I’ve spent a good portion of my life traveling since childhood. Having a mother born in Panama and a father from Paris, it’s no wonder my love for travel developed long ago. The fact that modern air travel can put faraway places within easier reach is still amazing to me. What isn’t so thrilling is the toll it takes on the body to get there. Even in the best of circumstances, the tell-tale signs of jet lag are hard to avoid.
According to the Journal of Environmental Health Research, “Typical relative humidity in an air craft cabin for flights over an hour is below 10%, dropping to less than 5% on longer flights.” There’s also the issue of being in a foreign and artificial environment that affects us. When we get on a plane, we are bombarded with harsh external factors that force our skin to feel the need to defend itself with inflammatory mediators (molecules that act locally at the site of infection, damaged tissue and skin cells). These inflammatory mediators are the same particles that help us fight off infections when we get sick. The problem is that sometimes they overreact, causing more harm than good, which can lead to hypersensitivity, irritation and breakouts.
Below are some of the strategies that work for me and other long-distance travelers that will help to combat flight fatigue and environmental changes that affect the health of both the skin and body.
MENTALLY PREPARE FOR YOUR DESTINATION
When you board, adjust to the time zone of your final destination. It’s helpful to set your watch to the destination so you can mentally set up your sleeping/waking habits while flying. For example, you don’t want to arrive in Sydney at 8pm after a long flight from San Francisco and just be waking up. Try to sleep for the first part of the trip and then be awake for the duration. Then, when you land you will be ready to proceed with what would be a normal evening of dinner and sleep.
TAKE PROTECTIVE MEASURES BEFORE YOU FLY
Internally, it’s best to avoid overindulging the day before. Try and stay away from salty foods and alcohol. Eating foods like fresh vegetables and salads will help “hydrate” the body and keep you feeling light and less bloated from the get-go. Drinking lots of water before you fly (and on board the plane) is vital as well to help prevent dehydration. Externally, prepare your skin by mildly exfoliating the morning of your trip to remove dead, dry cells. This will also help the skin more effectively absorb your moisturizer. Then apply a thick layer of a highly absorbent moisturizer and eye cream. I recommend Air Repair Beauty Balm and Super-Hydrating Eye Cream because they absorb nicely, are not greasy and lock in moisture for hours.
FOLLOW AN ON-BOARD MAINTENANCE PLAN
It might be boring, but it’s pretty basic: avoid drugs and alcohol, stay away from coffee and soft drinks and eat as little as possible because the altitude and pressurization of the environment puts undue strain on the digestive system. Hydrate your body inside and out. If you get tired of drinking water, try herbal tea.
“Spritzing” the skin with a facial mist is a great way to keep skin hydrated without having to touch it. Air Repair Complexion Quenching Facial Mist is full of humectant ingredients and has an aloe vera gel base, so it soothes and locks in moisture as well.
Always have a salve on hand for lips, hands and even to apply inside the nose to help with nosebleeds and keep germs away.
It’s imperative to “exercise” on board, especially on long-haul flights. You need to keep the blood flowing in order to prevent blood clots. Every couple of hours or so, stretch your legs by strolling the isles, or at least do leg lifts in your seat. Take advantage of the time waiting in line for the restroom by stretching and squatting a few times. Once you land, it’s great to get some sort of exercise to help avoid jet lag as well, even if it’s taking a long walk to explore your new destination.
ADJUST TO LOCAL TIME
The worst thing you can do is take a nap when you arrive at your destination. This will leave you groggy and confuse your internal clock, which can ruin your sleeping/waking pattern for the entire trip! Even if this means going to bed a little earlier the first couple of nights, it’s worth trying to stay awake during the day. Showering and freshening up, followed by a nice walk and a light meal will help get your trip started off on the right foot.
Denise Spanek, a San Francisco based aesthetician and beauty expert, is Founder & CEO of Air Repair Skincare. Denise and Air Repair Skincare have appeared on local and national TV, radio and in numerous publications and websites such as Allure, Glamour, Details and Travel & Leisure. Denise has been inducted into the National Association of Professional and Executive Women’s “Women of Excellence” registry. For more information on Denise and Air Repair Skincare, please go to http://airrepairskincare.com/.