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Is it the Water? Travel Acne Explained.

Is it the Water? Travel Acne Explained.

Sometimes that treasured vacation can introduce new “friends” popping up on your face. It can really kill your game of trying to look good in those Instagram selfies! So what’s really going on? As a woman with wanderlust and on the eternal quest for lovely skin, I’m here to shed some light on what causes those pesky travel breakouts.


1. Plane travel. So many things can go wrong. Firstly, plane meals generally means chicken or pasta drenched in cream and cheese (they’ve got to try to make it taste good!). Those dinners are enemy number 1 for skin. If you choose to have an alcoholic drink 30,000 feet in the air, it’s usually with a side of dehydration. That accompanies the already low humidity level of the plane cabin (it's about 33-85% dryer on the plane than on the ground).


2. Indulging in acne-triggering food and drinks. Often when some people travel (not you or me of course! ;) ), they tend to over-indulge in foods and drinks they may not eat at home. Desserts, extra cocktails, and eating local foods without restriction. These have a much higher affect than a change in weather on the skin.


3. Wonky sleep. Poor sleep one night is negligible, but several sleepless nights will tell the story on your skin. 


So what causes travel breakouts? Mainly a change in diet, lifestyle or products. The most common cases I see are correlated with eating and drinking differently. There was also an instance of a client using local sunscreen, containing coconut oil, which caused clogs too.


It’s not the water. There is biologically no way that water can irritate your oil glands and cause acne, so that is a myth. Furthermore, weather changes are also not a strong factor in acne. It can cause more dryness or sweating, but not often to the point of aggravating oil glands.


That being said, there are some things you can do to help if you want to have clear skin while traveling:


  • Moderate indulgences. It’s all too easy to treat yourself on vacation with daily indulgences of food, drinks and dessert, which bring on breakouts. Instead, enjoy one drink or small sweet on occasion to limit their impact. Avoid eating acne triggering foods like cow's milk and sugar. 
  • Sleep well. The day after a long flight is not the time to party it up if you want healthy skin. Catch up on your beauty rest if you’ve crossed many time zones or taken a red eye.
  • Special order the flight meal. Did you know that you can request a special meal on flights that serve dinner? I always order vegan because it is dairy-free and meat-free.  The meals are often surprisingly yummy with vegetable curry dinners and potatoes, beans, tomatoes for breakfast.
  • Hydrate. Drink water on the plane and on your trip. Every time the flight attendant asks what you’d like, refill that water cup! Also, bring some skincare on the flight for applications every few hours. The Jojoba Glow Moisturizer works wonders on long flights.
  • Bring your own food. I love GoMacro bars, almond butter packets, and traveling with dehydrated meals. My current favorite is To-Go's Yellow Thai Curry (I found it at REI). All you need is hot water and in 20 minutes you have a super fresh meal!


I hope this helps you stay healthy and feel good while traveling. Whatever you’re doing, it always feels better having clear and beautiful skin and feeling good in your body. Enjoy the journey and be well!!


Elise May, CN + LE, is the owner and practitioner behind SKINutritious. She has helped over 1,000 clients clear acne with detoxing treatments, clear skin coaching, and holistic skincare. 

Work with Elise. Book online here.

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