Why Your Skin Freaks Out When You Travel (and How to Avoid It)

As a flight attendant, I must admit that I truly have one of the best jobs that a young restless woman could ever hope to attain. I experience a new city every week, spend days on end at 35,000 ft, assimilate with locals in new places, and eat, drink, and explore to my heart’s content. That being said, I have spent the better part of this career figuring out the ins and outs of keeping my temperamental complexion in check while constantly traveling.

If you’ve ever experienced a bad breakout during vacation, know that you are not alone and that there are ways to prevent an eruption before a big trip (when you really need top notch selfies!).


What causes travel breakouts?

There is a variety of factors that lend themselves to inflamed breakouts when you REALLY don’t want to deal with them. These are prime Instagram moments that should be dedicated to the mountains of the landscapes, not the one on your chin. Here are your biggest adversaries while on the road:

  • Pre-trip stress — Cortisol has never been your friend.
  • Massive schedule change — In addition to jet lag, your products are going on at very different times and your sleep is way out of whack.
  • Cabin pressure — Whether you’re flying or driving, the act of getting where you need to go is one of the hardest hurdles to overcome in travel skincare.
  • Product overhaul — Ideally you’d be traveling with your regular regimen in tow, but you aren’t Mariah Carey and no one wants to check that many bags.
  • Gastrointestinal overload — Going from the meal prepped chicken and veggies you depended on to save up for your trip to suddenly shoveling every delicious and beautiful thing you see into your mouth will take its toll.
  • Climate change — No, we’re not talking about global warming.


Source: Devon Rachel


How to Avoid the Breakout

Preparation is key. In addition to mitigating as much pre-trip stress as possible by planning, list making, researching, and saving more money than you expect to need — preparing your skin for travel should begin a couple weeks out.


Decide which products you will travel with.

Decide which full-sized products are an absolute must and what you will use to transport them. If you plan on supplementing anything new into your routine for travel, start using it at least two weeks before your trip.


Consider your new environment.

If you live in Phoenix and are traveling to Miami, your regular heavy moisturizer might be an issue in the insane humidity you’ll be switching to. Consider your destination and which type of products will be the most conducive there, and start using them along with your regular routine at least two weeks out.


Increase your water intake.

Drinking water isn’t the best way to hydrate the skin on your face, but a system that is dehydrated cannot properly react to stress. Consume a bare minimum of two liters a day leading up to travel, and continue on into your trip.


Keep your diet in check.

Before you go big while on vacay with sweets, treats, and bar hopping — make sure you’re eating well in the weeks leading up to the big trip. Cut back on dairy and added sugar and make sure you’re consuming plenty of healthy fats and leafy greens.



Baby Your Skin In Transit

Travel day should be a bare-faced affair. The artificial atmosphere inside an airplane has 0% humidity, and skin cells will attempt to attach to water molecules in your makeup — these irritating ingredients are not moisturizing agents. When oily skin becomes dehydrated, oil production goes into overdrive. When dry skin gets even drier, there’s more dead skin available to clog pores. Combination skin doesn’t even know where to begin.


Reapply moisturizer regularly.

Have a light cream moisturizer in your carry-on or purse for reapplication. Avoid hyaluronic acid products or facial mists while in-transit, as these molecules work by attracting moisture in the atmosphere to your skin. In an environment where there is 0% humidity, these types of moisturizers instead pull water from your skin cells and dry you out further.


Bring a sheet mask.

Embrace your inner Kardashian and sit with that sheet mask on like the Queen you are. Yeah, you might look insane, but they are insanely effective against dryness and the subsequent breakout while on long haul flights and road trips.


Reapply SPF regularly.

You are THOUSANDS of feet closer to the sun while in an airplane, and the clouds you’re flying above are reflecting UV rays in all directions. Similarly, you are exposed on all sides while in a vehicle on long winded road trips. Reapplying SPF every four hours is an absolute must.



Keep It Up

The battle against breakouts doesn’t end after landing, but thankfully the heavy lifting is done. Continue to pamper your skin the first night and try to go makeup-free as much as you can. Bring along an AHA/BHA acid peel treatment and try to use it within the first couple days — this will help alleviate the dead skin cells caused by dryness that lend themselves to breakouts.

The one thing that never leaves my suitcase is a bottle of shelf stable probiotics. If you’re anything like me, one of the main objectives with any vacation is immersing yourself completely in local cuisine. If you plan on being a lush, as I hope you do, take a little extra care of your gut. So much of your skin’s health depends on the balance of your digestive system.



Favorite Travel Products


Antioxidant Serum


An antioxidant-rich serum will help combat the free radicals that would otherwise express themselves as pimples. It can also brighten your complexion for an effortless glow.



Cream Moisturizer


Creams don’t have to be heavy, but their thicker consistency is ideal for air and car travel — just be sure to start using them before your trip.



Blotting Papers


Skin naturally produces more sebaceous oil when it encounters dry climates. Don’t let it sit against your skin to avoid it turning into a blemish.



Chemical Exfoliation


Dead skin is not allowed to freeload on your vacation — get rid of it to avoid breakouts and glow throughout your entire trip!





You need it every single day no matter what!