Beauty Expert Bahar Niramwalla’s Hacks for Better Skin When Flying

Just because the air quality suffers on board doesn’t mean your skin should


Frequent travel can be a real drag … on your skin. Sure, the security gauntlet can bog you down and the prospect of onboard germs might give some the heebie-jeebies, but when it comes to being up in the air, it’s your epidermis that bears the brunt of extensive time spent at altitude.

That’s because the air up there is dry. But do you know just how dry the sky-high cabin climate is? According to the World Health Organization, the humidity in aircraft cabins is usually less than 20%, while some pilots put cabin humidity at about 12%. To put that in perspective, the average home is 30% humidity while the Mojave Desert ranges from 10% to 30% humidity.

All of that can leave your skin feeling tight, looking tired and generally lacking any lustre – not a good look for those hopping from plane to meeting.

Makeup artist and beauty expert Bahar Niramwalla says there’s no reason to suffer in the arid atmosphere. Whether your flight is a quick city-to-city hop or a transatlantic leap, she offers some hardworking essentials (aside from must-haves like breath mints and a toothbrush) that will ensure more beautiful and comfortable travel.


All-in-one is the balm.


People often bring too many specialized moisturizing products along with them. You’ve got dry hands, so you need a product for that. Dry lips? Another product. Dry face, yet another specialized product. Niramwalla says that when travelling there’s no need to pack an entire apothecary simply dedicated to moisturizing your skin.

She recommends multi-use balms – a newish product category. “They’re great because you can put them on your lips or your eyes or your cuticles or rough patches. Guys that are trying to get more savvy can rub in on their hand and gently rub it on their face, especially if they’re on a six-hour flight and they’ve only been drinking booze and coffee and you’re starting to feel that tightness,” says Niramwalla, “this will help them feel maybe a touch better.” As a bonus they come in a solid, waxy form so they’re not considered a liquid – meaning no issues at security.

Try: Jo Malone Vitamin E Body Balm; Jurlique Rose Love Balm; Lush Ultrabalm.


Indulge in a sky-high spritz.


Sometimes the grind of flying can sap your energy, which is why Niramwalla is enthusiastic about facial sprays. In addition to giving you a shot of hydrations, facial sprays can perk you up.

“Facial sprays are trendy right now but it’s a trend that I’m super excited about because it’s totally unisex. Step into the washroom, especially mid-flight and then again at the end of the flight, you’ll get that boost of hydration after having it all sucked out of you in the air,” she says. “Even after an hour-long flight it makes you feel hydrated and it wakes you up just a touch.”

Try: Laura Mercier Perfecting Water Moisture Mist; Caudalie Grape Water; Evian Mineral Water Spray.


Masks can masquerade as makeup when moisture is in order.


The smartest travellers know how to look polished while also dressing for comfort. The same goes for your face, Niramwalla says. Why? Because your skin needs to breathe, too.

“I’ve seen a lot of ladies wear super high heels with a full face of makeup, and this is on European flights, so this is six hours, if not more,” says Niramwalla. “When you go on a plane with products that aren’t multitaskers, meaning skincare that has makeup qualities to it, you’re quasi-suffocating your skin. The reality of being in that cylindrical tube is that you’re shut off from the outside world and outside air.”

She recommends opting for a gel mask in place of powder or foundation. “That’s probably my best suggestion – don’t shellac your face with a ton of stuff, so you can give your skin a bit of a break.”

If some makeup is a requirement of leaving the house, she recommends focusing on trouble spots and then going light with the rest.

“I know I have issue with dark circles, so I cover those. Then, I might curl my lashes as opposed to using mascara, and put on a brow gel. No physical colours, no eyeliners, no blushes,” she says. “That means my skin is bare so when I get on the plane and I can feel my skin is getting dry and tight, I can use a moisture mask.”

Moisture masks, she says, are mostly invisible, have a gel-like consistency and they come in a tube so they’re plane-friendly. “If you put a super thin layer of that on your face, it might look a tiny bit shiny but that’s not only going to act as a hydrating barrier, your skin is going to absorb some of that, especially since the surroundings are super dehydrating. So you’re saving your skin with the barrier gel and your skin will absorb little by little as the flight goes on.”

Try: Sisley Express Flower Gel Mask; Aesop Blue Chamomile Facial Hydrating Masque; Clinique Moisture Surge Overnight Mask.


One stick to rule them all.


A barefaced version of you might be perfect if you’re heading to a beach destination, but for the business traveller it’s less appropriate. Still, Niramwalla says it’s possible to look put together while also treating your skin kindly.

She suggests looking for skincare multitaskers like facial serums or moisturizers that have iridescence – using skincare as makeup is completely on trend, plus you’re focusing on enriching your skin over covering it up because, “even with a foundation, within an hour and a half on the plane some of it is going to seep in and you’re going to get patchy spots.”

Niramwalla also loves cosmetic multi-sticks in a single colour meant for the lips, eyes and cheeks. On her frequent commutes from Toronto to Montreal, Niramwalla says she’ll apply a concealer, mascara and brows, leaving the rest of her face bare. Then, when she lands, she whips out the multi-stick.

“Monochromatic is a huge trend right now so you look all pulled together and chic. And it’s effortless. It can be done on the plane, as soon as you land or in the taxi. So prep a little before hand and then add just a bit of colour.”

Try: Bite Multistick; NARS The Multiple.


As for a final bit of sky-high skin self-help, Niramwalla echoes the sentiments of travel experts: stick to water to stay hydrated from within.

“When an airline offers you booze, people take booze instead of water or juice. At the end of the day, especially when people are on vacation and want to enjoy themselves, no one takes the healthy option; they take the option that is dehydrating,” she says. “With all that makeup on top, that’s why your skin feels tight – your skin is basically dying.

“I’m probably the only person I know who asks only for water on a flight.”

Beauty Expert Bahar Niramwalla’s Hacks for Better Skin When Flying
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