10 of the Best Travel Beauty Tips

I picked these up when I used to fly on a private jet (no, really!).

When I was 19, I moved to L.A. with stars in my eyes and big dreams of becoming an actress. I figured that within the year I’d bag a role on a hit TV show like The O.C. Ah, the naiveté of youth.

While I clearly didn’t become the next big thing in the acting world, I did manage to snag a pretty sweet job while I was there. For about a year I lived the good life, getting paid lots of money to serve cocktails and catered meals to millionaires, billionaires and celebrities on private jets. Life couldn’t really have been any better except for if I’d been the client on the plane and not the employee. P.S. If you haven’t seen the inside of a Boeing Business Jet, you’re missing out.

When I first started flying, I didn't really consider the need for any special beauty routines. But I soon became intrigued by the wives and girlfriends onboard whipping out their Chanel and Louis Vuitton makeup bags to spread La Mer on their skin, and misting themselves with Evian mineral water spray. I was always kind of in awe of these beauty rituals that seemed so foreign to me. (Only later did I learn that these sprays aren't a good idea when flying because when they evaporate, they take your skin’s moisture along with them. How did these women not know this? Lesson learned: don’t copy random socialites on planes.)

Anyway, after flying all over the U.S. and making numerous trips to Europe, I now have a list of items that I won't board a plane without. So whether you’re flying across the country to visit the fam, or jet-setting to the south of France to hook up with your beau in St. Tropez (can I come with?), here are 10 tips you’ve gotta follow when you fly.


Water is your friend. Drink lots of it before, during and after the flight. Really what I’m saying is, drink lots of water all the time. Flying totally dehydrates you (the air is super-dry in the cabin), and water is absolutely crucial to rehydrating and having fabulous skin. No, drinking Diet Coke ain’t gonna cut it. And not to be a buzzkill, but neither is Veuve Cliquot, for that matter. Alcohol is actually one of the worst things you can drink when flying because it’s so dehydrating. (It also tends to double its effect when you're in the air because of the cabin pressure. Some of you might view this as a positive… But I promise, when you land and your mouth feels like it’s filled with cotton balls, you’ll be kicking yourself.)

Nix the coffee too, for the same reasons. And remember, by the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Though it pains me greatly to do so, I usually fork over the $8 for a one-litre bottle of water after I’ve gone through security. Or you could bring an empty stainless steel bottle and fill it up at a coffee shop before you board. (And of course if you're flying private, there'll be someone serving you glasses of sparkling water with lemon on a silver tray.)


It’s extraordinary. Somehow I’m always the one who gets stuck sitting next to the sick person on the plane. You know, the one who’s sniffling, has an annoying cough and is clearing his throat every 30 seconds. Yeah. Once I spent an entire two-hour flight with my head turned toward the aisle so I could breathe less of that person’s air to my left. And we all know about plane air—how it’s recycled and constantly being re-circulated. If you’ve been in my position before, you know you want to load up on Vitamin C (buffered or Ester-C are good choices to avoid tummy trouble) and zinc in addition to doubling your regular vits, in order to protect yourself from that nasty person’s germs.


Your body and feet swell up at high altitudes, so while it’s tempting to dress like Ms. Beckham and look super-glam while travelling, I recommend rocking a more relaxed look—skin-tight leather is probs not your best choice. I always bring warm socks, a sweater and a cashmere pashmina that can be draped as a blanket or used as a pillow.


Is beauty sleep even possible on an airplane? And by beauty sleep I mean deep, restful sleep where you wake up with clear, sparkling eyes and radiant skin. I've never quite mastered the art, but I know some people have. An inflatable neck cushion makes it easier and is therefore pretty much invaluable in my books. Flying commercial—and economy to boot—is uncomfortable enough as it is. Give your neck a break and pack one of these gems. You can find them at airport gift stores, travel stores or online.

Also necessary if you want to attempt sleep is an eye mask (the one above is only $6.15 at Well.ca). Block out the light and catch some z's. You may be dressed down, but this mask adds a little glamour to your ensemble. (It says: "Oh hai, I’m on my way to meet my French boyfriend in St. Tropez! NBD.")


Have I gone too far? Are you envisioning yourself looking like a total weirdo as you whip out your bright green tennis ball to roll around under your feet? Well, I’ve heard horror stories about deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in veins that occur when you don’t move around enough) happening to unfortunate people like myself who are stuck in economy and barely have room to breathe, let alone move their legs. (Not to mention, ew, big purple veins on your legs are not a hot summer accessory.) So, I’ve brought a ball a few times on long flights and it definitely helps. It also keeps you busy while counting down the hours in an overseas journey.

(Sometimes, I'd get really lucky and work on flights where we'd drop clients in one city and make the trip back to L.A. with an empty plane. This meant I got to take off my heels, put my feet up and relax on the leather couches. No jump seat or tennis balls for me!)


In addition to doubling your vitamins, skin guru Dr. Perricone suggests that you take three Omega-3 capsules twice a day on the day of the flight, and the same the next day. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory, will help prevent blood clots (see above) and works magic on your skin. I take this bad boy every day, flight or no flight. Not a bad idea if you want beautiful skin 24/7/365.


Salty snacks like peanuts and pretzels wreak havoc on the body and make you bloated (not to mention they probably contain MSG). I know they’re delicious (smokehouse almonds rock my world), but dehydrated and bloated is not a good look for anybody. And we all know that most airplane meals are super-sketchy and should not be consumed.

That's why I pack my own goody bag. Fruit, Luna or Gnu bars, unsalted trail mix, homemade cookies and sprouted grain wraps filled with almond butter and banana or avocado are all things I've brought on trips since my flight-attendant days. Believe me, though, I yearn for the time when I used to have a full airplane kitchen available to me and hundreds of dollars worth of catering (sometimes from L.A.'s best restaurants) to choose from.


Yep, you read that right. No, I’m not taking crazy pills. Ideally you want to let your skin breathe and forgo your makeup routine when you’re flying. Lack of moisture and travelling through time zones totally stresses out your skin, and you don’t want a bunch of foundation and powder layered over it if it freaks out. Being makeup-free* also makes it easier to put my next step into practice. And if you’re really worried about touching down with a bare face, just pull out your biggest pair of oversized shades and swipe on a coat of red—or orange—lipstick before you exit the plane.

*Okay. Michelle says maybe we can come to a compromise and do tinted moisturizer. Happy now?

And speaking of moisturizer...


We’ve already talked about dehydration. So in addition to drinking water, you want to apply and re-apply a hydrating moisturizer to your makeup-free skin. I don’t know about you, but I still can’t afford the super-luxe creme de la Mer (and isn't it over-hyped anyway? Or is that me being bitter because I don't have any?). I do have a few less expensive favourites though:

Dr. Hauschka’s Rose Day Cream is award-winning. It smells beautifully and is super-hydrating and ultra-soothing. It’s also natural.

Clinique Moisture Surge is another superstar for extra hydration. I love that it’s oil-free and sinks into my skin immediately.

(You can decant some of these creams into travel-sized containers for your flight. Also check out Michelle's reccs for travel-sized prodz if you're only bringing a carry-on bag.)

Finally, hands get dry, too! Make sure you bring along a moisture-packed hand cream, like my fave: L’Occitane Ultra Moisturizing Shea Butter Hand Cream.


Once you’ve reached your destination, scrub away dirt and dead, dry skin with a mild exfoliant (both Michelle and I like this one) and then apply a hydrating mask, like this one Michelle recommends from Dermalogica.

Then take a power nap. When you wake up, it'll probably be time for cocktails on the beach.

Elizabeth Oborne is a Vancouver-based writer and holistic nutritionist. Follow her on Twitter: @elizabethedits.

Tell me:

Do you have an in-flight beauty routine or do you just consider yourself lucky to be on the plane by the final boarding call?

What about skipping makeup the next time you fly—think you can dewit? (Get it? Dewy skin? Because you'll be applying moisturizer like crazy?)

What beauty prodz, snacks and other paraphenalia do you bring when YOU fly?

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