7 Ways Traveling Screws With Your Skin

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You may be jetting off for a vacation, but your skin is in for a serious lack of TLC. Between super-dry flights and anxiety-induced breakouts, traveling can be hell on your face. Check out these skin saboteurs and how to squash them, so you can calm your complexion and actually enjoy your trip. 

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The culprit: Flying

Wondering why you board the plane looking healthy and deplane looking like a hot mess? The air on a plane is incredibly dehydrating, says board certified dermatologist Debra Luftman, M.D., co-author of The Beauty Prescription. Carry around a tiny spray bottle of water so you can mist your skin before applying a rich moisturizer. Luftman suggests doing this once before, during, and after your flight to help lock in moisture.

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The culprit: Bacteria

We can all agree that airports, trains, and rest stops aren’t exactly the most sanitary places. If you’re not careful, that bacteria can spread to your face, causing breakouts and irritation, says Luftman. Her suggestion: Carry around wipes like Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes. “You can use them during the flight to wipe your face down, and even on your tray, your computer, or your phone,” says Luftman.  And, you know, stop touching your face so much.

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The culprit: Jetlag

Whether you’re actually traveling through time zones or you’re just skimping on sleep during your trip, it can have a huge impact on your skin. Not only does it add to the dehydration, but lack of sleep can also cause the blood vessels around your eyes to dilate more, giving you that swollen raccoon look. Not sexy. Obviously the first step is to get more shuteye. But Luftman also suggests sticking a few damp green tea bags in the fridge and placing them on your eyes for about 10 minutes before bed. You’ll wake up looking way more refreshed.

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The culprit: Hotel soaps

Stay far, far away from these. “I have never and will never use any hotel products on my face,” says Luftman. While it clearly depends on the hotel, most of the complimentary beauty products have a ton of ingredients and are heavily perfumed, says Luftman. And that’s a recipe for irritation and breakouts—especially if you have sensitive skin. Instead, pack travel-size versions of products you know and trust, like St. Ives Blemish Scrub (available in 1 oz.) and St. Ives Oatmeal and Shea Butter Moisturizing Body Wash (available in 3 oz.). 

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The culprit: Junk food

You’re probably eating and drinking a little more than usual while out of town, which isn’t great for your skin. “Refined sugar can be an oxidizer and cause early aging in the long term, while heavy dairy can cause breakouts,” says Luftman. So try to limit your sweets and load up on fresh fruits, veggies, and cold-water fish like salmon—all of which are skin-loving foods according to Luftman. And skip the inflight Bloody Mary, since alcohol dries out your skin even more. 

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The culprit: Stress

Whether you’re anxious about missing your flight or seeing your ex at a holiday party, your skin interprets it the same way. That’s because your skin is linked with your nervous system, which explains why rosacea, psoriasis, eczema and acne all get worse with stress. Since you can’t rule out tension completely, try these tips to keep calm and avoid a flare-up.

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The culprit: SPF 0

Even if you aren’t jetting off to the Bahamas this holiday season, you need to pack a daily sunscreen. You’re still getting sun exposure even in the winter months, says Luftman, especially if you’re outdoors skiing, snowboarding, or ice skating. Don’t forget a daily moisturizer with SPF.

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