4 Harmful Effects Flying Has on Your Skin

Whether you’re jet-setting to Milan for fashion week or braving an overbooked flight to see the inlaws in Galveston, when you get off the plane, your location isn’t the only thing that’s changed during the flight.

The inherently unnatural act of humans flying through the air at 30,000 feet has unsurprisingly unnatural results to your biology, especially when it comes to your skin.

Here are just a few things to keep in mind next time you’re headed to the airport so you can pack the proper skincare regimen accordingly.

Cabin pressure slows your blood flow

Although the plane’s cabin is pressurized so you don’t pass out on top of your in-flight magazine, the cabin pressure is still much higher than sea level.

According to the World Health Organization, “At typical cruising altitudes in the range 11 000–12 200 m (36 000–40 000 feet), air pressure in the cabin is equivalent to the outside air pressure at 1800–2400 m (6000–8000 feet) above sea level. As a consequence, less oxygen is taken up by the blood (hypoxia) and gases within the body expand.”

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Even though this can obviously be tolerated by most passengers, the effect of this increased pressure is less blood circulating on the surface of your skin. After a long flight, this reduced blood flow will zap you of your rosy glow and plump complexion.

Be prepared for this by packing a retinol cream which will more quickly reinvigorate the blood flow to your face and have you glowing again in no time.

To fly is to dry

Recirculated cabin air is as dry as a Mohave breeze. At 12% humidity (a comfortable, healthy percentage is around 40-50%), an airplane cabin will dry you out like a sponge in a microwave.

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The worst part is if you don’t remember to keep hydrated, your dry skin may overcompensate and produce too much natural oil, causing you to break out. Fight this by drinking a TON of water and moisturizing both before and after you get off the plane.

Protect yourself

Just because you’re technically “inside” the plane, doesn’t mean you’re totally safe from the sun.

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You may think we’re being real worry-warts about your sunscreen situation while flying but we have good reason to be. When you’re cruising at 30,000 ft., that also means you’re 30,000 ft. closer to the sun and it’s harmful UV rays.

The increased proximity to the sun amplifies its negative effects so make sure you never take off without putting it on, especially if you have a window seat.

Travel stress is still stress

Even when all of your travel plans go off seamlessly from door to door, flying is still a stressful endeavor. And as we all know, nothing ever goes seamlessly at the airport.

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One thing after another goes wrong and the stressors continue to compound until you’re yelling at a teenager with clear braces at a Wetzles Pretzels for dipping your Wetzle dog in the cream cheese without even consulting you first (or, you know, something similar).

Stress is bad for your entire body, skin included. It slows down the reparative functions of your skin and directs blood and oxygen elsewhere. This can eventually lead to permanent signs of aging so do your best to take a deep breath, think about something pleasant, and realize that a dab of cream cheese on your cruddy pretzel-battered hot dog won’t kill you.


Whether it’s your departure or your return, keep in mind your skin takes some damage during your trip. Equip your carry on accordingly with a full array of incredible skincare from Lira Clinical!

Interested in how your skin fares in different environments? Check out these fascinating articles:

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