Travel Beauty

Pack Your Bags: Travel Beauty

In-Flight Must-Haves

I’ve talked about my carry-on essentials in a previous post, but this time around I thought I’d share some must-haves for in-flight travel beauty products. Air travel does a number on your skin, and long haul flights always leave my eyes red, my skin parched, my hair flattened, and my face dull. Some people manage to look absolutely effortless and perfect after a flight, and I’m convinced there’s some voodoo involved in this. If you’re flying first class, it’s probably a bit easier to exit the plane with a fresher outlook (those lay flat seats can be a godsend for long flights), but if you’re like me – I’m typically in economy unless points buy my way into a more plush arrangement – your hair, face and body take a bit of a beating after 12+ hours of recirculated air. Below are a few of my favorite things to help look a bit less death-like after a long flight:

Pre-Flight/During Flight

  • Ole Henriksen Vitamin C Serum // I started using Ole Henriksen’s Truth Serum about 18 months ago and have never looked back. It’s one product that I’ll continue to buy and use religiously because it actually does what it should; it boosts your glow and helps keep your skin texture in check. I apply twice a day – including before flying – and use it under my moisturizer.
  • Glamglow Thirsty Mud Hydrating Treatment // In lieu of a traditional moisturizer – or sometimes on top of it – I like to slather in Glamglow’s Thirsty Mud Hydrating Treatment before a flight. This stuff smells insanely good and is luxuriously thick. It’s too thick for me to use as a daily moisturizer but it’s an incredible moisturizer in flight because of its long wear consistency.
  • Lip Balm // I have three lip balms that come with me everywhere – my Lippe Balm, a Mac lip balm that’s super hydrating, and my St. Maarten-based Caribe Baie minty lip balm. I’m sure this looks odd to others, but I put lip balm on my lips (obviously) and around my nose since my skin gets so parched. Also, the minty version in your nose is surprisingly refreshing. Seriously. Anyone else?
  • Eye Drops // I love Rohto eye drops – it feels like dropping mint into your eyes, which is simultaneously terrible and addicting. My eyes get horribly dried out in the air and I apply eye drops every few hours to keep them from looking too bloodshot when we land.
  • Ole Henriksen Vitamin C Face Wipes // Even with all of these steps, my face and skin can feel a bit sad after a longer flight. I usually keep a travel sized version of wipes with me to be able to clean my face before landing so I can prep my skin and look – and feel – a bit more clean and human again.

Exit Prep

About an hour before landing (before they ban you from getting up and walking around), I prep a bit, especially if I know that we’re gonna hit the ground running after arriving. It sounds terribly superficial, but if you’re not going to have time to primp a bit in a hotel room after landing, you want to look decent in the photos you’re about to take in a new destination. I know I’m not the only one that thinks about this!

  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste // I don’t know about you, but that disgusting long flight/morning breath mouth that happens is repulsive to me. Yes, gum will work in a pinch, but having my toothbrush with a mini toothpaste with me makes me feel so much better. I can actually talk to people without feeling embarrassed.
  • Lipstick, eyeliner + a dash of mascara // I usually swipe on a coat of lipstick and a light bit of eyeliner and mascara to look a bit more awake. There’s something about a swipe of lipstick that makes you look much more put together than you feel.
  • Hair Volumizer/Dry Shampoo // Not that my hair is ever really lovely and voluminous, but it’s especially awful after a long flight. I’m small enough to ball up in my seat and sleep a bit while we’re en route, but that typically involves my head flattened against the seat, or my hair in a top knot to keep it out of the way. I typically have a travel-sized version of Psst! Dry Shampoo or Sephora Dry Shampoo on me, plus the Drybar Triple Sec volumizing spray which helps with texture. Give it a spritz, shake it up, and go!
  • Fragrance // Every single perfume that I buy is travel sized. Firstly, that’s plenty big in general! Those big ol’ things of perfume will last you a few lifetimes; I find that the minis are perfect to get me through ample amounts of time, and are perfect to toss into my makeup bag for a quick dose of freshness.
  • Sunglasses // I’ll be honest… generally there’s not any eye cream, eye drops, mascara, etc. that can fool anyone into thinking that I look well rested (dark circles and bags, like whoa). A good big pair of sunglasses helps hugely with masking puffy peepers, though admittedly they’re a bit suspicious when there’s absolutely zero sun in your destination.
  • Hat // Another quick fix for flattened and/or greasy locks. I love traveling with a hat – or a few! – and there are a couple of mine that just don’t pack very well; they’re much better off being worn on the plane and traveling with me. That being that case, they make for a good topper when exiting the airport, too. I swear you can fool everyone with a good hat and a pair of sunglasses!

Nearly all of the beauty products I buy are carry-on appropriate (less than 3 oz.). For the few products that aren’t, I have a selection of small plastic bottles that end up as my vehicle. Most of these products are pre-packed in my hanging toiletry bag that comes with me everywhere. We don’t travel constantly, but we hit the road often enough that it makes life easier having my carry-on beauty products pre-packed to toss into my luggage at a moment’s notice. All of these items make the cut, along with specialty conditioners, hair volumizers, double-stick tape (an oft-forgotten necessity!), et al. Some of these are things that I’ll often forget if I don’t have them pre-packed, so having them ready to go is a huge time – and headache! – saver.

Share your faves in the comments below! What are your carry-on must haves when it comes to travel beauty? Anything that’s a lifesaver for making you feel more human after an extra long flight? 


Shannon Kircher, The Wanderlust Effect

More about Shannon Kircher

Shannon Kircher is the founder and editor of The Wanderlust Effect. Founded in 2009, she has continued to document her international escapes as an expat in Europe and the Caribbean. Additionally, Shannon is the founder of Compass & Vine, a luxury boutique travel design firm, and is the Director of Marketing for the Frangipani Beach Resort. Shannon holds an MSc in Social Policy and Development from the London School of Economics and is a current candidate for WSET Level 3 in Wines & Spirits.