How To Keep Your Skin In Check While You Travel

How To Keep Your Skin In Check While You Travel

Whether you’re traveling for work or fun, during the holiday season or the height of summer, your skin doesn’t take time off. But keeping your skin looking great away from home is easier than you might think. Here, we’ve got ten tips from Sandra Lee, MD (aka Dr. Pimple Popper) that will help keep you glowing, all vacation long.


6 minute read

Whether you’re traveling for work or fun, during the holiday season or the height of summer, your skin doesn’t take time off. But prepping your travel toiletries doesn’t have to be tedious: keeping your skin looking great away from home is easy, if you know a few tricks.

Here, we’ve got just the ticket: ten tips from Sandra Lee, MD (aka Dr. Pimple Popper) that will help keep you glowing, all vacation long.

Dr. Pimple Popper’s travel skincare tips

#1 Stick to your usual routine

If you’ve found a skincare routine that works, staying consistent both at home and when traveling is the best thing you can do. Trying out travel versions of the latest trendy product sounds tempting, but sticking with what your skin’s used to is a safer bet. After all, the last thing you want on vacation is a skincare reaction.

#2 Carry on your products if possible

These days, many skincare companies make smaller, travel-friendly sizes of their top selling products. Which is good news, since you can carry your faves on the plane with you without having to worry they’ll be snagged by security. While it may seem like an overabundance of caution, anyone who’s ever dealt with an unexpected layover, or (gasp!) lost luggage understands the value of keeping your skincare essentials close at hand.

Many of our SLMD best-sellers are available in smaller, TSA-approved sizes, including our Acne System and Salicylic Acid Cleanser.

#3 Anticipate changes to your skin

Anytime you’re changing your environment — like traveling to the tropics during wintertime, for example — your skin is going to have a little freak out. Heat and humidity can amp up oil production and exacerbate breakouts, while cold, dry air can dehydrate skin, leading to eczema or psoriasis flares. Anticipating these issues ahead of time will help you decide what products to pack, and how to cope with any hiccups (as always, be kind to your skin).

For normal to dry skin types, try SLMD Hyaluronic Acid Serum to boost pre-flight moisture levels. To keep body skin healthy and moisturized, choose Body Seal, formulated with colloidal oatmeal and ceramides.

#4 Prevent skin from over drying 

Traveling to a drier climate can zap moisture and stress your skin. And if you’re flying, all that recycled air can also dry out your skin — even if your skin is normal or oily. This can lead to the double whammy of flaky skin that’s also breaking out. It can be tricky to find the balance between layering on too much moisturizer and over-applying treatment products. Your best bet is to stick closely to your regular routine, but be mindful about moisturizing. If you have dry skin, moisturize more often; if your skin is oily, try blotting papers, and use an exfoliating treatment to keep pores clear — but don’t forget to layer on a lightweight moisturizer afterwards.

SLMD Resurfacing Acne Swipes are like a mini peel, combining both alpha and beta hydroxy acids. Facial Moisturizer is formulated for all skin types, and won’t exacerbate acne.

#5 Always pack your spot treatments

New climate, new surroundings, new schedule, new food — sometimes despite our best efforts, a breakout is just bound to happen when we’re away from home. Packing a couple of spot treatments — one with salicylic acid for blackheads and whiteheads, one with benzoyl peroxide for inflammatory pimples — will save you from having to “dab on toothpaste” or any of those other questionable skincare hacks. And as always, don’t pick or pop, unless your idea of vacation souvenirs includes post-pimple dark marks (aka post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation).

SLMD Salicylic Acid Spot Treatment features an on-the-go rollerball design to take anywhere, while BP Spot Treatment also dries clear to treat pimples on the sly. Spot Check transparent acne patches won’t draw attention on the plane, and keep dirty fingers off your face. When you get home and your acne is healing, dab on Dark Spot Fix to combat the appearance of dark marks.

#6 Don’t skip the sunscreen

Even if it’s cold and gray outside, and you think you don’t have to…wear sunscreen! Wherever you’re headed, whatever the weather, wearing SPF daily is a must if you’re trying to keep your skin looking and feeling its best. Choose a broad spectrum moisturizer with sunscreen, like SLMD Dual Defender SPF 30, so you're protected from both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are able to creep through car and airplane windows and are the culprit of signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles — even skin cancer. UVB rays cause more damage to the surface of our skin and are responsible for the painful red sun burn that you definitely don’t want on your vacation! So apply and reapply to keep your skin safe and protected.

#7 Take a makeup break

Traveling (especially on an airplane) is an ideal time to go makeup free — or at least to wear as little makeup as you can tolerate. Heavy cosmetics can clog your pores, trapping both dead skin cells and all of the environmental pollutants you encounter while traveling (yuck). This gets compounded if you’re wearing a mask (hello, plane maskne!). If you must wear makeup, keep it light, and look for products that don’t contain comedogenic oils, waxes, preservatives and fragrance.

If you’re wearing a mask on the plane or if a mask is required at your vacation destination, take along a travel-sized supply of SLMD Salicylic Acid Body Spray. Spritz it on the inside of your mask to keep maskne at bay. It’s also great for treating body breakouts while traveling — especially around the neck and shoulders, if you’re backpacking.

#8 Catch some zzz’s when you can

Despite being away from home, do your best to get a good night’s sleep, or plan to take a nap (probably more realistic). This allows your body and it’s largest organ, the skin, time to rest and restore.Overnight is when your skin heals and regenerates itself — so it’s important that you’re sticking to your nightly routine.
Nighttime is also primetime to use retinol, which supports cell turnover. SLMD Retinol Serum and Night Light eye cream come in travel-friendly sizes.

#9 Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Excess oil is often the cause of breakouts, but if skin gets overly dry, it can actually compensate  by producing more oil. If you’re spending time above 30,000 feet, this can ring especially true — the recycled air around you can be seriously lacking in humidity. To combat these conditions, drink plenty of water on the plane, and use a hydrating mist or serum before and during the flight. If you’re concerned about frequent bathroom trips, try munching on water-rich fruits and veggies like grapes, celery, and cucumbers.

SLMD Hyaluronic Acid Serum contains one of nature’s best hydrators, along with moisturizing squalane. Layer it on your face before traveling, and smooth it on your cuticles after using hand sanitizer during the flight.

#10 Take a deep breath

Can we meditate our acne away? Not exactly: but taking a minute to slow down might help. Acne is very sensitive to a variety of hormones, which trigger the sebaceous glands to produce more oil than necessary. The stress hormone cortisol, as well as insulin (released when we eat processed carbs, aka vacation junk food) have been shown to increase breakouts. 

Keeping stress triggers low can’t hurt, which of course is easier said than done while traveling (especially with family). But if you feel like you need a blissed-out retreat to unwind and de-stress, even taking two minutes for some deep inhales and exhales can go a long way.

Dr Sandra Lee

Dr. Lee's Last Word

As much fun as traveling is, anytime we’re changing our habits or our environment, we can see an impact on our skin. The best thing you can do is to stick to your skincare routine, and make healthy(ish) choices — but don’t forget to let loose and have fun. A vacation pimple or two is not the end of the world!


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