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Why Your Skin Breaks Out When You Travel

To all the girls that ever experienced a bad breakout while traveling – YOU ARE NOT ALONE. And we’ve got you and your skin covered while you travel the world.

Having to deal with a routine shift when traveling isn’t a joke, but imagine having to deal with that and a breakout that simply won’t budge. *Takes a moment of silence for all those who suffered*. Skin can be really tricky when you don’t always know how to treat it under dire circumstances. At least we have some dermatologist-approved reasons as to why your skin tends to break out while traveling and how to treat it.

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   1. Airplane Acne

No, I’m not making this up. This is a real thing. Have you ever noticed how you noticeably have worse skin after a long flight? Dry cabin air tends to dehydrate your skin sending it into overdrive, causing your skin to overproduce oil in order to rehydrate itself. It’s usually this generous period of oil-production that causes breakouts. The oil carries bacteria and bacteria causes… you guessed it: ACNE. The sealed air inside the cabin is pretty dirty because it is a combination of recycled air (that passengers and flight attendants inhale and exhale) along with the outside air that has been compressed by the plane’s engines. Compared to your usual air, I’d say you better not want more bacteria to just come and chill on your face!

Here’s how to prevent it :

  • Drink plenty of water during your flight and the days leading up to it. 2 liters minimum per day. This will cause your skin to be fresh and hydrated when you board.
  • Use face wipes to cleanse and hydrate your skin in flight. This will keep your skin from dehydrating and also prevent bacteria from manifesting.

Nivea 3-in-1 Cleansing Wipes – R49.00 at Clicks

  •  Use an in-flight facial mask. If you are ready to channel your inner Chrissy Teigen don’t hesitate climb on to the sheet mask trend, but if you want to be more discreet use a cream based mask that you don’t need to rinse off.

Sorbet Hydrating Sheet Mask – R57.00 at Sorbet

Glamglow Thirstymud Hydrating Mask -R895.00 at Edgars

  • Lastly, finish off your in-flight beauty routine with some moisturizer. Dermatologists usually recommend Vitamin E based products when it comes to hydration. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can assist in various kinds of cellular restoration from sunburn to healing support for scars or burns. If you have very oily or acne-prone skin, I wouldn’t dive into the serum to quickly as this may cause a reaction. The best way to incorporate Vitamin E for beginners is to use a moisturizer and work your way to a serum after 3 months.

The Body Shop Vitamin E Serum Oil – R220 at Clicks

The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Cream – R180 at Clicks

2. Diet

After months of meal prepping, cardio and obsessing over what we eat to shake off the extra weight before a holiday, it feels good to let loose and be a little careless with our diet when we are on holiday. When you eat your body weight in sugar and junk food just know that it may have a direct impact on your skin. Try limiting your sugar, dairy, and fatty foods but don’t force yourself to eat what you don’t like. Like dairy, sugar is inflammatory, which means that this causes a hormonal imbalance and your skin produces more oil than usual that can cause breakouts. If you’re used to eating 3 unhealthy meals per day while on holiday limit that to 2 and switch out lunch for a salad. Don’t forget about hydration, keep the water flowing.

3. Not Sleeping Enough

We all love a good party when it comes to traveling, but waking up with dark circles under your eyes and dry skin doesn’t really make it sound as fun now. Studies show that when we sleep our bodies create a certain amount of PH- levels that are needed to create added moisture and rejuvenate our skin cells. When you don’t get enough sleep it causes an imbalance in the PH- levels leaving your skin dry, red and prone to breakouts and the blood vessels under our eyes dilate causing dark under eyes.

Here’s how to prevent it :

  • Get enough sleep. No brainer right?
  • When you had a late night and your skin is in dire need of some fixing, apply a generous amount of your usual moisturizer combined with some eye cream. Apply some concealer under your eyes in a triangular shape with the base starting under your eyes and connecting at the middle of your cheek.

Maybeline Fit Me Concealer – R109.95 at Clicks

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye Cream – R143.99 at Clicks

If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, your pillowcase might be to blame. I know, shocking, right? It’s important to change your pillowcases every 2-3 days to prevent a bacteria build-up. People with very sensitive or acne-prone skin may not benefit from sleeping on cotton as it may be very harsh when rubbing onto pimples causing the bacteria of your skin to cling onto the fabric and cause inflammation. Try switching to a silk pillowcase for a more clean and gentle feel.

Nordik Beauty Luxury Satin Silk Pillowcases Set of 2 – R359 at Takealot

Here are some extra tips : 

  • Good skin is all about maintaining your routine; when you travel it can become quite hard to maintain your routine when you can’t always take your go-to products with you. Try and get some travel size samples to take with you in order to maintain your routine.
  • The sun can play a huge role when it comes to acne. The UV rays can cause the skin to lack elasticity and ultimately cause dark spots. Wear an SPF or a moisturizer with SPF in it.
  • Always carry some blotting paper with you to tap off the excess oil on your skin.

The fear of travel acne shouldn’t hold you back from having the best summer ever. Like all problems, it can be prevented, but even if you do pick up 1 or 2 passengers along with the ride don’t hesitate to wear them with confidence.

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Monique Webster
Monique Webster

BLOSS Youth Travel Editor

Monique Webster was born in the midst of a never-ending love affair with travel. Her core passion lies in exploring and spending time with her loved ones. She spends half her time making jokes and being with family and friends and the other half globe-trotting and seeking adventure. She currently lives in Pretoria and during the week she manages a local jewellery shop and spends her time trying to decide whether she should study or travel. She hopes to combine the two in the following year.

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BLOSS is an international media platform for South African women who live all over the world in the age group, 20 – 35 years. We integrate print and technology through innovative and exciting ways to keep things fresh, modern and interactive.