Skincare While Traveling: Keep Your Skin Healthy On-The-Road

While relaxing for our body and mind, traveling can stress our skin out. However, with just a few easy tips, you can keep your skin happy wherever you go.

November 1, 2021 6 minutes read
Woman sitting on a suitcase

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Skincare is probably at the bottom of your to-do list when you're preparing for travel. Packing all the clothes and making sure you have your passport (times two or three if you travel with kids) are just a few of tons of things running through your pre-travel mind.

But, once you reach your destination, you're welcomed with breakouts and flare-ups on your face. Not a pleasant sight, we know! And while you're trying to enjoy your vacation, these can easily knock you off your game.

That's why it's important to keep taking care of your skin while traveling and pack a few skincare essentials beforehand to maintain your skin as fresh and healthy as possible.

But, before we dive into skincare while traveling dos and don'ts, let's take a look at what happens to your skin while you travel.

How Traveling Impacts Your Skin

woman going to the airport

Whether you're traveling for work or taking some well-deserved time off, being on the road will make your skin suffer. From pre-travel stress to air-conditioning, there are many factors that can harm your skin's well-being. Some of these factors include:


Your skin's struggle starts even before the trip itself. Having everything (and everybody) packed, getting everywhere on time, and worry, worry, worry, lead to accumulated stress and, essentially, aggravated skin. It will trigger rashes, flare-ups, and breakouts – maybe not immediately, but those will manifest sooner or later.

Lack of Humidity

If you're traveling by plane often, you've probably noticed your skin feels parched by the time the trip is over. This is because the humidity level in airplane cabins usually drops to only 20% (while our skin needs at least 40 to 60 to feel comfortable). As a result, our skin draws moisture from its deeper layers to compensate for this, leading to dryness and dehydration.

Lack of Movement

Being stuck on a plane or in a car for hours on end without being able to move will also negatively affect your skin. Lack of movement will reduce the blood flow to the skin and cause water retention. These can lead to a dull-looking complexion and puffiness.

Junk Food

While on the road, you're bound to make a stop to refill your tanks (both your car's and your body's). With not so much variety in street food and takeaways, you're more likely to indulge in foods you would typically avoid. Also, it's much more convenient to get a hot dog, have a quick snack, and move on with your trip as your impatience to reach your destination grows with each mile you pass. Deep-fried, salty, and sugary foods will again lead to a dehydrated complexion and breakouts.

Prolonged exposure to UV

If you drive or fly during the day, the harmful UV rays will hit your skin for extended periods of time. Of course, you can make a stop every two hours to reapply your sunscreen, but sometimes it's just not possible (if you're in a middle of a highway, for example). Moreover, you're much closer to the sun if you travel by plane. This makes the UV effects on your skin even more potent, leading to more dehydration and sunburn.

Switch in Your Daily Routine

Between connecting overnight flights, it's merely impossible to follow up with your usual skincare routine. You might not even be able to cleanse your face properly. This, combined with the lack of sleep and unhealthy diet, will surely show on your skin as a sallow complexion, dark under-eyes, and, of course, the good old acne.

Skincare Tips to Keep Your Skin Happy While Traveling

travel size cosmetics

Before you get to that dreamy beach or mountain retreat, you need to go through a bit of a hassle. Yes, your skin will suffer with you, but while you can't change all of the negative effects of traveling, there are a few things you can do to minimize and counteract them.

Here are some easy skincare tips to follow while traveling that can make a huge difference:

Tip #1: Pack Travel Sizes of Your Favorites

cosmetic bag with travel size skincare products

Amid your night-before-travel hectic packing, it's easy to forget about your skin. Therefore, prepare your skincare favorites the day before and try to get them in travel-friendly sizes, so you can take everything you need.

If your favs aren't available in minis, you could get creative and put small amounts of products in pocket-size containers, like contact lens cases for example.

Tip #2: Keep Your Skin Hydrated

water drops

Hydrate your skin from the inside and outside. Make sure to drink plenty of water before and during the trip. Likewise, moisturize your skin with an intensely hydrating cream before you board a plane (or get in a car) and continue reapplying it in the meantime.

Tip #3: Protect Yourself From the Sun

woman in an airplane sitting next to a window

As we already mentioned, sun exposure is an issue when traveling during the day, especially on a plane. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF of 50, and reapply it every two hours.

If you travel by car and driving, reapplying your SPF might be an issue. In that case, use spray-on sunscreen, and don't forget about your neck, arms, and décolleté. Also, it's essential to wear protective clothing with long sleeves and sunglasses.

Tip #4: Cleanse Your Skin – But No Makeup Wipes

airports toilets sign

While it's crucial to keep your face clean as much as possible during travel, try to avoid using makeup wipes. These are usually packed with harmful chemicals and compounds too harsh for your skin (and the environment), disrupting its PH and causing irritation. Besides, they will only push the dirt around your face without really cleaning it.

So instead, use every opportunity you have to cleanse your face with a gentle face cleanser. You can do it at the airport while you wait for the connecting flight. Or if you travel by car, take a bottle of water with you that's just for washing your hands and face.

Tip #5: Keep Your Hair Away From Your Face

silk hair scrunchies

Just like your skin, your hair tends to get dirty quickly while traveling. Therefore, make sure to have it tied back to protect your already irritated skin and prevent breakouts. You might not ever think it could be the case, but your hair can often be the cause of your breakouts.

Tips #6: Wash Your Hands Often

woman at the airport using hand sanitizer

Plains, buses, and trains are hotbeds for bacteria and other microorganisms. Therefore, wash your hands as often as you can, especially if you're about to reapply your sunscreen, for example. If it's not possible, make sure to have travel-size hand sanitizer always with you, and use it before touching your face.

Tip #7: Avoid Wearing Heavy Makeup

makeup products

A long-lasting foundation and lipstick will only irritate your already aggravated and vulnerable skin. Heavy makeup will clog your pores and won't let your skin breathe, causing even more issues and breakouts. Opt for a lightweight moisturizer instead (tinted if you like) and a hydrating and nourishing lip balm full of fatty acids.

Tip #8: Focus on Your Go-To Essentials

cleanser, moisturizer, sunscreen in a tiny bag

To avoid stressing your skin out even more, try not to change your skincare routine too much on your travels. However, if you have limited space and not enough tiny containers to transfer all of your go-to's, try to pack only the true essentials.

That would be your sunscreen, face cleanser, and moisturizer. Also, if you're in a middle of a treatment with prescribed medications, make sure to pack those as well. That way, you'll minimize the risk of flare-ups and breaking out on your vacation.

Tip #9: Skip on Sheet Masks on Your Flight

sheet mask

You've probably seen many influencers on Instagram and YouTube wearing sheet masks while flying. However, this would be a waste since the humidity in airplane cabins are drastically lower, which can only dry out your mask before its ingredients penetrate your skin.

Therefore, just to be sure, do it the night before your flight to give your skin some extra hydration boost and prepare it for a heavily air-conditioned environment.


As you can see, keeping your skin healthy and happy on your travels isn't that complicated after all. Try these ten easy tips and trick out, especially if you're a frequent flyer, and you'll see that your skin will look and feel better.

Additionally, pay attention to what you eat while on the road. If you travel by car, pack some healthier snacks with you and plenty of fruits and veggies. Also, use every opportunity to move and stretch your legs a bit. If you travel by car, make regular stops. Likewise, if you're traveling by plane, use every chance you have to walk up and down the aisle and get that blood flowing.

travel skincare tips infographic


How do I take care of my skin when traveling?

When traveling, it's essential to protect your skin from harmful UV rays and dehydration. So, make sure to reapply your sunscreen regularly and drink enough water. Likewise, make sure to pack travel sizes of all your skincare essentials.

What skincare should I bring on vacation?

Always make sure to pack the true essentials, such as your sunscreen, face cleanser, and moisturizer. Also, if you're in a middle of a treatment with prescribed medications, pack those as well.

Can I travel with skincare?

Yes, you can pack all your skincare in your suitcase. However, if you travel by plane and only have carry-on luggage, you need to pack all your gels, liquids, and creams in smaller containers of 3.4 ounces (100 ml) max. In addition, they all need to fit in a clear zip-lock bag - a quart-size bag that is 7x8 inches.

Can you take skincare products on a plane?

Yes, but you need to pack all the liquids, gels, and pastes in smaller containers in your carry-on luggage. These containers need to be 3.4 ounces or 100 ml in size or less. Plus, all of them need to fit in one quart-size clear zip-lock bag.

How can I keep my face fresh while traveling?

Drink enough water and use every opportunity you have to cleanse your face to prevent breakouts. In addition, wear your SPF and a lightweight but intensely hydrating moisturizer or tinted cream.

What is the 311 rule?

The 3-1-1 rule refers to the liquids and gels you're allowed to have on your carry-on luggage: number 3 refers to the container size for the liquids (3.4 ounces or 100 ml); number 1 refers to one clear zip-lock bag where all the containers must be placed; and the second number 1 refers to the rule stating that each passenger is only allowed one zip-lock bag.

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