Beauty Clinic: Why does my skin break out after long-haul flights?


Q. Why does my touchy skin always break out after long-ish haul flights and what can I do about it? A. We talked about this common reaction to long flights with sensitive skin expert Sarah Brown, founder of Pai skincare. Sarah founded Pai, a certified organic range (which we love and use ourselves), after suffering a bad skin allergy for many years. She launched Pai in 2007 with the goal of creating the cleanest, plant-based skin care for people with sensitive skin.

Here’s Sarah Brown’s advice, with her suggested products:

‘The air on planes is extremely dry with humidity usually below 20 per cent. To put that in context, London humidity in June hovers around 65 per cent. Combine that with the stress of getting away (planning, packing, last minute work issues, airport transfers…) plus lack of sleep and poor food on the plane and you have ideal conditions to create a breakout.’

‘The dry air on planes dehydrates the upper layers of skin, causing the oil glands to spring into action and overproduce sebum in an attempt to correct the balance. This excess oil causes blackheads and inflammation, resulting in a breakout.’

‘The trick is to plan ahead,’ advises Sarah. ‘Ensuring your skin is properly hydrated before, during and after the flight is key in lowering the risk of blemishes.’


Pai Cleanser• Cleanse properly using a detergent-free cream cleanser, such as Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, £28 for 100 and a muslin cloth.

• Follow with a light moisturiser such as our Geranium & Thistle Perfect Balance Day Cream, £34 for 50 ml. Don’t fall into the trap of using a richer cream. It’s much better to apply little and often, than overburden the skin with heavy products.

• Try and move around before boarding the flight; a brisk walk between terminals or a spot of gentle yoga (if you can find somewhere quiet) will reduce your stress levels.

• Also consider taking just ten minutes out to relax your mind, which can have a transformative effect on your skin health. Plug into our free guided meditation by Nadia Narain.


• Sip still water throughout the flight to combat dehydration.

• Get up and stretch your legs every hour then spritz with Pai Rice Plant & Rosemary BioAffinity, £30 for 50 ml, which contains living water plant extract plus vitamins, minerals and amino acids to keep skin calm.

• Midway through, follow the facial spritz by patting in another light application of moisturiser.


• Once you’ve reached your final destination, cleanse again then apply Pai Copaiba Deep Cleanse AHA Mask, £30 for 75 ml, to rebalance oil production and clarify the complexion.

• If you feel a blemish lurking under the surface, apply a pump of Pai Copaiba & Zinc Perfect Balance Blemish Serum, £42 for 30 ml,  to the area: it works to reduce inflammation as an on-the-spot treatment.

Pai Travel KitNB Pai skincare offers a great Perfect Balance Anywhere Essentials Travel Kit, just £20, which contains travel sizes of three products above.

They offer two free samples with every order so readers could pop in a Blemish Serum and Deep Cleanse Mask to complete this handy on-the-go kit.