating cleansing water like Make P:rem Clean Me Black Cleansing Water ($22) and stash them in a Ziploc baggy to use anytime I need to refresh on the fly.” Not that organized? A water-free facial mist like Whamisa Organic Flowers Olive Leaf Mist ($38) or lightweight toner (we like LJH Grow Hyal B5 Toner, $30) can double as a cleanser in a pinch. Apply a generous layer and gently wipe skin down with a cotton pad or tissue to sweep away dirt, oil, and makeup.

Q: How Often Should I Mask?

A: Every two to four hours is a good rule of thumb to combat stale cabin air. If you’re new to sheet masking, though, less is more until your skin gets acclimated to certain active ingredients, says Lee. “If your skin is not used to force-feeding treatments frequently or it’s sensitive, start with one mask [on a flight or per week] and work your way up.” If your goal is to catch some Zs on the plane, try our other co-founder Christine Chang’s trick: Do two masks back-to-back. “As soon as I get settled into my seat, I put on a lightweight watery mask [like Polatam Water Gel Extra Force Optimal Repairing Sheet Mask, $6] first as a base layer of moisture, then immediately follow with a thicker cream or oil-infused mask [we love Blossom Jeju Brightening Vitamin Essence Petal Mask, $6] to add an extra boost of hydration.”And don’t waste a drop, she adds: “Once you have your sheet mask on, smooth the excess serum on top, then rub whatever’s leftover onto your neck, hands, elbows, or anywhere you’re dry.”

Pulling sheet mask double-duty will save your skin (especially while you snooze), but only if you remove them strategically, says Lee. “Plane conditions are so harsh that sheet masks dry out after only 10 minutes, so the trick to maximizing moisture and getting the most out of your sheet mask is to remove it while it’s still slightly damp.” Otherwise, it will actually start to pull moisture from your skin!

Q: What Should I Do In Between Masking?

A: Post-sheet mask, give your face a mini massage, suggests Chang, by lightly patting the excess serum or cream into your skin for 10-15 seconds. “Kind of like you’re playing the piano on your face.” Then spritz a mist like the travel-friendly, carrot oil-infused one from Whamisa ($15). (Fun fact: There’s no such thing as ODing on face mist, so #misteverywhere and anytime your skin feels tight or dry.) Finally, swipe on a thick moisturizer (no need for serum; that’s what the face mask was for) with skin-plumping hyaluronic acid to lock in all that hydrating goodness. Our top pick is the J.One Jelly Pack ($42). Surprisingly, Lee’s go-to isn’t a lotion or gel, but another mask—a leave-on one. “The Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask [find the travel-ready size in the Glow Box Bag, $28) has a blend of brighteners and hydrators to plump and boost radiance at the same time. Plus, it helps create a protective barrier to minimize the drying effects of plane air,” she explains. Whatever you choose, slather it on, mist for good measure, buckle up, and go to bed! Every bit of sleep—however short and interrupted—counts towards looking and feeling better.

Q: How Should I Prep My Skin Before Touchdown?

A: First order of business: Down a glass of water (your skin’s got no chance of looking good if your body is dehydrated). Then sweep a cleansing water- or facial mist-soaked cotton pad over skin to remove any gunk that’s built up in-flight. Do another face mask (or two) about an hour before landing for an instant surge of moisture. Even if you didn’t do anything else and binge-watched movies the entire flight, it will still do wonders for your complexion. Apply a hydrating eye balm like ID.AZ Dermastic Eye Care Cream ($64), a skin-brightening moisturizer like Blithe InBetween Instant Glowing Cream ($45), which also doubles as a makeup primer, and finish with an SPF of 30 or higher. “Fighting sun damage is key to maintaining your glow,” says Lee. For weightless protection, we love Make P:rem Blue Ray Sun Gel ($32). Pull your look together by swiping on a hydrating lip balm (try Whamisa Organic Flowers Lip Moisture, $12) and misting one last time to wake your skin—and senses—right up.

We want to hear from you! Share your top travel beauty tips in the comments below.

Sorry, we couldn't find any posts. Please try a different search.


  • Roberta Jan 30, 2018 6:27 pm

    Hallo, I am a flight attendant and have no chance to wear a sheet mask as I have to wear make up during all the time. How I can do to save my skin? I suppose I have to do the best job at home, before the flight. Maybe using a very Hydrating serum (like ialuronic acid) and maybe a sleeping mask as a cream? Thank you so much. I am new to korean skin care and I am in love with it, and learning so much from you. ?Roberta

    • The Glow Recipe Team Feb 5, 2018 10:49 am

      Hi Roberta! Thanks for asking. We'd love to help pick out time-saving and effective products you can apply at home and quick treatments you can even do in-flight (like during take-off!). Email us for tips and hand-picked recommendations - :)

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.