Travelling disrupts your everyday routines, and skincare is no exception. But rather than throwing everything out of the window, all you need to do is make a few adjustments to ensure your skin is still in top condition. Here are seven things you can do to look after your skin when you travel.
1. Flying to your destination? Go make-up free
The lack of humidity in plane cabins can wreak havoc. When the air is dry, it tries to get moisture from any source it can — including your skin. The combination of dryness, airborne bacteria and make-up can lead to flaky skin and breakouts, which is the last thing you want to worry about when you’re off on your travels.
Combat the dryness by applying moisturiser before you board, and at regular intervals during the journey if your skin starts to feel tight. (You’ll normally notice dryness in your lips first, so it’s worth bringing a tube of lip balm in your carry-on bag.)
Not comfortable travelling bare-faced? Try a tinted moisturiser instead.
2. Carry baby wipes everywhere
There are few problems a wet wipe can’t solve. Need to freshen up on a long bus journey? Wet wipe. Want to feel clean after getting a train or taxi? Wet wipe. Food stains on your clothes (or your face)? Wet wipe. The Secret Traveller lists them as one of their fifteen travel essentials, noting that they’re in dire situations they’re an emergency alternative to hot water.
Chances are you won’t want lots of extras bulking up your everyday bag, so buy a travel-size pack of antibacterial wipes to take with you on the go.
3. Always wear SPF 30 or above
This is non-negotiable. According to Cancer Research, getting sunburnt only once every two years can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer, so protecting your skin and your health is of the utmost importance. (Check out their video to see what happens to your skin when you get sunburnt.)
A good SPF will protect you from UVA rays and UVB rays. UVA rays get through to the deeper layers of the skin and can cause ageing, while UVB rays affect the top layers and are more responsible for sunburn. These rays can reach your skin even on cloudy days, so it’s vital to protect yourself no matter what the weather is like. This is especially true in snowy destinations — the snow reflects the sunlight, and if you’re skiing or exploring mountains then you’ll be higher up, and closer to intense UV rays.
You need two SPFs: one for your face, and one for your body. SPFs for the body tend to be thicker in texture, whereas an SPF for your face will have a thinner consistency, and be formulated so it doesn’t cause breakouts.
4. Cleanse and moisturise
Washing your face with a gentle cream or gel cleanser will get rid of the day’s dirt, sweat and make-up, preventing any build-up that can lead to dull, clogged pores and breakouts, and leaving your complexion feeling fresh and clean. Apply a moisturiser afterwards to keep your skin supple and hydrated.
5. Avoid products containing drying ingredients
Some cleansers contain sulfates, which can strip the skin of moisture. This means dry skin will just get drier; oily skin will produce even more oil than normal to overcompensate for the moisture loss.
Look out for the ingredients in liquid exfoliants, too, since they normally contain acids which will increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. These are best avoided in hot climates.
6. Stay hydrated
Good skin health starts from the inside, and no amount of fancy skincare products can mask the signs of dehydration. Your face is often the first place where lack of water becomes apparent, but it’s not just your skin that takes the hit.
The side effects of dehydration:
Dry, tight, flaky skin
Lack of elasticity in the skin
Fine lines appear more pronounced
Loss of concentration
Bring a refillable water bottle with you on your travels and sip from it at regular intervals. The NHS recommends that women drink 1.6 litres of fluids per day, while men should aim for 2.0 litres. This number increases if you’re outside all day, staying in a very hot country, or taking part in sports or adventure activities.
7. Get plenty of shut-eye
Sleeping increases blood flow, and one of the benefits of good circulation is healthier looking skin. In contrast, sleep deprivation results in dull, lifeless skin and puffy eyes.
New opportunities are all part of the travel experience, but try and get 7–9 hours of sleep per night as much as you can. Not only does it improve the condition of your skin, but it also refreshes your brain, so you’ll look and feel ready for more adventures the next day.