9 Genius Travel Beauty Tips from Flight Attendants (and the Products They Swear By)


Whether you fly once a year to visit your grandma or are an international supermodel who essentially lives on a plane, it’s a universal truth that flying can take its toll on your hair and skin. And for those of us who can’t fly private in our laser goggles (looking at you, Kim Kardashian) or slap on a mask (à la Chrissy Teigen) for fear of frightening our fellow coach passengers, fighting the effects of that dry, recirculated air requires a little pre-trip prep. And no one knows this better than flight attendants. So we reached out to these travel pros to find out how they really look professional, pulled-together and properly hydrated despite the long hours they log in the air. Prepare for your best flight ever.

RELATED PHOTOS: The Best Beauty Launches Of 2017

Pack On A Serum Before Takeoff
Whether you prep your skin before you hit the airport or after the plane’s taken off, adding this one product into your skin care regimen is key. “Using a serum under your moisturizer helps lock in extra moisture that you will need on a long-haul flight,” says Samantha Sweeney, a flight attendant for a major U.S. airline.

  • Buy It! Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Serum, $17.99; target.com and Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Acid Cloud Serum, $65; nordstrom.com

Try a Really Thick Cream, Then Wipe It Off Pre-Landing
To buy in travel size: Super-rich face lotion and travel wipes. “Load up on a heavy moisturizer or even a night cream when you’re doing a transcontinental flight,” says Marsha McCray, who’s been a flight attendant for a major airline for over 20 years. Then take a minute before the flight ends to freshen up with a makeup wipe and apply a quick coat of makeup “and you can still look fresh,” she says.

  • Buy It! Philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleansing Cloths, $10; sephora.com, Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel, $14.50; sephora.com and Aveeno Ultra-Calming Nourishing Night Cream, $14.99; target.com

Apply SPF Early

You’re not off the hook from your daily sun-protection regimen! “Even though we’re in the plane and not outside, you still need SPF on your skin,” says McCray. “These LED lights have the same damaging effects.” Plus, she adds that keeping your window open during daytime flights can cause skin damage, too.  “Most aircrafts don’t have tinted windows, so if you want to gaze out, you have that sun literally beaming on you.”

  • Buy It! Dermalogica Oil Free Matte Sunscreen Lotion, $49; nordstrom.com

Hand Cream Is a Miracle Multitasker
Lather this lotion all over – we mean it! “When I put hand cream on, I always rub the excess on my neck,” flight attendant Denise Kelley says. It also works as a great hair pick-me-up too (“Your hair gets so static-y!” says Amy Ng, a flight attendant for a major U.S. airline). “For a quick refresher, I will dab a bit of hand cream on my hands and run it through my hair,” seconds flight attendant Marion Chan.

Pack Your Own Water Bottle
You already know that chugging water is key to your best possible flight, but if you don’t want to be that annoying passenger that keeps asking the flight attendant for a refill on the minuscule complimentary cup of water they give you, here’s a trick. “Bring your own water bottle, and ask the flight attendants to fill it up for you before take off,” advises Sweeney.

  • Buy It! S’Well Hand Painted Textile Collection Water Bottle, $35; nordstrom.com

Stash a Face Mist In Your Purse
If there’s one thing every flight attendant we spoke to swears by, it’s keeping some sort of hydrating face mist in their bags to combat dehydrated skin mid-flight. Some of their favorites? Try a classic rosewater like this one from Mario Badescu  or the Evian Mineral Spray (if you’re on a budget) or Tatcha‘s dewy mist (if you’re looking to splurge).

  • Buy It! Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist, $48; sephora.com, Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater, $7; amazon.com and Evian Mineral Water Spray, $12.50; sephora.com

Refresh Your Hair With Dry Shampoo
But not the kind you’re probably thinking of. Full-size aerosol spray bottles of your favorite formula won’t make it past security. Instead, try a dry shampoo that comes in a powder formula to avoid the hassle of running out to buy the travel size. “When my hair needs to be refreshed I swear by the No Drought Dry Shampoo by Lush,” said Sweeney. “It comes in a powder form, so no need to worry about the 3 ounce liquid restrictions. Just sprinkle a little bit at the roots and use your fingers to work it in.”

  • Buy It! Lush Cosmetics No Drought Dry Shampoo, $26.99; amazon.com and Bumble and bumble Prêt-à-Powder, $27; sephora.com

Swipe On A Lip Tint
Sure, stars may completely change their outfits for the paparazzi before they disembark (you didn’t think Rosie Huntington-Whiteley actually flew in 4-in. heels?) but they’ve got a much easier secret to steal as well – and it’s one the flight attendants also endorse. “Throw on some oversized shades and a glossy lip,” says Chan. “You will look glam coming off a long flight – even without makeup!” Other flight attendants agree: A lip gloss or tinted balm brings life to your face in seconds. “Personally, I bring my Burt’s Bees Lip Gloss as a quick get-ready touch up,” says Chan. “It moisturizes my lips and gives me color so I don’t look tired.”

  • Buy It! Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Oil in ‘Caramel Cloud,’ $8.99; target.com, Maybelline Baby Lips Color Balm Crayon in ‘Refreshing Red,’ $5.50; walmart.com and Butter London Sheer Wisdom Lush Lip Oil in ‘Dusty Mauve,’ $22; nordstrom.com

Stick With Cream Makeup
Pack a few key cream makeup products (think: concealer, blush and eye shadow) to easily apply from your seat, without needing a bunch of tools on-hand. “The concept behind this routine is that everything can be easily applied using fingers or a Beautyblender (no brushes needed!), which saves space and makes it easy to reapply before landing,” says Sweeney. Milk Makeup’s travel kit includes TSA-approved sizes of its popular cream bronzer, blush, pore blur stick and cooling water (to hydrate and refresh tired eyes). And NARS just came out with a new pot concealer, perfect to quickly tap on and cover up any dark circles before landing. Swipe on some cream shadow and you’re good to go.