The Best Facial Oils to Pack for Impossibly Glowy Post-plane Skin
We spend a lot of time planning travel — booking the right airfare and accommodations, packing, learning about our destination, maybe studying a new language. But one thing that often slips through the cracks? Skincare.
And speaking of cracks, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from taking a handful of long winter plane rides, it's that your face doesn’t always fare well in the air. It’s often left dry or itchy after being in the dehydrating climate of an airplane. Enter skin oils, which have been a lifesaver for my skin the past couple winters.
I know what you’re thinking. Why would anyone put oil back on their skin? Isn’t that what many people try to avoid? As someone who is prone to having oily skin, I was skeptical at first. But after spending several months testing out dozens of oil-based moisturizers, cleansers, and a few serums, not only have I mostly abandoned cream-based moisturizers (that was a difficult goodbye), I feel like I’ve totally revamped my skincare routine, both on and off the plane.
From sunny Santa Barbara in November to windy, wet Scotland in January, I found that these products really did improve my skin’s appearance and quality.
I spoke with Jean Godfrey-June, executive beauty editor at Goop — Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness empire — about her own recommendations, and the benefit of opting for a skin oil, like Goop’s own Enriching Face Oil (which I tried out myself during a four-day jaunt to northern Norway, and it was a life-saver for my wind-burned, dry skin).
“I work at Goop, so of course I bring two (not one) oils when I travel,” said Godfrey-June. “Vintner’s Daughter is the ultimate treatment oil; as in, I come back from the trip looking better than when I left. And the Goop oil is the ultimate moisturizing oil; as in, I slather it on several times during any plane ride, and if where I’m traveling is at all dry, I wait five minutes after using the Vintner’s and add a layer of the Goop for hydration.”
And when it comes to jet lag, the Goop oil has you covered, thanks to a little trick up the editor’s sleeve. “The Goop is also brilliant for the jet lag slump, where you look in the mirror and think, ‘I need makeup, now.’ Instead, smooth the oil between your palms and blot onto your face, over makeup. Wait about three seconds, and you’ll look much better, without any extra makeup, which, on a jet-lagged person, can be super-grim.”
If you’re looking for something that can act as both a facial cleanser as well as a hydrator, Godfrey-June has a recommendation for that, too. “For the travel minimalist, the Rose Glow oil from Living Libations is both a cleanser and a moisturizer, it smells incredible, and treats both dry and breakout-prone skin.”
Below, I’ve selected my favorites (and a few recommendations) that have shown me the best results. Most of these oils and serums come in travel-friendly sizes, so they’re easy to slip into your carry-on and apply once or twice during your flight. My overall advice: When you can, choose natural products — while not all of the below items are organic or all-natural, the majority of them are. Our skin is extremely absorbent, and (as is the case with any type of product) it’s important to know what you’re about to put in your body.
And one note about serums: While they are definitely reparative (wait until you try the Estée Lauder Night Repair) they are not meant to be a substitute for moisturizer, so always follow with an oil. I also recommend priming your face with a toner or leave-on cleanser, like Thank You Farmer's Back to Iceland Cleansing Water. Another simple and great toner is the classic Thayers Witch Hazel.
Pack a couple of these products below, and bring them with you wherever you go. They will likely leave your face hydrated and glowing as you step off the plane. Keep in mind where you are traveling to and from — colder climates warrant a few extra applications.
Kari Gran Organic Essential Serum
Aside from its many nourishing abilities, this oil smells divine. Made from 15 plant and essential oils, plus that magical Vitamin E, this oil is one of my OG favorites, especially when traveling. I find the scent incredibly soothing, so I like to apply it at night, and let those natural plant-based oils work their magic to leave my skin refreshed and hydrated.
To buy: amazon.com, $60
Kahina Argan Oil
Rich with antioxidants, argan oil is known for being one of the most game-changing oils on the wellness market. The antioxidants in Kahina argan oil work hard alongside Vitamin E and fatty acids to protect against free radicals, smooth fine lines, and provide deep moisture.
To buy: dermstore.com, from $36
Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Oil
Recovery is the key word here. This super-hydrating oil from Kiehl’s packs a serious punch in the moisture department. Chock full of revitalizing ingredients like lavender essential oil and evening primrose oil, this elixir leaves skin noticeably restored. Each time I’ve used it, I’ve seen a difference in texture and smoothness — plus it absorbs really quickly.
To buy: kiehls.com, $49
S.W. Basics Jojoba Oil Packet
I love this jojoba oil — and the packet that it comes in makes it extremely convenient for travel. In terms of chemical make-up, jojoba oil is the one most close to the skin’s natural sebum, so it’s a gentle yet effective moisturizer (or cleanser, if you’d like to try it for that). Toss a couple packets into your toiletry bag to stow in your carry-on for when you need a moisture and glow boost in-flight.
To buy: target.com, $4
Sunday Riley Juno Hyperactive Cellular Face Oil
Talk about a life-changing product. I’ll never stop using this oil. I slather it on day and night when my skin is feeling especially dry, irritated, tired, and overall blah. Within hours, it brightens up my complexion (thanks to those antioxidants and a superfood/vitamin boost) and leaves me with a glowy radiance.
To buy: sephora.com, from $36
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair
Okay, so technically ANR is a serum, not an oil, but it makes the list because it does yield some pretty serious results. While it’s not organic, all-natural, and plant-based, it is highly effective and can really begin to transform skin after just a few uses. Using hydrating hyaluronic acid and the brand’s ChronoluxCB™ Technology, the serum will give skin a youthful-looking, smooth glow .
To buy: nordstrom.com, $70
Goop Enriching Face Oil
The team at goop calls this a “miracle oil” — and that seems about right to me, too. Made with USDA-certified organic ingredients, this oil goes beyond deep hydration; it leaves a dewy, soft glow that’s hard to beat. This oil is great at the beginning or end of the day, and it layers really nicely with cream-based moisturizers.
To buy: goop.com, $110
Nucifera The Balm
This is my favorite “slather it everywhere” oil. Especially after a long flight, or when I return from traveling in harsh conditions, I just want to rub this on my face and lips, my hands, my elbows — everywhere. It also acts as a wonderful oil-based face wash, as it dissolves dirt and makeup, pumping skin with moisture on the way. Made from a blend of organic and natural ingredients (think coconut oil, avocado oil, and essential oils, to name a few) the Balm feels like butter on the skin, and leaves a nice glow, too.
To buy: amazon.com, $39