Are you leaving on a jet plane? Because I picked up these 10 health and beauty tips when I used to fly on a private jet (no, really)

woman with private jet

When I was 19, I moved to L.A. with stars in my eyes and big dreams of becoming an actress. I figured that within the year I’d bag a role on a hit TV show like The O.C.  Ah, the naiveté of youth.

While I clearly didn’t become the next big thing in the acting world, I did manage to snag a pretty sweet job while I was there. For about a year I lived the good life, getting paid lots of money to serve cocktails and catered meals to millionaires, billionaires and celebrities on private jets. Life couldn’t really have been any better except for if I’d been the client on the plane and not the employee. P.S. If you haven’t seen the inside of a Boeing Business Jet, you’re missing out.

When I first started flying, I didn’t really consider the need for any special beauty routines. But I  soon became intrigued by the wives and girlfriends onboard whipping out their Chanel and Louis Vuitton makeup bags to spread La Mer on their skin, and misting themselves with Evian mineral water spray. I was always kind of in awe of these beauty rituals that seemed so foreign to me. (Only later did I learn that these sprays aren’t a good idea when flying because when they evaporate, they take your skin’s moisture along with them. How did these women not know this? Lesson learned: don’t copy random socialites on planes.)

Anyway, after flying all over the U.S. and making numerous trips to Europe, I now have a list of items that I won’t board a plane without. So whether you’re flying across the country to visit the fam, or jet-setting to the south of France to hook up with your beau in St. Tropez (can I come with?), here are 10 tips you’ve gotta follow when you fly.


i love water water bottle Are you leaving on a jet plane? Because I picked up these 10 health and beauty tips when I used to fly on a private jet (no, really)

Water is your friend. Drink lots of it before, during and after the flight. Really what I’m saying is, drink lots of water all the time. Flying totally dehydrates you (the air is super-dry in the cabin), and water is absolutely crucial to rehydrating and having fabulous skin. No, drinking Diet Coke ain’t gonna cut it. And not to be a buzzkill, but neither is Veuve Cliquot, for that matter. Alcohol is actually one of the worst things you can drink when flying because it’s so dehydrating. (It also tends to double its effect when you’re in the air because of the cabin pressure. Some of you might view this as a positive… But I promise, when you land and your mouth feels like it’s filled with cotton balls, you’ll be kicking yourself.)

Nix the coffee too, for the same reasons. And remember, by the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Though it pains me greatly to do so, I usually fork over the $8 for a one-litre bottle of water after I’ve gone through security. Or you could bring an empty stainless steel bottle and fill it up at a coffee shop before you board. (And of course if you’re flying private, there’ll be someone serving you glasses of sparkling water with lemon on a silver tray.)


It’s extraordinary. Somehow I’m always the one who gets stuck sitting next to the sick person on the plane. You know, the one who’s sniffling, has an annoying cough and is clearing his throat every 30 seconds. Yeah. Once I spent an entire two-hour flight with my head turned toward the aisle so I could breathe less of that person’s air to my left. And we all know about plane air—how it’s recycled and constantly being re-circulated. If you’ve been in my position before, you know you want to load up on Vitamin C (buffered or Ester-C are good choices to avoid tummy trouble) and zinc in addition to doubling your regular vits, in order to protect yourself from that nasty person’s germs.


victoria airport resizes Are you leaving on a jet plane? Because I picked up these 10 health and beauty tips when I used to fly on a private jet (no, really)

Your body and feet swell up at high altitudes, so while it’s tempting to dress like Ms. Beckham and look super-glam while travelling, I recommend rocking a more relaxed look—skin-tight leather is probs not your best choice. I always bring warm socks, a sweater and a cashmere pashmina that can be draped as a blanket or used as a pillow.


neck pillow Are you leaving on a jet plane? Because I picked up these 10 health and beauty tips when I used to fly on a private jet (no, really)

Is beauty sleep even possible on an airplane? And by beauty sleep I mean deep, restful sleep where you wake up with clear, sparkling eyes and radiant skin. I’ve never quite mastered the art, but I know some people have. An inflatable neck cushion makes it easier and is therefore pretty much invaluable in my books. Flying commercial—and economy to boot—is uncomfortable enough as it is. Give your neck a break and pack one of these gems. You can find them at airport gift stores, travel stores or online.

Life Candy sleep mask Are you leaving on a jet plane? Because I picked up these 10 health and beauty tips when I used to fly on a private jet (no, really)

Also necessary if you want to attempt sleep is an eye mask (the one above is only $6.15 at Block out the light and catch some z’s. You may be dressed down, but this mask adds a little glamour to your ensemble. (It says: “Oh hai, I’m on my way to meet my French boyfriend in St. Tropez! NBD.“)


Have I gone too far? Are you envisioning yourself looking like a total weirdo as you whip out your bright green tennis ball to roll around under your feet? Well, I’ve heard horror stories about deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in veins that occur when you don’t move around enough) happening to unfortunate people like myself who are stuck in economy and barely have room to breathe, let alone move their legs. (Not to mention, ew, big purple veins on your legs are not a hot summer accessory.) So, I’ve brought a ball a few times on long flights and it definitely helps. It also keeps you busy while counting down the hours in an overseas journey.

(Sometimes, I’d get really lucky and work on flights where we’d drop clients in one city and make the trip back to L.A. with an empty plane. This meant I got to take off my heels, put my feet up and relax on the leather couches. No jump seat or tennis balls for me!)


omega 3 resized Are you leaving on a jet plane? Because I picked up these 10 health and beauty tips when I used to fly on a private jet (no, really)

In addition to doubling your vitamins, skin guru Dr. Perricone suggests that you take three Omega-3 capsules twice a day on the day of the flight, and the same the next day. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory, will help prevent blood clots (see above) and works magic on your skin. Michelle and I take this bad boy every day, flight or no flight.  Not a bad idea if you want beautiful skin 24/7/365.


Salty snacks like peanuts and pretzels wreak havoc on the body and make you bloated (not to mention they probably contain MSG). I know they’re delicious (smokehouse almonds rock my world), but dehydrated and bloated is not a good look for anybody. And we all know that most airplane meals are super-sketchy and should not be consumed.

That’s why I pack my own goody bag. Fruit, Luna or Gnu bars, unsalted trail mix, homemade cookies and sprouted grain wraps filled with almond butter and banana or avocado are all things I’ve brought on trips since my flight-attendant days. Believe me, though, I yearn for the time when I used to have a full airplane kitchen available to me and hundreds of dollars worth of catering (sometimes from L.A.’s best restaurants) to choose from.


lindsay lohan red lips Are you leaving on a jet plane? Because I picked up these 10 health and beauty tips when I used to fly on a private jet (no, really)

Yep, you read that right. No, I’m not taking crazy pills. Ideally you want to let your skin breathe and forgo your makeup routine when you’re flying. Lack of moisture and travelling through time zones totally stresses out your skin, and you don’t want a bunch of foundation and powder layered over it if it freaks out. Being makeup-free* also makes it easier to put my next step into practice.  And if you’re really worried about touching down with a bare face, just pull out your biggest pair of oversized shades and swipe on a coat of red—or orange—lipstick before you exit the plane.

*Okay. Michelle says maybe we can come to a compromise and do tinted moisturizer. Happy now?

And speaking of moisturizer…


moisturize Are you leaving on a jet plane? Because I picked up these 10 health and beauty tips when I used to fly on a private jet (no, really)

We’ve already talked about dehydration. So in addition to drinking water, you want to apply and re-apply a hydrating moisturizer to your makeup-free skin. I don’t know about you, but I still can’t afford the super-luxe Crème de la Mer (and isn’t it over-hyped anyway? Or is that me being bitter because I don’t have any?). I do have a few less expensive favourites though:

Dr. Hauschka’s Rose Day Cream is award-winning. It smells beautifully and is super-hydrating and ultra-soothing. It’s also natural.

Clinique Moisture Surge is another superstar for extra hydration. I love that it’s oil-free and sinks into my skin immediately.

(You can decant some of these creams into travel-sized containers for your flight. Also check out Michelle’s reccs for travel-sized prodz if you’re only bringing a carry-on bag.)

Finally, hands get dry, too! Make sure you bring along a moisture-packed hand cream, like my fave: L’Occitane Ultra Moisturizing Shea Butter Hand Cream.


nikki beach Are you leaving on a jet plane? Because I picked up these 10 health and beauty tips when I used to fly on a private jet (no, really)

Once you’ve reached your destination, scrub away dirt and dead, dry skin with a mild exfoliant (both Michelle and I like this one) and then apply a hydrating mask, like this one Michelle recommends from Dermalogica.

Then take a power nap. When you wake up, it’ll probably be time for cocktails on the beach.

Elizabeth Oborne is a Vancouver-based writer and holistic nutritionist. Follow her on Twitter: @elizabethedits.

Tell us:

Do you have an in-flight beauty routine or do you just consider yourself lucky to be on the plane by the final boarding call?
What about skipping makeup the next time you fly—think you can dewit? (Get it? Dewy skin? Because you’ll be applying moisturizer like crazy?)
What beauty prodz, snacks and other paraphenalia do you bring when YOU fly?


Wednesday, July 27/2011 at 10:24 am

I looooove bring tennis balls on to the plane, it is always a lifesaver on any long-haul flights. Trick is to put 2 tennis balls into a sock (odd I know), and roll/press your upper and low back with the balls on either sides of the spine… genius.


Friday, July 29/2011 at 12:25 pm

Thanks for backing me up on this :) Glad it works for you!


Wednesday, July 27/2011 at 10:37 am

I’m not flying anywhere anytime soon, but these are great tips! I’m bringing tennis balls on my next flight for sure.

You probably don’t want to slather on Creme de La Mer anyway. Do you know it contains mineral oil / petrolatum? It’s probably a bad idea to clog your pores with that during a flight. :)


Wednesday, July 27/2011 at 1:15 pm

I always try to bring:

Visine – The dryness and lack of good sleep always make for bloodshot eyes on longer haul flights (contact lens wearers should probs go the glasses route)
Moisturizer – One that is heavy duty and can work for face, neck, hands, wtvr. As per Michelle’s recommendation, I’ve really fallen in love with Weleda’s Skin Food.
Lipbalm – MUST, I do love Burt’s Bees. I’ve forgotten and ended up buying at whatever airport I’m at, unfortunately the shops will often take your money and give you change in the local currency. Really annoying when you’re only transiting at that airport and you have to break a big bill. In a squeeze I’ve used this as moisturizer.
Deodorant – Long haul + no shower + nervous flyer turbulence sweats = stinkiest stink. Also, a word of warning, I once brought a rollerball perfume with me and the ball popped off because of the air pressure!
Toothbrush+toothpaste and mints/gum – Dry mouth and constant morning breath when your body clock is messed is not hot.
Scarf – Can be smooshed into a neck pillow (esp fat knit ones), used as a blanket, plus general scarf uses. Beware of staticky ones!!
Socks – Some airlines give these to you on long haul flights but I like to bring my own warm ones. Sometimes when I’m really cold I stick my socked feet in my bag under the seat in front of me…….
Hand Sanitizer, tissues, empty water bottle, granola bar(s), reading material, and that’s all I can think of right now.


Friday, July 29/2011 at 12:24 pm

Ooh, these are all great things to bring! Hand sanitizer and lip balm are definitely always in my purse, too!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, July 31/2011 at 10:43 am

Great list! Glad you agree re: Skin Food!


Wednesday, July 27/2011 at 2:43 pm

Actually drinking water bears no direct cause and effect relationship on the level of hydration in one’s skin. It makes no physiological sense.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, July 31/2011 at 10:45 am

Yes, I’ve heard that skin absorbs far more from the environment surrounding it (so – moisturizer) than internally. That said, my skin always looks like total crap when I am dehydrated, eg. after a night of too many drinks, so I think it’s always a good idea to stay hydrated regardless.


Tuesday, August 2/2011 at 11:10 am

Klara, did you read the comments in the article you posted? I am a dermatologist and while there is no *direct* correlation between drinking water and skin hydration, it certainly promotes healthy skin; including improving blood circulation. Underhydration lowers subcutaneous tissue oxygen, impairs healing and increases wound infection, and will definitely tighten your skin making wrinkles more visible. Moral of the story, drinking lots of water is a good thing (For your general health, and your skin)! Especially when flying.


Wednesday, July 27/2011 at 3:06 pm

i always read this blog and this morning got to check out this article and loved it! then this afternoon when i headed over to another blog i read, they basically ripped off this article! yours was posted first. and i know that there are probably a ton of airplane beauty tips articles out there, i just found it a little funny that they were posted on the same day…


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, July 31/2011 at 10:46 am

Weird! Probably just a coincidence but I’d be kind of flattered if Lauren Conrad herself was reading. That site has some great hair tips.


Makeup Morsels
Wednesday, July 27/2011 at 7:02 pm

Never knew that misting your face on flights actually causes your skin to lose moisture! I pretty much do all of these except the tennis ball thing. Whenever I fly, it’s usually overseas and I can’t sleep when there’s light. My sleeping mask only blocks out about 60% of the light, so I actually completely covered the outside with aluminum foil LOL. I’m sure I looked like a crazy lady, but I got my shuteye so that’s ok.


Friday, July 29/2011 at 12:22 pm

As long as you get your beauty sleep!
On the planes I used to fly on, we had super-luxe eye masks for the passengers. There are some great ones out there — try a google search if you get tired of the tinfoil look :)


Friday, July 29/2011 at 9:22 pm

Love this post, Elizabeth! I’m the dork who forgets snacks then starves the whole trip unless there’s food served. GAH.

About misting the skin on flights, a tip: it dehydrates the skin if the water is allowed to evaporate completely. If you give the moisture a few seconds then dab off the excess and moisturize immediately, you get the extra-moisture benefits. That’s about the only move I remember to do on long flights!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, July 31/2011 at 10:49 am

Ahhhh that makes sense then. Elizabeth and I were talking about this offline because whenever I interview Gordon Espinet, he recommends pre-misting before moisturizer/makeup. Now it makes sense that the moisturizer seals it in. Thanks Beauty Geek! x


Wednesday, July 27/2011 at 9:56 pm

If someone is really actually worried about the possibility of getting a blood clot on a plane, they should get up and walk around the plan when they can…a tennis ball isn’t going to do the trick.


Thursday, July 28/2011 at 9:53 am

I’ve literally just done a long haul flight (Australia to Vancouver), and I did all of those things except 5 & 6 ( I have a blood coagulation disorder so DVT isn’t an issue for me, and fish oil supplements don’t help coagulation, so they are a no-go for me too). The only down side to drinking as much water as I did is that last night’s sleep was interrupted by the need for toilet breaks!


Thursday, July 28/2011 at 9:55 am

OH! And these little tubes are awesome for storing moisturisers in (or toothpaste)


Friday, July 29/2011 at 12:18 pm

Thanks for the tip! These look great.


Thursday, July 28/2011 at 10:53 pm

This is honestly the 4th time I’ve heard this song be referenced in the past 24 hours, how weird lol.

I’ve never actually flown but if by some chance I ever do find myself on a plane I’ll be the most prepared newbie like ever!! I never would have thought about moisturizer, avoiding salty foods, or upping the vitamins otherwise :D


Amelie de Vera
Friday, July 29/2011 at 12:00 pm

Thank you for sharing. I never knew flying could affect your skin. I will definitely keep these tips in mind and apply it when I have to fly.


Sunday, July 31/2011 at 7:06 pm

I wouldn’t recommend doubling your vitamins. Fat solable vitamins like A, D, and E build up and become toxic if you take more than the recommended dose. Water soluble vitamins do get “flushed out”, but they put unnecessary stress on your organs so there is no point taking more than your body will use.


Agatha Tefora
Tuesday, August 2/2011 at 12:09 pm

A lip balm is a must while on a plane, train, bus or even your own private vehicle. Lips must be protected from dehydration due to air conditioning or high heat.


Wednesday, August 3/2011 at 1:55 am

I was shipped off to boarding school in another country when I was pretty young, so I have my inflight beauty routine honed to perfection! I totally agree with all your tips (well, most, this is totally the first time I’ve heard of tennis balls), but wanted to throw a couple more things in there from experience if you don’t mind… (1) you’ve got to bring a pack of cleansing face wipes for use prior to moisturizing, since skin totally feels greasy and horrible on those long haul flights, and without a good clean just piling on the moisturizer feels gross, (2) don’t forget the hairtie or comb! your hair always gets messed up when you try to work in some sleep on that tiny chair, (3) lipbalm lipbalm lipbalm, just like everyone has been saying, and (4) pay attention to the 1-hour or 30-minutes cue from the captain prior to landing, which is when I begin some pre-arrival easy makeup application. it’s just enough time to apply something without worrying about it surviving the remainder of the flight… i do a quick routine via a compact with some powder or cream foundation and a double-duty lip/cheek color stick… don’t go overboard with anything complicated, since no one likes a bathroom hog in that last hour of the flight!

But here’s a thought– some airlines give really great beauty schwag! American airlines don’t tend to be as generous as the Asian ones in my experience… I remember in the past flying Cathay Pacific a couple times in business class and getting a bunch of great Biotherm and L’Occitane products in the in-flight kit. Is this a bit time-gone-by?


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