5 Beauty Secrets of Flight Attendants

Nobody knows how to stay pretty at 45,000 feet better than them.

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You have to give flight attendants mad props, not just because they handle our twice-a-minute requests for more water with a smile, nor because they travel the turbulent skies without tripping or throwing up or both. No—it's because they do all that and more under the heavy, perhaps unfair, expectation that they must be impeccably groomed at all times. (Even on a redeye on which passengers are passed out sideways and upside-down with the kind of receding chin you can only achieve when you don't care anymore.)

So how does one keep one's face beat when the lavatory is the size of a broom closet and the carry-on liquid threshold is still a measly 3.4 ounces? Here, the flight attendant's beauty secrets, revealed. (But first, Leo.)

They Don't Play When It Comes to Hydration

So maybe they don't *really* hate us for asking for a top-off every 30 seconds? ::nervous laughter:: In the Coveteur's survey of Korean flight attendants—probably the most skin-vigilant of the lot—100 percent of respondents said they drank liters of water and constantly applied moisturizer, while some took the extra precaution of face mists and sleeping with a humidifier.


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They Know SPF Matters Even More Up There

Just look what happened when poor Icarus flew too close to the sun. Because commercial aircraft hover at around 45,000 feet, where cloud cover is sparse—not that that's an excuse, even when you're on the ground—rays can have an even more damaging effect on skin cells. So slather on the sunblock and consider keeping your window shade down.

They Pay Attention to the Order of Things

As part of a balanced, recycled-air-considering skincare routine, serums and creams and oils matter, as does how you layer them. Serum, applied first, delivers a shot of nutrients. Next, load up on an ultra-rich moisturizer that can be reapplied (with clean hands) throughout the trip. (You can also massage in one final layer right before landing, tissuing off the extra for a dewy look.) An oil goes on last to slow everything from evaporating in the dry air.


young women applying skin serum

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They're Very Picky About Their Dry Shampoo

Hold the aerosols, please (not just because the TSA finds them sus). One flight attendant swears by Lush's No Drought Dry Shampoo, because "it comes in a powder form, so no need to worry about the liquid restrictions." Plus, no shine-adding ingredients—the stuff that makes some spray formulas wet or sticky—equals nothing to interfere with the soaking up of grease. (There always seems to be a whole McDonald's-meal's worth in there after a long-haul flight, doesn't there?)

And The Texture of Their Makeup Products

But while they prefer their dry shampoo Mojave-like, it's the opposite story with their foundation and blush. Why? 1) Well, you've spent all that time trying to keep your face from going the way of so much desiccated coconut, even turning down a soporific glass of wine because alcohol is even more dehydrating at high altitude 😩. 2) Space is a commodity, and removing and replacing anything from the overhead bin is kind of a bother, so you want something you can blend with (again, washed) hands, over brushes. Therefore, creamy textures, preferably packaged in easy-to-pack/handle sticks.

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(Image credit: Courtesy, design by Monica Park)

BUY IT: 1. Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich, $35; glossier.com2. Révive Soleil Superiéur Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen, $115; neimanmarcus.com3. Milk Makeup Lip + Cheek, $24; sephora.com4. Tatcha Gold Camellia Beauty Oil, $95; sephora.com5. Verb Dry Shampoo, $14; sephora.com.

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Chelsea Peng
Assistant Editor

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at MarieClaire.com. She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.