Beauty Takes Flight

5 years ago by

My first big travel moment happened when I was sixteen and involved a nine hour flight. I told my mom I needed a “plane outfit” for the occasion. You know, an outfit that is chic, comfortable and, most importantly, reads that I am ten years older than my sixteen-year-old self and no I’m not nervous at all about this travel because I do it all the time.

I won’t tell you what that “mature, casual, jet-setter, plane outfit” ended up being. Okay, I’ll tell you because I have very little shame…

It was beige, terry cloth, and tracksuit-y. Alright it was a Juicy tracksuit. Yes, like Paris Hilton (shudders). BUT it did not have “JUICY” emblazoned on the ass, so I think I still have a single thread of dignity to stand on.

My plane and travel persona has since gone through many, many a persona. Let’s just say I relate a little too well to when Kristen Wiig got a little too… wiggly… in Bridesmaids.

I have since found my travel stride in one glass of white wine, one cheese plate and at least one movie I’m too embarrassed to watch anywhere except when strapped in next to complete strangers who will never even know my name. (I find it very cathartic to cry next to strangers on a plane, I highly encourage it. You quickly learn how gracious most of humanity is when they completely ignore you.)

But the one thing that has remained an elusive mystery to me is what the hell to do about my beauty routine on a plane.

Everytime I get on a plane I look at the flight attendants with their fresh faces, bright eyes and perfectly lined lips and internally scream, “how the f@$%@$#% do you look like a Disney Cartoon Princess!?!?”

Because when I board a plane, I buckle myself in, not only physically for safely but mentally, knowing in an hour’s time my body will have morphed into what can only be described as a troll who has really let herself go.

I finally decided to get to the bottom of the flight attendant perfectness. I put out the call to a few flight attendants and begged (okay emailed) them asking… how the hell do you look so good?!

To Mist or Not to Mist
Thanks to the multi-step Korean skin care routine, “essence” has now become a word in our everyday beauty vocabulary. For those not savvy, an essence is similar to a serum, but lighter in weight (it spritzes out of the bottle like a mist) and can be used after a toner for additional hydration (but you MUST pat it in, in a very gentle motion as if swaddling the second coming of Christ and if you don’t pat it in said very gentle motion why the hell are you wasting your money on an essence?!?!).

Okay, but back to hydration. Women these days apparently want to drink, bathe, mist, gulp, take a nap in any product that claims to hydrate their skin till it is one drop of water away from being prune-y. (Seriously, it’s all anyone talks about on beauty meetings these days. Let’s hydrate that skin.)

Since essences hydrate, many a woman has been told by celebrity and beauty blogger alike to douse their face in an essence or a mist during the flight. Basically create an ecological rainforest in 12A for the duration of the flight with the amount of mist you’re spritzing.

When I asked my greek chorus of flight attendants about the spritizing conundrum, half of them didn’t know what an essence was and the other half said, yeah no. One in particular said, and I quote, “there’s a reason you’ve never seen a flight attendant mist themselves. It’s not necessary. Just drink water. Lots of water.”

Beyond Water, Drink All The Damn Tea
I like to wear a onesie on the plane (alright, or a “jumper” as the adults are calling it these days). Or any piece of clothing with an equivalent lack of a waistband. Why? Because if I so much as decide to breathe in a speck of cracker crumb, my stomach decides it must enlarge itself to ten times its normal size to digest said speck of cracker crumb.

If I want to eat the whole cracker I might as well say goodbye to any comfortable seated position that doesn’t involve my head between my legs.

So how do those flight attendants prance up and down them ailes in those navy blue cocktail dresses?

Peppermint tea.

They all gulp down peppermint tea to aid in de-bloating.

And apparently they know an experienced traveler is on board when they just ask for hot water and dunk their own fancy peppermint tea bag into it.

I, Veronica McCarthy, do solemnly swear to never again cast shade upon the fellow traveler who busts out their own tea packets on a flight. They are smarter, wiser, and less bloated then thou.

They are also eating crackers without pain. Do not poke fun at them. Praise them for their ingenuity and commitment to eating crackers without pain.

Bath Yourself in Hand Cream
I avoid the bathroom on planes like I avoid the plague. Mainly because I believe the next outbreak of the bubonic plague will originate in an airplane bathroom.

And the people who design said airplanes do not, not disagree with me. I know this because I learned those bathroom hand soaps are harsher than clorox and strip off every molecule of hydration (and germ) your hand has to offer.

Even if you’ve created a rainforest in 12A from spritzing the entirety of your bottle of essence, first apologize to every passenger within ten feet of you. You are part of the problem. And second, do yourself a favor and slap on some good ‘ol fashioned greasy hand balm. It’ll work a lot better than any rainforest of essence and every flight attendant I interviewed claimed hand balm as their most used inflight product.

Compression Yourself UP
Alright. So truthfully I’ve been on the compression game for a long time. I even wear compression socks to work when I know I’m just going to be sitting all day.

Compression socks don’t just make a slim margin difference that you trick yourself into believing is a huge difference because you need to do some type of self care act every hour on the hour less you shrivel into a raisin of a person. (Do you remember the good ‘ol days before “self care” was in everyone’s lexicon and you just ate an apple to eat an apple? Sigh. I miss those days… but I digress…)

Compression socks (or hose) make a night and day difference. They circulate my blood better and thus my brain is simply more alert. I yawn a hell of a lot less, I’m less groggy, more focused, and generally a better person to be around.

And that’s just the side effects of wearing compression socks when sitting all day in a fifth floor walk up that’s maybe I dunno, 100 feet off the ground? (Actually I have no idea how many feet above sea level it is. I notoriously never measure things and each piece of furniture in my apartments is off by about one to two inches which I explain to my boyfriend as my “endearing trait.”)

All this to say, every flight attendant you see in her uniform is also modeling some compression hose. Get yourself some, seriously, I never fly without them anymore.

They have meds!
Okay, they have over the counter medication, but still! I didn’t know that! So if you have indigestion, sinus problems, dry eyes, etc., you don’t need to sit there for the duration of the flight cursing the concept of air travel and what it has done to your body. They have some things that could help you!

Alright, so now I’m dying to hear, what are your travel beauty hacks?

Shop the story


Add yours
  • I can just remember when everyone wore a Juicy tracksuit on flights!!! AT LEAST we were comfy AMIRITE hahaha


  • Veronica McCarthy March, 13 2019, 7:53

    hahah, you are SO right. x V

  • Therese Willging March, 13 2019, 4:19 / Reply

    Brilliant to ask a flight attendant. I never thought of that. Love the humor and the information.
    Hate to say it but I never drink alcohol on flights for the dehydration factor. It is water and sometimes peppermint tea. Love the calming effect of the tea. How to survive a long flight without having to go to the bathroom would be a holy grail for me but alas no such luck. Hate the mad dash to get to an open toilet.

    I may have to look into the compression socks. My feet do tend to swell when I am on long flights.

  • Veronica McCarthy March, 13 2019, 7:52

    definitley get the compression socks! it’s always my number one tip for flights! xx V

  • Eye masks, eye masks and eye masks! I also drink all of the water.

  • Water water water and more than one book, as I am terrified of being trapped on a plane with nothing to read. Lip balm. And yes, hand cream is good.

  • A slew of magazines, but ALWAYS a monocle because there’s the most interesting snippets on just about whatever you might fancy reading about at any given moment. Plus you can put it down and pick it up without worrying about losing your page (cue food arriving, trying to juggle tea/head phones/said magazine/hand cream/etc).

  • The bloatation description is hysterical and so accurate. Can’t wait to try the peppermint tea!

    I haven’t gotten sick on a plane since I started using Ponaris Nasal emollient every time I fly, especially on overnight trips. It’s a nasal oil you can get on amazon, that has a minty smell and semi weird taste (when it drips down your throat.. sounds terrible but it’s how I know for sure it worked!). I think it traps all the bad stuff in the air. Can’t fly without it!

  • I would like to know what flight attendants do to calm a crying child…..seems to work Like a charm

  • Compression socks, beaume a levres, boules quies, un chale, un livre et une grande bouteille d’eau !

  • je me munis de tout ce qui est cité ci-dessus, plus un tranquillisant léger pour les vols qui dépassent six heures. Pas par peur, juste qu’après deux ou trois heures, j’ai irrésistiblement envie de descendre car je ne supporte plus d’être assise dans l’avion. Durant mon premier transatlantique (Suisse-Los Angeles) le personnel de cabine m’a récupérée tout près d’une emergency exit, en train d’étudier soigneusement comment l’ouvrir, la main sur la poignée. Bien sûr, je n’aurais rien pu faire, mais ils étaient inquiets tout de même (et moi aussi du coup, je n’avais aucune idée de ce que j’étais en train de faire, ni pourquoi). L’histoire s’est bien terminée et on a trouvé la solution du tranquillisant avec mon médecin. Depuis, j’ai toujours un peu envie de sortir, mais j’arrive à gérer.
    Belle soirée.

  • Aisle seat – to pace and stretch with ease. Have an airplane yoga routine down. A light oil to massage your face and hands (and feet if you really don’t care what your seat mates think).

  • So good to know about the OTC meds! I’m intrigued about the compression socks now too! I am always the person who brings my own tea on lol. Did it this week on a flight and felt so good afterwards!

  • Dawn Gepfer March, 15 2019, 3:39 / Reply

    Emilie Johnson, explain the monocle, please – do you mean an actual single lens on a chain I would wear around my neck? So I can read small print? You have me sooooo intrigued!

  • No, no! Monocle, the magazine, run by design maven and war correspondent Tyler Brule.
    It’s a magazine with very short snips of articles. It’s basically an Instagram feed with binding. Beautiful design, gorgeous pics, smart writing, but nothing that is too absorbing. So if you get distracted by something, you won’t feel bad about losing your page. I don’t think any article in there is more than 10 lines long. I hate reading it on land, precisely because you can’t “get” into any story. But when you’re traveling, air/train/bus, it’s the kind of light fare (semi-pun intended) that helps pass the time. VERY internationally-minded which I love too.
    It’s usually sold in the airport newspaper shops (like Hudson in the US).

  • Bonjour ,
    Ayant souffert d’une otite otite barotraumatique et Aie Aie! j’emporte toujours des mini doses de sérum physiologique que j’utilise au décollage et à l’atterrissage

  • Oh, and brava to Ms. McCarthy! This is the funniest sh*t I’ve read in a long time!

  • Veronica McCarthy March, 17 2019, 10:08

    aw, thanks Anya! And I love Monocle too! Great magazine. x

  • Georgia March, 16 2019, 6:36 / Reply

    I frequently travel between northern and southern hemispheres and the flights are minimum 9 hours, and I often need two of them. Needless to say, I have developed quite a routine. First, when they call boarding, I go into the bathroom and douse my face in either Grown Alchemist face oil, and my lips in Paw Paw Cream. I board the plane a little bit ‘dewy’, but by the time the flight is over I am positively glowing! Another face alternative is Eve Lom Moisture Mask, which again provides way more hydration than your regular moisturiser! If I have two flights, on the stopover I’ll use face wipes and re-apply the aforementioned beauty products as well as deodorant. And probably once or twice during the flight I apply Herbivore Botanicals Rose Mist, as a top up hydration for my skin, but also because it counteracts the stuffiness of the plane, and helps you feel fresh. It’s a great trick if you’re starting to feel sick. Finally, not beauty related but a good hack, I bring a little camping stool to use as a foot rest and it’s amazing!

From the Archives

This or That
  • This or That
  • Holiday Gifting
  • Happy Holidays!
  • #AtelierDoreDoes
  • How To...
atelier dore this or that summer sandals chunky sandals vs. delicate sandals

This or That / Sandal Edition

This or That: American or Française?

This or That: American or Française?

atelier dore this or that lingerie lace or cotton sex month

This or That / Lingerie Edition

This or That / Blush vs. Bronzer

This or That / Blush vs. Bronzer

This or That: The Beanie

This or That: The Beanie

This or That: Nails

This or That: Nails

This or That

This or That

This Or That

This Or That

Silja Danielsen Photo

This Or That: Low Knot or Top Knot