Why The Jetsetter Life Isn’t As Glamourous As It Seems

Amaris B.

Updated On:

Apr 25, 2023

Archive Date:

Sep 29, 2021

Here’s a peek into the less glamourous side of the overrated jetset life.

Table of contents

There’s nothing glamourous about being squished between strangers in your seat, mediocre airplane food, or watching a movie an inch away from your face because the front passenger decided to recline their chair back into your lap.

But worse than that is what air travel does to your skin.

Travel is inherently stressful to your skin because of all the dry air. Whenever the environment is moisture-free (as with recirculated air in a plane cabin), it draws moisture from wherever it can, including the skin. Dry skin will tend to get drier, and oily skin will get even oilier to compensate for dehydration.

Either way, you’re in for a breakout.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s a peek into the less glamourous side of the overrated jet-set life.

Woe #1: Dry Cabin Air

Your skin’s first beef with flying is the dry cabin air.

The cabin pressure and humidity levels on airplanes are pretty different than what we are used to. Typically, skin is comfortable when the humidity is between 40 to 70 percent. However, most airplane cabins are at about 20 percent – and that’s less than half of what we are used to.

So along with that lack of humidity comes a dip in the hydration level of your skin on a plane. In other words, the pressurised environment of a plane is totally unnatural. It completely sucks the moisture out of your skin, leaving you dehydrated with cracked lips and dry, flaky skin.

Image Credit: ICanHasCheeseburger.com

Woe #2: UV Damage

Beyond that, flying at high altitudes also puts you closer to the sun so the ultraviolet (UV) damage is at its greatest. Since airplane windows do not have the protective ability to filter out these harmful rays, it makes you all the more susceptible to cosmic radiation every time you fly.

Believe it or not, an hour of flight time is akin to spending about 20 minutes in a tanning bed. Instead of achieving a healthy tanned glow, it just deteriorates your skin condition.

Sun exposure is one of the critical reasons for the skin to lose its elasticity. The sun’s powerful rays damage skin cells, which over time, can accelerate the effects of ageing. Ultimately, it breaks down your collagen and elastin fibres; without these supporting connective tissues, your skin loses strength and flexibility. The skin then begins to sag and wrinkle prematurely.

Research has shown that 78 percent of premature skin ageing is due to incidental exposure, which is when your skin is in daylight when you’re not intentionally trying to get sun exposure (like when flying in a plane).

So if UV rays = ageing skin and wrinkles, UV light is an absolute enemy in the quest for younger-looking skin. This also debunks the common misconception that wrinkles only appear on mature skin.

Woe #3: Cabin Altitude

The barometric pressure during a typical plane ride is equivalent to what we would feel while standing atop an 8,000-foot mountain. Apparently, the higher the altitude, the less blood flows to the skin, which causes the skin to appear dull.

Also, as our blood absorbs less oxygen at such high altitudes, it contributes to feelings of fatigue, such as dizziness, sleepiness, and a general lack of mental sharpness.

So yes, if you ever feel sleepy in-flight, it’s certainly no thanks to the cushioned airplane seats.

Woe #4: Water Retention

Inactivity and too much salt intake (thanks, airport snacks) during a long flight lead to water retention, which causes facial puffiness.

To help prevent your face from bloating, you can get up from your seat to walk down the aisle once an hour.

Or if you are trapped in a window seat, with sleeping passengers on either side, you can simply stretch and lift your legs up and down, rotating them in circles periodically. These can help to mobilise the excess fluid.

Woe #5: Jet Lag And Lack Of Sleep

Medically referred to as ‘desynchronosis,’ jet lag is part and parcel of long-haul flights. When you are constantly flying to and fro, you are often straddling between time zones, and this can cause your circadian rhythm to get interrupted, triggering a severe lack of sleep.

Whether you’re actually travelling through time zones or just skimping on sleep during your trip, it can have a massive impact on your skin.

Not only does it add to the dehydration, but lack of sleep can also cause eye bags and dark circles, a raccoon look that is not sexy at all!

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