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Five Grooming Hacks For Frequent Flyers

Going long haul? Avoid the eye luggage and zombie skin with our expert guide

The glamour of air travel is often squashed by a combination of altitude-induced bloating, jet lag and, if you’re really unlucky, deep vein thrombosis. But it is the dangerously low humidity levels on board – 12 per cent or lower – that prune the faces of unwitting travellers, leaving skin dehydrated, irritated and dull. Unfortunately, the arid cabin air is much the same whether you’re flying in first or at the back in cattle class wishing you’d paid for an upgrade. That flight attendants manage to look presentable on arrival is nothing short of dark magic.

moisturiser might seem like a viable solution, but, with no water in the air to bind to, most creams are rendered obsolete at 30,000ft. It pays dividends, therefore, to prep that tiny plastic bag with the right formulas, especially if you have to rush to a meeting as soon as you land.

At 100ml or under, the following long-haul essentials will be exempt from the arbitrary confiscation process at security. Or so we hope.


A mere three hours in the air will deprive your body of 1.5 litres of water, most of which is lost through respiration. Rehydrating in every conceivable way should become a top priority. Cut back on diuretics such as salt and coffee, guzzle water like it’s going out of fashion and apply a hyaluronic acid-based serum, which will bind to any moisturising product you layer on top of it. A facial mist is a great alternative to a cream, provided the formula you choose contains enough humectants (Lavett & Chin’s mist contains coconut and honey extracts) and isn’t just water in a spray can.

Better yet, wait for the cabin lights to dim before applying 111Skin’s Rose Gold Brightening Facial Treatment, a hydrogel sheet mask that will saturate the skin in moisturising actives while terrifying other passengers. It contains 24-carat gold, damask rose extract and silk amino acids that brighten jet-lagged skin in less than 20 minutes.

Try these

  • Lavett & Chin Coconut Moisturizing Facial Mist, 110ml

  • 111Skin Rose Gold Brightening Facial Treatment Mask, 5 x 30ml


Cabin air has a knack of drying out mucus membranes (hello, nosebleeds) and causing the eyes to become red and itchy. While discomfort is easily remedied with eye drops, you still need to contend with the paper-thin skin surrounding your peepers, as it will be particularly prone to irritation, puffiness and dark circles.

The Hyaluronic Marine Dew It All Eye Gel by Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare combines caffeine with sarsaparilla root and optical diffusers to reverse the cavernous shadows caused by a sleepless journey in a hypoxic environment. It also contains hyaluronic acid to prevent the delicate layers of skin from wrinkling.

Try these

  • Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Hyaluronic Marine Dew It All Eye Gel, 15ml

  • REN Clean Skincare Firm and Lift Eye Cream, 15ml


It may sound reasonable to save your sunscreen until you reach your final destination, but being physically closer to the sun, albeit in a giant metal tube, increases your chances of UV-related damage. Be sure to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen, as those rays will work their way into the cabin along with other forms of cosmic radiation, if Nasa-funded research is to be believed.

When choosing a sunscreen, know that the difference in protection between an SPF30 and an SPF50 is nominal. An SPF50 offers about one per cent more protection, and it does so by including a disproportionately large amount of chemicals. Sisley - Paris Sunleÿa GE Age Minimizing Global Sun Care SPF30 should be adequate and, as an added bonus, it contains shea butter and plant glycerine to keep skin hydrated. Or you could just close the window blind.

Try these

  • Lab Series SPF15 Daily Moisture Defense Lotion, 100ml

  • Erno Laszlo Phelityl Day Lotion SPF15, 90ml


Of all the physiological effects that result from pressurised cabin air, it is water retention and bloating that seem to be the hardest to control. Any swelling is often exacerbated by a salt imbalance, most likely caused by scarfing 15 miniature bags of pretzels before take-off. Before long, your feet are bursting out of the cushioned interior of your Air Max 95s and feel like they’ve been cemented to the ground.

There are remedies, though. To regulate your salt levels, simply up your potassium intake by eating a banana. Compression tights worn underneath your trousers will also do some good. The squeeze they provide around the calves will ensure that fluid can’t build up in the tissue and blood is encouraged to flow back towards the heart.

Try these

  • Nike Air Max 270 Bowfin Ripstop, Mesh and Faux Leather Sneakers

  • Lululemon Surge Light Reflective-Trimmed Nulux Tights


There’s little chance of looking bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after you’ve jumped through multiple time zones. But jet lag isn’t the only reason your face takes a beating on long-haul flights. Commercial aircraft are pressurised to between 6,000 and 8,000ft and, the higher the altitude, the less blood flow there is to the skin. More than anything, it is a lack of circulation that leaves you looking dull and lifeless.

Fortunately, a healthy glow can be faked by way of self-tanning face wipes, such as Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Glow Pads. Simply swipe over the cheeks and forehead about four hours before your descent for a deceptively fresh complexion. Alternatively, apply the Bright Future Sleeping Facial by Allies of Skin, a chemical peel-cum-hydrating mask that is packed with brightening agents as well as medical-grade manuka honey to reduce inflammation.

Try these

  • Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Glow Pad - Gradual Glow, 20 x 2.2ml

  • Allies of Skin Bright Future Sleeping Facial, 50ml

Friends in high places

  • Falke Airport Merino Wool-Blend Socks

  • Brunello Cucinelli Suede and Textured-Leather Passport Cover

  • Armand Diradourian Cashmere and Silk Eye Mask

  • Le Labo Hinoki Body & Hair Travel Set

  • Moncler Genius Printed Shell Travel Pillow

  • Sleepy Jones Rand Tapered Striped Cashmere Sweatpants