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The Definitive Guide to Preventing Breakouts While You Travel

Whether you're headed out of town for work or pleasure, there's only one thing that ruin a trip faster than flight delays: Zits. Here's how to guarantee a flawless complexion through your return flight.


Replace coffee with spearmint tea

Tea is packed with some seriously amazing health benefits, from an upset stomach to arthritis pain. Drinking two cups of spearmint tea a day can also keep the acne away, according to Carl Thornfeldt, MD, an Idaho-based dermatologist and founder of Epionce Skincare. “The results of a clinical study in the treatment of acne proved that spearmint tea reduced acne lesions by 25 percent after one month and by 51 percent after three months,” he says referencing findings revealed at the American Academy of Dermatology conference in 2016. Pre-fill tea filters with David’s Tea Organic Spearmint tea to have on hand while traveling.


Eat ice cream (yes, you read that right!)

Eat two ounces of ice cream or dried cherries en route, says Dr. Thornfeldt. “It will help reduce blood flow to the face, which is a quick fix for both acne and under eye puffiness as it reduces inflammation by causing rapid vasoconstriction,” he says. Take your pick of flavor, but avoid chocolate because it actually produces skin vasodilation, meaning it will aggravate redness and canceling out the reason for eating the sweet stuff in the first place! Speaking of ice cream, here’s what your favorite flavor reveals about you.

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Enlist turmeric

Touted as one of the best spices for glowing skin, turmeric is packed with anti-inflammatory properties like curcumin, says Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, founder and director of Capital Laser and Skin Care, and assistant clinical professor of the department of dermatology at George Washington University Medical Center. To keep redness and breakouts to a minimum on the road, “take 500 mg twice daily,” she instructs. These are the other spices you should be using in your beauty routine.


Keep your hands to yourself

While it may be tempting to readjust your eye mask or apply extra lotion once belted in, just don’t. “Do not touch your face because you’re putting bacteria from the plane, the airport, and all of your surroundings on it, and that can cause breakouts,” says Jeanine Downie, MD, a dermatologist in Montclair, New Jersey. If you really want to avoid airplane germs, book an early flight and follow these proven tips for a healthier flight. The only exception to the don’t-touch-your-face rule is when applying sunscreen—preferably one that dermatologists use themselves—which is necessary since sun penetrates through windows of a plane. Just wash your hands before application.

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Take zinc

“I advise my patients to take a zinc supplement while traveling every single day as it helps them battle colds as well as acne,” says Francesca Fusco, MD, board-certified dermatologist of Wexler Dermatology in New York City. Throw a 20 to 50 mg supplement like Nicomide in your carry to keep skin clean. Bring a skin-saving snack like berries or another food that can clear up acne to take with the pill, and always consult your doctor before starting a new oral regimen.

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Prep skin for travel…

Before you travel, get a cleansing and extracting chemical peel with salicylic acid—these are the different kinds of peels you can choose from—to remove any residual debris before flying, says S. Manjula Jegasothy, MD, founder of the Miami Skin Institute and clinical associate professor of dermatology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “Everyone knows that flying itself stresses the skin and may in fact clog pores due to recycled cabin air on airplanes,” she explains. If your skin is completely cleansed beforehand, you are less likely to have a buildup of this sort of debris and to develop inflammation (i.e. a big red pimple) from it.

face-maskLucky Business/Shutterstock

…And soothe it post-travel

Once home, it takes about a week for your skin to readjust and go back to its normal state after a trip. “In that time period, it’s a good idea to get a very light Fraxel or Clear & Brilliant laser treatment,” says Dr. Jegasothy. “This opens up the skin’s micro-channels to allow topical ingredients with hydrating, anti-redness, lightening, and wrinkle-reducing properties like green tea and vitamin C to penetrate into the skin,” she continues.

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Chug H2O

Since plane air sucks moisture right out of your skin, dry, dead skin cells can accumulate on the dermis, adhere to one another or to other gunk, and clog pores. The result is acne. “It is recommended to hydrate with water–about one glass for every hour of the flight–and apply an oil-free moisturizer like Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel before and during the flight,” says Glenn Kolansky, MD, a New Jersey-based dermatologist. Use these life hacks to guarantee you’re drinking enough water.


Pack your own snacks

Save your skin—and some major dough—with BYO veggies and fruits like oranges, carrots, and other antioxidant-rich foods. “You avoid the over-processed airplane food and increase your oral antioxidant level, thereby reducing inflammation from the UV exposure that occurs on the plane,” says Ava Shamban, MD, dermatologist and founder of SKINxFIVE.

Alexis Farah
Alexis is a freelance lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in,,, Women's Health magazine and She's the founder and editor of, a website dedicated to covering beauty products, brands and influencers that give back. Before becoming a freelance writer, Alexis was on the team as the Senior Beauty Editor. She started her professional career in the beauty department at Women's Health Magazine and learned social networking 101 at Attention, a social media PR and marketing agency. It's rare to catch Alexis without SPF 30+ or bright red lipstick.

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