Planes, Trains, & Automobiles: How To Take Care Of Your Skin On The Go

You’re heading on your dream summer vacation (or just visiting the 'rents), but first, you've got to pack — and deciding which beauty products to bring can be a three-ounce nightmare. Yes, you’ve got those TSA size restrictions and limited space for your luggage. But more importantly, you want to arrive stunning and impossibly fresh-looking. Unfortunately, recirculated plane air, sun streaming in through car windows, and even germs on a train can all wreak havoc on your skin. So, we enlisted a panel of super-savvy experts to recommend the best skin care and makeup to use en route — no matter how you’re getting there.
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I’M ON A PLANE!
Let’s be real — everything about plane travel is bad for skin. We’re in high elevation with horrible air circulation, ordering from a drink cart. Arriving with a glow isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible.

Take Off With A Clean Face
Celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas, whose clients include A-listers like Dakota Johnson and Julianne Moore, recommends washing your face or using a cleansing wipe before you board. Flying sans makeup will let your skin breathe and makes it easier to absorb nutrients from the moisturizing products you apply during your flight.

Naturopathic physician Dr. Trevor Cates, a.k.a. “The Spa Dr.,” is a big fan of bringing a little coconut oil in your carry-on because not only is it solid at room temp — meaning, easy to get through security — it has multiple skin-care functions. You can also use it to cleanse the skin, or to remove makeup by applying it in circular motion. “It’s antimicrobial and nourishing to the skin, a natural cleanser,” says Cates, who is the first woman to be licensed as a naturopathic doctor in California. “It will take off makeup, even eye makeup, and it doesn’t burn.”

You don't even have to wash it off, as it will absorb into the skin and act as a moisturizer. If you have oily skin or just feel like there is too much excess, Cates says you can wipe it off with a cotton pad and gentle cleanser.

If you can’t bear to go bare-faced, Quinn Murphy, makeup artist to stars like Lily Aldridge and Karlie Kloss, suggests a light cream concealer rather than a full face of makeup. “Eve Pearl’s Salmon Concealers are great, because you don’t need to use as much product for coverage.”

Moisture, Moisture, Moisture
No matter what type of travel, all the experts say to bring neroli or rosewater mist, like those by Eminence Organic or Jurlique. “It’s incredibly hydrating,” says Vargas. “So if you spray it on your face, the skin is immediately moisturized.”

Murphy notes that because plane air is so musty, it’s okay to use extra-emollient products. Your skin will drink them right up. Right after boarding, he suggests applying a rich eye cream like Dr. Hauschka Eye Balm. Then, about 10 to 15 minutes before descent, throw something cool on the eyes. Sephora’s Instant Depuffing Eye Masks are $6 and disposable, but ice in a napkin works, too.

Red-Eye Beauty
If you’re flying overnight, a sheet mask is a great way to quench the skin. Bonus: It'll discourage unwanted chit-chat from seatmates. Vargas says sheet masks are a personal go-to (she likes Wei High Performance face treatment pads). “They are also great for a quick boost before the vacation… [or] right before makeup to make skin look flawless.”

Murphy says avoiding "red-eye" is as easy as bringing eye drops in your tote. Another tip: “An eyelash curler will make you look more awake. Even better than mascara. Put on moisturizer, curl your lashes, a little cream blush, or even a lip-cheek multiple.” NARS the Multiple is like the Swiss-army knife of makeup and perfect for carrying on. Tarte’s Cheek Stain is also great for a touch of cream color.
I’M ON A TRAIN!
Whether it’s a jaunt to the beach or a tour of the European countryside, a train ride can be a serene, picturesque way to get from A to B. Before you let the bucolic views gently rock you to sleep, here are a few things to keep in mind while riding the rails.

Travel Light
A train ride means no checking bags, so you’ll be muscling your belongings from your seat to your next means of transport — maybe more than once. Packing light is essential, and frankly, pretty liberating.

Before going on any excursion (this goes for plane trips, too), Murphy raids Muji’s travel-size bottles to stock up on the products he’ll be toting along. The acrylic stacking cases, spray bottles, pump bottles, tubes, and snap cases are affordable and easily fit your most precious potions. Muji also has great eye masks and neck pillows — essential for getting a little beauty sleep while on the tracks.

We’re All In This Together
Few situations call for as much intimacy with perfect strangers as being on a train, but hey, it can also be one of the most entertaining people-watching experiences of your vacay. Murphy suggests bringing along some hand sanitizer — it doesn’t require water or leaving your seat. He uses Aesop’s Resurrection Rinse-Free Handwash and Jao Refresher all the time. They kill germs and soothe the skin without being overly drying.

Speaking of drying, the recycled air can leave your skin feeling and looking parched. Again, bring along some rosewater mist to moisturize mid-trip.

Last Stop, Babeville
Before arriving at your destination, spritz on a little makeup refresher. It will rehydrate the skin and prevent makeup from cracking or settling into fine lines. Murphy likes Glossier’s Soothing Face Mist or Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir, a part-toner, part-serum that adds radiance and glow.
I’M IN A CAR!
On the coolness matrix of summer travel, road trips get all positive marks: low-fi, idyllic, freeing. When it comes to skin, though, a few atmospheric unknowns are as buzz-killing as a faulty GPS. Here’s what you need to know about beauty on the road.

The Windows Won’t Save You
Here comes the sun. Even inside the car, you need to be careful. “UVA rays go directly through glass,” says Cates. “I recommend people put sunblock on top of their hands in the car, too. Those get the most sun exposure — our faces and our hands.”

An eye cream also helps. Since the undereyes are the only parts of our faces that don’t produce oil, they're extra susceptible to dryness. Sunglasses offer protection, too. Road trips, naturally, call for your favorite pair.

Some Like It Hot
And some like it freezing. Regardless which temp you’re battling in the car, the recycled air will dry out your skin. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and using a hand and body lotion, like this one by Aquaphor. If it does get hot, or if your skin gets oily, bring along face wipes to do a quick cleaning without having to brave a pit stop to the bathroom, and then reapply moisturizer and SPF.

Speaking Of Pit Stops…
They’re gross, we know. Gas-station bathrooms and rest-stop port-a-potties are enough to make you hold it 'til it hurts. Obviously, don’t do that, but do bring along a soothing hand sanitizer, says Murphy. A hand lotion with SPF and a scent you love can revive any stale too-many-hours-in-the-car smells, and keep hands looking and feeling soft. Also, drink plenty of water. Even if you’re the one requesting the most bathroom breaks, it’s the best way to stay hydrated inside and out.
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I’M ON A BOAT!
Be your journey on a booze cruise or Princess, it’s time to consider wind, saltwater, and lots o’ sun — the trifecta of a good time and a wind-chapped sunburn. Here’s how to make sure it’s more of the former than the latter.

The Sun Is Not Your Friend
This is a no-brainer. If you’re in the sun, put on sunscreen and reapply every two hours throughout the day. The number-one cause of skin damage is too much sun. On a boat, the reflection off the water makes sun even more powerful. Cates recommends a zinc oxide-based sunscreen rather than one containing ingredients like oxybenzone. She likes Devita’s Daily Solar Protective Moisturizer and Solar Body Moisturizer.

In addition to your face, chest, arms, and any other exposed parts, don't forget your lips, says Murphy. Sun exposure causes lips to dry faster as you age. “If you want to keep them plump and full — or at least hold on to what you have — use a lip balm [preferably] with SPF.” Murphy calls Sisley’s lip balm “superb.” Aquaphor and Dr. Hauschka make great ones, too.

Remember, You’re On A Boat
With makeup, keep it light and know you may get wet. A tinted moisturizer offers both SPF and a hint of coverage. Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer comes in travel sizes and is easy to rub on with your fingertips. As for pops of color, avoid too much eye makeup and go for a bold lip instead, offers Murphy. Since you’ll probably wear shades, it’s a great feature to play up. A bright lipstick and show-stealing pedicure are the perfect way to set sail.

Zit SOS!
All that fun in the sun doesn’t always agree with the complexion. If an emergency (a.k.a. a big zit) arises, Murphy says Sephora’s 3-in-1 Extractor is great for “when you aren’t supposed to pick at it, but you absolutely have to. You can pop it with one end and use the shoehorn on the other end to pull everything out.” After extracting (ice can also help reduce redness), Murphy emphasizes, “You have to have a good concealer.” The Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage is “really dry and stays on like spackle. You need a firm, pointy brush. Warm [the product] up on the back of your hand so you can spread it, and then spot it on the blemish.”
I’M ON A BIKE!
Wind in hair. Breezy outfit. Feeling like a kid again. Check, check, check. Cycling is one of the sweetest ways to commute around the city and get a bit of exercise. If your goal is to look fresh when you hop off, though, saddle up to these helpful tidbits before you ride.

Zap That Oil
Biking, like any exercise, can make us sweat. And if you’re wearing a helmet, the straps on your chin can cause a real problem. Murphy suggests using an astringent or toner before you apply any makeup. In a pinch, witch hazel on a cotton ball or pad will do the trick. You can also use some to wipe down your helmet straps. “Use a little powder on your T-zone so you have a fighting chance,” he says. “When you arrive, use blotting papers to remove excess sweat and a little touch-up powder.”

SPF Everywhere
Not to sound like a broken record, but you’re in the sun — so use protection. Vargas says for biking, you should use a physical sunblock containing zinc and titanium with an SPF 58 or higher. Reapply often, and include the lips. “Once the ride is done for the day, exfoliate off the layers of sunscreen and apply something light like my Daily Serum to get good vitamins into the skin,” she says. Ole Henriksen and Olay Regenerist serums are also great for revitalizing post-ride.

A Bicycle Built For… A Raccoon?
Though some situations call for it (zombie costumes, pretending you’re sick), smudged makeup around the eyes is generally a look worth avoiding. Keep eye makeup minimal while you're biking, says Murphy. “You don’t want [it] running down your face.” An eyelash curler can go a long way when it comes to brightening up your eyes, or opt for waterproof mascara and liner.

You can also try a matte foundation. MAC Matte is a cream you can apply on top of your makeup instead of powder to reduce the appearance of shine.

Once your bags are packed, there’s really nothing more to do but have a blast. That, and drink more water than you think is necessary (your skin will thank you), try to maintain a regular sleep schedule, and enjoy every moment.


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