September 29, 2021
Here’s a peek into the less glamourous side of the overrated jetset life.
There’s nothing glamourous about being squished in 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 all of 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), the air actually 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 really just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s a peek into the less glamourous side of the overrated jetset life.
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 and completely sucks the moisture out of your skin, leaving you dehydrated with cracked lips and dry, flaky skin.
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. Except, instead of achieving a healthy tanned glow, all it does is just deteriorate your skin condition.
Sun exposure is actually one of the key 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; and without these supporting connective tissue, your skin loses strength and flexibility. 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 (just like when you are flying in a plane).
So if UV rays = ageing skin and wrinkles, then that makes UV light an absolute enemy in the quest for younger-looking skin. This also debunks the common misconception that wrinkles only appear on mature skin.
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.
Inactivity as well as too much salt intake (thanks, airport snacks) during a long flight leads 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.
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 huge 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 definitely not sexy at all.
Although it’s clear that traveling takes a toll on our skin, we can’t possibly forego flying altogether. Dry and dull skin, facial puffiness, dark circles and eye bags — all these can easily be prevented as long as you spare the effort to prep your skin before and during flight.
But what about wrinkles? Fighting wrinkles is not as easy as zapping zits and there’s no over-the-counter medication for it, so what would be the best solution?
You can do no wrong seeking a trusted professional’s help. Amaris B, for one, is a renowned aesthetics clinic that offers a variety of skin-resurfacing techniques, injectables, fillers and surgical procedures to smooth out wrinkles.
Botox is a cosmetic procedure that involves injecting tiny amounts of approved purified protein of botulinum toxic A into the lines and wrinkles. It relaxes the muscles by blocking nerve impulses and allowing wrinkles to relax at the point of injection.
The treatment is quick, non-invasive and effective. This procedure can also double up as a preventative step — getting Botox done early enough can help prevent wrinkles from forming deep lines.
You will be in the good hands of Dr. Ivan Puah, who is the medical director of Amaris B. Clinic and the appointed doctor-trainer by Allergan Singapore. With more than 15 years of dermatological and beauty aesthetics experience, he is the go-to doctor if you need to plump up your skin, smoothen out telltale signs of ageing, or zap those annoying zits away.
So give yourself one less thing to frown about, and try to inject some youth back into your face (pun fully intended).