Whether you’re a frequent flier or only take to the skies occasionally, you’ve probably noticed that air travel can do a number on your skin and hair—especially if you throw jet lag or switching climates into the mix. Because about half the air inside the plane is pulled from the atmosphere, in-cabin air has little moisture once the plane reaches higher altitudes, making our bodies prone to dehydration—and that can be felt even more intensely on mature hair and skin that already tends to be dry.
But as any flight attendant will tell you, there are ways to combat this dehydration before, during, and after your flight. So we asked Connie Watson, a Delta flight attendant who’s been flying for 25 years, exactly how she keeps her mature skin and hair from drying out on even the longest international flights.
Editor’s note: The below product picks were selected by our team based on Watson’s recommendations.
1. SPF-infused lotion and foundation
Before heading to the airport, Watson always applies an SPF lotion topped by an SPF foundation. “It’s critical because of all the different climates we travel to,” she says.
Watson favors a lightweight, non-greasy SPF lotion with niacinamide (a derm-loved ingredient that helps retain moisture and also protects skin from environmental factors like pollution and weather), like Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Sunscreen SPF 50 ($35) layered under a long-lasting SPF foundation, like the Estée Lauder Futurist Hydra Rescue Moisturizing Foundation SPF 45 ($45) that will hold up during travel. “I’ll switch from a lightweight foundation in the warm weather to a creamier formula in the winter,” for added moisture, Watson says.
2. Leave-in conditioner
According to Watson, leave-in conditioner is a must before departure. “Especially when we sleep in bunks on international flights, static cling can be a real problem,” says Watson. “But a leave-in conditioner can keep the static away every time.”
Watson especially likes leave-ins with natural ingredients and extracts, along with amino acids to smooth, condition, and strengthen mature strands. One of our favorites that fits the bill? Briogeo Superfoods™ Avocado + Kiwi Moisture Leave-In Conditioner ($25)
3. Lip balm
Flying can really dehydrate your lips, so Watson says she always travels with both moisturizing lipstick and balm, applying them frequently. “I constantly am making sure to put something on my lips during the flight, then it’s lip balm at night, every night,” she says. The Perricone MD Cold Plasma Plus+ Lip Therapy ($29) gets the derm stamp of approval for keeping mature lips well-moisturized.
4. Hand cream
This is one product you’ll want to (literally and figuratively) keep “on hand” during a flight. Watson says she never flies without a tube of hand lotion in her pocket, especially because she washes her hands frequently. Her favorites are advanced formulas that contain humectants to draw moisture into the skin plus emollients like ceramides to support the skin barrier and help lock moisture in, and dermatologists recommend CeraVe Therapeutic Hand Cream ($11) for doing exactly that on mature skin.
5. Anti-aging night cream
Once she’s arrived at her destination, Watson says cleansing her face thoroughly before applying a rich night cream is a must to keep post-flight dehydration at bay. She favors products with beta-hydroxy, vitamins, and aloe vera designed to nourish, soothe, and replenish mature skin, along with helping combat free radical damage after travel. Whether you’re in-flight or at home, Olay’s Night Cream with Beta-Hydroxy Complex and Vitamin E ($31) is an A+ option for mature skin, whether you’re traveling or not.
6. Water, water, water
Finally, Watson says perhaps her biggest essential to keep skin and hair healthy is good ol’ H20. “I can’t stress enough water, water, and more water,” says Watson. “Drinking a lot of water is essential to maintain moisture for your skin and hair as well as your lips.”
And drinking water regularly throughout the flight isn’t just good for your appearance—it will keep your body hydrated, help combat post-travel fatigue, and have you feeling ready to go once your feet are back on the ground.
Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.