6 Beauty and Wellness Travel Tips Flight Attendants Swear By

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Flight attendants take care of everything in the sky, but when they’re not passing around plane snacks or demonstrating safety features, they’re dealing with their own upkeep. Their job requires frequently switching time zones, last-minute scheduling changes and excessive time spent in sun-exposed, recirculated-air-filled pressurized cabins. It calls for completely different level of self-maintenance — so of course, flight attendants hold a wealth of knowledge when it comes to travel beauty and wellness routines.

“After my first two weeks of flying, I noticed that my pores were clogged, causing breakouts all over my face, an issue I never had to really worry about after I graduated from high school. I typically keep my hair short, but as I flew more and more, my scalp became more dry and exposed to the aircraft’s environment,” Kristian-Zani*, a former SwiftAir flight attendant, tells Fashionista. “As for my health, we flight attendants are exposed to all of the germs and personal hygiene routines, or lack thereof, of our passengers.”

And it’s not just that ample time spent flying that wreaks havoc on flight attendants; there are other aspects of frequent travel that can make beauty and wellness routines tricky.

“I find it actually quite difficult to have and keep my night routine when I’m working. Now, I’m getting to a hotel after long days, I’m too tired to wash my face or sometimes even put on my night face lotion,” says Kristen*, who has worked as a flight attendant for United Airlines for nearly two years. “Staying in a hotel just throws off my routine. I don’t have all my stuff and usually I’m too exhausted.”

Ahead, flight attendants share the top beauty and wellness tips they swear by, so those of us who aren’t professional travelers can learn from their years of expertise. Read on for their insights.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Andrea*, who has been at American Airlines for nearly a decade, recommends drinking at least eight ounces of water per hour spent in the air. It’s one of the key pieces of advice a senior flight attendant gave her when starting out, she says.

Ryan*, a United Airlines flight attendant, says he gets all of his water down thanks to two hydration tricks: He always keeps a water bottle on him, and he uses flavor drops to make it go down easy.

“Sometimes, you’re gonna wanna go for that Coke or that Sprite, which has a lot of sugar. You don’t really want that,” he says. “I always recommend flavoring your water. So I get the Mio bottle and squeeze a little bit in there, and you’re good to go. It makes me drink a heck of a lot more water. Having this gives me that boost of vitamins and my minerals. Plus, it has some caffeine that will get me through the day.”

For Reneé*, who has been a flight attendant for nearly 30 years, hydration is a constant focus. “Cabin air is really dehydrating, and when I first started flying and was younger, my skin initially compensated by becoming oilier. Now that I’m 55 and my skin and hair have become drier, it’s extremely important to keep hydrated. For me, that means from the inside out by drinking plenty of water and eating lots of high-water-content foods like raw fruits and vegetables, as well as using a good moisturizer and conditioner,” she says.

Be loyal to your routines.

For flight attendants, whose schedules constantly change, maintaining a routine can help regain a sense of control.

“My daily routine has become a lot more consistent to make sure I’m always prepared for the unpredictable world of a flight attendant,” says Delta Airlines’ LaTanya*. “Making sure I take all the right steps and have all of my accountable items every day, no matter the circumstance, is very important. Maintaining my daily routine is the only thing I can truly control in my profession, so it gives and sense of mental stability and self balance when I complete each task.”

For seven-year American Airlines flight attendant Rebekah*, that means focusing on a skin-care routine: “For long-haul flights as a passenger, I’ll use a sheet mask about six hours into flying time. No one cares that you’re doing this, so don’t feel self-conscious!” she says. “If I’m working and not able to remove my makeup, I’ll use a moisturizing spray over my makeup. I also use a sunscreen spray that can be used over makeup to touch up my sun protection throughout the day.”

This adherence to routines also extends to fitness for Kasama*, who has been with American Airlines for 10 years. “I’ve become more stringent with myself in regards to fitness. I work out every day I’m not at work, counting the days I am at work as my official ‘rest’ days from the gym,” he says. “Taking care of myself has been somewhat therapeutic for me.”

Thoroughly cleanse your scalp and hair post-flight.

Time spent in a dry cabin and a variety of different climates can contribute to build-up on the scalp, which can slow hair growth and cause irritation.

“In the past two years, I switched to a high-quality shampoo and conditioner by Briogeo, and that has helped so much,” says Kristen. “My scalp never got fully cleaned before and was still oily after washing it. After a year of using Briogeo, my hair is so much healthier, and I can go up to five to six days without washing it.”

Don’t neglect your feet.

Flight attendants spend the majority of their working hours on their feet — something wary travelers can also relate to. So a foot-care routine is crucial.

“At the end of the night, one thing that I like to use is Gold Bond Therapeutic Foot Cream, which helps with retaining moisture in your feet and reducing smells,” says Ryan. “It just helps with general foot care, which is very important.”

Embrace protective hairstyles.

Since the hair and scalp aren’t immune to an airplane cabin’s drying effects, it’s crucial to keep them protected against moisture loss.

For Cecelia*, an American Airlines flight attendant of five years, this means wearing protective styles. “[My hair is] 100% natural, and I don’t really ever wear [it] out,” she says. “So I don’t really have any issues with my hair drying out because my hair’s mostly put away — I go between braids or corn rows and a wig.”

Jade* suggests packing a silk bonnet or silk pillowcase when traveling to protect hair from frizz and moisture-sucking cotton pillowcases in hotels.

Meal prep when you can.

“I try to meal prep when I can or make healthier choices because what you eat and how much water you drink directly affects your skin and hair health as well,” flight attendant LaTanya* says.

The job doesn’t always offer the healthiest options when it comes to food. Airport cafeteria options are usually fast-food or fast-casual options that can’t sustain a healthy diet. Thus, flight attendants say it’s important to take food into their own hands and meal prep.

Kristian-Zani also stresses the importance of probiotics and supplements for maintaining gut health, “as well as echinacea, elderberry and vitamin C for my immunity and energy.”

Ahead, shop 23 beauty and wellness products recommended by flight attendants.

Beauty Society Our Little Secret Refill, $54, available here

Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion Hydrating Body Moisturizer, $12, available here

Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Foaming Facial Cleanser, $12, available here

CeraVe Ultra-Light Face Lotion Moisturizer with Sunscreen, $20, available here

Vaseline Cocoa Butter Healing Petroleum Jelly, $2, available here

Design Essentials Honey Creme Moisture Retention Super Detangling Conditioning Shampoo, $30, available here

Peach & Lily Overnight Star Night Cream, $45, available here

Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, $24, available here

Briogeo Charcoal and Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo, $42, available here

Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30, $16, available here

Mielle Organics Rosemary Mint Strengthening Shampoo, $10, available here

Mio Fruit Punch Liquid Water Enhancer, $4, available here

Gold Bond Therapeutic Foot Cream, $8, available here

Elf Lash It Loud Mascara, $6, available here

Heritage Store Rosewater Facial Toner, $13,available here

Cerave Salicylic Acid Face Wash, $16, available here

CosRx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, $25, available here

Bioré Kao Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+, $20, available here

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, $6, available here

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Eaze Drop Blurring Skin Tint, $35, available here

Olly Melatonin Sleep Gummies, $16, available here

Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, $43, available here

Eucerin Advanced Repair Fragrance Free Body Cream, $20, available here

*Editors’ note: The flight attendants interviewed did not speak on behalf of their employers. To protect their anonymity, they requested that Fashionista print only their first names.

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