While almost everyone loves to travel, we don't always like what greets us in the mirror when we get back. Climatic and dietary changes, coupled with the stress of flying, can easily result in dry, blemished, and tired-looking skin. Fortunately, frequent flyers can counteract most of these pitfalls by remembering to pack a few key ingredients.
Airline travel does a number on our appearance for several reasons. "From an ayurveda">Ayurvedic perspective," explains Rama Kant Mishra, an Ayurvedic physician specializing in skin and beauty, "travel causes an imbalance or increase in the vata (air) and pitta (fire) constitutions—vata because you are increasing air and space while in flight, and pitta because of changes in time zones and diet." These imbalances, he says, can result in facial breakouts, redness, or skin sensitivity.
Mishra suggests carrying a bottle of quality massage oil for facial and body massage to hydrate and treat the skin. For an extra topical measure of protection, Ann Louise Gittleman, M.S., C.N.S., author of The Living Beauty Detox Program (HarperCollins, 2000), advises travelers to pack creams containing antioxidants such as vitamins C, E, and A, and herbs like ginkgo or ginseng.
Once that airplane door shuts, passengers breathe recycled air with about five percent humidity for the duration of the flight. To compensate for this, Gittleman recommends bringing along an atomizer filled with rose water (available at most natural products stores) and purified water. "Spritz every hour. Not only is rose water very moisturizing, it can actually attract moisture," she says.
Also drink eight ounces of water every half-hour after takeoff, and increase water consumption throughout the trip to flush out toxins before they can damage your hair and skin. Gittleman stresses that purified water in the bottled form"filtered and ozonated"offers the most benefit.
Tucking some essential fatty acids (EFAs) into your carry-on will provide an extra measure of hydration from the inside out. "A combination of flaxseed oil and evening primrose oil has a wonderful outward moisturizing effect on the skin," advises Gittleman.
Take 500mg of primrose four times a day and 1,000mg of flaxseed three to six times a day while traveling. (Begin taking your EFAs five days before departure for extra protection.) And don't forget to pack a high-EFA snack like sunflower or pumpkin seeds.