I think about the time that TSA confiscated my $179 full-size bottle of SK-II Essence. I had forgotten it was in my bag and shed an actual tear as I watched the frosted glass go straight into the trash at security. Ever since then, I’ve become militant about what makes it into my carry on, knowing that my soul wouldn’t be able to survive the torture of losing another bottle of one of my favorites. And so, into a standard-issue plastic bag it all goes. All 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) of it, as the TSA’s liquids rule states.
Not only do I need things that will fit into the bag, but they also have to work extra hard to combat all of the beauty issues that pop up during travel—what I like to call “airplane face.” After a lot of trial and error (I traveled full time for a year and a half, with my entire beauty regimen in a carry-on), I discovered a few key rules worth following:
1. Double-duty products, for the win: I’m always down to get more bang for my buck, but especially when it comes time to jet off for the weekend. The more you can do with a single product (versus having to pack two or three to achieve the same results), the better. Think tinted sunscreen, SPF moisturizer, a makeup removing cleansers, and so on.
2. Hydration, hydration, hydration: Fact: Airplane travel will dry your skin out faster than you can watch (and cry to) an on-board presentation of A Star Is Born. When it comes to packing products, consider hydration to be your best friend. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and vitamin E to help you stay moisturized, and use them generously while flying and in the days after you and your dry skin deplane.
3. Do not forget sunscreen: I recently discovered that you can get UV damage through the windows of an airplane, and have been haunted ever since. Even if you’re not carrying your entire selection of products in your carry-on, be sure to at least keep sunscreen on-hand so you can re-apply and stay protected throughout the flight.
Here’s how three beauty editors fill their TSA-approved beauty bags
“When I fly, my skin goes through what I like to call the ‘three stages of (airplane) grief.’ First it feels dry, then greasy, then just straight up dirty. So to combat this, I pack in hydrating products like Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask Mini ($25) and Odièle Rose Serum ($125) which I put on before takeoff, and mid-flight I spritz on Caudalie Beauty Elixer Mini ($18). Of course, I need sunscreen to protect from the harsh sun rays coming in through the airplane windows, so that job is for Supergoop Smooth and Poreless 100% Mineral Matte Screen ($18). On particularly long flights, before landing, I give my face a once-over with an Unscented Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Makeup Remover Wipes ($5) to get rid of any plane grime, then re-up on the hydrating products to head out for the day. And finally, my Kaya Essentials Lavender Lip Balm ($5) which I rarely go anywhere without.” —Zoe Weiner, associate beauty and fitness editor
“My reactive skin does not like to travel. While all I wanna do is sit back and enjoy the free movies in a cramped space, I have to make the time to give my skin extra TLC. First of all, I never go onto a plane wearing makeup. In the airport bathroom, I’ll cleanse my skin with Mūn Akwi Purifying Cleanser ($15), which is gentle and creamy and gets all the remaining grime off of my skin. Then I finish my routine by layering on a strong serum and nourishing moisturizer to work as a barrier between my skin and the gross plane air. I’ll tone with my mini Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 ($28), swipe on Dr. Dennis Gross Clinical Grade IPL Dark Spot Correcting Serum ($92), which is great for hyperpigmentation and brightening. I seal it in with my Dermalogica Travel Size Intensive Moisture Balance ($19), which has soothing aloe vera and echinacea in it. The second I get to my hotel or Airbnb, I need to shower it all off. I’ll cleanse my hair with Susanne Kauffman Shower/Shampoo ($29).” —Rachel Lapidos, beauty and fitness editor
“I like to slather on May Lindstrom Blue Cocoon ($180) when I get on the flight because it does a nice job of keeping my skin hydrated while I’m in the air, plus the scent is dreamy. My ever best buy was a tiny, travel version of Bioderma Sensibio H2O Make-Up Removing Solution ($5). I swear, I forget how important makeup remover is in my skin-care regimen until I’ve got lingering mascara below my eyes mid-vacay. And I’ve never actually done this, but there are Portable Humidifiers ($17) that plug into a USB port on a plane. It seem like they’d make the dry air more appealing while in-flight, so I’m bookmarking that for my future self. And of course, I’m never without Fresh Lip Balm ($24), which in addition to being hydrating for my lips also has SPF 15 to help guard from the very intense rays in the plane.” —Ali Finney, beauty and fitness director
When it come to beauty, our editors know their stuff (I’m biased, but still). Here are the under $15 products they (ok, we) swear by. Plus, the best beauty brands from all over the world worth stocking up on when you travel.
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