The Transcontinental Spa: In-Flight Skincare

Monday, May 7, 2018

I am lucky enough to do quite a bit of traveling because I am unlucky enough to live thousands of miles away from my parents, my sister, and my man (M), who are all in different countries. I’m also a vain girl and figure that if I’m only going to see the most important people in my life a few times a year, I need to make the moments count. With extra-soft cheeks. As a result, I’ve developed a fairly reliable in-flight skin care regimen.

Let me just preface this by saying that this is not one of those ultra-luxurious first-class, hot-towel routines because I need to be frugal for aforementioned traveling. So sometimes I get weird looks and zero privacy for whipping out my little arsenal of products and face masks in Economy class. But with the right playlist and a total lack of shame, even the middle seat can feel like a nice little spa. It's fine. Everything is fine.

Pre-Flight: Cleanser
I feel like by the time you're twelve or thirteen, you've figured out a cleanser that works for you. I've been using this Cetaphil gentle skin cleanser for almost a decade because CL's mom recommended it to my mom. As an aside, I don't like experimenting with products once I've found something that works for me.

Takeoff: Toner
I don’t ever wear makeup onto a flight, but I still like to do a swipe of a Taiwanese cucumber toner. I typically use this rose petal toner with witch hazel as part of my nightly routine, but there is a distinct floral scent and I like to be considerate of my fellow passengers. The cucumber toner is odorless and came in a pack of about a million for $3 USD.

Pre-Movie: Under-eye Treatment
I consider myself a gifted cryer. I can lose it at just about any movie, so I’m averaging 3-4 waterwork sessions per long-haul flight. The trick is not to just de-puff the eyes after they’re swollen, but to launch a preventative strategy early on. I’m also not just a cryer, but a voracious eye-rubber as well, so I need to lock in as much moisture as possible. This gel mask from Peter Thomas Roth is my first line of defense. I pat a thin layer underneath my eyes and on my eyelids before I even choose a movie, and leave it on for the duration of the flight. Now M only knows I’ve been crying because of who I am as a person, not because of the way my eyes look.

In-Flight: Skincare & QQ Cheeks
If you don’t know what QQ means, you haven’t eaten the world’s best cheesecake. I think it’s a Taiwanese description of a food texture that is extraordinarily bouncy (like boba), and it’s how I want my cheeks to be. This aspirational bounciness is a function of elasticity, hydration, and good circulation -- all of which you are denied on a transcontinental flight.
To cope, I employ tactical dedication to water consumption, layered moisturizers, and old-school Chinese facial massage techniques.

Layer 1: Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM Serum
A couple drops (cause this stuff is expensive) massaged into your cheeks, then jawline, then hairline, then forehead. I’ve also started using a jade gua sha to really drive it in and improve circulation. I don’t think it drastically improves absorption, but it is a form of multitasking, which leaves me more time to focus on my movie.

Layer 2: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration
My mom got this for me when I first moved to London and my skin FLIPPED OUT and broke out into angry hives because it was upset that we’d gone from California to this cold, rainy, windy mess. (We did learn to love England eventually). Unlike other intensely hydrating moisturizers, this one doesn’t feel super dense and actually has a fluffier, whipped texture. Especially delicious for my parched, eczema-prone skin. I also use my gua sha to massage this in (a five-second tutorial on gua sha: start from the neck and work your way up; "scrape" from the center of your face outwards in long, even strokes).

Before Landing: Sheet Masks
Since flights to Taiwan and London (my two primary destinations) are 10+ hours, I tend to use sheet masks twice: once halfway through the flight (or whenever I get bored), and again before landing. All of my sheet masks are from Taiwan, with the criteria being whatever is on sale and/or comes with a free gift. I realize this is super unhelpful, but I do try to pack one that is hydrating and one that is brightening.

Bonus: Lip Balm
I’ve been using this Marc Jacobs Lip Lock Moisture Balm since high school because I keep losing and re-finding it. Honestly, any thick lip balm will do. Designer chapstick is silly, but I was young and restless.

Some final tips: remember to layer your products from thinnest (oils, serums) to thickest consistency (creams, etc.) for maximum absorption. I also don't think the product you use is as important as sticking with a disciplined regimen. So substitute my products for your favorites (for your skin type, price point, etc.), and you should be just peachy. If you are interested in what I use, though, the PTR products are often on sale on their website for way less than what Sephora will charge you. I don't think I've ever paid retail for my skincare products. (Then again, I refuse to pay retail as praxis.)

Just a few steps, a small smattering of products. But like pretty much everything else ever, the results are dependent on consistently good habits. This won't resurrect you if you're in the habit of sleeping with makeup on or "accidentally" washing your face with dish detergent (side-eyeing my dad here). But if you're generally good about your skincare routine, this can be a nice in-flight regimen to ensure that you land looking your normally cute self.

Do all things for the QQ.


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