How Airline Pilots Keep Their Skin Healthy During Winter Travel

Whether you’re spending hours on a long-haul flights or changing climates, here’s what you need.
The CeraVe moisturizing cream, Bioderma Sensibio micellar water, Aquaphor lip repair lip balm and Blume Meltdown Oil.

Who better to source skin care hacks from than airplane pilots, who spend hours in moisture-sucking cabin air and who switch between different climates and time zones near-daily? All of that can take a toll on skin.

Delta Air Lines pilots Larissa Vculek and Paul Janowicz shared their skin care travel tips with us, and based on their insights, we’ve sourced some customer-beloved beauty products to get your travel routine started.

The main takeaways around caring for your skin while traveling, according to Vculek? First, focus on hydration, especially when dealing with winter weather. “Moisturizing is key,” Vculek said via email. “Hydrate your skin as much as possible before flying into cooler climates.”

And, of course, don’t skimp on sunscreen! “I always put on SPF,” she added. “Whether it’s in my tinted moisturizer or foundation, it’s important to wear it daily even in cold climates!”

Read on for the pilots’ tips and tricks for keeping skin healthy and hydrated while you’re in the sky.

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A thick cream moisturizer, like CeraVe's bestselling moisturizing cream
"For colder climates, I find that the thicker, cream-like moisturizers stay on my skin throughout the day versus gel-like moisturizers that tend to be absorbed quickly," said Delta Air Lines pilot Paul Janowicz.

Based on Janowicz's preference for heavy-duty moisturizers, we think the CeraVe's moisturizing cream will serve travelers well. Reviewers call it a "godsend" for dry skin, and it's currently listed as Amazon's top-selling face moisturizer. The thick cream deeply nourishes parched skin thanks to a blend of moisturizing ceramides and hydrating hyaluronic acid. Ceramides will help replenish your skin barrier during long travel days and dry plane air. You can also use it as a soothing hand cream.

To take this moisturizer in your carry-on, you can decant a portion of it into a travel container.
Or the famously nourishing Weleda Skin Food moisturizer
We also think Weleda Skin Food is a great option for dehydrated, thirsty skin on the face, hands and body. It’s a long-heralded holy grail moisturizer among skincare enthusiasts because of its rich, nourishing formula that’s chockfull of hardworking hydrators like glycerin and lanolin and plant ingredients including sunflower, pansy and chamomile oils. A little goes a long way, too.
Or La Roche-Posay's creamy Cicaplast Balm
You can’t go wrong with La Roche-Posay’s popular Cicaplast Balm, either, which is designed to nourish and soothe cracked, chaffed skin with a creamy blend of glycerin, shea butter and vitamin B5. Use it all over your body, face and hands as needed.
An antioxidant-rich hydrating serum, like Blume's Meltdown Oil
"Moisturizing is key and I double-moisturize at night in cold climates," wrote Delta Air Lines pilot Larissa Vculek. "If my skin is looking... dry, I will also use a hydrating serum at night... [with] age defy[ing] antioxidants that have clean, simple ingredients to help against breakout[s]."

With Vculek's guidelines in mind, we're suggesting Blume's lightweight yet nourishing Meltdown Oil. It's formulated with antioxidant-rich natural oils, like rose hip seed, tamanu seed and black cumin seed oils, which keep skin hydrated while brightening dark spots, balancing oily skin and, thanks to their antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties, can help soothe acne and keep future breakouts at bay. I use this serum myself and love it so much that I have it on subscription to make sure I never run out.

An added bonus? The size is carry-on-friendly!
Or Neutrogena’s oil-free Hydro Boost hydrating serum
This popular oil-free serum quenches dry skin with mega-moisturizing glycerin while plumping and locking in hydration with the cult-favorite ingredient hyaluronic acid. Its oil-free formula means it’s less likely to clog pores while feeling lightweight on skin and absorbing quickly.
The Inkey List
Or The Inkey List’s bestselling moisturizing hyaluronic acid serum
Hyaluronic acid is a moisturizing superstar for dehydrated skin, promising to plump fine lines and repair the skin’s barrier. This hardworking formula is cult-fave brand The Inkey List’s number one bestseller, and is designed to melt into skin, delivering fast moisture that doesn’t feel sticky or tacky.
Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen, like the popular SPF 30 Black Girl Sunscreen
Vculek stressed the importance of applying sunscreen both when flying and doing everyday activities. "Always remember to wear SPF," she wrote. "It's important to wear it daily even in cold climates!"

We think Black Girl Sunscreen is a great option for sun protection. It provides broad spectrum defense and dries clear without leaving behind a white cast, so it won't be a pain to apply or blend in. Its formula also includes hydrating ingredients like jojoba, avocado and sunflower oils to nourish your skin as it protects it.
Or Supergoop SPF 40 Unseen Sunscreen
I'm also a big fan of Supergoop's Unseen Sunscreen, which applies clear with a matte finish. It also includes antioxidant-rich ingredients like red algae and frankincense to add moisture to the skin while helping soothe irritation. It also doubles as a makeup primer!

It's available in three sizes, including a travel size.
Or a sunscreen from cult-fave brand La Roche-Posay
La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios sunscreen offers an impressive SPF 100 that’s formulated specifically for sensitive skin. Its milky formula is designed to melt right in and absorb quickly.
A "mini" skin routine including lip balm — like Aquaphor's Lip Repair
"I recommend packing a ‘mini’ skin care routine to use while traveling and reapplying moisturize[r], chapstick, etc. before you board," said Janowicz.

The skin on lips is thinner than on the rest of the face and contains no oil glands, so protecting and hydrating lips can require some extra care. We think that classic Aquaphor is a great addition to your travel skin routine. It's designed to soothe chapped, parched lips using nourishing shea butter, mega-hydrating glycerin and moisturizing castor seed oil.
Travel containers for your favorite skin care products
"Pack your favorite products in travel sized containers," wrote Vculek. "I would also put all of your skincare products in a separate small bag to make sure they’re easy to grab, versus having to dig through your carry on."

This set of travel containers has you covered whether you're traveling with creams, gels or liquids. It includes four squeezable bottles, four jars and two spray bottles, along with a bag, scoopers, a funnel, a brush and labels so you can properly decant and organize everything.

The set is designed to be leakproof and is made with BPA-free silicone. It also comes in four color combination options.
Or the Cadence magnetic travel containers
If you're feeling a little splurgy, these magnetic travel containers are a favorite among TikTokers for their thoughtful design and sleek, pretty look. They stay neatly together in luggage because of their magnetic construction, and their rounded edges are designed to make scooping out product seamlessly easy and ergonomic. They promise to be leakproof, watertight and airtight.
A facial cleanser, like Bioderma Sensibio micellar water
"[I] make sure to always have a cleanser and moisturizer/sunscreen combo with me [when I travel," noted Janowicz.

I'm convinced that when it comes to facial cleansers, micellar water just cannot be beat. This type of cleanser removes makeup, pollution, dirt and oil from your face without requiring you to wash it off. That means you can use it just about anywhere as long as you have a cotton pad or something similar to apply it with. It's a great choice for traveling, since you can easily cleanse your face while having to take a trip to the airport bathroom or the lavatory on the plane (I'm truly not sure which one is less appealing).

Bioderma's bestselling formula is designed to be extra gentle on skin, so you won't have to resort to harsh rubbing or tugging to remove makeup, oil and dirt. It's available in four sizes, including a travel size.
Refreshing facial sprays, like Tower 28's SOS spray
Facial sprays "are great for a nice, refreshed face," wrote Janowicz. "[I] don’t always travel with face masks and facial sprays, but I have borrowed friends' during long-haul flights."

Drawing from Janowicz's advice, we think Tower 28's SOS spray is an excellent option. This cult-favorite pick, which has gone viral on TikTok multiple times over, contains antibacterial hypochlorous acid that'll help soothe and strengthen skin as you travel and traverse between climates (you can read more about the benefits of hypochlorous acid, according to dermatologists). Multiple shopping editors at HuffPost, including me, swear by this spray for helping moisturize skin, calm irritation and making skin glow.

It's available in multiple sizes, including a travel-sized option.
Or the aloe- and rose water-infused Mario Badescu facial spray
This Mario Badescu spray pleasantly hydrates and rejuvenates dry skin with a refreshing blend of aloe and rose water. Just mist it onto your face (or even your neck and hair) for a quick pick-me-up on long, dry travel days.
Face masks, including Cosrx's hydrating snail mucin sheet masks
Janowicz said that while he does not always travel with skin care masks, they're a nice option for keeping skin feeling refreshed.

We at HuffPost are pretty excited about Cosrx's snail mucin essence masks, which are sheet mask versions of the brand's über-popular snail mucin serum. While snail mucin might sound unconventional, it's renowned among skin care enthusiasts for its gentle yet powerful hydrating ability, which can also help support the skin barrier in dry climates and during travel.

This mask set includes 10 snail mucin sheet masks, which you can easily put on when you board and discard when you're done without having to wash your face after.

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