Going on vacation can be relaxing for your mind, body and spirit. But it can be tough on your skin. “Traveling to a different climate than you live in can really take a toll no matter where your destination,” says cosmetic dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank. Here Frank and other top experts provide the lowdown on how to keep your skin gorgeous from head to toe, whether you are a snow bunny heading to a warmer locale or a beach babe hitting the slopes.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR SKIN IF YOU'RE TRAVELING BY PLANE Drink up before you fly. “The low humidity and recycled oxygen on airplanes can dehydrate skin,” Frank says. Ward this off by drinking a lot of water the day and night before your flight. If your urine is clear, you’re well-hydrated; if it’s yellow, keep chugging that H2O.
Sip regularly inflight. Though you can’t bring bottled water through airport security, stock up before you board so you don’t deplane with dry, flaky skin. “Drink one eight-ounce glass of water for every hour that you’re on the flight,” says dermatologist Mitchell Chasin.
Pull out the sunscreen. Apply sunscreen before boarding.It may sound crazy, but it’s not. "It is easy to get sun damage, even if you’re not by a window seat,” Chasin says. “You’re much closer to the sun’s damaging rays and aren’t anywhere near the cloud or atmospheric protection you get on the ground." Opt for a sunscreen with a high SPF above 45, like La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid.
Stash moisturizer in your carry-on. Applying a moisturizing cream throughout the flight can keep skin in tip-top shape. Look for three-ounce tubes of moisturizer that will make it through security or get travel-sized containers you can fill yourself. Try:L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Triple Power Deep-Acting Moisturizer. “Also keep your lips moisturized as they tend to get dry and cracked, too, when flying,” Chasin says. Try:The Body Shop Cocoa Butter Lip Care Stick.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR SKIN IF YOU'RE GOING SOMEWHERE HOT AND HUMID Send cellulite packing. Getting into a swimsuit after months hidden beneath winter clothes and holiday eating can be intimidating. But you can try to improve the appearance of cellulite by massaging skin with a product that contains caffeine, an ingredient that can reduce swelling so skin appears smoother. Try:Vichy CelluDestock, which is said to smooth and tone up problem areas in four weeks.
Pack the sunscreen. Hot locales up your risk of painful sunburn and sun damage.“Sunburns are particularly dangerous and are characterized by skin redness and tenderness and in more severe cases blistering, dehydration and nausea, which can be a medical emergency,” explains cosmetic surgeon James Marotta. Avoid them by using a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher, like L’Oréal Paris Sublime Sun Advanced Sunscreen SPF 50+ Liquid Silk Sunscreen for Face, and apply it repeatedly from head to toe every half hour when you’re sweating or swimming.
Clean up nicely. One thing you shouldn’t take a break from on a warm-weather vacation is your skin-care routine. “When you’re in a place that is much warmer than the one you live in, sweating leaves skin prone to breakouts,” says dermatologist Ariel Ostad. Cleanse your complexion after hanging out on the beach or poolside to remove sunscreen, sweat and dirt that can clog your pores. Use a face wash with salicylic acid, like Vichy Normaderm Deep Cleansing Gel, to help dry out the skin’s oils and prevent pimples. Just make sure to use it at night, not in the a.m., because salicylic acid can make skin sensitive to sunlight. For the cleanest face, also tuck the Clarisonic Mia Sonic Skin Cleansing System, the brand's smallest device, into your luggage.
Skip the moisturizer. Your skin produces excess sebum in a humid environment. If you have oily skin to begin with, steer clear of moisturizer altogether. “The oil your skin produces is already the best natural moisturizer,” Frank says.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR SKIN IF YOU'RE TRAVELING SOMEWHERE COLD Get richer. “Skin can become dry and irritated when you vacation in a place that is much colder than the one you live in,” Ostad says. Pack a thick cream as opposed to a lotion or light moisturizer. For your face, try Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream, which is super hydrating, tough on flakes and still gentle on even sensitive skin. For your body, try Kiehl’s Crème de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter.
Don’t forget the sunscreen. You may be nowhere near the beach, but you still need sun protection—especially if you are around snow, which reflects the sun’s rays. “I reapply every time I go into the lodge,” says Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology’s SPOT Skin Cancerinitiative.
Cover your eyes. Since UV rays are more powerful at a higher altitude and reflect off snow, protect your eyes with UVA/UVB goggles or sunglasses. Also apply an eye cream with sunscreen and moisturizing properties. "The skin under the eyes can suffer if the temperatures drop significantly below zero," Chasin says. Try: Shiseido Sun Protection Eye Cream SPF 32.
Ward off the wind. In a windy climate, apply a very thin film of ointment, such as Aquaphor Healing Ointment, to skin. “This serves as a barrier that will leave an extra layer of protection,” Franks says. “As long as you’re not acne-prone, this is a great way to protect skin against the elements.”
Don’t exfoliatein colder temperatures. “Exfoliating strips away the protective layer of skin,” Frank says. It's better to skip this step in your skin-care routine until you are back in your day-to-day climate.