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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

Red-Eye Recovery: How to Look and Feel Great After a Flight

Being up in the air can take its toll on any jet-setter. But whether you’re traveling for work or play, you don’t want to arrive at your destination feeling weary and looking all worn-out.

Good news: You don’t have to. If a cross-country red-eye or a trip halfway around the world is in your future, here’s how to look and feel great when you step off the plane:

Dress Comfortably

For starters, don’t take your airport attire cue from anyone with the last name Kardashian. Instead, put on some comfy, loose-fitting clothes that you can relax in, and pack your carry-on with an outfit that you can change right into after arriving. Always bring a sweater or wrap so you can bundle up if you feel chilly.

And go easy on your feet—soft-soled flats will keep your feet comfortable and help you get through security easily, too. You can keep your heels on the top of your suitcase with that post-flight outfit, but ditch them while you're up in the air.

Opt for an Updo

Whether recycled air makes your locks frizzy or flat, “plane hair” is not a good look for anyone. To avoid it, take this recommendation from Nexxus Salon Hair Care Creative Director Kevin Mancuso: wrap your hair up into a low side-bun, and secure it with an elastic band. This style will keep your hair away from the oils of your face and prevent indents from the headrest.

Upon arrival, remove the elastic band and tousle your hair with your fingers, massaging your roots to boost volume. Finish the look with a light misting of hairspray, like Nexxus Comb Thru Natural Hold Design and Finishing Mist (1.5 oz travel size). If your hair tends to get oily, you can spritz roots with a dry shampoo (we like Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo To Go). And if you’re prone to flyaways, try wrapping a silk scarf around your head in-flight to create a barrier between your hair and the seat.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

Cabin air is seriously drying, and being parched can make you look and feel zapped when you land. So drink lots of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty (non-caffeinated tea, club soda, or orange juice is OK, too). It’s also best to avoid caffeine and alcohol during a flight, as both can dehydrate you.

Also keep your skin and eyes hydrated: Don your glasses, not your contacts, and pack eyedrops to prevent your eyes from getting dry and red. Pass on the foundation and mascara (or remove it on-board with pre-moistened makeup removers like Neutrogena Night Calming Makeup Remover), and opt for plenty of moisturizer and lip balm instead. When your skin feels dry, spritz your face with Evian’s Natural Mineral Water spray, and apply a heavy-duty lotion to keep your hands soft.

Move Around

To prevent that unpleasant feeling of stiffness when you get off the plane, make sure you move around onboard. Walk around the aisles for a few minutes every hour or 90 minutes, rotate your ankles, and stretch out your arms and legs (when it’s safe to move about the cabin, of course!).

Get Some Sleep

Getting a little shut-eye is the best way to feel refreshed when you land. So bring whatever you need to doze off—a travel pillow, eye mask, your iPod, or Tylenol PM. If you’re a frequent flier, consider investing in some noise-cancelling headphones. The best of the bunch are Bose’s Quiet-Comfort headphones, but Sony offers some good, cheaper alternatives.

Even if you think you can’t sleep on planes, practicing some relaxation techniques before, during, and after the flight can help you chill out, says Zoe Sameth, MS, a relaxation and stress reduction specialist. Her suggestion: Put your hands on your belly, then, as you feel it rise and fall with your breath, simply say to yourself “breathing in, breathing out.”

Bring Freshening-Up Favorites

Travel with TSA-friendly versions of your toothpaste, deodorant, and mouthwash so you can freshen up on the plane or as soon as you land. Pick up a pack of disposable, one-use toothbrushes for a quick teeth-cleaning (we like Colgate Wisp). Unscented baby wipes are another quick way to freshen up and feel clean, and body sprays or a roll-on version of your favorite perfume will make you smell good, too.

Then, take down your hair, put on the outfit in your suitcase, and throw on some sunglasses—you may have spent the night on the plane, but you’ll be ready for whatever the day holds!

Frequent fliers, what tips do you have for feeling great after a long flight?

Photo courtesy of Ambro.