Is It Hygienic to Use Sheet Masks on a Plane? We Asked an Expert

Using sheet masks on long-haul flights has become common beauty practice for those dedicated to their hydration game. But what if we were to tell you the not-so-good news that this might not actually be as effective as you’d hoped? It’s due to one thing: hygiene. Dr. Tatiana Lapa, medical doctor and managing director of Dr. Tatiana Aesthetic Clinics, explains to us why sheet masks may be unhygienic on board and how to maintain moisture without the breakouts.

But before delving into the topic of hygiene, let’s discuss the basics. Why does the skin get so sucked of moisture when flying? “During a long-haul flight, the air pressure is lower than at normal sea level. In fact, it is equivalent to being 2,500 meters above sea level. The significantly lower air pressure acts like a vacuum on the skin and sucks moisture out of your epidermis (the top layer of skin).” But it’s not only dehydration the skin is at risk of. “Add to this the germ-rich cabin environment of recirculated air and tightly packed passengers, and the skin is at higher risk of both dehydration and breakouts,” Dr. Lapa explains.

Now for the actual sheet mask part. Dr. Lapa says that using one does actually have benefits when it comes to keeping the skin hydrated; however, you must consider germs before and during application. She suggests cleaning hands before use (a no-brainer, but a biggie) and only keeping the mask on for 20-30 minutes. Using unwashed hands or leaving the mask on for too long can lead to potentially worsening breakouts as “the moist, nutrient-rich environment of sheet masks can assist the spread of bacteria on the skin.”

So what if you want both moisture and to reduce a breakout? Dr. Lapa recommends applying a seal with a blemish cream to any pimples before applying a sheet mask. Or if you’ve decided that wearing a sheet mask on board just isn’t your bag, she recommends keeping a soothing recovery cream in your beauty travel essentials instead.

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