By Debra Jaliman MD
I just came back from a 10-day trip to North Africa and Europe, where I had a marvelous time. It also reminded me that many of you will probably be traveling soon, so I thought I’d share some travel tips on how to protect your skin, no matter where you go or how you travel.
1) Never wear makeup on a long flight, because it essentially means sleeping in your makeup. And that, as we all know, is a no-no. The only exception I would make is lipstick, as long as it is the moisturizing kind.
2) Cabin air is very dry, so bring lip balm, moisturizer, and a small mister. Misting your face before applying more moisturizer really helps the water molecules to bind to the surface of your skin. Make sure everything is in containers small enough (less than three ounces) to pass through security.
3) Drink plenty of water on the plane. Avoid alcohol throughout the flight, because it is dehydrating.
4) Try to get out of your seat and walk up and down the aisle every hour or so to prevent blood clots. I know, I know — not a skin care tip, but I am a doctor, after all, and blood clots are a real possibility on long flights.
5) Dry, gritty, bloodshot eyes during the flight and upon arrival can be avoided if you have preservative-free lubricating eye drops with you. You want the kind that mimics real tears, not the drops that promise to take the red out of your eyes.
6) Pack a bottle of your favorite mild cleanser in your suitcase and make sure to have a small bottle of your cleanser, plus some cotton squares, in your bag with you at all times. Getting separated from your luggage is a real possibility, and using unfamiliar products can lead to dryness or allergic reactions. I have had so many patients call frantically from Europe with allergic reactions after they used complementary hotel products (which are usually highly fragranced) that I now have a network of dermatologists in major European capitals to which I can refer them. So, be careful with those cute little hotel soaps and creams!
6) Pack an over-the-counter cortisone cream in your suitcase for hives and insect bites.
7) A small tube of Aquaphor healing ointment in your handbag is very useful when traveling to protect lips and hands, and to keep minor cuts and scrapes hydrated to lessen scarring.
8) Bring some moleskin patches for the blisters so many people get after walking through museum after museum.
9) Don’t forget your favorite sunscreen. Believe me, even on cloudy days in London you are getting the same ultraviolet rays that damage your skin back home.