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Skincare tips for traveling

How to prevent acne breakouts while traveling.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 6 min read
The Curology set in a transparent travel bag, floating in a pool
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 6 min read
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Wherever you’re going, travel presents a lot of acne-triggering opportunities: The long flights, fast food, and sudden changes of routine can do a number on your skin. Fortunately, all it takes to prevent breakouts is a little forethought — and your Curology custom formula.


Why you may breakout when you travel

You're not imagining things! Lots of travelers are affected by acne when they travel, especially on long flights. Acne is multifactorial (meaning there are several reasons you may experience a breakout), but here are a few common reasons you may experience acne during travel:

  1. Dry air. The dry air on airplanes can irritate your skin, no matter what type you have. If you have dry skin, the air on a plane can your skin even more parched. Dry skin can cause an excess buildup of dead skin cells. Since the clogging of hair follicles causes acne, dry skin can actually clog your pores. If you have oily skin, you could produce excess oils to compensate for the dryness in the air, which can also lead to the clogging of pores.

  2. Comedogenic skincare products. If you get breakouts, it’s important to pay attention to the ingredients in any product you use on your skin—including sunscreen. This is why we always recommend you review the comedogenicity (potential for blocking pores) of the ingredients in any new or current skincare products. Watch out for products with coconut oil or alcohol, two notoriously pore-clogging ingredients in skincare products.

  3. Diet. We get it — eating is half the fun of going on a vacation! Just be careful to limit your intake of dairy and high-glycemic-index foods (foods loaded with sugars and starches that are digested quickly, sending insulin levels sky-high and triggering more oil production in the sebaceous glands), as these are common contributors to acne. Avoid sugary snacks and drinks, and (again) make sure to drink plenty of water.

How to prevent acne while traveling

Now that we established a few of the things that can cause a breakout during your vacation, here's six tips to help your skin handle diet, weather, and time zone changes—whenever your GPS takes you.

Start hydrating the night before you fly

The recirculated air in planes can be really drying, so stay on top of your hydration the entire time. Drink plenty of water, and use a little extra moisturizer. Don’t put anything but a moisturizing sunscreen on your skin while you’re flying, and hold off on applying any heavy makeup until you get to your destination. You can even do a sleeping mask in-flight to keep your skin hydrated and in good condition.

Bring hand sanitizer (and don’t touch your face!)

Airplanes and airports are rife with places for bacteria to grow, so wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer frequently. And don’t touch your face!

Watch out for mask acne

The moisture and friction that comes with wearing a mask may contribute to breakouts. Likewise, a used mask covered with oil, sweat, and product buildup may also aggravate a breakout. This doesn't mean you shouldn't considering wearing a mask. It just means that, when you do wear a mask, you'll want to try your best to wear a fresh, clean mask every day. Or, you'll want to wash your reusable cloth masks regularly to avoid dirt and bacteria. If you’re experiencing acne around your mouth that gets worse from wearing a mask, it’s all about managing your breakouts.

Watch what you eat

Let's get one thing straight: while eating some foods and avoiding others may help clear your skin, there isn't a "best diet" for acne. Talk to your medical provider about changes in your diet that make sense for your overall health. In the meantime, eating extra fresh fruits and veggies can’t hurt your skin, and may be even better than taking vitamin supplements for acne.

Bring a face mist

Facial misting sprays such as Evian Mineral Water Spray or Avene Thermal Spring Water are a soothing treat for dry, flaky, easily irritated skin. After spraying the mist evenly over your face, apply serum or moisturizer while still damp to seal in the hydration. Bonus: a spritz or two of light, water-based facial mist is a great pick-me-up when you’re feeling the slog of a long flight. Just stash a travel-sized bottle in your carry-on.

Pack your Curology bottle

Per TSA regulations, carry-on liquids or creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container. Curology members have no problems here! Our two-month bottle of night cream, which is 24ml, can go right in your carry-on bag.

How to treat acne while traveling

What do you do if a pimple decides to pop up when you’re traveling? Shrink the pimple down to size with a cold compress or acne cover or pimple patch, aka hydrocolloid bandage.

Woman applying Curology Emergency Spot Patch To Pimple

Hydrocolloid bandages absorb buildup from pimples, and provide a moist environment to speed up the healing and decrease potential for scarring. If you're a Curology member, reach for your emergency spot patches (aka hydrocolloid acne covers) to treat the blemish ASAP.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, which is why we made acne patches designed to blend into your skin—and even under makeup. The emergency spot patch by Curology is so low-profile, you can wear it out and about during the day. Thin enough to layer under makeup, this hydrocolloid patch absorbs pus and oil without using active ingredients that might irritate your skin. Our spot patch is here to support you—without stealing the spotlight.

Closeup of two faces with emergency spot patches

Of course, any hydrocolloid bandage found at your local pharmacy will do. You can wear one overnight or even on the plane. Do make sure to apply any acne patch or hydrocolloid bandage before applying your Curology prescription medication (or other creamy skincare products such as moisturizer) to allow the patch to stick to your face and do its thing.

Try a custom acne treatment from Curology

More questions about beating breakouts while traveling? You can send your Curology dermatology provider a message or contact us directly.

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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Not a member yet? Curology is free to start*—you’ll get a Custom Formula, plus any of our recommended skincare products (cleanser, moisturizer, sunscreen), for just $4.95 (plus tax) to cover shipping and handling. That’s a full skincare routine designed by dermatologists and sent straight to your door. The best part? Curology is custom-tailored to you. That means we can tweak your Custom Formula over time, and you can always update what’s in your box. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and start your Curology free trial now

*Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Results may vary.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
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Curology Team

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