Be a Flying Beauty with These Airplane Beauty Tips

Published in: Beauty Tips, Guest Post, Skin Care


Written by Sam

Captain Sam says, “You are free to move (beautifully) about the cabin.” Don’t let air travel slow you down. Be an airborne beauty with the help of these tips from Sam.

Flying Beauty

Flying is perhaps the worst thing to ever happen to beauty. The dry, stale air. The awful, exposing fluorescent lights. The 12 hours of foundation meltdown. Obviously, planes weren’t meant for photoshoots.


So, how can you combat the common mishaps and mayhem the mile-high atmosphere can wreak? Before you flash your passport and board, let’s find out.

Please prepare for takeoff
Your biggest issue, even if you have oily skin, could be keeping your skin moisturized and supple throughout the flight. That dry cabin air seems to enjoy leeching all of the hydration out of everything (including your face).

The night before a flight, use a deep conditioning hair masque, and leave it on while you sleep for the extra benefit. That way, your locks will stay lush and lustrous throughout your trip, and your cuticles will remained sealed against any toxins that may be present in the cabin.

The morning (or whatever time it might be) before your departure, take a warm shower instead of a hot one (which can break down the lipid barrier on skin that keeps moisture in and toxins out), and try to keep it as brief as you can. Pat yourself dry instead of rubbing, and apply a nice, thick lotion all over within 60 seconds of stepping out of that steamy stall — while your skin is still all nice and porous — to lock that moisture in. If you have time, slap a moisturizing facial masque on for five minutes or so to give yourself an extra fortification against dehydration.


It's lip balm
Balms are your best friends on long plane rides. To start, because they don’t qualify as a liquid, you can freely get them past airport security without a hassle (making sure you don’t miss your takeoff!). And they’re also mighty multitaskers. Seriously. Oil-based balms (rose or carrot oil being two of the best) can fix nearly any beauty problem you’ll encounter on a plane.

Smear over lips to instantly repair and protect against cracking, peeling, and general dryness. Rub into cuticles to stop them from ripping and pulling (also add a nice shine to your nails, as well as protecting polish from scratching). Dab on the top of cheekbones to add a subtle sheen while pumping up the moisture. Smooth over eyebrows as a down-and-dirty alternative to brow gel. Hey, my brows certainly get wonky after eight hours in a musty aeroplane.

Makeup that lasts past takeoff
Planes are notorious for causing even the most long-wearing makeup to deteriorate and end up as a greasy puddle on your lap. Dry skin turns dryer and flakes, while oilier skin produces excess oil to make up for the lack of moisture. Your best bet is to go sans any makeup, and just lather on a great moisturizer…

Wait — did I just write that?? Alright, if you just laughed and possibly glared, let’s continue as if I hadn’t said anything. There’s really no good situation here. Start by applying a great silicone or lotion primer (to match the formulation of your foundation). After that’s set in, opt for either a smooth cream foundation (for dry skin) or a long-wearing liquid foundation (for oilier skin), and apply sparingly, building up in sheer layers. Let that one red spot show through a bit instead of caking more and more on; the lights onboard will really emphasize any areas where you’ve overapplied. Next, opt for a sheer cream or gel blush, which is much less likely to become patchy if oil or dryness starts to peek through, and will aid in keeping your cheeks hydrated. Set all of this with a light dusting of powder pressed in with a puff for maximum effect. For lips, stay away from matte (which can do some seriously damage in the already drying environment) and opt for a sheer lipstain or just a nice tinted balm. Your eyes really only need a curling of the lash and perhaps a swipe of a nude shadow. Remember, you just want to look nice; you’re (probably) not trying to pick anyone up on a plane. You want to feel comfortable, and keeping it simple will ensure that you won’t have to do any touchups. Oh, and think about steering clear of mascara (unless it’s clear). Even waterproof formulas have a tendency to smudge a bit if you fall asleep with it on for a few hours.

Brighten up!
This might sound silly, but the sun is a huge pest on planes. You really are much closer to it and its damaging rays without anywhere near the cloud or atmospheric protection you get on the ground. It’s incredibly easy to get sun damage even if you’re not in a window seat. And as you probably know by now, just because you’re not getting burned doesn’t mean you’re not receiving damage. Apply a sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection and at least an SPF of 45 before boarding.

Bon voyage!


Written by Sam

Sam is a 17-year-old, oddly tall guy whose love of all things skincare, makeup, and fashion started when he entered the modeling world at 14. Since then, he’s established himself as a freelance makeup artist in the theatre and fashion worlds, and started his own blog to preach the wonders of orange eyeshadow, Asian skincare, and designer fragrances to the masses.


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So far, 16 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Vijaya says:

    I tend to skip the makeup on flights. Honestly, I can’t keep makeup on for more than 8 hours regardless, or else it just starts to bug me. Going home and taking it off is the best part of my day. If I’m on a 15 hour flight I NEVER wear makeup of any kind. Interesting tips, though.
    Vijaya recently posted … MAC Play Time Lipstick

  2. Arummmanis says:

    While Vijaya can’t wait to take off her make-up, I can’t wait to put mine on. I just HAVE to wear make-up before I go out.

    Usually if I have a flight to catch, I just wear my Pond’s Visible Lightening Day Cream and my Biore Perfect Face Milk SPF 50. It keeps my skin matte yet moisturized. Then I just finished of with loose powder, powder blush, black mascara, lipgloss and do my eyebrows.

    Sam, have you tried tht Biore Sunscreen yet?

  3. VictoriaJane says:

    I travel at least one week a month for work & go one step further with the sun protection-pull down the window shade. Just ask your neighbors first 🙂

  4. i keep it minimal for flights and just go with a mineral powder foundation & blush. i skip eyeliner and mascara to avoid smudging and just use my glasses to camouflage any dark circles.

    if we have to go somewhere after checking into the hotel, i make a point to wash my face again and re-apply makeup just to i can stay refreshed :).
    dani@callitbeauty recently posted … Collection Spotlight- Louis Vuitton – Spring 2011

  5. mandy says:

    interesting and helpful article. Sam, your posts are like always an enjoyable read. However I just can’t skip mascara — I love it too much 😀

  6. Amylee says:

    i love this, it was very helpful
    Amylee recently posted … My must have for winter

  7. meimei says:

    I’m the person who would rather wear moisturizer than makeup on the plane, because my face dries out easily. I also make sure to put on scads of lip balm to keep my lips from chapping. And I totally agree with Sam – mascara ALWAYS smudges in-flight, especially if you’re the type who sleeps on the plane.

    If I have to put on makeup, though, I make sure to have a bit of compact makeup (foundation or powder) and a moisturizing lip gloss on hand. For my upcoming overseas trip to NZ, I will be taking tiny packages of moisturizer with me on the plane; one for the face, and Nivea for the rest of my skin. And breath mints, which I count as a beauty product in itself 😉

    Also helpful: Drinking lots of water. A little cliched, but trust me, it does work 🙂
    meimei recently posted … A Pump and Lift Special- Surprising Wardrobe Item of The Month

  8. Eileen Eldrich says:

    Sam, you’re wise beyond your years. Keep up the good work.

    Clear mascara is the way to go, for lashes and brows.

  9. Judy says:

    This tips are wonderful, i will keep them in mind on thursday that im flying to illinois 🙂 Thanks for sharing this Karen!

  10. Christy O says:

    The dry air actually helps to keep my extremely oily skin to a dull glow, so I do enjoy long flights as I don’t look terrible afterwards. But I do constantly hydrate every time a water tray goes around.

  11. Lucie says:

    Great tips! But I never wear makeup while flying, being stuck in an airplane and the recycled air with my ‘face’ on just feels grody!

  12. Charisse says:

    Sam, I’m loving your posts! 😀 I swear by my Yes to Carrots lip butter… so good! I like to use Yes to Carrots lip tints as blush too

  13. Lizzard says:

    this is wonderful! i have an 8 hour flight this friday so i am soo happy to have read this, i never though about a hair mask over night, that’s just brilliant! hehe happy monday 🙂

  14. Tania says:

    Thanks so much Sam! I don’t even put on any eye makeup as my eyes are super mondo sensitive. Just curl the lashes, bit of powder foundation, bit of bronzer, and lip balm. When I land I touch up and add a bit of gloss and maybe a bit of mascara. Oh and a tube of Aquaphor and some Smith’s Strawberry Salve are with me at all times!!

  15. amanda says:

    When im flying solo ill just wear mosturizer and seriously hydrate. They don’t give you enough water in flight I drink at least two bottles. Im still trying to figure out my plan for makeup from newyork to india tho.

  16. maggie says:

    I wear neutrogena face lotion SPF 50 and NatureLuxe foundation and then curl my eyelashes and apply One by One mascara. I don’t even use waterproof, and i come off the red eye, 9 hour plane feeling & looking fresh! I think the makeup is quality so that’s why it stays on, and just make sure you drink lots of water to brighten up your skin. To stay SUPER hydrated, exercise for 30 minutes (or until your really sweaty) before you have to go to the airport and then shower with luke warm water, and for some reason your plane ride will be easier and you’ll look better! this is from personal experience.

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