I might aspire to be a relatively well-presented individual day to day (in the sense that I wash my hair on a regular basis and try to refrain from wearing pyjamas outside my flat) but, for some reason, as soon as a plane's seat belt sign is switched off, I lose all sense of shame. Off comes any make-up I may have on my face, replaced with lotions, potions and frankly alarming-looking masks that invite horrified glances from fellow passengers and double takes by cabin crew.
I am, you see, one of those travellers that unabashedly treats economy class like a personal spa session. While it's partially down to vanity – dehydrated skin and a face full of blemishes genuinely can put a dampener on the start of a holiday – my lengthy in-flight routine has been devised over many hours crossing the skies between New Zealand and Britain. As someone who had to make the 30-hour-plus journey semi-regularly, and can't seem to sleep on planes, cultivating a regimen managed to combat both the effects of an aircraft's drying air and ever-growing boredom.
Here are some of the top tips I've learnt along the way:
Let your skin breathe
Forgo any qualms you have about going make-up-free, and keep your face clear for the majority of your flight. I take my make-up off with a wipe (the only time I'll use the non-eco-friendly things), cleanse in the bathroom but rinse with a little bottled water, and finish with an anti-bacterial toner for good measure.
Sheet masks, a favourite in the Korean beauty world, are also your new best friend. Chuck on some under-eye ones to alleviate puffiness, a lip one to stop any chapping, and a facial one to tackle dehydration. If you can't quite bring yourself to brace the requisite stares, invest in an overnight mask, such as Clinique's Moisture Surge – the barely tinted lotion is almost imperceptible on the skin.
Once the mask is off and my face has dried, I'll chuck on any travel-sized serums I have. I try to use formulas with caffeine or vitamin C because of their brightening properties – 16 hours of watching films can result in a zombie-like complexion.
It is also important to remember that planes' windows don't block UVA rays, so you need to slap on a hearty serving of sunscreen to keep your skin protected.
On a roll
Massage your face (by hand or with a jade roller) while watching a film; not only does the lymphatic drainage reduce puffiness, but the process can be remarkably soothing, especially during a bumpy ride.
On flights that hit the six-hour-plus mark, I don’t limit personal care to the neck up, either. I jam a hand cream, eye drops, stick deodorant, dry shampoo and wet wipes in my little toiletry bag (which is almost always bursting at the seams). Taking five minutes in the bathroom for a full-body refresher ensures you step off the plane looking like you flew first class, even when you spent 14 hours in economy with your knees clasping your ears.