Beauty on the fly: How to look your best after a long flight

By | November 19, 2018

Renée Rouleau sees it all the time when she flies: passengers wiping their faces, popping on a “hydrating” sheet mask and moisturizing, all to stave off that dreaded, puffy post-flight face. While it probably feels productive, “It’s just not that effective,” the celebrity aesthetician tells The Post.

“I’m personally not a fan of pulling out sheet masks and wipes and sprays — I don’t mess with any of that,” says Rouleau, who’s also the founder of her eponymous skin-care line. While celebs including Chrissy Teigen, Hailey Baldwin and Busy Philipps swear by the mile-high Korean beauty staples to keep skin supple, Rouleau advises her famous clients, which include “Riverdale” star Lili Reinhart and Sofía Vergara, against doing treatments in the air. After all, she points out, planes aren’t exactly sterile: “The water in the sink on the plane is disgusting,” and applying products with germ-coated fingers is less than ideal. She’d rather people wait to address any post-plane dryness later, at home or in their hotel.

DrLoretta.com

Dermatologist Dr. Loretta Ciraldo agrees that lotions aren’t the best in-flight skin savior. Instead, she’d like to see people covering up more thoroughly to avoid in-flight dehydration. “I recently flew from Massachusetts to Miami, and half the people were in shorts,” she says. “I think that’s a mistake.” The sub-20 percent humidity doesn’t discriminate, she explains — it’ll hoover moisture from the face, legs, feet, hands and anywhere else left exposed. To ward off full-body dryness, she recommends wearing long sleeves, pants and closed-toed shoes in-flight. “We’ve got to be a little less face-obsessed and think of it as a whole picture,” she says.

Still, there are a few expert-approved ways to protect your face while you fly this holiday season.

Before you board, apply an even coating of a heavy-duty moisturizer, which will seal hydration in and keep dry air and germs out. Ciraldo suggests a serum that contains lipids (such as her own Intense Replenishing Serum, $ 70 at DrLoretta.com), or a thick drugstore formula like Aquaphor’s. “It creates a barrier to protect from the cabin air that’s sucking out moisture in the skin,” says Ciraldo, who cautions not to forget the hands, undereye area and neck when applying lotion.

If you’re flying during the day, the next step is sun protection. “Pilots are at higher risk of skin cancer than any profession on the planet,” says NYC dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman who notes that UV rays are significantly stronger at high altitude. She recommends applying a zinc-based sunscreen before flying, and choosing your seat carefully: Engelman books an aisle seat to avoid direct contact with incoming rays, while Rouleau selects a window seat so she can close the shade. For touch-ups on longer flights, Engelman tells her patients to brush on an SPF powder, which doesn’t require touching the face with grubby fingers.

Renee Rouleau

Post-flight, you’ll want to exfoliate “to lift off the surface cells that are dehydrated,” says Rouleau. She suggests a chemical exfoliant with ingredients such as lactic acid, followed by a mask. “A really cooling gel mask, post-flight, feels great and delivers water.” She has her clients pair her Triple Berry Smoothing Peel ($ 88.50 at ReneeRouleau.com) with her Rapid Response Detox Masque ($ 63.50) to banish any existing bacteria and prevent flight-related breakouts. Once you’ve stripped off the plane grime, feel free to moisturize.

If you’re still fighting puffy plane face after the deep cleanse, Upper East Side medical aesthetician Cynthia Rivas suggests a self-massage. The change in air pressure “doesn’t allow for good circulation,” she explains, and a “lymphatic drainage” massage can help with that. Try placing your thumbs under your chin, then pulling along your jawbone to just below the ear.

Living | New York Post