The Ultimate On-The-Go Guide to Travel Skincare

10 minutes
July 12, 2022

Summer travel is upon us, and while our suitcases are already packed, your skin may not be as eager to be thrown off its routine. 

From crossing time zones to weather changes and new sleep settings, travel can take a toll on skin and cause some major complexion issues. To avoid a mid-trip skin meltdown, we break down what to pack, and what to leave home, and share some expert travel tips to keep your skin looking its best for wherever the wind – or ahem, your GPS – takes you this summer. 

What Happens to Your Skin When Traveling?

Have you ever noticed after traveling, you arrive at your final destination only to find your skin looking dry, dull, and broken out? If so, you’re not alone! It happens to the best of us, and these ill-timed imperfections can be triggered for a variety of different reasons including:  

Dry Airplane Air

Airplane cabins are notorious for having very low humidity. If you already have dry skin, this can send you straight into a desert-like territory, while if you have oily skin, you’re likely to get even oilier as your skin attempts to rehydrate itself. 

Solution: Hydration, hydration, hydration! No matter your skin type, everyone can benefit from an extra boost of hydration when they travel. To keep the skin plump and hydrated upon arrival, drink plenty of water throughout your travel day and pack a hyaluronic acid serum to apply mid-flight. Hey, when the cabin lights go down, no one is going to stop you from having a little mini spa day in your seat. 

Climate Changes

A sudden change in temperature, wind, and humidity can disrupt the skin barrier and increase the chances of throwing your skin off balance. If you’re traveling to colder weather, the cooler air can dry out your skin, while warmer temperatures can trigger your skin to produce more sebum and leave you with clogged pores. 

Solution: If you’re traveling to a cold, dry climate, plan to pack a richer moisturizer to combat chapped skin. If your final destination is hot and humid opt for a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer. Trust us, making the wrong choice here could result in you looking like a glazed doughnut, so play it safe and follow the rules. 


Whether it’s a lost bag or getting stuck in traffic, there is a good chance you’ll experience some type of stress while traveling. Stress can set off an inflammatory response in the body and aggravate conditions such as acne, rosacea, and psoriasis. 

Solution: If you know already know that traveling stresses you out, then you may want to consider packing anti-stress skincare. We recommend our B₃Adaptive SuperFoods collection to help the skin recover quickly from unwelcomed stress attacks. While it won’t un-cancel your flight, it is chock full of anti-inflammatory and soothing ingredients that increase circulation and minimize redness flareups. 

Unhygienic Settings

Not to gross you out, but planes, trains and buses are breeding grounds for dirt, bacteria, and germs. Shocker, we know. The recirculated air in these spaces, plus touching your face while traveling (our hands are germ magnets FYI) makes it easy for bacteria to transfer to your skin and cause breakouts or infection.  

Solution: To start your trip (and your skin) on a clean slate, pack anti-bacterial wipes to de-contaminate your surroundings and keep your hands off your face. Germs and bacteria live on most surfaces – be sure to wipe down the armrests, screens, seats, and tray tables.

What Skincare Products Should you Pack?

Your luggage is precious real estate, so it’s important to be strategic when it comes to packing. 

Although it may be very tempting to bring all your holy grails, it’s just not practical when you’re on the go. No matter how long or short your current routine is, the truth is you only need a few key essentials to keep your skin balanced and comfortable while you travel. So, what makes the skincare essentials list?

  1.  Cleanser
  2.  Chemical exfoliator 
  3.  Moisturizer
  4.  Sunscreen

We may be biased, but the Alpha Beta Daily Essentials Kit is our favorite for traveling because its three-step system includes all of the necessities for clear, hydrated skin. Just add in the All Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 for UV protection, and you’re ready to hit the road! 

What Skincare Products Should you Leave at Home?

This may be a difficult pill to swallow, but if you’re taking a short trip, it’s best to leave your stronger actives and exfoliants behind. As you now know, your skin is put through a lot when you travel and should be handled with extra love and care. So say ta-ta for now to any type of retinoid, exfoliating toner, and detoxifying mask. Don’t worry they will be in the same place that you left them, that is if a sibling or roommate doesn’t get to them first. 

Top Skincare Tips for all Stages of Travel 

Have you ever heard the expression the best defense is a good offense? Well in the case of travel skincare, there are several preventative steps you can take before, during, and after you travel to ensure your skin stays in tip-top shape. Read a few of our favorite tips & tricks below for only good skin days this summer.

Don’t Try Any New Products

Sure, it’s fun to experiment with new products in the comfort of your own home, but when you run the risk of ruining your vacation photos, don’t even think about it! The last thing you want to deal with when you’re on vacation is a bad reaction to a new product, so keep all of your new skincare samples at home. Yes, I’m talking to all you beauty lovers out there. Instead, look for travel sizes of your daily essentials or get creative and make your own. You can thank us later when you get the perfect vacay selfie.

Amp Up the Hydration

We can’t emphasize enough the importance of keeping your skin hydrated when you travel. As we mentioned previously, flying and climate changes can dry out the skin and leave it looking dry, dull, and irritated. To give your skin a fighting chance, start your prep the night before you leave and treat your skin to a hydrating mask, serum, and moisturizer. My go-to combo for pre-travel skin prep is pairing the Hyaluronic Marine Hydrating Modeling Mask with the Hyaluronic Marine Hydration Booster and the Hyaluronic Marine Oil-Free Moisture Cushion, for guaranteed juicy, plump skin upon arrival. 

Stay on Top of Sun Protection

Just because you’re going on a trip doesn’t mean you get to take a vacation from sun protection. The sun has a special gift of finding you wherever you are and has no problem ruining your plans if you show up without protection. Although most people know that you need to wear SPF every single day, it’s critical to wear sunscreen when you fly because you’re closer to the sun’s ultraviolet rays and are more susceptible to sun damage. So, continue to wear your SPF on travel days, if maintaining healthy, youthful-looking skin is a priority for you. 

Try At-Home Exfoliation

Once you’ve returned from your trip, it’s time to do some damage control. Exfoliating will help reset the skin and remove all the dry, old, dead skin cells that built up while you were OOO. When you travel, you tend to wear more sunscreen than usual, which can build up on the skin and cause it to look dull. Peel pads like the Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel are a quick and easy way to bring back the glow and clear any congestion in your pores. 

Seek Professional Help (If Necessary)

If your skin is still in need of extra TLC post traveling, then it may be worth shelling out the extra $$ for a professional facial. An esthetician will be able to determine what your skin needs and prescribe a regimen to get it back on track. We know facials can be expensive, but there’s nothing better than pampering your skin, while you’re tucked under a blanket dozing off to tranquil spa music. Trust us, it will transport you right back to vacation mode.

Discover Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare for All Your Skincare Needs

For more skincare tips from the experts at Dr. Dennis Gross, check out our blog’s newest content today. Shop the collection of Dr. Dennis Gross bestselling skincare backed by dermatologists.

Written By

Kayla Kernel

Kayla is a Medical Esthetician with 10+ years of experience. Growing up, Kayla struggled with cystic acne and scarring. This experience drives her passion to help others on their skincare journey. Kayla specializes in all skin types, tones, and ages.

Read More from Kayla Kernel

Written By

Kayla Kernel

Kayla is a Medical Esthetician with 10+ years of experience. Growing up, Kayla struggled with cystic acne and scarring. This experience drives her passion to help others on their skincare journey. Kayla specializes in all skin types, tones, and ages.

Read More from Kayla Kernel

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