No matter how you slice it, an overseas flight is a hellish undertaking—even for the most well-seasoned of travelers. But when you’re meticulously prepared to face all that air travel has to throw at you, relaxing and resetting at 36,000 feet isn’t out of the realm of possibility. (Yes, even in economy.) From inside-out hydration to keeping one’s body clock in check, here an array of wellness-minded experts supply their travel beauty tips so that you can land looking—and feeling!—totally refreshed.
Watch What You Eat—Before You Board
The best defense is a good offense, and in advance of transatlantic travel, what goes into your body in the 24 hours leading up to your departure is important. “Alcohol and caffeine can significantly disrupt the quality of your sleep, so be mindful of your intake and try to avoid it as best as possible,” says Dr. Shelby Harris, a behavioral sleep medicine specialist. And take note: Heavy, fatty, or spicy meals ahead of a trip can also hinder rest. “Aim to eat lighter meals, and if the flight is at night, try and eat a combination of complex carbohydrates and protein beforehand as the combination can help with increasing sleepiness,” she says, noting whole wheat crackers, oatmeal, bananas, low-fat cheese, greek yogurt, and cherries as pacifying snacks to try before takeoff.
If you’ve fueled enough before your flight, you may want to opt out of the microwaved, nutrition-deficient in-flight meals and salty processed snacks offered onboard altogether and consider intermittent fasting instead. It will not only help get your circadian rhythm on track for your next destination, but can aid in detoxification, stabilize your metabolism, and even help you fight jet lag. Not to mention, it will ensure you’re not exacerbating “jet bloat,” which happens as the cabin altitude air pressure increases and contributes to more discomforting gas in the intestines.
Treat Your Body to a Little Preflight TLC
If maintaining your skin’s glow is top of mind, the best insurance is booking a thorough pro facial, says cult Los Angeles aesthetician Mila Moursi of what tops her top travel beauty tips list. “Schedule it a couple of days before your trip in order to oxygenate your skin and cleanse your pores,” she says. “That way your skin is in its best condition before you even set foot in an airport.” On the day of the flight, Moursi recommends washing your face with a gentle milky cleanser, then layering on a hydrating toner and serum to support the skin’s natural barrier and protect it from environmental damage, before sealing everything in with a rich cream moisturizer.
If you want to give the skin under the neck the same TLC, Silverlake-based ayurvedic practioner and herbalist Eleni Tsikrikas recommends giving yourself a full body abhyanga, or self-massage, before you leave for the airport. “Oil is soothing, lubricating, nourishing, and will seal the body from the cold, dry air that’s pumped out during the flight,” she explains of the blood-flow-stimulating practice. Squeeze an oil, such as Mauli Rituals’ Surrender Vata Body Oil, onto your fingertips and slather it all over. Wait four to five minutes for it to penetrate, then massage it further in with circular motions.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
It’s no secret that flying can wreak havoc on your hydration levels, but according to the Aerospace Medical Association, you should be drinking eight ounces of water every hour you’re in the air to prevent dehydration. It’s a tall order for a long-haul flight and upping your water intake preflight will give you a jump start. In air, Tsikrikas advises balancing out the frigid cabin conditions by avoiding cold beverages and drinking warm liquids, like hot water with lemon or a spicy herbal tea. “Ginger is warming and soothing to the tummy, as well as helps with peripheral circulation, such as cold fingers and toes,” she explains, adding that she always travels with a plastic bag of grated ginger and an empty thermos, which a flight attendant fills up with hot water. Continuous bathroom breaks may be tedious, but they’ll get your body moving, which is essential for maintaining healthy circulation and fatigue-fighting oxygen levels, as well as avoiding muscle cramps.
Give Yourself an In-Flight Facial
Fight the lack of fresh air with a nourishing face oil, such as geranium, jojoba, or frankincense, on your face, lips, neck, and décolleté. “These oils contain omega fatty acids and vitamins that deeply moisturize, condition, and protect the skin from dehydration and oxidative stress, while smoothing fine lines and leaving a youthful glow,” says Moursi. Then, bolster the effects with a muscle-awakening facial massage. “Start with little circular movements and massage up and outward, moving toward the ears with long, gentle strokes,” she instructs. And if you want to take your regimen to the next level, apply a leave-on mask such as Moursi’s Hydrating and Soothing Mask, which will help the skin renew itself while you sleep.
Invest in Some Sleep-Friendly Accessories
Warm, cozy clothing and a proper pillow are just the beginning. “I’m a fan of blocking the noise [and light] as best as possible,” says Harris, who recommends wearing noise-blocking headphones and a silk sleep mask. Before dozing off, dim the light and avoid entertainment that’s too stimulating, as well as the blue light that emits from smart devices. “It makes your brain think the sun is still out, which decreases melatonin production and leads to less sleep,” she explains, adding that if you must use a device, put in on “night mode.”
If you need further help lulling an overstimulated mind, Harris suggests taking a few minutes to meditate, either technology-free or with help from mobile apps like Calm or Headspace. “They help quiet the mind and body and set the stage for sleep,” she says. Or, you can also aid sleep with an adaptogenic elixir, like Moon Juice’s Dream Dust, or melatonin supplements. “The timing and dose of melatonin depends on the number of time zones crossed, as well as the direction you’re going,” says Harris. You can hone in on the ideal timing and dosage using an online calculator.