Not to brag, but we like to think that by now we're kind of masters of the in-flight beauty routine. Make-up comes off via convenient face wipe during ascension, followed by a layer of a seriously moisturizing (and invisible!) sleeping face masque or serum and repeated spritzes of hydrating face mist at regular intervals. Oh, and this is all before hitting cruising altitude, BTW. But when it comes to the seriously long haul (read: anything over six hours or so), there's seemingly no amount of ritualistic product application that can salvage your skin. Or so we thought, until we discovered the following miracle-in-a-bottle (also found in wipes, pads and tubs, apparently) applied in perfect sequence.
1. Remove Make-Up
First things first: that make-up has to come off. We promise your neighbor for the next half-dozen hours or so won't care, let alone notice. Don't worry about fussing with decanting and rebottling your usual make-up remover into something TSA-friendly—today's face wipe formulas are strong enough to remove every last trace, even when it comes to waterproof mascara provided you're not afraid use a little elbow grease. We like Neutrogena's All-in-One Makeup Removing Cleansing Wipes, which come in full-size and travel-friendly sizes and can be found at pretty much any drugstore. Bonus points if you also stash a pack of antibacterial wipes in your carry-on to wipe down your seat before getting too comfy (yes, we're the freaks that actually do this).
We know that those mini Evian facial sprays seem totally useless, but that's only if you've never experienced the pure joy that is spritzing infused-water all over your face. After removing make-up, give your face a few good spritzes with Caudalie's classic Beauty Elixir, Mario Badescu's Facial Spray (made with aloe, herbs and rosewater) or, yes, the Evian kind. This will add an extra layer of hydration and act as a kind of barrier between your face and all of that nasty recycled air.
3. Apply a Mask
Yes, it's officially kosher to apply in-flight face masks. Should you not quite feel comfortable slathering your mug with green goo (trust us, we get it) at 40,000 feet, there's an entire range of "sleeping" face masks that go on translucent, and are specially formulated to hydrate for hours. We like Peter Thomas Roth's Camu Camu Brightening Sleeping Mask, Boscia's Tsubaki Deep Hydration Sleeping Mask, Korres Greek Yoghurt Advanced Sleeping Facial, and Dr. Jart's Water Fuse Sleeping Mask. Ask for a tiny sample at your local Sephora—it will be the perfect amount. Kind of brings new meaning to the words "beauty sleep", right?
Now that your face is feeling hydrated, we encourage you to do the same with the rest of your, ahem, person. Eschew coffee and soft drinks in favor of herbal tea, water and electrolyte-replenishing beverages and try to avoid in-flight alcohol, though we know first-hand how tempting those little mini-bottles of liquor can be, especially for nervous flyers. The rule of thumb is one regular-sized bottle per hour in-flight (yes, really), but we totally get that the idea of having to spring up to run to the bathroom multiple times during your trip is unappealing. Avoid the de-haydrators and you should be fine.
5. Get Some Shut-Eye
Whether you're hitting the friendly skies for business or pleasure, while you're waiting at your gate, calculate the best time to get in some zzz's—and how much—in an effort to ward off jet lag. Not only will this have you feeling more alert and remarkably less zombie-like upon landing, you'll also look better. We suggest shelling out for one of those goofy-looking neck pillows (the tackier or more covered in leopard print, the better), so make quality sleep in a flying tin can as restorative as possible.
6. Mist, Again (Yes, Really)
Wakey wakey! Chances are you've conked out for at least a few solid hours and are at least somewhat closer to your destination. Once you've got your bearings and have had the chance to stretch (another requirement for arriving at your destination half-alive, BTW), we like to take this opportunity to mist or wipe down the skin again––no, seriously. Wiping down your face with something gentle and non-irritating (like those Neutrogena wipes) will refresh your face from the stale air, and giving it a good spritz adds more hydration, which you can kind of never get enough of.
7. Apply a Hydrating Face Oil
Should you find yourself all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with another five hours to go, we recommend skipping another mask in favor of a layer of face oil. Don't be scared of slathering yourself with this stuff, regardless of your skin type: face oils actually work to add pure moisture back into your skin, rebalancing your skin's modes of oil production and actually working to make you look less, well, slick. With clean hands (told you those wipes would come in handy), apply a liberal helping of oil, concentrating on your cheeks, forehead and chin, making sure to gently massage it into your skin. We like Sunday Riley's Artemis Cellular Face Oil, Tarte's Pure Maracuja Oil (which also comes in a rollerball, almost begging for you to stash it in your Ziploc) and Jurlique's Skin Balancing Face Oil.
8. Get Fresh Faced
Once your destination is (finally) only an hour or so away, it's gametime. Mist and wipe down your face one last time to prep your skin, and apply a little moisturizer. We like something that counteracts redness, like Jurlique's Calendula Cream, or brightens up the skin, like Origins GinZing Moisturizer. Be productive with the time spent waiting for your moisturizer to set in to apply eye drops. Then we recommend you put on your BB Cream or tinted moisturizer of choice to create a clean, even base and add a little SPF. For bonus points, apply a little concealer—even if you usually skip this step—just under your eyes and beside your nose to hide undereye circles (you'll have them) and yes, more redness. We like Benefit's Erase Paste—the tiniest, pea-sized amount is all you need—or the holy grail of concealers from Clé de Peau. Their super blendable formulas make them easy to apply with your fingers—the heat from your skin will help the consistency better blend—just keep it clean!
9. Make Your Features Pop
We get it: no matter how many hours of shut-eye you manage to squeeze in on a flight, it's never going to quite produce the same results as a night in your own bed. Thankfully, we have make-up to fake the results. We like a convertible cream blush that can also be used to add a little color on your lips, like Nars' The Multiple, Tarte's Cheek Stain or Josie Maran's Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelée. Just dab it along your cheekbones, blend and build up the color to your liking. Ditto for your lips. Next, it's time for mascara: a few strokes along your upper lashes, concentrating on the outer lashes, is all you need. Feel free to throw an eyelash curler into the mix if you're feeling especially ambitious, too. Just, you know, watch out if theirs turbulence.
Remember what we said about coffee not being an ideal in-flight beverage? Once you've landed, find the nearest Starbucks or coffee bar and reward yourself with your caffeinated beverage of choice. It will likely be necessary. You made it!